The HVAC system is one of the most important and expensive parts of any home. As a result, homeowners face a difficult decision when the system starts flashing some warning signs. Yes, homeowners must determine between that repair vs replace HVAC decision.
So, how do you go about making that decision to repair or replace the HVAC system? How can you tell when a piece of equipment has outlived its useful life? Can you get your older unit to last another couple of years by fixing it? Or will you have to continue putting money into it? Newer, more energy-efficient units can lower your electric bill, but what about the upfront cost?
The unfortunate truth is, there is no cut and dried answer. But here’s how you can make the best decision to repair or replace your air conditioner. Keep reading to learn what factors to consider about repairing or replacing your equipment, and whom to trust for advice.
Repair or Replace: Factors to Consider?
1. Age of the system:
The first factor that should be considered when making a repair or replace decision is the age of the HVAC equipment. This information will have a substantial bearing on whether or not the system should be replaced. In most cases, commercial heating equipment such as furnaces or boilers should last at least 15 years, while air conditioners or heat pumps should last at least 10 years. It’s not unusual for these types of systems to last longer than their expected functional life spans if they are properly maintained and kept in good condition. For this reason, age of the system should not be the only criteria you apply when deciding whether repair or replacement is more appropriate. If your furnace, boiler, air conditioner, or heat pump is still in generally good shape, even if it is over 10 years old, you can reasonably expect to get more service out of it once it is properly repaired. However, if the system is older and not in good condition, or if one or more of the other factors on this list is present, it may be a good idea to consult with your local trusted HVAC professional about replacement.
2. System performance:
When you reach for the thermostat to adjust the indoor temperature, you should be able to rely on your HVAC system to respond appropriately. If the equipment isn’t producing heated or cooled air like it should, it may be time to replace it. Issues such as inconsistent heating or cooling, hot or cold spots in your building, and excessive or unusual noises could indicate a need for replacement.
3. System reliability:
A heating or cooling system that breaks down frequently is a good candidate for replacement. Not only are frequent repairs costly, but they can also consume resources that could be used toward a newer and more reliable HVAC system. In general, once the repair bills for the system add up to half the cost of a new system, it’s time for a replacement.
4. Equipment efficiency:
Older HVAC systems typically have lower efficiency levels than newer ones, but a dramatic decrease in system efficiency can mean the equipment is ready for replacement. When efficiency drops, you waste both energy and money, paying more for heating and cooling than necessary. Check your monthly heating and cooling bills to see if there are any spikes in expenses that can’t be explained by seasonal temperature extremes or other known factors. This can indicate a loss of efficiency that may lead to replacement.
5. Indoor air quality:
If you have noticed an increase in humidity or your indoor air contains more dust and other particulates than usual, it could mean your HVAC system isn’t working properly and may need to be replaced.
Now that you’ve weighed the possibilities, tally up your decisions from each category. Consult with your local HVAC tech if you’re still on the fence. They can help walk you through the different scenarios for your current system and home set up so that whether you choose to repair or replace, you can feel confident that it’s the right decision for you and your home!