Homeowners in most of the U.S. depend on their HVAC systems to keep their homes cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Without a properly functioning HVAC, your home can quickly become unlivable, especially in the nation’s more tropical regions. But replacing an HVAC system is among the most expensive repairs most homeowners will ever make, and that’s why it’s so important to know the signs that it’s time to replace, rather than merely repair, your home’s HVAC system.
Generally, your system’s age will be a factor in determining whether to repair or replace. You may also want to consider how often your unit has been acting up, and whether its efficiency and effectiveness have been suffering. If you’ve been spending a lot of money on repeated repairs, it may be time to bite the bullet and replace your unit.
Your Unit Is Aging
A heat pump or air conditioner should last at least 10 years, while a furnace or boiler should last at least 15 years. Major repairs on a unit older than this may not be worth the money. How can you tell? Use the 5,000 rule. Multiply the age of your unit by the cost of the repair; if the resulting number is more than $5,000, you should replace your unit. If it’s less than $5,000, you’re probably safe to repair. After all, many units last much longer than 10 years, and a successful repair will give you time to save up for a replacement.
Your Energy Costs Are Going Up
Yes, it’s true that energy costs tend to go up with the passage of time, but if your energy bills are getting significantly bigger from one season to the next, it could be a sign that it’s time to replace your HVAC. If your electric bill for, let’s say, the month of June this year was much higher than your bill for the same month last year, it could be a sign that it’s time to start searching for “HVAC technicians near me” to come and replace your unit.
Your Climate Isn’t as Controlled as It Once Was
The whole point of having an HVAC system is to control the temperature inside your home. If your home isn’t reaching the temperature you’ve set on the thermostat, it could be a sign that you need to think about replacing your unit. Other signs that your home needs a new HVAC system include high levels of humidity in the home, large amounts of dust in your home, or water condensation in or around your ductwork and vents.
Your Home Is Unevenly Cooled or Heated
Some rooms are too hot, and others are too cold. This could be a sign that your HVAC unit is too large for your home’s needs. An oversized unit will do what’s known as short-cycling, switching on and then off again before the whole house has a chance to cool, because it’s unable to accurately measure the temperature inside your home. Usually, when this is the case, your home will also feel too humid. It could also be a sign that your ductwork needs repair or replacement.
You’re Constantly Paying for Repairs
Just like anything mechanical, your HVAC system will need regular maintenance in order to keep running properly. And some basic repairs, like the contactors or capacitor, can be expected from time to time. But large repairs, like the compressor or coil, usually mean you should just go ahead and replace the unit. If you’re making frequent repairs, or you get a quote that’s much larger than you expected, you may want to consider replacing your unit – especially if it’s an older one.
Your Air Conditioning Seems to Run Non-Stop
The hotter it is outside, the more your air conditioner will run, and if you’re going through a heat wave, it’s normal for your A/C unit to run more than normal or even to run non-stop – during those hottest days. But if it’s running non-stop all season long, that’s a sign that’s something’s wrong.
It could be that your air conditioner is no longer able to keep up with your cooling needs, due to problems with the compressor that could necessitate replacement of the unit. But it could also mean your unit is dirty and needs some cleaning and maintenance to get it running at full capacity again. You won’t know until you have someone open it up and take a look.
With the cost of HVAC replacement in the thousands of dollars, it makes sense to want to squeeze as much usefulness out of your present unit as you can. But when it’s time to replace, it’s time to replace. You’ll be rewarded with a much more comfortable home, lower energy bills, and fewer repair costs.