If only our HVAC systems could just last forever. But like most things in your house, they don’t. And unfortunately, a lot of people tend to forget that until they’re stuck without heat or air conditioning when they need it most. If you’re asking yourself when you should repair or replace your HVAC, there are a few important factors you will want to consider.
Here’s everything you need to know about when to replace your HVAC.
How Long Does an HVAC System Last?
The lifespan of your HVAC system is one of the biggest and most obvious indicators of when it’s time for an HVAC replacement. On average, a furnace will last around 20 years, while air conditioners average closer to 15 years. But there are a number of additional factors that play a role as well — like how often you use it, the climate where you live, brand, size, etc., so routine maintenance can extend the longevity of your system. And if you’re already nearing those averages or even outliving them, you definitely want to read on for what signs to look for when it’s time for an HVAC replacement.
Do I Need a New HVAC?
Here are six things to consider when deciding when to replace your HVAC:
1. Age of Your System
Again — age is a big factor. If either your heat pump or air conditioner is more than 10 years old or your furnace or boiler is more than 15 years old, it’s definitely time to have an HVAC technician take a look. EnergyStar recommends replacing your AC unit every 10-15 years, but even younger units may not be worth the cost of repair versus a replacement depending on the issue.
Keep in mind, when replacing your HVAC, certain systems are more efficient than others, and having the right technician perform the installation can prevent issues down the road. High-efficiency units when installed correctly can save you up to 20% in heating and cooling costs.
2. Frequent Equipment Repairs & Rising Your Energy Bills
As your heating and cooling equipment age, they’ll also become less efficient. If you find yourself repeatedly calling a technician with a new issue, that’s probably what’s happening. To save you from compiling repair costs and headaches, it may make the most sense to invest in a new unit.
Likewise, you may also notice your energy bill is consistently increasing. If you can’t blame it on noticeable changes in your usage, then it’s likely due to the wear on your unit. A less efficient system is not only costly but it can also affect your home’s overall comfort — which brings us to sign #3...
3. Uneven Temperatures Throughout Your Home
The job of your unit is to make your home comfortable. So if you start noticing that some rooms are cooler or warmer than others, then your equipment isn’t operating the way it should. Duct issues or inadequate installation can cause inefficiencies in airflow, telling you it’s time to call a professional.
4. You Don’t Have a Smart Thermostat
Smart thermostats aren’t only convenient and cost-efficient, but they also have a big impact on the health of HVAC. If no one is home for long periods of time during the day, your unit may be working overtime more often than not — similar to while you’re sleeping at night. If you’re not able to make adjustments remotely or program certain settings based on your schedule, the lifespan of your HVAC may be shorter.
5. You’re Having Humidity Issues or Excessive Dust
If you notice discomfort in your air quality or cleanliness, leaky ducts could be the culprit, pulling dust and other particles from rooms like the attic or basement that are filled with them. Inadequate ductwork or equipment could also be responsible for making your air dryer in the winter or too humid in the summer. Sealing your ducts could be the solution.
6. Your System is Kinda Noisy
Your HVAC should not be making unpleasant sounds. If it is, you may have an undersized duct system or issue with the indoor coil in your AC — both of which indicate the need for new equipment.
Should I repair or replace my HVAC?
If you’ve checked off a couple of items on that list, then an HVAC replacement is definitely in your near future. But if you’re deciding whether to repair or replace your unit, you can use this helpful rule of thumb:
Simply take the cost of the repair and multiply it by the age of your system. If it comes out to more than the cost of a new unit, replace it. If not, then you can probably benefit from choosing to repair. For example, you have a 10-year-old system and a $350 repair (10 x 350 = $3,500). The replacement estimate is $5,000. In this case, it would make sense to repair your system.