Most people have some kind of HVAC system to keep their homes comfortable all year round. We expect them to work, but sometimes they fail due to a lack of maintenance or a component simply wears out. This situation is exacerbated if the system is more than ten years old and well maintained systems fair better than neglected equipment. But, if your HVAC system is starting to fail or it has failed entirely, you’re going to need an urgent repair. When you search for a repair estimate, how do you know if the bill is too expensive?
The Seasonal Factor
Let’s face it when a vital piece of equipment fails; it always seems to occur at the worst possible time. This is usually because this is when the equipment is required to work the hardest. The hardest working times for your HVAC system are summer and winter. This is when the components are placed under the greatest strain making a failure far more likely. The best way to prepare for this situation is to contact a local HVAC specialist and schedule some essential maintenance before the heating or cooling season. This will include an inspection, cleaning, lubrication, and general maintenance to ensure that the equipment will perform in an efficient manner. But, if you haven’t invested in maintenance, you may notice a lack of performance at the end of a long summer or winter. Then it’s logical to wonder whether the HVAC system will be able to cope with the coming season.
When your HVAC system is still relatively new, a repair is well worth the price. A modern HVAC system is expected to perform relatively well for up to 10 years with regular annual maintenance. Early in the service life, the HVAC system may still be under warranty, and this makes an essential repair a no brainer. The harder decisions begin when the HVAC system is a little older.
When your HVAC system is older, it is no longer under warranty, and the price of the repair becomes a more pressing concern. As heating and cooling equipment ages, more work is required to keep it running efficiently. This pushes up the price of repairs to components, such as the boiler, furnace, and heat pump. In fact, some of these key components are so expensive that a repair is simply not economically viable. At this point, the homeowner has reached a point of diminishing returns. It is often a better decision to simply replace the HVAC system instead. But, how do you arrive at that decision? Well, there are a number of key factors that we will explore next.
4 Factors for HVAC System Replacement
Let’s take a closer look at four factors that can help you to make a decision on when to replace your HVAC system.
- Repair Frequency
When you start to notice that the frequency of repairs is increasing, it can be a cause for concern. These may be minor repairs, and when you look at them in isolation, it may not seem like a big deal. But, when you start to look at frequent repairs and accumulated costs, it can really add up. If you need more that one or two repairs per year just to keep your HVAC system running, that is too much. Even a single repair is starting to show that a system is beginning to show signs of age. An HVAC system that needs frequent professional repairs is a waste of money, and during the interim, a great deal of energy may be lost. It’s also worth noting that an HVAC system in this condition is more likely to fail, and this often occurs at the worst possible moment.
- Accumulated Costs
This is an alternate way to look at the condition of the HVAC system and the frequency of repairs. Take stock of the annual repair costs to keep the HVAC system running. If those essential repairs are adding up to more than $500 per year, you’re probably paying too much to keep the system running. The money that is being spent is wasted; this would be better spent on a new HVAC system that has better energy efficiency and reliability.
- A Useful Formula
If you take the cost of a potential repair and multiply it by the age of your HVAC system and the value is more than 5,000, then the repair is not economically viable. As an example: let’s say you have a 11 year old AC system, and it needs a $500 repair; the formula would be 300 x 11 = 5,500. This is more than 5,000, and so the repair simply isn’t worth it, and it’s a better idea to invest in a new system instead. But, remember that expèrts advise that any HVAC system should be replaced if it’s 15 years old because it will be extremely inefficient.
- The 50% Rule
This is another useful calculation that can help a homeowner to make an informed choice on HVAC system replacement. Look at the cost of a new HVAC system installation that you’re interested in and reduce it by 50%. Then take that figure and compare it to the repair quote that you’ve received for your current system. If that repair costs more than 50% of the new HVAC system that you’re thinking of purchasing, then the repair is too expensive.
The Importance of Regular Servicing
When your HVAC system is regularly maintained, minor issues are detected earlier, and these are easier and cheaper to fix than bigger problems. Professional maintenance also increases the useful lifespan of your heating and cooling equipment to the upper end of the age range. A professional HVAC technician will also offer helpful advice on the current state of your HVAC system. This allows you to plan your upgrade rather than being surprised when your system fails unexpectedly. When you know more about your HVAC system, you can make more informed decisions instead of reacting to emergencies when we may make mistakes under pressure.