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When is it Time to Replace Your HVAC System | Longevity Explained

September 18, 2020

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Every homeowner should know when to replace the HVAC system in their home, so they can budget accordingly and ensure they schedule new heating and air conditioning replacement long before their current system stops working! The best time to replace an HVAC system is right before the end of its expected lifespan and when you notice major components starting to fail, so you always have a working HVAC system and aren’t faced with an unexpected shutdown.

How Often Should I Replace My HVAC Unit?

Most local and national departments of energy suggest a homeowner replace their HVAC system every 10 to 15 years. In homes where the HVAC system is used more often than average, major components might start to break down after 8 years, while higher-quality, name-brand appliances may last up to 15 years or more with regular maintenance and tune-ups.

To ensure you know when to replace the HVAC system in your home, note some signs that it’s time to start budgeting for a replacement system. It’s also good to note when you might simply need furnace or air conditioning repairs rather than replacement, so you can contact an HVAC contractor near you as needed.

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A homeowner would also do well to note how to keep their home’s HVAC system in good working order through the years, and how to extend its overall lifespan! A few simple steps along with a good maintenance plan can mean an HVAC system that lasts for years longer than expected, saving on otherwise unnecessary repair and replacement costs.

When to Replace the HVAC System | Signs of Needed HVAC Repairs

As the old saying goes, “knowledge is power,” and knowing when your HVAC system is likely to break down and signs of needed repairs gives you the power to budget accordingly. You’ll also know when to call an HVAC repair contractor near you as needed.

  • Before you decide on repairs or replacement, it’s good to schedule an energy assessment for your home. This assessment checks for air leaks, faulty ductwork, and other issues that cause an HVAC system to run more often than it should, and which allow heated and cooled air to escape throughout the home.
  • An energy assessment also notes how to make your home more energy-efficient even if it is time to replace your HVAC system. For example, you might upgrade your home’s insulation, replace the windows and doors or add weather-stripping in those areas, or add window film to help reduce trapped heat inside the home.
  • If your HVAC system is 8 years old or older, it’s good to note the brand and model. Check online for its average life expectancy; you might find that off-brand appliances are expected to last no more than 8 to 10 years, while more reputable brands including Carrier, Trane, and Lennox are often expected to last some 15 years.
  • No matter the brand name, it’s good to schedule an HVAC inspection for your system every other year at most, and especially once that system is 8 to 10 years old. An inspection can note worn parts, major components starting to break down, signs of excess wear, and needed maintenance or cleaning.
  • HVAC systems often make odd sounds when components break down. Squealing often means worn bearings or moving parts struggling to work, and grinding sounds can indicate a broken part rubbing against other parts.
  • When HVAC systems struggle to operate as they should, they draw more power, forcing their parts to work! In turn, you’ll see a sudden spike in your utility costs.
  • Struggling HVAC systems also tend to provide uneven heating and cooling. If you notice various areas of your home that are not as warm or cool as the rest, this often indicates it’s time to replace the HVAC system.
  • Homeowners often tend to forget that a residential HVAC system is meant to remove and filter air in your home’s interior spaces; this includes dust and other such debris. If you notice your home is suddenly dustier than usual, this might indicate a struggling HVAC system or one that needs cleaning and maintenance.
  • Air conditioners also remove humidity as well as warm air. When the AC system starts to fail, that trapped or residual humidity might result in mold or mildew growing along walls and ceilings.

When to Replace a Furnace or AC Versus HVAC Repair

The cost to replace an HVAC system is often much more expensive than repairs, but in some cases that added cost is worth the investment! How do you know when to replace your residential HVAC system versus repairing it, or vice versa? Note a few tips to consider when it’s time to call an HVAC company near you.

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  • If your expected repair costs are 30% or more the cost of a new HVAC unit, it might be recommended that you simply replace the unit altogether. A new unit will usually last for several years before it needs repairs, while an older unit will usually need many repairs over the years, making a new unit more cost-effective in the long run.
  • Note, too, that today’s brands of air conditioners and furnaces are more energy-efficient than ever before. Upgrading to a new unit versus one that’s 10 years old or older can mean saving anywhere from 10% to 50% on your energy costs!
  • Your home’s current system might not be the best choice for your needs; for instance, homes in southern states typically need central air conditioners, to keep the home cool and remove excess humidity. However, homes in northern states might suffice with ductless split system air conditioners, to keep smaller interior spaces cool while using less power.
  • Updated features also ensure easier operation of your home’s HVAC system. Variable speed motors, as an example, allow you to move air at a comfortable rate which can also cut down on cold drafts or a stuffy feeling during wintertime.

Note, too, that you might want to replace the home’s HVAC system if you’re thinking of selling the home sometimes in the future. You might assume that investing in a new furnace or air conditioner for a home you might put on the market is a waste, but many potential homebuyers prefer homes with updated appliances and electronics. Investing in a new HVAC system now can mean a more valuable home and more buying offers once you’re ready to sell!

Tips for Avoiding Your Cost to Replace the HVAC System!

The best way to reduce costs to replace the HVAC system in your home is to keep that system functionally optimally as much as possible, for as long as possible! Keeping your home well-insulated helps repel outside heat and cold while keeping in your heated and cooled air, so that your home’s HVAC system cycles on less often. In turn, the HVAC system will suffer less wear and tear over the years!

Regular professional HVAC maintenance also keeps the system functioning properly over the years. Maintenance calls typically include cleaning all inside parts, removing damaging dust and debris, as well as oiling the bearings and other moving parts. Maintenance also means calibrating the thermostat so the HVAC system doesn’t cycle on and off excessively, also reducing wear and tear.

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Homeowners should also replace the furnace filter often during seasons they use the HVAC system, typically once every month. That filter traps and locks airborne dirt, dust, pet hair and dander, and other contaminants, keeping them out of the house and away from the HVAC system! The cleaner the system, the less wear on its many parts.

Air conditioning compressor housing sitting outside the home itself expel heat as they operate, which is why it’s vital you keep those fins around the unit clean and clear. If you notice a build-up of leaves, twigs, grass clippings, and other such debris, build a barrier for the unit, ensuring that barrier sits several inches or even a full foot away, allowing for proper air circulation. This keeps the unit cool, reducing wear and tear and avoiding early shutdown.

What Is the Best Time to Replace an HVAC System?

If you need a new AC or furnace, when is the best time to replace an HVAC system? One vital consideration is to replace an HVAC system before it shuts down completely, as an older furnace or AC is likely to shut down during the hottest or coldest day of the year! Not only will your home then be uncomfortably warm or cold but your HVAC contractor is also likely to be busiest during those peak seasons, which means you might need to wait days for an appointment.

The hottest and coldest days of the season are also when new HVAC units are in high demand. In turn, a manufacturer might struggle to keep up with demand! If you wait until your HVAC system fails before scheduling a new AC or furnace installation, you might end up waiting days if not weeks before the system you want is available.

Manufacturers might also have rebates and discounts on appliances at the end of the year, when they’re making room for new inventory. You might also be eligible for tax rebates and other financial incentives, making the end of the year the best time to replace your HVAC system!

A Word from Our Expert HVAC Technicians:

This article was put together by our team at Spring HVAC Repair! When you are in need of an AC or HVAC system replacement in your Texan neighborhood, we're the professionals to call!


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