You can’t believe it: your HVAC is causing trouble again. What’s more: you just had a professional over to perform routine service on the heating and cooling systems. What gives? Did your contractor bungle something? Before you start preparing that lawsuit, ask yourself this all-important question: how old is your HVAC? If you’ve had it for a long time, no amount of repair may offer the solution to your woes — you might need total HVAC replacement instead.
HVAC replacement is a scary prospect for many individuals because they assume that it’s going to be expensive. Unfortunately, they’re often correct: buying a new HVAC system is not likely to be cheap, and you’ll have to pay for the labor it takes to install the new system in your building as well. However, you should note that there is no viable alternative to replacing an HVAC when it becomes old. Continuing to use an HVAC that is past its prime is highly impractical — and likely to be more expensive eventually than just purchasing a new one.
That’s not to say you can’t still go a long way with routine maintenance. After all, HVAC systems are designed to last for many years, as long as they are adequately cared for during that period. As long as you’re doing the following things on a regular basis, you can probably expect your HVAC system to last you for well over a decade.
- Cleaning or changing the filters on a regular basis: the filters in your HVAC are what prevent particulate debris from entering the ducts and compromising the quality of the air moving through your home or office. When filters are changed (or cleaned, for systems that have reusable ones) at least once per month while the system is in use, operators can avoid the efficiency problems and potential mechanical breakdowns that dirty filters cause.
- Removing debris from around your outdoor unit during cooling season: filters go a long way towards keeping small particles out of the ducts, but they won’t necessarily be much protection against larger items that wedge their way into your HVAC through the outdoor unit. Yard clippings, twigs, and even small animals have the potential to move into the system this way and become stuck in places where they can affect airflow, so make sure you’re always keeping a close eye on the surrounding area and clearing it of potential debris every weekend or so.
- Arranging for yearly professional service calls to diagnose and fix potential problems: DIY maintenance will do a lot for your HVAC, but it won’t be enough to prevent or solve complex issues that arise with critical components. Make sure you can always receive qualified professional help for more demanding tasks such as plugging leaks in the ductwork or charging the refrigerant by arranging for a professional service call once or twice each year. A licensed contractor will perform a detailed inspection of your system and diagnose any potential issues with it. That way, you’ll be able to take care of minor problems before they turn into major ones that can threaten the lifespan of the system.
- Arranging for duct cleaning once each year: clear ducts keep the system optimally energy-efficient and allow you to enjoy the fresh, treated air moving through them. Hiring professionals to clean the conduits in your building every year enables you to avoid contamination or reduced efficiency due to airflow problems — which can take years off your HVAC’s life.
You might be doing all of the things listed above, but at a certain point, you’re likely to find that they aren’t as much help as they used to be. The components in air conditioners and furnaces don’t last forever, even with tender love and care. An HVAC that is more than 15 years old is likely to have lost some of the efficiency it once had, even when it is working as well as it can. As such, the owners of old systems will use more energy and face higher monthly utility bills.
Purchasing a new system could cost you much money up front, but it’s also important to consider the amount you stand to save over time. More modern systems are far more efficient than older ones ever were, with some providing up to 43% more savings than air conditioners that meet the federal minimum standard. The money you save over the next few years could be enough to offset the initial costs of replacement and provide you with a sizeable windfall each year throughout the remainder of your new air conditioner’s lifespan. Energy efficient heating systems offer similar advantages to their owners.
The choice of whether or not to pursue HVAC replacement is up to you, but there are several compelling reasons for doing so. Use the information above to help you make a decision that will benefit you well into the future and contact a licensed HVAC technician to learn more about replacing your old HVAC with a new one.