An HVAC system is one of the most expensive home systems you can replace. With the cost of the AC unit and furnace themselves, ductwork, thermostat, labor, and more, the total cost can easily exceed $10,000. But having an efficiently-functioning HVAC keeps your home clean and your air quality safe, as well as your energy bills low, and that’s to say nothing of the comfort of cooling your home in the summer and warming it in the winter.
While it’s so important to know when it’s time to retire your current HVAC and upgrade to a new one, it’s not always easy to make that call. Sure, your HVAC is getting old, but how old is too old? It’s broken down once or twice, but when do you stop repairing and turn toward replacement? Here are some signs that your home needs a new HVAC system – before it’s too late.
Your Current HVAC Is More than 15 Years Old
Like most appliances, your AC unit, furnace, and ductwork were only intended to last for so long. Most HVAC systems will serve a homeowner at peak efficiency for 10 to 15 years. After that, you should consider replacement, and not just because an older HVAC is more prone to failure (although that is a good reason).
Older HVACs were built under older efficiency and sustainability standards. For example, many older AC units today still use R-22, an older refrigerant that is being phased out because of the danger it poses to the environment. Upgrading to a new unit will not only help the environment, it should lower your cooling costs, too.
If you are going to replace an older AC unit, the best time to do so is in the early spring before the summer heat hits, especially if you live in a hot climate, like the Southwest. Contact local HVAC contractors in climates like Los Angeles early in the season, before they’re swamped with summer jobs.
It’s Making Scary Noises
It’s normal for your AC unit to make a low humming or for your furnace to make a low rumbling sound as it functions. But squealing, thumping, banging, rattling, or screeching are all signs of an imminent failure of a fan, motor, or blower that may be catastrophic.
Your Home Is Dusty
If you’ve noticed that your home is a lot dustier than it used to be, this could be a sign that you need to replace your HVAC. As systems age, dirt accumulates inside them, and they can transfer this dirt to the air in your home, causing increased dust. Make sure you get your ducts cleaned when you have your HVAC replaced.
You’re Having Problems with Allergies or Mold
Just as aging systems can bring additional dust in your home, they can also introduce mold spores and allergens. Aging AC units can also cause condensation and moisture problems around vents and ductwork, contributing to mold growth. If members of your household are having health problems related to air quality, an aging HVAC could be to blame.
A Major Component Has Failed
Some repairs are so expensive that you might as well just buy a new HVAC, while others are indicative of more serious problems. If a coil, primary motor, or compressor fails, you’re usually better off replacing the entire system than repairing it. By the same token, if you’re having to constantly have your HVAC repaired, it’s time to consider replacement, especially if the system is older. It’ll cost more up front, but it’ll be worth it.
It’s Just Not Performing like It Once Did
Now, this may not necessarily be a sign that your HVAC needs replaced; only a professional can tell you if an underperforming HVAC can be repaired or if it should be scrapped. But often, when your AC isn’t cooling or your furnace isn’t heating effectively, it’s because your unit is faulty, aging, not the right size for your home, or improperly installed. All of those can be grounds for replacement.
Getting your HVAC replaced is a major home overhaul, but when it needs to happen, it needs to happen. Heating and cooling are central to your home’s safety and comfort, so keep tabs on your HVAC and make plans to replace it when it’s time – hopefully, before it gives up the ghost.