Replacing the HVAC system in your home—or individual components like the furnace, air conditioner, or ductwork—is a major investment. Deciding between repairing a broken unit and fully replacing it is complicated, since the costs need to be weighed against benefits like future savings from improved energy efficiency, etc.
We put together this list of considerations to help you decide when it’s enough to repair, or when it’s time to fully replace, the HVAC equipment in your home.
When to replace HVAC equipment
Every family’s situation is unique, from budgetary constraints, to age of their HVAC system, to how big of a home they need to heat and cool, to how dangerous it would be to family members to lose heating or cooling during extreme temperatures. That said, there are a few signs that signal something’s amiss with your HVAC equipment, and it might be time to consider a full replacement.
- You’re regularly repairing your AC or furnace. If you’re calling for repairs again and again, it might be time to replace your old system. A licensed HVAC technician will be able to tell you whether your system is worth the continual repairs or if it’s time to replace the whole thing.
- Your house has become strangely humid or dirty. Sometimes a broken air conditioning unit or furnace will reveal itself in more subtle ways than a lack of heating or cooling. If an air conditioner isn’t cooling correctly, your home may seem more humid than usual.
With furnaces, if your air filter has been changed recently, there shouldn’t be any dust blowing into your home through your HVAC system. You may need to clean out your ductwork—especially if you’ve recently gone through a messy home renovation or had some other major influx of dust—but there also may be a malfunction with your furnace.
- Your unit is old. New air conditioning units are significantly more energy efficient than models were even just a decade ago. Sticking with an outdated unit could be sapping you of money you could be saving on each energy bill. If your AC unit is more than 10 years old, it might be time to replace it.
Furnaces last a little longer, but a good time to replace is at about 15 or 20 years.
- The cost of repairs is more than a third of the cost of a new unit. We borrowed this rule of thumb from the car industry, but it works great here, too. Once you’re spending a certain amount of money on new parts or repairs, at some point it’s more cost effective just to replace the whole thing—especially since there are no guarantees that the next big repair will be your last.
- Your energy bills are rising unexpectedly. If your service provider hasn’t raised their prices, and the weather hasn’t gotten more extreme, a big change in your energy bill can mean something major is wrong with your HVAC system. It’s the single biggest energy user in your home.
When to replace your furnace
There are also a few furnace-specific signs that it’s time to replace, rather than repair, your unit. Especially in colder climates, these can be critical to keep an eye out for, since a furnace failing during a cold snap can be devastating.
- The pilot light turned yellow. The pilot light inside your furnace should be burning blue. If it has turned yellow, that means there are other chemical compounds burning alongside the natural gas, which could be dangerous. A yellow flame can indicate a carbon monoxide leak, which can be deadly for whoever’s at home. If you see this, be sure to contact a licensed technician as soon as possible.
- Your vents have soot accumulating around them. Besides dirty vents being hard to clean, they can be a sign that something’s wrong with your furnace. Soot around vents can indicate that there’s too much carbon dioxide coming out of your system. If you notice this, be sure to contact a technician as quickly as possible in case something’s amiss.
- The furnace is making weird noises. Some weird noises are easy repairs, but others might signal a serious malfunction in your furnace. For instance, a motor might be unbalanced, fans might need lubrication, or belts might need replacing. Be sure to pay attention to strange noises coming from your furnace even when they’re easy enough to ignore. Small issues that go unresolved for long enough can turn into big issues over time.
Time for a new furnace or air conditioner?
Sometimes a quick repair from a trusted HVAC professional is all you need, but furnaces, air conditioners, and other components of your home’s HVAC system won’t last forever. If you’re ready to be done with repairs and worrying about your family’s comfort and safety during the hottest and coldest months of the year, it’s probably time to update your HVAC system.
Sam’s Club Members have access to free, no-obligation consultations with vetted, licensed HVAC technicians. Contact Sam’s Club Home Install Experts™ by Service Finance today to get started and set up your free in-home consultation. As always, enjoy a 10% Discount Off Everyday Dealer Pricing* for Sam’s Club Members.