Your home is your biggest asset, and one of the most costly and comfort-providing components of that home is its HVAC system. As such, you naturally want to keep it in good working order, right? So how do you know how often it should be replaced to keep performance at maximum capacity?
“Is it time for a new HVAC unit?” It’s one of the most common questions that air conditioning specialists get each summer as homeowners notice that their unit is underperforming or not operating as usual. The answer isn’t one-size-fits-all. It’s multifaceted based on your unique circumstances and air conditioner unit. So, let’s explore your answer.
What Does The EPA Say About How Often Your HVAC Should Be Replaced?
According to https://comfortbychampionair.com/mequon-hvac/, a program of the EPA, the typical AC unit will remain in good working order for around 15-30 years. Yes, they’re expensive pieces of equipment, but they have a relatively long lifespan when properly, routinely, and professionally serviced and maintained. Of course, without care, any unit is more subject to premature wear, tear, dysfunction, and breakdowns.
Should I Wait Until My HVAC Quits To Replace It?
It’s not advisable. While you may want to get every single moment of use out of your existing unit, it may not be the best risk versus reward gamble for your home.
Eventually, your HVAC system will suffer an issue that’s beyond repair or too costly to repair. However, waiting until this final moment could lead to unexpected downtime, especially if it occurs during the peak of summer when contractors and service providers stay booked far in advance.
With the above in mind, it’s best not to wait until your air conditioning blows its last breath to consider replacing it. Some homes, such as those with vulnerable residents and pets, simply can’t safely operate without a cooling/heating system. In any case, life without an air conditioner just isn’t fun times.
It brings us back to the original question of when is the right time to replace the HVAC system. The following guide may help you answer that question based on your comfort level with the risk versus reward of putting off a replacement until the unit is no longer working.
Tips To Knowing When It’s Time To Replace Your HVAC
Homeowners should keep in mind that the risk of not replacing an older or dysfunctional unit isn’t just in doing without air while you wait on professional air conditioning help. Running a unit past its lifespan inevitably means that your air quality will suffer all while you’re paying a higher electric bill price, and you may even be sacrificing your safety to do so.
Look to the following signs to help you know when it’s time to call a professional to see if your current HVAC system has outlived its welcome:
1. It’s Elderly (10-30 in age)
Once your unit gets to be 10-years-old, it’s approaching the elderly stage of life. Like its human counterparts who often make more frequent trips to the doctor, your unit will likely need more attention paid to maintenance and checkups with a professional. During these appointments, your service provider can keep you updated on wear and tear on specific parts, efficiency numbers, measures that may help you get more life out of your unit, and alert you when the unit is becoming too costly or unable to repair.
The above is also an applicable consideration on how often you should replace your unit if you want to stay up to date on systems that cause the least impact on the environment. You should consider efficiency and serviceability if your unit is currently over ten years old. If so, it’s highly likely that it was designed to use R-22 refrigerant, a type of freon that’s no longer used in modern systems due to its harmful impact on the environment.
2. Repair Costs Are Losing Value
Many technicians base their recommendation for a new unit versus a unit repair based on the repair itself’s cost. It’s about expense value. All ACs will require some repairs as they age to extend the equipment’s life and efficiency and keep it in working order.
However, when an AC has needed frequent major repairs or needs a repair that is half or more the cost of a replacement unit, then your technician will often recommend a more prudent investment in simply replacing it with a new unit instead of pouring more money into an iffy situation.
How often you should replace your unit is largely contingent on its unique history and cost of service and repairs.
3. Your Energy Bills Are Steadily Rising
Energy bills fluctuate from season to season. They’ll also fluctuate depending upon who controls the thermostat settings, during record highs, and other special circumstances. Your energy bills should be relatively consistent when you compare them a month to month across the span of several years.
If you notice that your energy bills are consistently rising each year, it may be due to your unit becoming less and less efficient. Most heating and cooling systems lose a fraction of efficiency with each year of age, especially if they lack in routine maintenance and service.
In determining how often your system should be replaced, show your energy usage to your professional HVAC technician. They’ll be able to examine your unit for potential causes and tell you exactly how a high-efficiency unit upgrade could help. On average, such upgrades can slash energy usage by as much as 20%. The energy offset is enough to encourage many homeowners to upgrade before their unit completely stops working.
4. Your home Doesn’t Feel Comfortable
Elderly HVAC systems struggle to keep up with the demand for extreme temperature, and they often offer inconsistent temperatures even during minor weather conditions.
Before deciding this means it’s time to upgrade, check that your thermostat isn’t malfunctioning or inaccurate. It’s also a good idea to check your unit’s fluid levels, ductwork, and filters for simple fixes.
If your unit was sized poorly, to begin with, or added to your cooled square footage with addition, then the unit will have increasing troubles meeting your demands as it ages and will likely suffer premature wear and tear to essential, costly parts.
Your technician can check all of this for you and give you all the facts you need in determining if you should replace your underperforming or undersized unit sooner rather than later.
5. Your Home’s Air Quality Is Suffering
Have you noticed more dust, dander, and debris than usual in your home? If so, it may be because your air conditioner unit has lost so much power that it’s unable to keep humidity controlled and remove the debris via its ventilation system. It’s usually a sure sign that your AC either needs maintenance or replacement.
If you smell unusual smells or hear unusual sounds with your AC running, you should have it inspected immediately. Faulty and damaged wiring is a serious safety hazard and grinding, and squealing noises can indicate the unit may overheat and cause extensive damage or fire.
Do You Need A Replacement HVAC?
In asking how often you should replace your HVAC and if it’s time, do a quick assessment and examine how your HVAC operates based on our above tips. This will help your technician provide the most comprehensive recommendations.
Remember, you can’t judge the answer based on your neighbor’s unit. While the average lifespan of an HVAC is a solid indicator of age-related replacement needs, premature wear and tear, brand, installment, usage, and home changes can all decrease AC age guidelines.
If you decide it’s time to replace your unit, your technician will be able to discuss an array of options to meet your energy, pricing, and performance expectations.