Need to Replace Your HVAC System? Here Are Some Important Questions to Ask Before You Do.

If your HVAC system is old, inefficient, or in need of repair, it just might be time to consider replacing it.

Buying a new HVAC system can be a sizable investment, and working with the right contractor may be the most crucial decision in the buying process. An experienced, reputable HVAC company will guide you through the replacement process with honesty and integrity. That said, you need not start the process in the dark, so it’s important to know which questions to ask.

Check out some of the most frequent questions asked of the experts at J&A South Park.

When should I replace my HVAC system?

A system that’s working properly should only need occasional repair work. So, if you’ve attempted to fix your current system several times and it still isn’t cooling and heating your home properly, it may be time to seriously think about replacing it.

Moreover, older systems are not as energy efficient as those manufactured today, so you could save yourself a bundle of money in the long run with a replacement.

Why’s that? HVAC industry experts tell us that today’s systems are as much as 50 percent more efficient than those manufactured just ten years ago.

Should I consider replacing my HVAC system if it’s working okay?

You should only replace your HVAC system if it’s in your best interest.

However, you owe it to yourself to talk with your HVAC expert if your unit is older than 15 years. Yes, paying for a new HVAC unit is an investment. However, you can cut your home heating and cooling costs as much as 50 percent and save on any added repair costs for your older system.

Should I replace all of my HVAC equipment at the same time?

This depends on your current system and equipment, but we typically recommend replacing your entire HVAC system all at once. Because your system has to communicate with all its parts, they should be in harmony with one another. Trying to blend old and new equipment can cause issues down the line.

True, if a part of the system breaks and needs to be replaced, you do have the option to swap out just the broken part, but you still may find that replacing the entire system is more efficient and cost-effective. Moreover, if one major part fails, you also need to consider that the rest of the unit is the same age and is more likely to fail, usually sooner rather than later.

Your HVAC contractor can provide valuable insight before you make your decision.

When is the best time to replace my HVAC system?

HVAC contractors are busy repairing and replacing furnaces and heat pumps during the winter months, and, of course, summer is the peak season for air conditioners. Like stores’ after-Christmas sales, many HVAC companies and manufacturers offer sales and rebates on units and installation after these peak seasons.

Bottom line: The next best time would be the months in between the busy summer and winter seasons. Months, when the weather is milder, tend to be slower for HVAC contractors, so you might also find specials on installation.

What type of HVAC system should I get?

There are several choices when it comes to selecting an HVAC system. Some are engineered for quiet operation or designed to integrate seamlessly with furnaces, thermostats, and other HVAC equipment. A qualified HVAC contractor will be willing and able to explain the best options for your home.

A/C units:

A split air conditioner is a somewhat common option. It consists of two units: one that sits outside your home and one that resides inside. The two units communicate via coolant lines.

On the other hand, a packaged system puts both units in the same cabinet, which your HVAC technician installs outside. These models take up less space and often cost less to install.

Heating units:

As for furnaces, a variable-speed unit increases your system’s heating efficiency by running for longer periods of time. It adjusts the speed based on what is needed. This increases efficiency by eliminating the waste caused by frequent stops and starts.

You might consider a heat pump, an air conditioner that can also work in reverse to heat your home during the winter. Heat pumps are more energy-efficient than furnaces, so they are a cost-effective option.

Keep in mind they are best used in climates that don’t experience extreme winters unless paired with a gas furnace for more powerful heating during the winter.

What size HVAC system should I have?

Contrary to popular belief, there is no rule of thumb for sizing a system to a home. Depending on the construction of your home, one ton of air conditioning can cool anywhere from 300 to 800 square feet of home. The only way to ensure the size of the system you purchase will be large enough to cool your home, but not any larger than necessary, is to have your home’s individual heating and cooling needs to be evaluated by a licensed professional.

What is the best SEER rating for a new air conditioner?

The more efficient an air conditioner is, the less energy it will take to cool your home. Most A/C units have a yellow sticker labeled “Energy Guide” that displays the SEER or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating. The federally regulated minimum SEER rating for an air conditioner is 13 or 14, but the ratings go as high as 25.

After assessing your home and your current HVAC system, a contractor should be able to tell you what size unit and what capacity unit would best match your space and your needs. They should also tell you what the recommended unit’s SEER rating is so you can determine if its energy efficiency is what you’re looking for.

What thermostat do you recommend?

The correct thermostat can help you save on energy costs year ’round. Programmable thermostats allow you to set a schedule that changes depending on the day of the week to help reduce energy waste when no one is at home.

For those into apps, many newer HVAC units offer cutting-edge, smart thermostats that let you manage your heating and cooling needs remotely from an app. They can also deliver energy usage reports to help you better understand your energy consumption.

Some thermostats work better with certain types of HVAC systems than others, so you should check with your contractor to understand which options will work with your choice of system.

How long does it take to replace an HVAC system?

We are often asked, “How long does it take to install a new HVAC system?” Not surprisingly, the answer tends to be “it depends.” There are generally two types of heating and A/C installations: a changeout and a full system replacement.

A changeout is when just the furnace or A/C unit is being replaced, but the remainder of the equipment is staying the same. A changeout typically requires a full day, or 8 hours of labor to complete.

A full system replacement takes a bit longer because everything needs to be replaced, possibly including the ductwork. Generally, a complete HVAC system replacement will take around three days — one day for the changeout and two days for the ductwork.

Can I keep my current ductwork?

The distribution system in your home plays a critical role in how your HVAC system functions. Many duct systems don’t move as much air as needed because of ducts that are too small, kinked, too long, or have other types of constrictions.

Ductwork must be adequately sealed and insulated and needs to be sized for your new system. If you need ductwork repaired, cleaned, or replaced, the cost should be included in the initial estimate.

What about total cost?

It’s recommended that you obtain three written estimates prior to selecting a contractor. Ask each to explain their cost breakdown, including the system pricing, labor cost, and charges for extras such as thermostats or air quality components.

Ask questions before agreeing to any work. Remember, an estimate does not mean an obligation on your part.

Make sure you understand what is included in each price – what’s being done, what equipment is being provided, and when the installation process will begin and end.

Keep in mind that installation prices vary from one HVAC company to the next, and equipment costs vary from brand to brand. However, you should also be aware that if one contractor’s price is significantly below the others, chances are they are not providing the same level of quality product or service.

You can also ask your HVAC technician for a return on investment (ROI) and lifetime cost analysis that a new system offers. For instance, the amount of time you plan to remain in your house makes a difference in the potential ROI you may receive.

One other thing and it’s important. Look for the ENERGY STAR label for your best options when considering an HVAC replacement.

Lastly, your contractor should know the benefits of installing a new HVAC system, including any discounts, rebates, or tax credits that could help you save some money.

What about financing? Most quality contractors offer financing to help you manage the investment in your home. There are several plans available with approved credit, so ask your contractor to provide details of their plans so you can select the one that best suits your needs and budget.

What about maintenance and warranties?

All HVAC equipment requires routine maintenance and having a maintenance agreement helps assure your system is ready, no matter the weather.

Understand what guarantees, warranties, and follow-up services are available. Ask your contractor if he/she offers a maintenance service agreement, how much it costs, and what it covers.

Equipment warranties vary, so it’s essential to know precisely what is included in the warranty and what is not. You should also know whether you need to register your new equipment or if your contractor will take care of it.

Keep in mind, too, that lack of regular maintenance can void your warranty, so be sure to have a plan in place to protect your investment.

What should I look for in an HVAC contractor?

Selecting the right contractor is critical. Begin by asking about their HVAC licensing and qualifications. He/she should be appropriately licensed and adequately insured. Also, ask about the size of their staff to ensure there are adequate workers to not only install the system but to respond to service calls promptly. You should also ask about the technicians’ certifications, and if they are familiar with the brand of equipment, you want to purchase.

Once you’ve decided on which professional you want to work with, ask for customer references, and make contact with those individuals. Be sure to ask about the quality of the work and if the job was done in a timely and professional manner.

Why choose J&A South Park for HVAC services in the Pittsburgh area?

Put simply, J&A South Park provides for the ever-changing needs of our customers through quality work and superior service to improve their homes’ indoor air quality and comfort. We want to be recognized within the community and our field as an HVAC company of excellence.

Feel free to call J&A South Park at any time. We’ll have a certified technician ready to help you out.