How often do you think about your HVAC system?
For most homeowners, their HVAC unit is hardly a blip on the radar screen until it breaks down, leaving you sweating buckets in the summer, or shivering in the winter and scrambling to find the funds for an expensive repair or replacement.
Truth is, an HVAC system is one of the biggest investments you can make in your home. While you obviously want to keep it up and running as long as possible, it’s important to understand when it’s time for an upgrade to a new, more efficient system.
Unfortunately, many homeowners don’t think about the condition of their HVAC unit until it completely breaks down. Instead of tackling routine repairs when an issue arises, many homeowners wait until their entire HVAC system just stops working altogether. As you might expect, this is never the most prudent way to treat this type of problem.
Did you know that there are some telltale signs to look for that might indicate it’s time to replace your current HVAC system? A poorly working heating and cooling system can affect how much you pay month-to-month in utilities. Plus, it can seriously affect your home’s comfort level. That’s why it’s important that you recognize the telltale warning signs early on. You can head off any issues that could result in an emergency call in the middle of the upcoming winter.
Here are some things you should look for…
Number One: Your HVAC unit’s age
The number one cause of HVAC system failure is simply old age!
On average, units have a lifespan of approximately 20 years. Eventually, your HVAC unit will begin to age and deteriorate, meaning it will start needing more repairs and costing you money. Once your HVAC unit reaches the point where the cost of repairing it outweighs the cost of purchasing an entirely new unit, you no doubt want to consider replacing it.
In fact, if your HVAC system is simply too old, most HVAC companies will recommend that you install a new system instead of making continuous, costly repairs.
Replacing your old system with a new also one means you’ll get more reliability from your unit. As a bonus, these newer units are less likely to burn out their compressors, and they’re better able to control dust, allergens, and mold.
Keep in mind, too, that even the most state-of-the-art technology from 10+ years ago doesn’t come close to equaling the energy efficiency of today’s systems. Newer units come with features such as digitized and programmable thermostats that are easy to use and help make your home smarter and more comfortable.
Is your HVAC system improperly sized?
Constant cycling between on and off modes could mean your HVAC system needs repair or it just might be too large for your home. HVAC systems that are constantly turning off and back on are more likely to wear out quickly because they are basically running too frequently, which causes premature wear and eventual damage to the parts.
On the other hand, if your system was installed before you moved into your home, it’s possible that the previous owners tried to save a bit of money by installing a smaller unit than your home requires.
When your system isn’t powerful enough to cool and heat your home, It’s inefficient and costly. Replacing it with the correct size can save you money and make your home more comfortable.
Your J&A South Park HVAC service technician can tell if your HVAC unit is improperly size and needs to be replaced with a system that is the appropriate size for your home.
Clunk, clunk, clunk! Are weird noises coming from inside the unit?
HVAC equipment certainly isn’t silent, but you’ll probably recognize a strange sound when you hear one.
If you hear noises you haven’t heard before coming from your heating and cooling system, it can mean that there are significant problems. It might be vibrations that loosen parts, or a motor that’s wearing out or any number of glitches that can cause new noises or just an increase in the amount and volume of noise coming from your system.
If your HVAC system is too noisy, it’s worth getting it checked out by a reliable HVAC contractor. They’ll be able to identify the source of the noise and fix the problem. If the problem keeps coming back, however, it’s probably time to look into a new system. New models are designed to be much quieter, so they don’t disrupt your daily life and activities.
Your J&A South Park service technician will be able to find out the source of the commotion and make a recommendation.
Not unlike any appliance, frequent repairs and downtime will inevitably become more commonplace with the passing years. Sure, you can fix your system any number of times when ordinary wear and tear causes the problem, but if you’re calling for help every other week trying to get someone to get your HVAC system to work, you might be due for a new model.
Things like the capacitor, which is like a battery, or the connectors, which are similar to electrical switches, are basic repairs. But when you get into leaks in the coils or the compressor starts giving you problems or the motor fails, those are big repairs that you wouldn’t necessarily want to make before getting a thorough inspection. If your system has failures like these often, in the long run, you’ll be better off and more comfortable if you simply replace the system with a new, more efficient one.
Add to this the likely domino effect. Since HVAC systems are closed circuits, as soon as you replace one major component, more often than not, another one is soon to follow.
One reliable rule of thumb says that when your repair cost is almost or more than 50 percent of the costs of a brand new unit, you’re better off purchasing the new one.
A new HVAC system will not only help you make the most of your home improvement budget but will keep your house comfortable, no matter what the weather report says. A newer system will also stave off concerns about repair for many years to come, plus save you time and money compared to keeping the old system on life support.
Your utility bills keep going up
While it’s normal to spend more on utilities when you’re trying to heat your home in the winter, your bills shouldn’t be significantly higher than they were in the same month last year.
Most HVAC technicians will agree that rising utility bills can be a sign you need to replace your HVAC system. That’s because, as we’ve said, the efficiency of the older system reduces over time from normal wear and tear. And it’s particularly the build-up of dirt and corrosion on the inside over time that causes the greatest loss of efficiency.
Normally, you can expect the efficiency of your system to drop 5 to 10 percent per year as it ages. However, if you notice a spike in energy bills, it’s worth contacting your J&A South Park service technician to take a look at your HVAC system to see if something’s wrong. If it requires extensive repairs, you might be better off investing in a complete replacement to maximize the efficiency of your home’s HVAC system. Again, apply the 50 percent rule of thumb described above.
Moreover, the reduction in energy costs associated with a new model will lower your utility bill by heating and cooling your house faster than your previous HVAC model. Fact is, studies have shown that replacing your old unit with a new HVAC system could save you anywhere from 20 percent to 40 percent on your home energy costs.
Tripped circuit breaker
If your HVAC system trips the circuit breaker once, it may not be cause for alarm. But if it happens frequently, you may have a system that is showing signs of wear. A small repair may be able to help, but it likely won’t last long, and your whole system may soon need replacing. This is another instance where your J&A South Park technician can provide insight into why the circuit breaker is repeatedly tripping.
Hot flashes and cold snaps
Have you ever been sitting in a specific spot in your home that is just not comfortable, whether it’s too hot, too cold, or just seems a little more humid than the rest of the house? It could have been that the ductwork was improperly installed. The sad reality is that up to 60 percent of homes have some ductwork that is incorrectly sized and/or improperly ran.
A new system, with proper ductwork, can make your home feel like it’s brand new.
The bottom line: If your old system is just not doing the job anymore, leaving some rooms uncomfortably hot or too cold, it’s time to weigh your options for replacement.
Carbon monoxide leaks
Carbon monoxide (CO) is nothing to mess with. Carbon monoxide leaks and CO poisoning are very serious. Carbon monoxide poisoning can cause a variety of unpleasant physical symptoms and even death!
Older furnaces are at greater risk of forming cracks in the heat exchanger, which leads to incomplete combustion, which creates CO. A carbon monoxide detector is the only way to tell if your system has a crack in it. In fact, however, if the crack is large enough to be visible to the naked eye, it’s WAY too large, to begin with!
Don’t compromise your family’s safety. Your J&A South Park HVAC technician will be able to provide timely advice and information on protecting against CO leaks and if and when replacement is needed.
Higher resale value
If you’re planning on selling your home, remember that smart home buyers will look at your HVAC system when making an offer. They will expect a significant discount on the asking price in exchange for having to replace an old or damaged system. Replacing your HVAC system prior to putting it on the market can help you get more for your home.
New models are cool
Literally. The newer models are designed to cool and heat your house more efficiently than previous models. On top of that, new advances in HVAC technology give customizable features and options for ease of use. Nowadays, you can even control your temperature settings and thermostats right from your smartphone.
Moreover, as technologies have advanced and new energy standards have been implemented, the overall efficiency of HVAC equipment has dramatically improved. Put simply, newer HVAC units are much more efficient than older ones.
Additionally, the Department of Energy efficiency standards were raised in 2005 and again in 2015. HVAC systems which pre-date these latest changes are most likely less efficient, and you would only see long-term cost benefits by replacing your older system.
If your unit is approaching its 20th anniversary, despite the fact that it still may be churning out hot air in the winter and cool air in the summer, chances are it is keeping your home energy costs unnecessarily high.