Should I Repair or Replace My HVAC?

As the temperature rises during the onset of summer, many people are turning on their air conditioners for the first time in months. This is the time of year when HVAC companies get backed up from service calls. One of the best ways you can beat the rush is to turn on your system right as the temperature begins to warm up outside. If you wait until it’s already the hot time of year, it may take a week or longer before someone can come over and take a look at what’s wrong.

If there is something wrong with your system, there are a few warning signs that can help us to determine if it might be a good time to consider a full replacement. First of all, how reliable is the system? It’s very common for air conditioner repair calls to become more frequent as it gets older. Repairs will also tend to get more expensive as the larger components start to fail. Overall, we’re going to look at whether or not it’s worth it to continue to invest in repairing the unit. There are times when it makes more sense to make the small repairs instead of doing a full replacement. There are other times when the repair amount is so significant that it doesn’t make sense to invest that much money in an old piece of equipment.

Another big indicator is the efficiency of the system. If you start to see that it’s getting too expensive to heat or cool your home, that’s a good sign that the system is aging and it may be a good time to replace it. There are also times when the air isn’t as cool as it used to be. If you’re noticing a slow decrease in the cooling capacity of the system, that’s usually caused by a refrigerant leak.

Since it’s supposed to be a sealed system, it’s acceptable to make a minor refrigerant adjustment every five to six years. If the refrigerant needs to be adjusted more often, that’s an indication that there’s a significant leak in the system. Before you know it, you’re going to end up with a block of ice in the basement as the system freezes over. Of course, our regular maintenance involves attaching a gauge that may deplete a tiny amount of refrigerant from the system. It definitely shouldn’t be enough to make a difference in the cooling ability.

Once it comes time to replace your air conditioning system, we’ll have to determine the appropriate size of the unit. The normal practice would be to replace the unit with a similar size if the old system worked correctly. There may be some difficulty if the system was oversized, since it would still heat/cool your home effectively. It may not have been as efficient as possible, and it also may not have dehumidified as well as it should have.

For that reason, we actually do a heat loss/gain analysis for every home to determine the exact size that would be ideal. To do this analysis we measure the size of the home, look at the windows, and make some approximations of the insulation levels in the walls/ceiling. We also determine the type of shingles that are on the roof. By using all of this information, we’re able to get a fairly close estimate to determine whether the unit’s size needs to be changed.

Unfortunately, the life expectancy for newer air conditioning systems has decreased significantly. As the government has mandated more efficient equipment, companies have made the metals that transfer heat thinner. The consequence is a more efficient unit with a shorter lifespan. We’re now finding that air conditioning systems have an average lifespan of 10 to 12 years (that includes the heat pump). Furnaces have a 10 to 15 year lifespan. This is in stark contrast to older oil or gas furnaces that had a 30 year lifespan. On a positive note, the more efficient units will probably result in a noticeable reduction in your utility bill.

Regardless of whether it’s time for a repair or a replacement, just contact us online or give us a call today. Hopefully you’ll be able to beat the summertime rush.