Repair or Replace: How to Decide If You Need a New HVAC System
One of the most significant decisions you’ll make as a homeowner or landlord is the one that determines HVAC replacement versus repair. Full-scale replacement can be expensive but necessary if your home or business is caught in a vortex of diminishing returns.
In the following article, we’ll be discussing the core factors you’ll need to consider when deciding between repair or replacement. Keep reading to learn more.
1. Consider the Age of Your Existing Unit
Your first question when making this decision will likely be how long do air conditioners last? But that’s really an overly simplistic thing to ask.
It’s too simple because a unit can technically last much longer than it should. A friend recently replaced the HVAC unit that came with his home, which was built 35 years ago! (Hint: most AC units last around 15 years and furnaces close to 20.)
By the final year of its life, it was costing him hundreds of dollars per service call. We’ll discuss that more in-depth in the next section.
For now, it’s important that you know how old your unit is and what its recommended useful lifespan is. This will help you as we move further down the checklist.
2. Calculate Likely Repair Costs
So, we’ve determined that instead of asking how long do ac units last, you should be asking how long before repairs and maintenance catch up to the cost of a new unit?
Going back to that friend with the 35-year-old unit: the chronic repairs in its final year turned a $5,000 replacement into a $7,000 expense. For one year! That doesn’t count all the frequent repair calls made between years 15 and 34.
It’s entirely possible he could have purchased two brand new AC units during that time period. Talk about wasteful!
3. Weigh Replacement Against Your Finances
We get it. An old air conditioner that you can still use is hard to replace because the typical cost of a full replacement is between $3,700 and $7,200.
That’s a hard purchase to make because few of us have that kind of money on-hand. And who likes debt?
But there are ways to pay for your replacement without upending your savings account or losing the home you’re trying to cool. Consider paying a small down payment and financing the rest.
Most repair technicians will work with you and your lender to ensure a low-interest rate, particularly if you have decent credit scores. Take advantage of this!
4. Make Sure You Have Enough Unit for Your House
One thing you may run into when replacing an old air conditioner is this. If you or previous homeowners made additions to the house without updating the AC, then there may not be enough coverage for the entire home.
So make sure you know what the square footage of the home was when the old unit was installed versus what it is now. That can influence the unit cost and projected energy savings.
5. Factor Energy Efficiency into the Equation
A new AC compressor may keep your old unit running a little longer. But is that worth it when your energy bills are way higher than they should be because of the age and efficiency of your unit?
Whenever making the repair-or-replace decision, do some calculating with your existing bill. Most newer units will give you a minimum of 20 percent savings on each bill. At that rate, a new unit installation can certainly be worthwhile.
Is an HVAC Replacement Right for You?
You may feel like you’re not quite ready for an HVAC replacement. But make sure you do the math before settling on another costly repair. If you do decide to repair, here’s our handy guide on the most common AC issues you’ll likely experience.