Your heating and air conditioning systems (HVAC) never picks a convenient time to break down. The fact that heating systems quit on the coldest day or that air conditioning system give out on the warmest day (and usually just before your expecting company!) is pretty much a given. The question is when that happens, should you buy a replacement heating or air conditioning system or have it repaired?
The time to consider upgrades and repairs for your home’s heating and cooling systems is before you need the seasonal comforts they provide. Here’s how to decide whether to buy a replacement HVAC system or get it repaired:
- The age of your system: The first consideration should be the age of your present heating or cooling system and its critical components. Furnaces, for example, usually provide 20 years of service, and central air conditioning equipment is typically good for 15. Durability of components does deteriorate over time, however, so if yours is close to its life expectancy, replacement day is near.
- How long do you need the equipment to work?: Think about the number of years you plan to stay in your home. If you’re about to move to a new one, investment in new heating or cooling equipment isn’t going to be worthwhile, especially if the new owners are likely to make big changes to the home’s footprint or renovate a portion of the structure (instead, the value of new HVAC equipment would be discounted from the sale price by the prospective owner). On the other hand, if you’ll be around for several more years or plan to offer the property as a rental, a new heating or cooling system is a wise investment to make.
- Invest in energy efficiency: The cost of energy is also a helpful factor to examine if you’re on the fence about whether to repair or replace. New Energy Star qualified components run far more efficiently than their predecessors, creating reliable comfort that’s easier on your wallet (with a faster payback) and kinder to the environment.
- Get audited: A home energy audit can help identify other helpful improvements and opportunities for heating or cooling cost savings. Sometimes minor improvements in homes energy efficiency can have a major impact on the effectiveness of new equipment. Think about it: what good is a powerful new furnace if the warmth it creates escapes through leaky ductwork or poorly sealed windows before your family can enjoy it?
- Coordinate components: If one component in your heating or air conditioning system needs replacement, remember that the replacement has to be compatible with the rest of the system, or you won’t get the performance and energy efficiency you’re paying for. Some contractors can do a good job of matching old and new equipment, but positive results from this strategy are rare, so it’s better to fully commit to efficiency with a whole new suite of products to serve your home’s heating and cooling needs.
Deciding whether to repair or replace your home’s heating and air conditioning system depends on many factors. The key to the right decision to consider to total impact that replacement will make on your comfort, peace of mind and your bottom line.