Repair versus Replace: When it’s Time to Update Your HVAC System

Repair_vs_ReplaceAt Wyckoff Heating & Cooling, we offer honest, reliable feedback for each of our customers to make the right decision for their home. We are often asked for input on whether homeowners should repair or replace their air conditioner or furnace – but the answer depends on several factors. Here are the considerations you should take into account to determine whether to repair or replace your heating and cooling systems:

Replace

Age: The average lifespan of a furnace or air conditioner ranges between 15 and 20 years. If your system is more than 10 years old, it’s time to consider replacement. Determine the age of the system based on the inspection sticker or serial number. The first 4 digits of the serial number typically represent the year and week or the week and the year, depending on the manufacturer.

Poor Condition: The condition of HVAC systems can vary greatly from home to home, depending on the level of maintenance the current or previous homeowner invested. Installation quality and ductwork can also have a tremendous impact on the operation of your air conditioner and furnace. If your heating or cooling system is in poor condition, now may be the time for replacement.

Cost of Repairs: Wyckoff typically recommends a new furnace or air conditioner if the repair is more than $800 for systems over 10 years old. We encourage customers to follow our rule of 50 – if a repair costs 50 percent or more of what a new system would cost, get a new system. If you have an expensive repair, for example an out of warranty compressor that has failed in your air conditioner or a cracked heat exchanger in your furnace, Wyckoff would recommend replacement.

Energy Efficiency: There are many benefits that come along with a new air conditioner and furnace, including increased efficiency and decreased utility bills. But why? In 2006, a new standard was put in place, requiring residential systems to have a Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) of 13 or higher. The higher the SEER, the more efficient the product. For example, by replacing a 10 year-old air conditioner, you can save 20 to 40 percent on energy costs, according to Energy.gov. You may also wish to gather several 12-month billing summaries from your electric company and compare your utility bills during the summer months from the last few years.

Frequency of Repairs: Are you constantly replacing parts or experiencing repair issues? HVAC systems that require frequent repairs or have a major component failures, end up costing you in the long run. An extra couple hundred here and there can add up over time. Similar to your car, there comes a time when an update is cost effective, convenient and sensible.

R-22 Phase Out: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) mandated the phase out of R-22 as the result of growing environmental concerns approximately 25 years ago. Production of new air conditioning units charged with R-22 ended in 2010, and by 2020 the servicing of R-22-based systems will rely solely on recycled or reclaimed refrigerants. This means, if your air conditioner was manufactured before 2010, it probably utilizes R-22.

More than likely, your cooling unit will have sufficient R-22 for the system’s lifetime, unless a leak occurs. Since production is limited, costs to charge existing units leaking R-22 refrigerant have gone up and are expected to rise. Wyckoff Heating & Cooling urges our customers to take the necessary steps, including routine maintenance, to protect yourself from the rising cost of refrigerant. However, if your system utilizes R-22 and you are experiencing other issues, it may be time for replacement.

Inability to Heat or Cool: As your furnace and air conditioner ages, efficiency declines, and it takes longer for each system to heat or cool your home. Longer run times equate to higher electric bills. If your system is struggling to achieve a comfortable indoor air temperature, or if you notice a spike in electric bills, contact a Wyckoff professional for details on replacement.

Furnace or Air Conditioner Replacement: If you’re considering replacing your furnace, it may be a good time to update your air conditioner as well. Connecting an older furnace to an energy-efficient cooling system or vice versa may actually prevent both from achieving maximum efficiency.

Repair

Age: If your system is less than 10 years old, it may be worth the repair. We expect furnaces and air conditioners to last 15 to 20 years. A small repair could extend your system’s lifetime and offer significant savings.

Excellent Condition: If you or the previous homeowner took excellent care of your heating and cooling systems, even a significant repair may be worthwhile. Be sure to consider a combination of age and condition of the system before making your final decision on whether to invest in a costly repair or replace altogether.

Cost of Repairs: Though we encourage customers to follow our rule of 50 – if a repair costs 50 percent or more of what a new system would cost, get a new system, customers must also consider the age of the furnace or air conditioner. For example, an $800 repair may be recommended for an air conditioner that is less than 5 years old.

Energy Efficiency: If your HVAC system was manufactured after 2006, it should align with quality standards, offering a Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) of 13 or higher. Check the SEER rating of your heating and cooling systems to determine whether each is obtaining maximum performance.

Frequency of Repairs: Is this the first repair or issue you have experienced with your furnace or air conditioner? If so, it may be worth the investment to get an additional year or two out of the system. 

Moving: Are you and your family looking to move? Though a new HVAC system is a great selling point for any home, you will want to consider if it is worth the investment or if you can get by with a less costly repair.

Repair with Planned Service: Take advantage of Wyckoff’s Peace of Mind planned service program to repair and maintain your furnace and air conditioner long before a major issue occurs. Routine maintenance can go a long way in saving you money and maximizing comfort. The program provides two annual service visits, as well as a 15% discount on all HVAC parts and accessories. Learn more about our Peace of Mind Planned Service program.

For the most accurate assessment of your HVAC equipment, ask for a certified Wyckoff technician to complete a free home analysis of your home today. Our skilled professionals understand a new furnace or air conditioner is not right for everyone, but we can help you and your family make the right choice for your financial, comfort and lifestyle needs.