Heating and Air Conditioning is one of those necessary evils. It’s much more fun to spend money on a new TV rather than a new furnace! At some point though, you may be faced with the ultimate HVAC decision: Repair or Replace? Here are a few things to consider when you are faced with this decision:
- What is the age of your current system? Most equipment comes with a 10 year manufacturer warranty on parts. The average life expectancy of a furnace and air conditioner is 12-15 years. That’s not to say that it won’t last longer than that…it’s just an average. If the part is under warranty, it’s most often going to make more sense to have the repair done. If the part is not under warranty, then you may want to factor in the age of the equipment with the repair cost. For example, if you have a $200 repair on a 15 year old furnace, it may certainly make more sense to take your chances and make the repair. Now, on the flip side of that example, say your furnace is 15 years old and you’re looking at a $500 repair. You could have that repair done and not have another problem for a few years. You could also make that repair and a few months later, have another part go out. Before you know it, you have $800 into a 15 year old furnace. Since there is a risk of other parts failing on older equipment, it may be worth considering replacement.
- Energy Efficiency: Your HVAC system uses a considerable amount of energy as compared with other appliances in your home. If you have an older system, it’s very likely that new equipment will be more efficient, resulting in lower utility bills. Let’s use the example of a $500 repair on the a 15 year old furnace. If you’re considering replacement, factor in the savings if you go from an 80% efficient furnace to a 95% efficient furnace. Think about it in this way: For every $100 that you spend to heat your home with an 80% furnace, $80 is heating your home and $20 is going out the flue. For every $100 that you spend to heat your home with a 95% furnace, $95 is being used to heat your home and only $5 is being lost. Air conditioners and heat pumps also vary in efficiency. This is definitely something to think about when considering repair versus replacement.
- Financial Incentives: Are there financial incentives to upgrade to a new, more efficient HVAC system? Currently, there is a federal tax credit and various utility rebates available for the installation of high efficient furnaces, air conditioners and heat pumps. The qualifications and dates do change so it’s important to see what, if any, are available.
- Length of Time in Home: How long are you planning to live in your home? If you are planning to stay in your home for awhile, you might have different factors to consider than if you are planning to sell in the near future. If you are thinking about selling, definitely compare costs. A repair might be the way to go simply because you don’t want to spend money in a home that you are selling. However, replacing the HVAC equipment might be a good investment because it will make the house more appealing to potential buyers. If you are planning to stay for a while and are looking at a costly repair, it might make more sense to upgrade and get a new 10 year parts warranty.
- Comfort: HVAC equipment and technology have come a long way over the past several years! Furnaces are now available with variable speed motors which are not only more efficient but also produce a more even and comfortable heat in the winter and coolness in the summer. Programmable and/or WiFi thermostats are designed to reduce temperature swings, provide the ultimate control over your system and save on energy usage when you are not home. Finally, there’s the noise. Maybe your HVAC equipment is loud because something is out of balance. That could very well be an easy repair! If not, consider replacing it with equipment that is quieter. There are some systems that are so quiet, you cannot hear them run!
Repairing or replacing your furnace and/or air conditioner can be quite an investment. Think about what’s important to you when making the decision!