A close-up of an HVAC unit with the words, "does my HVAC need to be repaired or replaced?"

According to Energy Star, the average residential air conditioning unit or furnace has a lifespan of about 15-20 years. Similarly, heat pumps tend to last for around 16 years before they’re likely to need replacing.

Regular maintenance is key to optimizing the lifespan and improving the overall efficiency of your HVAC equipment regardless of which type your home uses. This should include not only DIY maintenance tasks (such as changing out air filters when they become dirty), but also having regular inspections and tune-ups performed by an experienced HVAC professional.

These are general guidelines, however; your specific situation may differ, so how do you know when it’s better to repair or completely replace an HVAC unit?

Repairing vs. Replacing Your HVAC Unit

If your HVAC system is malfunctioning, you may be wondering whether it makes more sense to have it repaired or replace it entirely. Consulting with an experienced and honest HVAC professional can help you make this important decision as there are many factors that must be taken into consideration.

Safety

In some cases, a problem with your HVAC equipment can create a safety hazard to you and your loved ones. For example, a cracked heat exchange in your furnace could lead to a dangerous and potentially fatal carbon monoxide leak in your home. This is a major enough safety hazard that it’s typically best to replace the entire system rather than attempting a “bandage” repair.

Meanwhile, some minor safety issues, such as stuck valves or even faulty wiring, may be resolved with simple repairs by a qualified professional.

Lifespan

The current age of your HVAC equipment should also be taken into consideration when deciding whether repair or replacement is the best option. If you’re not sure how old your unit is, you may be able to find the installation date written on a maintenance sticker somewhere on the unit itself.

You can also check the inside of the changer door for the metal identification plate that has the serial and model numbers. With these numbers, you can reach out to the manufacturer’s customer service team to find out when the unit was made.

Even if your HVAC unit is a bit older, it may still not need total replacement if it is malfunctioning. In some cases, a simple tune-up from an experienced HVAC professional may be all that is needed. If an HVAC company has told you that you need total replacement, it never hurts to get a second opinion before you spend your hard-earned money.

How Effective is the Conditioned Air?

If you’re noticing that your home’s cooling system is taking longer and longer to bring your home down to a comfortable temperature—especially with an older unit during the summer months—then it may be time to explore replacement options. Over time, older units may simply not perform as efficiently as they once did. Even with repairs and tune-ups, you might still be better off with a complete replacement.

Does Your AC Use R-22 Freon?

The United States government is slowly phasing out freon in an effort to cut down on national energy consumption. In fact, by 2030, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plans to completely ban the production and import of R-22 Freon and all other hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs).

As a result, current prices on R-22 freon are rapidly increasing as supply runs scarce. If your home’s AC unit is currently running on R-22 freon, then upgrading to a new unit that uses R410A refrigerant may be a practical choice; this will be more cost-effective and save you from the headache of not being able to access R-22 freon down the road.

How Often is the Unit Breaking Down?

The costs of constant HVAC service calls and repairs can quickly add up. If your HVAC repair costs are getting out-of-hand and your unit is already on the older side, it may make more sense to upgrade your unit rather than continuing to make repairs. The same concept may also apply if your older HVAC system needs a large and expensive repair.

In addition to avoiding the need for constant service calls, having a new HVAC system installed will also give you some added peace of mind. And of course, a new unit will be more energy-efficient than your old one which can help offset initial costs.

Choosing the Right Air Conditioning Professionals

Knowing when to repair versus replace an HVAC system isn’t always easy, but by taking these factors into consideration, you can make a more confident choice. Consulting with a team of honest and hard-working HVAC professionals can make your decision an even easier one.

At Comfort Masters Heating & Air Conditioning, we can assist with everything from routine maintenance to repairs to replacement. Contact us today to find out more about our residential HVAC service or to schedule your service appointment!

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