Updated Nov 2, 2022
As heating and cooling units age, they lose their efficiency. This can lead to frequent breakdowns, costly service visits, or an expensive replacement. We’ve compiled a list of factors to consider when determining if you should repair or replace your HVAC system—and what to consider when purchasing a new unit.
Air conditioning systems and heat pumps break down more frequently and lose efficiency after 10 years. If your HVAC system is more than 10 years old, it’s time to plan for major HVAC repairs or replacement.
That’s not to say that replacement is imminently necessary—hopefully it’s not. New HVAC systems are expensive, ranging from $6,000–$8,500 for an installation without any extras and without any ductwork. To add ductwork—estimated to be needed in 10%–15% of HVAC system replacements—the cost rises to $9,000-$12,500.
Systems last 10–15 years with proper maintenance and care. By beginning to plan for replacement early, you can often prolong the life of your current system and take steps to begin saving money to invest in a new unit or system when the time arises.
If you notice any of the following, it’s likely time to call in a professional to run a diagnostic test on your system:
Maintenance is recommended biannually—once in the spring before summer and once in the fall before winter. Proper maintenance—even without any known, identified, or suspected issues with your system—is important to ensure proper functionality and prolong the life of your system.
If your system isn’t functioning and you can’t troubleshoot what’s wrong, it’s time to call an HVAC technician. Rely on recommendations from friends or family in your area to identify viable options—then call and interview each company that you’re considering prior to setting an appointment. Expect to pay $59–$179 for an initial service visit—and extra should there be immediate repairs needed.
Crucial maintenance check points that a technician should perform as a part of a service visit:
Issues with some of these components are no big deal and the technician will likely address for minimal or no cost. For others, however, significant costs could apply. Ask the technician to draft a written report and write an itemized estimate for any recommended repairs or replacement parts. This will be helpful as you determine whether you wish to repair or replace your unit.
Other factors to consider:
The decision to repair or replace your HVAC system is yours. Understanding the factors and the risks will help you make the right choice.
If you’ve determined you need a new heat pump or furnace, these are vital factors to consider when selecting a unit:
Decided to invest in a new air conditioning unit? These are the critical factors to consider when selecting a unit:
HVAC professionals are busy in summer and winter as demand for services and equipment is high. If you’re in no rush to replace your system, but know you will eventually, plan to replace your unit in the fall. Since contractors are in between cooling and heating seasons, they will be more available to help you choose the best system for your home. This also gives you ample time to research options and seek out the best deals. As demand is lower, prices might be as well.