Updated Oct 18, 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.
A home warranty from one of the best providers can potentially help save with some of those costs. For HVAC, we recommend reading our First American Home Warranty review, our Choice Home Warranty review, and our American Home Shield review.
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.
HVAC replacement, regardless of system type, should be completed by a certified professional.
HVAC systems are often one of the most used appliances in your home. Even seemingly simple repairs to an HVAC system could have dire consequences if performed incorrectly. In addition to costly repairs down the line for faulty or improperly installed equipment, your HVAC system can leak carbon monoxide or other deadline toxins into your home. For this reason, HVAC units have to meet building codes and professionals are required to adhere to strict installation guidelines. We recommend a service technician for maintenance, major repairs, duct work, and system replacements.
Beyond the safety considerations, HVAC professionals are able to purchase units directly from manufacturers and install your unit quickly following proper protocols. This saves time and money. Hire a qualified HVAC technician to service, repair, and replace your HVAC system.
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