How often do you think about your HVAC system? For most homeowners in the U.S., it’s hardly a blip on the radar until it breaks down, leaving you sweating buckets in the summer, shivering in the winter and scrambling to find the funds for an expensive repair.
An HVAC system is one of the biggest investments you make in your home. While you obviously want to keep it running as long as possible, it’s important to understand when it’s time for an upgrade.
The heating, air conditioning and plumbing professionals at Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing are here to share some red flags for when it’s time to replace your home’s HVAC system. Plus, if you do need new equipment, you can lease a new, high-efficiency HVAC system through Service Experts’ Advantage Program that includes all maintenance, repairs and parts at no additional cost.
While it’s normal to spend more on utilities when you’re trying to cool your home in the summer, your bill shouldn’t be significantly higher than it was in the same month last year.
“Rising utility bills can be a sign that you need to replace your HVAC system,” said Jim Hughes, senior manager of education and training at Service Experts. “The efficiency of the system reduces over time from normal wear and tear. It’s the buildup of dirt and corrosion on the inside that causes the greatest loss of efficiency.”
You can expect the efficiency of your system to drop 5-10% as it ages, added Hughes. However, if you notice a spike in your energy bills, it’s worth asking a technician to take a look at your HVAC system to see if something’s wrong. If it requires extensive repairs, you might be better off investing in a complete replacement to maximize the efficiency of your home.
Your kitchen is freezing, but you start sweating as soon as you enter the living room. Why can’t your HVAC system maintain a consistent temperature throughout your entire home?
“A system that’s too large for the home can do short cycling. The temperature gets satisfied in the house too quickly, and it causes the system to turn off,” said Jon Carman, vice president of sales at Service Experts. “The humidity will remain, though, and it will feel stickier and warmer in parts of your home. A new air conditioning system with today’s technology would help you not have those swings of hot and cold.”
Hughes points out that it’s also worth looking into your ductwork if you have uneven temperatures.
“The ductwork is what carries warm and cool air to each individual area in the home. It’s very important that whoever comes out to replace your HVAC system look at the ductwork to make sure it can handle the amount of air that the system needs to move,” he said.
In the dog days of summer, your air conditioning system might kick into overdrive to keep your home comfortable. But an air conditioner that won’t turn off on a regular day might need some attention.
“It’s good indicator that the air conditioner doesn’t have the capacity it used to have,” said Hughes. “It could be impacted with all this dirt that needs to be removed and have everything cleaned and rebuilt. Or it could be that the compressor (the heart of an air conditioning system) isn’t functioning as well as it should.”
Even if you’re happy with the temperature in your home, you’ll probably be less than thrilled with the added costs of an HVAC system that’s always on. Replacing it could help make your home more efficient.
Ask how long your HVAC system is supposed to last, and your technician might not have an exact answer.
“It really depends on how well it was installed and how well it’s taken care of,” said Hughes. “It’s reported that the average air conditioning system needs to be replaced every 15 years, but that also takes into account systems that fail in six years, and ones that last 20 years.”
It’s not usually worth spending the money to repair a system that’s on its last legs, especially if it uses R22 refrigerant, as that’s being completely phased out by 2020, Carman said.
“That’s like trying to repair a tape deck instead of getting an iPod,” he said. “You have to think about whether you’re repairing something that’s going to be obsolete, even in its repaired state.”
Keeping your HVAC system running properly will require occasional maintenance over time.
“Things like the capacitor, which is like the battery, or the contractors, which are like electrical switches, are basic repairs,” said Carman. “But when you get into leaks in the coils or the compressor starts giving you issues, those are big repairs and you wouldn’t necessarily want to do it.”
If you receive repair estimates that exceed what you hoped to spend, you might want to think about investing that money into a replacement, he added. A new HVAC system will not only help you make the most of your home improvement budget, but it will keep your house comfortable — no matter what the weather report says.
Tired of paying an arm and a leg for HVAC repairs, only to have the system break down again next month? Ask Service Experts about the benefits of their exclusive Advantage Program where you can subscribe to home comfort from a new, high-efficiency HVAC system with no down payment, no repair charges ever for labor or parts and no cost annual maintenance.
Source: Get Creative, a division of USA Today
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