Repair vs. Replace your HVAC equipment
No homeowner wants to hear the words "You need to replace your furnace or AC" come from their service technician's mouth. Here at Quality Plumbing and Heating we don't condone some practices or procedures our competitors employ, including high pressure sales tactics. By being pushed into making a decision immediately you aren’t allowed the opportunity to consider the following criteria which will help you make an educated decision without added anxiety or stress.
Rarely can something not be fixed. It’s generally just a matter of whether or not the cost of the repair is of greater value than the equipment that's being repaired. Below I will go into a brief analysis of what to consider when determining whether to repair or replace your HVAC equipment.
THE AGE OF THE SYSTEM
If it is less than 12 years old then you generally want repair your system. When you get past 12 years your equipment starts to lose efficiency and typically incurs a higher repair cost. This is especially true if your AC has R-22 refrigerant. This refrigerant is no longer being produced and will be obsolete in the near future.
THE EXTENT OF THE PROBLEMS
Is it a minor fix such as loose or broken ductwork, a clogged drain line, electrical problem, or an issue due to poor maintenance? These are typically low cost repairs. Consider replacing if it is a compressor that has gone bad or if your coil has a leak in it. These types of repairs can require higher priced materials and/or extensive labor costs.
THE COST OF THE REPAIR
Obviously repair a unit that is still under warranty. You generally will still have to pay for labor, but it would still be the better choice. Also, if the total cost of the repair is less than half of the replacement cost and the unit is under 12 years old than it typically is more cost effective (long term) to repair it. Replace your equipment if the cost of the repair is greater than half the cost of a new unit.
EFFICIENCY OF THE UNIT
Repair if the unit in question is 13 SEER or higher on the AC side of things, and 92% or higher when talking about a furnace. Replace the units if either of them are less than the previous ratings. Newer air conditioners units can have a rating of up to 20 SEER and you can now get a furnace that is 98% efficient.
THAT'S ONLY 2 CENTS OF EVERY DOLLAR YOU SPEND ON FUEL GOING UP AND OUT YOUR FLUE.
FREQUENCY OF REPAIRS
Repair your equipment if you have had less than 2 repairs on it in the last 10 years.
Replace your unit if you have had 3 or more major repairs on it.
SIZE OF UNIT
The days of beer can cold charging techniques and the thought that bigger is better have gone to the way side. In this day and age we tackle home comfort with technology, experience and modern science.
If your unit was installed properly using load calculators and equipment data then repairing would make the most sense. But if your equipment wasn't sized properly from the get go then you will be fighting an uphill battle from the beginning all the way to the end. If it was over sized then more than likely it will short cycle causing premature failure, poor humidity control, and ultimately a frustrated evening in your home. This should be when you are the most comfortable and relaxed, not frustrated and sticking to your sheets.
Hopefully this article sheds some light on a topic that most people don’t enjoy discussing. But with that being said, you can sleep soundly knowing that there are still HVAC companies out there that strive to provide an honest and fair service to our customers. Whether this is for your home, office, or garage, you can count on Quality Plumbing and Heating to be there for all of your heating and cooling needs.
By: Sam Verbosky
Residential Manager - QPH
Certified HVAC Installer