Replacing an air conditioner is a major overhaul. Whether you’re replacing a commercial or residential HVAC system, you can end up spending a pretty penny. However, an overtaxed or inoperable system may lead to much higher costs and out of control utility bills. It may even result in mold, structural weakness, or even fire.
Typically, late spring months see the lowest use of HVAC systems. But you cannot escape the facts: Summer is coming. It’s right around the corner. Sure that may mean beaches, barbecues, and backyard parties, but it also means heat.
It means hot and dry, or humid and sweltering. It means restless nights and uncomfortably sweaty days trying to escape the unrelenting heat.
For many, the first – and best – line of defense is the sweet relief of an efficient air conditioner. Crossing the threshold into a soothing and maintained 72 degrees after a warm and sticky commute is what a functioning HVAC system should feel like. In winter months, the warmth of the indoors can be comforting and cozy.
So besides avoiding expensive bills or even disaster, a working HVAC system can be the difference between feeling miserable and feeling at home in your home.
Top 10 signs you need a complete HVAC overhaul
If your system isn’t giving you the relief or comfort you’re seeking, you may need to think beyond maintenance and/or scheduling an AC repair.
1. It’s an Antique
Most new HVAC units are Energy Star rated or energy-efficient. If you have a system over 10 years old, chances are you’re not running one of these energy-saving systems. This means your system’s performance is nowhere near where it could or should be.
An efficient unit can sometimes save you upwards of 40% on a monthly utility bill. Plus new units also offer easy-to-use digitized and programmable thermostats that can help families save hundreds or thousands of dollars a year.
2. Old Parts
Since 1992, a major shift in the air conditioning industry has been underway. R-22 refrigerant (often called by its brand name Freon) is being phased out in favor of a new type of refrigerant: R-410A (often called by its brand name Puron). This has some big implications for homeowners who are repairing or replacing their air conditioners any time soon.
Newer air conditioning models are designed to be used with R-410A for reliable and more efficient operation. Because R-410A can absorb and release more heat than R-22, your air conditioning compressor can run cooler, reducing the risk of compressor burnout due to overheating.
R-410A also functions at a higher pressure than R-22, so new compressors are built to withstand greater stresses, reducing the chance for cracking. If you were to put R-410A refrigerant into a system designed for R-22, the pressure would be too much and the unit would break.
3. Component Catastrophe
If a primary motor, compressor, or coil fails, it’s time to start thinking to replace, and not just repair. Labor and parts on these types of fixes can add up quickly. Replacing the part or entire system could in actuality be more beneficial to the overall investment than simply repairing it.
4. Improper Installation
If your HVAC units and ducting were put in by an overachieving DIY-er or even by a professional who cut corners, you could have a system that’s faulty and even dangerous. An efficient and operable system requires exact measurements, angles, and electrical installation. Anything amiss can lead to serious problems.
5. Improper Size
Some people try to save by installing an inexpensive and smaller AC unit or furnace. These may end up not being powerful enough to cool or heat your rooms to the degree you want. Also, if you plan on remodeling by knocking down walls or adding rooms, your old HVAC operations may be rendered ineffectual or even obsolete.
6. Clunk, Clunk, Clunk
A furnace or air conditioner that makes loud, aggressive sounds can be an indication of some serious malfunctions. Fans, motors, blowers, and other moving parts of an AC system should work together without grinding or squealing. Frightening and unwanted sounds from your appliances can lead to Sign #3 listed above.
7. Repair Costs Breaking The Bank
Simply put, if you’re emptying your life savings on constant repairs and maintenance for an aging or ailing system, consider the alternative or total replacement. It might be a higher cost to burden initially but could save you big money in the end.
8. Putting Your Home On the Market
This has to do with age again – and modernizing. Smart home buyers will deduct huge numbers from asking prices if they see the need to repair their systems. They know just how pricey these improvements can be.
9. Poor Air Quality
Old or beleaguered systems can introduce dust, excess humidity, allergens, and even mold into your home or business. If you experience any of these, your system might be beyond repair. Have a professional inspection to see just how extensive the solution needs to be. If it’s mold, you might want to start shopping now.
10. If You Feel Unsafe
We’re not advising paranoia. But if you look at your furnace and there’s an obviously dangerous pilot light situation, or if wires and conduits on your AC unit are frayed or exposed, it could be a signal that you’ll find more dangerous breakdowns in your HVAC system.
A simple repair might cut it. Sometimes a trained technician will be able to put a band-aid on the problem. However, if you experience any of these issues with your heating or cooling system, you might need an entirely new system.
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