There’s no question that keeping your HVAC system working effectively is important to keeping your family safe and comfortable. Your system is designed for a finite service life, so you’re likely to face a replacement if you spend long enough in any single home. Discover how to determine when is the right time to replace your system, both in terms of signs that your system is approaching the end of its service life and what part of the year is most advantageous for a replacement.

The System’s Age

The average gas furnace should last 15 to 20 years while air conditioners and heat pumps should last 10 to 15 years with proper maintenance. In some cases, your system may last longer, but that’s usually a bit of luck rather than something to count on happening.

Further, you’ll experience a few things as your system ages. First, it’ll slowly lose its efficiency, so your utility expenses will climb. Second, the internal components will start failing, so your annual repair costs will increase.

By testing your luck, you leave your home and family vulnerable to a catastrophic failure in which you’ll end up replacing the system as an emergency. This is the most expensive way to approach HVAC system replacements, often leaving you with whatever is in stock, rather than researching and finding the unit that will give you all the features you need.

Increasing Utility Expenses

Due to constantly variable utility prices, you’re better served by monitoring your energy consumption rather than your energy costs. Consumption is measured in kilowatt-hours for electricity and cubic meters for natural gas. You need a baseline of how much you consume in order to identify trends that require action. Fortunately, most utility companies provide a chart with every bill that shows your consumption over the last 12 months compared to the year prior. If it’s not on your bill, you can likely access it through your online account information.

When analyzing your consumption, you should compare how much you recently consumed to the one or two years prior. If you continually see increasing consumption month after month, it’s an indication that something in your HVAC system may have lost its efficiency.

Increased energy consumption is tied to both an aging system and some repairs. Before jumping to the conclusion that you need a replacement, consult with a qualified HVAC technician to identify whether the repairs and age warrant a replacement.

Mounting Repair Costs

In addition to increased energy consumption, HVAC systems tend to have mounting repairs over their last two years of service. This happens because the internal components will eventually wear out, needing replacement. However, as time goes on, the costs of those repairs mount up, with more components needing replacement, including more expensive ones.

As you consider your repair expenses, there are two ways to determine if it’s time for a system replacement. If the cost of an individual repair is more than half the cost of a new system, you’re better off purchasing a new one.

Next, add all the repairs you’ve made over the previous two years and multiply that by the age of the system. Once this exceeds the cost of a new system, it’s time to plan for your complete replacement.

You Find Water Around Your Indoor Unit

Water around your indoor unit is never a good sign, but it could indicate either major problems or minor issues. On the minor side, it could simply mean your condensate drain is clogged and needs cleaning. However, it could also indicate catastrophic issues with either your air conditioner or furnace.

For an air conditioner, substantial water around the indoor unit may indicate you’ve had a frozen evaporator coil. Once it thaws, all that water will have to go somewhere and may be too much for your small condensate drain to handle. A frozen coil may indicate a significant refrigerant leak or a faulty compressor.

Standing water while your furnace is running is a sign of a cracked heat exchanger. The exchanger conducts the exhaust from the combustion chamber to the flue pipe. It’s common for condensation to form as the exhaust cools, and it will leak out of any cracks in the system. This is a significant safety concern, and it usually means you need a system replacement.

You Want to Upgrade Your System’s Efficiency

As previously mentioned, your system will lose efficiency as it ages, and newer systems have higher efficiency standards from the outset. While it doesn’t make sense to replace a newer system to try to improve efficiency, you may look at replacing it a little earlier with the right incentives.

The Federal Government of Canada is offering up to $5,000 for upgrading your HVAC system and improving its efficiency. You’ll need EnerGuide evaluations pre- and post-upgrade to qualify for the rebate program. However, there’s also an offer of up to $600 to help cover the costs of the evaluation.

Moving Is on the Horizon

Gone are the days when people stay in their homes for 30 years or longer. Rather, according to the Canadian Association of Accredited Mortgage Professionals, the average Canadian will own 4.5 to 5.5 homes in their lifetime. With that number of moves in your life, you’re likely to spend 10 to 12 years at the most in a single home.

If you’re itching to relocate, it’s worth evaluating your HVAC system. While HVAC upgrades recoup about 89% of their investment in your property value, there’s a stronger reason to consider an upgrade. Potential buyers consider the major repairs a home will need before making an offer. If your HVAC system is nearing the age for a replacement, it may affect the offer you’ll receive.

Lack of Comfort

Consider how well your system is keeping your home comfortable. Homeowners with aging HVAC systems often find that they struggle to keep a consistent temperature throughout the house. You may notice that the system runs, but there are hot and cold spots because the air never circulates around your home.

To distribute conditioned air around your home, your system depends on positive air pressure from your supply vents and negative air pressure at the return vents. However, you must have enough air moving through the system to achieve the right pressures. Systems that are nearing their end may have a circulating fan that’s not running optimally.

You’re Already Replacing Part of the System

A furnace typically lasts a little longer than an air conditioner, so you may not need to replace it as often. However, some companies will offer a bundle deal for replacing both at the same time, reducing the labour costs associated with HVAC replacements.

To see if bundling makes sense, consider how far into the other unit’s service life you are. For instance, if you’re replacing your air conditioner and you’ve extended its service life beyond 10 years, you will also be near the end of your furnace’s life. In this case, it may make sense to replace both simultaneously.

The Right Time of Year

Finally, consider the season in which you’re replacing your system. HVAC companies are busiest during the summer and winter months, especially during the times with the most extreme temperatures. This is also when HVAC manufacturers sell the most units, which means they can charge the most during these times.

Planning your replacement rather than waiting until your unit suffers a catastrophic failure can give you time to take advantage of off-season savings. Manufacturers often offer various rebates and discounts to help increase sales, potentially offering substantial savings for a system replacement.

When seeking home comfort solutions, people around Alberta, turn to Alberta Mountain Air Heating and Air Conditioning in Calgary. Our team is sought after for heating and air conditioning installation, repair and maintenance along with indoor air quality testing and solutions. Call today to schedule a consultation with one of our expert technicians to evaluate whether now is the right time to replace your system.

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