Have you been wondering when HVAC replacement might be right for you? Perhaps you’ve been hearing a few unusual noises coming from your system. Or maybe you’ve had a few too many service calls lately. Or it seems like your energy bill has been creeping up and up over the years. These can all be signs that your intuition is right - maybe it’s time to think about investing in a new system. Here are four of the most common signs that you’re ready for HVAC replacement.
Changes in Sounds
If you’re familiar with your furnace noises and you hear something different, it’s time to get it checked out. Your furnace’s running sounds should stay consistent over the years. It’s just not normal for those sounds to change for no reason, and they could be a sign that the motor bearings are failing. Even if the flame sounds different, this could be a sign of trouble. Call your HVAC professional right away to guard against your furnace failing altogether. It’ll be a good time to talk to your heating professional about your options for a new system, too
Short cycling is a condition where your furnace runs for just a few minutes, turns off for a few minutes, then turns back on. Sometimes this isn’t a major problem and can be solved with a simple thermostat adjustment (the pros call it a cycle rate adjustment).
A “cycle” is the “on” time plus the “off” time. So if your unit is on for two minutes then off for two minutes, you’ve got a four-minute cycle, or 15 cycles per hour (which is not a good thing!). A good target to aim for is four cycles per hour (of 15 minutes each). In general, a longer cycle is better for any mechanical device. For example, if you think of your car, what do you think is more efficient: 10 trips of 15 minutes each with 10 minutes downtime in between or a single 150-minute trip? It’s going to be the longer trip, of course. There’s simply less wear and tear on all of the parts. The same is true for your furnace. All of its components - the motor, electrical connections, and fire side - perform better with longer run times. If adjusting your thermostat doesn’t correct short cycling, it may be a sign that there’s a more serious cause to investigate - including replacement.
Corrosion, Leaking, and Frequent Repairs
Metal rusts and if you have visible corrosion or water leakage from your system, that’s a pretty good sign that it’s time to look at a new one. You can have temporary repairs made, but these can add up in cost and won’t be the long term solution you’ll need. If you’ve had to call your HVAC professional more and more frequently, it's definitely time to start looking at a new system.
An Aging System
While all of the signs we’ve discussed above are good indicators that you may need to replace your system, the single biggest indicator where you should consider a new furnace is simply its age. While most furnaces are designed to last 20 years, wear and tear can reduce the practical life to as little as 16 or 17 years. And age plays a significant role in fuel efficiency. Innovations in HVAC technology have occurred over the last 15 years, and many homeowners could notice fuel savings with a new system. Not only could this be a reduction in their gas bill, but electric energy savings could also be a result of the new high efficiency motors used today.