When to Replace Your HVAC System
All HVAC systems are designed to operate at temperatures at or below 100 degrees and, ideally, last an average of 12-15 years. In Los Angeles, temperatures above 95 degrees are typical in the summer months, systems often begin to fail at between eight to ten years. So, when should an HVAC system be replaced?
There are no set rules for replacement, as each system and situation is unique, so answering the following questions is a good place to start:
- What is the cost to repair vs. replace your HVAC system?
- How old is your current system?
A typical scenario is provided below:
Your air conditioner stops working, and you discover that the condenser fan motor (the motor spinning the fan blade outside) has failed. The cost to repair the 11-year old system is $600-$700. If your HVAC system has not received routine maintenance, the condenser fan motor failure may be the first of many system issues. Additionally, 11 year-old systems are typically rated an 8 on the SEER (or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) scale, which is relatively inefficient and often results in increased energy costs. In this case, We would recommend replacing your HVAC system.
Compressor failure is typically an indication that an HVAC system should be replaced. Every time a major component fails and the system is 10 or more years old, replacement will most likely be recommended — especially if the air conditioner uses R22 refrigerant, which is being banned by the EPA. Newer systems use R-410A, which is an environmentally friendly refrigerant.
Newer air conditioners use 30% to 50% less energy to produce the same amount of cooling as 20-40 Year old air conditioners. Even if your air conditioner is only ten years old, you may save 20% to 40% on cooling energy costs by replacing it with a newer, more efficient model.
Signs That an HVAC System Should Be Replaced
- The heat pump or air conditioner is more than ten years old.
- Consider a replacement unit that has earned the ENERGY STAR label. When installed correctly, these high-efficiency units reduce heating and cooling costs by up to 20%.
- The furnace is more than 15 years old.
- Consider a replacement unit with an ENERGY STAR qualified furnace, which is 15% more efficient than a conventional furnace.
- The HVAC equipment needs frequent repairs, and your energy bills are increasing.
- This is typically a sign that the cooling or heating equipment has become less efficient.
- Some rooms in your home are too hot or too cold.
- This may be the result of improper equipment operation, duct problems, or inadequate insulation.
- The home is left unoccupied most of the day, and the thermostat is not programmable.
- Consider installing a programmable thermostat, to save energy and money while you’re away or asleep.
- The home has humidity problems.
- Summer humidity or excessively dry winter air is often the result of poor equipment operation, inadequate equipment, and leaky ductwork.
- The home is excessively dusty.
- Consider sealing the ducts. Leaky ducts can pull particles and air from attics, crawl spaces, and basements, and distribute them throughout the home.
- The heating or cooling system is noisy.
- This could be the result of an undersized duct system or an issue with the indoor coil of the cooling equipment.
If you choose to replace your HVAC system, full installation typically takes six to eight hours; if ductwork replacement is required, the process may take a bit longer. If needed, multiple installers will be provided to ensure installation is complete within a reasonable time frame.
During system installation, Our Comfort Specialists will do the following:
- Ensure there is adequate indoor space for the installation, maintenance, and repair of the new system
- Validate duct size using a duct-sizing methodology.
- Ensure there are a sufficient number of supply registers to deliver cool air throughout the home, as well as a sufficient number of return air registers to carry warm air back to the air conditioner.
- Install ductwork within the conditioned space (rather than the attic), wherever possible.
- Properly seal all ducts and heavily insulate attic ducts.
- Strategically locate the condensing unit to minimize noise, if possible.
- Strategically locate the condensing unit to avoid airflow blockage from nearby objects.
- Verify that the newly installed air conditioner has the exact refrigerant charge and airflow rate specified by the HVACmanufacturer.
- Install the thermostat away from heat sources, such as windows or supply registers.
Choosing a New HVAC System
Proper size and installation are critical to air conditioner efficiency. A unit that is too large will not adequately control humidity; conversely, a unit that is too small will not sufficiently cool a home during the summer months. Improper unit location or duct installation, as well as insufficient insulation, may greatly diminish efficiency. Pacific Coast Heating & Air’s HVAC Specialists can help you choose the right air conditioner for your home.
It’s important to choose an air conditioner with high efficiency. Central air conditioners are rated according to their seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER), which indicates the relative amount of energy needed to provide a specific cooling output. Many older systems have SEER ratings of 6 or less, while today the minimum allowable SEER is 14. Central air conditioners with the ENERGY STAR® label have SEER ratings of 14 or higher; for even greater savings, you may want to consider air conditioning equipment with even higher SEER ratings. Other important air conditioner features include:
- A thermal expansion valve (TXV)
- A variable-speed air handler for new ventilation systems.
- A unit that operates quietly.
- A fan-only switch, so the unit can be used for night-time ventilation (substantially reducing air-conditioning costs).
- A filter-check light, to remind homeowners to check the filter after a predetermined number of operating hours.
- An automatic-delay fan switch, to shut down the fan a few minutes after the compressor.
Pacific Coast carries and installs RUUD, Lennox, Bryant, Rheem HVAC Systems, but services and repairs all brands of air conditioning systems.
New system install warranties
Pacific Coast offers a ten-year parts and 1-year labor warranty on all complete system replacements.