It would be great if our home’s heating and cooling systems could last a lifetime. But, as with any large home appliance, HVAC systems come with a limited working life span. A well-maintained HVAC unit can easily last 20 years, however, it is important to know the warning signs that your system may need to be replaced. Here are the five most common red flags that your HVAC system may be on it’s last leg.
Your utility bills are at least 20% higher than normal.
Usually the first sign of trouble starts with your wallet. If you notice that your utility bills are increasing, with the same level of energy output, then there may be an HVAC problem lurking. It is normal for a system to lose approximately 5-10% of its efficiency as it ages; however, if energy costs are continuing to rise, even if you cut back on energy usage, then having a licensed technician come to inspect your system may be warranted.
Your home is not evenly heated or cooled.
Are there pockets of your home that are abnormally hot or cold throughout the year? Maintaining a consistent temperature throughout your home is a sign of a working HVAC system. If you find that the temperature in some areas of your home are hard to regulate, then your HVAC system may be struggling to do its job. The easy fix could be a blocked vent or duct, or the larger issue may be a failing HVAC unit that needs to be replaced.
Good to Know
older units are going to be less efficient and could be costing you 25-50% more in energy bills than a newer system.
Your HVAC system has to run constantly to work.
Is your unit always running and still not hitting the temperature set on the thermostat? If so, then this is a major sign of trouble. Your HVAC system should be able to cool or heat your home, and then turn off even for an hour. When a HVAC unit has to continually run and still not maintain consistent internal temperatures, the higher your energy bills will be and the faster the unit will be worn down.
Your HVAC system is more than 20 years old.
The “if it isn’t broke don’t fix it” mantra often applies with HVAC units. However, older units are going to be less efficient and could be costing you 25-50% more in energy bills than a newer system. As environmental regulations change, you’ll have to consider the cost of trying to repair an outdated system (especially one that now is not up to code) versus the cost of replacing it with a more efficient model that is up to standards. For example, units that use R22 refrigerant (which has been phased out in 2020) will not be able to be repaired because the cooling liquid is no longer available in the market.
You’ve had to repair your unit more than once in 6-9 months.
If you find that every winter or summer you have to get your HVAC system repaired for one reason or another, then it is likely time to upgrade now. Generally, HVAC units start to fail, part by part, and by repairing the issues as they arise may temporarily fix the problem, the larger issue could be a dying system that will cost more to repair than to replace.
The good news is… your HVAC system will give you warning signs that it is time to upgrade. The important thing is to not ignore even small changes in how your home is cooled or heated and get your system inspected to avoid costly issues later.