Nothing of the mechanical lasts forever. More than an inconvenience, a break down of your furnace or air conditioner can include the risk of electrical fire, gas leakage or carbon monoxide exposure. An experienced technician can advise you on the condition of your equipment but ultimately you are left with the decision to repair or replace.
Here are some things to consider before repairing or replacing your furnace or air conditioner:
- Life Span: Studies have shown the average life of furnaces and AC units to be between 15 and 20 years. Obviously many last longer and many never reach life expectancy. Proper maintenance, quality of installation and the initial unit quality all play a factor in determining life expectancy.
- Proper maintenance: Regular cleaning, filter changes and general maintenance are most important. A lack of regular maintenance can easily cut life expectancy in half.
- Installation: Unfortunately many furnaces and air conditioners are subject to unnecessary wear due to improper installation. The result is a furnace that is constantly overheating, stressing safety switches, fan motors and heat exchangers. Air conditioning units suffer as well from this lack of air flow resulting in overheating and high operating costs. A qualified installing contractor can easily determine air flow requirements and advice you as to how much added stress the system has endured.
- Quality: Many would like to believe they have received a quality unit for a great price.. Be sure to research the manufacture date of your equipment as companies can improve or reduce quality over time.
After determining the effective age and life expectancy of existing equipment one can objectively weigh other factors before deciding to repair or replace a unit.
- Energy savings: Older furnaces run between 50-80% efficiency whereas modern equipment can run over 95% efficient. Compare your gas and electrical expenses with friends and relatives using updated equipment. There is also easy to use calculators on line to help determine your potential savings.
- Resale value: Buyers use home inspectors to look over your property and advise accordingly. An updated mechanical room and outdoor unit will help you receive full market value for your home and may expedite the selling process.
- Peace of Mind: If you like to travel, are unable to take time off work or just don't need something else to worry about, a new furnace or air conditioner may be the right choice over repair. Reputable contractors offer solid warranties and the top brand names are proven reliable. A repair may be the first of many. Studies have shown that more money is spent on repair in the last two years of a unit's life than all others previously.
- Parts availability and signs of excessive wear should be looked at and discussed with a qualified contractor. If parts for your furnace or air conditioner are becoming obsolete you may be left with no choices when break downs occur. An experienced technician can advise you on the likelihood of failure and cost of future repairs.
- Cost of Repairs: Last and certainly not least is the cost of repairs as opposed to replacing a unit. Obviously a minor repair that gets your equipment running as new would be the correct choice, but what if the estimate for repair is hundreds or even thousands of dollars? If your unit has less than 30% of life left, it may not make sense to even spend hundreds on repair.
Every situation may involve different factors. What is right for one may be the wrong choice for another. Choose a contractor willing to help with the decision making process and if in doubt be certain to seek out a second, or even a third opinion.