(Not) Keeping Your Cool: Signs You Need a New HVAC System ASAP
Are you starting to realize that your home is not as cool and comfortable as it used to be? You might consider lowering the temperature on your thermostat, turning on ceiling fans, and wearing as few clothes as possible inside. You might also need a new HVAC system.
While we realize these units are expensive, unfortunately, they don’t last forever. Some require replacement sooner than later. We’re going to discuss the signs that you may need to replace your current HVAC system with a newer model. Keep reading for more information!
When you properly maintain your air conditioner, there is a high chance that the unit will last upwards of 25-30 years. However, without proper maintenance, it may only last 15-20 years.
As far as maintenance goes, one of the easiest and most cost-efficient tasks you can complete is changing the air filter regularly. In addition to this, having an annual inspection of the unit performed by a professional will allow you to fix small problems before they have the potential to destroy your unit.
Electric Bills Are Skyrocketing
You will often hear that to keep your electric bills low during the hot summer months, you should set your AC to 78 degrees. Depending on where you live and your ability to handle the heat, this may not be a comfortable option.
Do you tend to keep your AC around 72 degrees in the summer? Have you done the same in the past? If you notice that your electric bill is higher than in previous Summers, there could be a problem with your HVAC system. The older an air conditioning unit gets, the less efficient it becomes. This is especially true if you are not the first owner of your home and aren’t aware of how well the previous owners maintained the unit.
Constant and Costly Repairs
Purchasing a brand new HVAC system is not the most fun way to spend your hard-earned money. However, the need for constant repairs can add up quickly, and the repairs may not last or completely fix the problem. There is actually a formula to determine if a repair is worth the cost or if you should consider replacing the unit. Using this formula can save you a bit of headache and debate of whether to replace or repair the unit:
Multiply the cost of the repair by the age of the unit (in years.) If this number is bigger than the cost of a new HVAC system, consider replacing the unit as soon as possible. Also, consider the number of repairs needed in a set amount of time. When waiting for an AC repairman to arrive and fix your unit, you are losing valuable time. Wouldn’t you rather do errands, enjoy family time, or work?
Freon Use and Refrigerant Leaks
Air conditioning units have liquid refrigerant located within the evaporator coils. This refrigerant works to absorb heat in your home, expanding to gas during this process. Once it cannot hold any more heat, it goes back to the compressor to release the built-up heat and return to a liquid state.
This process continually happens whenever your AC is running. Over the lifespan of the unit, small pinholes can develop which means refrigerant will leak out. When refrigerant leaks, your AC does not blow quite as cold. Although you can have this problem repaired, there are some instances where it becomes problematic and costly. One such scenario is if your air conditioning unit still uses R22 Freon.
R22 Freon is bad for the environment because it contains hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs). These cause damage to the ozone layer. In 2010, laws limited the production of this chemical, leaving only enough to service existing units. There is a replacement available called R410A, or Puron.
Unfortunately, these two compounds cannot be freely substituted for one another. If your AC runs on R22 and needs topping off, you will pay the increased price due to the shortage in the chemical. Eventually, in 2020, R22 will be completely phased out in favor of R410A.
Humidity in the Home
An air conditioning unit removes a fair amount of humidity from your home. However, as the unit ages and becomes less efficient, you will begin to notice that more moisture remains in the air. The problem with having excess humidity in your home is that it can make it feel warmer than it actually is. This usually leads to lowering the temperature as a means to combat the uncomfortable heat.
High humidity can also mean mold growth in your ductwork and throughout other areas of your home. Aside from this leaving an unpleasant smell, it has the potential to make your family sick.
The Wrong Sized Unit
There are many ways to fit a home with an improperly sized air conditioning unit. You may have bought the home with a system that’s too small, built an add-on without realizing the added strain on the unit, or may have a unit that is too big for your space.
When your HVAC system is too small for the size of your home, you will experience a few frustrating signs. First, your electric bill will always be high, no matter how much you try to conserve energy because the AC has to attempt to keep up with the need for cold air.
The second sign goes hand-in-hand with the first: your home never seems cold or even comfortable. The AC unit does not have enough power to actually keep every room cold.
Finally, your air conditioner will run for what seems like an eternity. The longer an AC runs, the more electricity it uses, which goes back to the first point.
On the other hand, if your air conditioner is too big for your home, you will notice the following:
- The unit runs very short cycles
- There are many temperature inconsistencies throughout your home
- High electric bills
- Potential mold growth due to the inability to remove moisture during the extremely short cycles
When you choose to have a new air conditioning unit installed, the technician will be able to advise you on the proper size HVAC system for your home.
Indoor Air Quality is Declining
Your home should be a safe oasis for you and your family, but when the air quality declines, people tend to become sick. These sicknesses often look like respiratory infections, allergies, and the common cold (no matter the time of year.)
Changing your air filter regularly is one of the best ways to ensure that the quality of air in your home is safe and breathable. However, if you change your filters at the recommended intervals and have your HVAC system maintained, yet still seem to keep coughing or sneezing, there could be a deeper problem.
As your air conditioner ages, it may not provide you with the highest air quality your family needs. If you believe this is the case, an indoor air quality test may be in order. Although this test may lead you to a necessary repair, it could also point in the direction of a completely new HVAC system.
You’re Uncomfortable, Plain and Simple
What you should know about having to replace your air conditioning is that your unit doesn’t have to fit into any or all of these categories. If even one of these issues applies to your system and you feel as though you are always uncomfortable, it may be time to consider a replacement.
Temperature inconsistencies are annoying, as is paying ridiculously high electric bills. However, feeling as though you are never comfortable in your own home can be downright miserable. Other than the issues of temperature inconsistencies and cool air not being as cold as it should, you may also notice that some vents don’t blow air at all, or blow warm. These may be issues within your ductwork but could also be a bigger sign of major repairs or even an AC replacement.
Choosing a New HVAC System
Arriving at the decision to buy a brand new HVAC system can be a difficult one, especially if your budget is a bit tight. Luckily, there are often financing options available and once you’ve installed the unit, there is complete peace of mind. When you do make the decision to have a new air conditioning system installed, don’t let anyone do the work. Opt for a professional who can ensure that everything fits together and works as it should.