One of the biggest questions homeowners face with their HVAC system is when to keep repairing vs when to replace. Modern HVAC systems have warranties up to 10 years for the parts on the equipment only, labor and trip charges are often not included. Additional considerations need to be considered outside of the warranty if any on your existing system such as the efficiency of it. As of July 1st 2019 older PSC motor furnaces and air handlers that cost about $1.00 per day in electricity are no longer being manufactured as the industry switches to ECM and Variable speed motors that only use about $.30 per day in electricity to run. Furnaces have also greatly changed in AFUE(annual fuel utilization efficiency). The standard efficiency furnace is an 80% furnace and without a load calculation knowing whether it is worth it better to upgrade to a 95-98% efficient furnace or 80% furnace will depend on the home.
Air conditioners have also greatly gained in efficiency and have even changed types of refrigerant. Many air conditioners are only 10 SEER(Season Energy Efficiency Rating) and the older they get the lose efficiency as well. Your current AC might only be operating at 8 SEER and a code minimum AC for the Pacific Northwest including Oregon is 13 SEER while many southern parts of the country require a 14 SEER minimum efficiency. Many Air Conditioners and heat pumps installed prior to 2013 are still running on the ozone depleting R22 refrigerant also known as Freon. While Freon was banned for new equipment in 2010 many manufacturers worked around this by shipping units with no refrigerant allowing R22 to be installed. Today the price of R22 for repairs has skyrocketed and if your system is still using R22 we greatly advise replacing it at the first sign of a refrigerant leak as R22 has not been manufactured for a while and is in limited supply. New Air Conditioners use R410 refrigerant, and while a refrigerant leak may still be costly to repair it does not immediately qualify it for replacement instead of repair. R410a can be in units as old as 2006 manufacturer date.
So with all this information, when should you replace your furnace, air conditioner or heat pump? Short answer is, it depends. We recommend using the 6K rule. Multiple the cost of the repairs by the age of the system and if that number is over 6,000 you should consider replacing instead of repairing. If you have R22 refrigerant we highly recommend replacing as many components are not available to repair systems. In most other cases we recommend repairing your existing system instead of replacing it. One thing to keep in mind is that heating and air conditioning systems have historically gone up in cost by 6% per year and with the efficiency of todays systems there is substantial energy saving especially when coupled with proper ductwork rejuvenation. To discuss your repair or replacement options, give us a call at 503.235.9083.