Should You Repair or Replace an Old HVAC System?

Should You Repair or Replace an Old HVAC System?

Most HVAC problems come down to one of two different things. Either your air conditioner isn't working in summer, or your furnace isn't working in winter. When one or the other happens, you might be wondering whether you should repair or replace your HVAC system.

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These HVAC issues can be repaired

1. When your air conditioner won't cool your home

When your AC won't run properly, it's often due to one of the following problems:

  1. Blown fuse: This is the fuse connected to your thermostat. When it goes bad, the fix is to replace the bad one with a new fuse. Problem solved.
  2. Blown transformer: When you blow a transformer, a bad contactor in the outdoor unit is a common culprit. You'll have to replace the bad transformer and the contactor.
  3. Failed capacitor: Most outdoor units contain at least two capacitors: a start capacitor and a run capacitor. Both of them will fail eventually.
  4. Low refrigerant levels: This is a problem that can sometimes be repaired, but not always. If you have a refrigerant leak at a valve, we might be able to tighten the valve to stop the leak. Other times, we can braze the refrigerant line set to repair a leak. Then we recharge the system with refrigerant.
  5. Clogged condensate line: If your condensate line gets blocked for some reason, water will pool up and trip your system's float switch. The system will shut off until someone unclogs the drain line, and cleans up the water.

2. When your furnace or heat pump won't heat your home

Many of these heating problems are furnace-specific. Others only apply to electric heat pumps.

  1. Improperly calibrated equipment: All furnaces need to be calibrated during installation. If they're not calibrated properly, they can burn too much gas.
  2. Dead blower capacitor: Your furnace fan has a capacitor that turns it on. These eventually fail and need to be replaced.
  3. Dead starting components (heat pump only): If you heat your home with a heat pump, your system uses the same capacitors for heating that it uses for air conditioning. When they go bad (and they definitely will), have them switched out.
  4. Bad inducer draft motor: This component clears leftover gas from your heat exchanger after a run cycle. It can burn out or just get dirty. You'll need to replace it.
  5. Cracked heat exchanger: This problem usually won't make your furnace quit working, but it's a really dangerous problem to have! Cracks in your heat exchanger allow combustion gases to escape - possibly into your living space.

This is when you should replace your HVAC system

1. Your system uses R-22 refrigerant and has a leak.

Before 2010, many new HVAC systems still used R-22 refrigerant. Nowadays, no new HVAC systems use R-22, and the EPA will actually prohibit its production after December 31st, 2019.

So, when your old R-22 air conditioner or heat pump has a leak, it really doesn't make sense to fix the leak, replace the coil, or fill the system with new R-22. The most cost effective thing to do is replace the air conditioner or heat pump.

2. The compressor failed on your old AC.

When a compressor dies and it's out of warranty, the repair is so expensive that it usually makes more sense to just replace the air conditioner. That's especially true when the system used R-22 refrigerant.

Oh, and your new AC will likely come with a 10-year equipment warranty!

3. You're already planning to replace either the furnace or the AC (and both are old).

If you're replacing one of them and the other is also near the end of its life, it often makes sense to replace both. That way, you save on labor costs.

4. Recurring breakdowns are getting costly.

This is the same thing that happens with old cars. At some point, it becomes unreasonably expensive to, say… replace the transmission in your 1991 Plymouth Sundance. The same thing can happen with your 2003 Goodman heat pump.

5. The existing system is 12 to 15 years old...

...and you need HVAC you can depend on. Older systems - and, in particular, those systems that haven't been serviced regularly - have a tendency to break down when you push them to their limits.

6. Conserving energy is a priority.

Many Atlanta-area homeowners are concerned about the impact their consumption has on the environment. They're also keen to save money on utility bills.

HVAC problems? Give us a shout!

If you live in metro Atlanta and you're having trouble with your air conditioner, furnace, or heat pump, contact us using the form below.