If you’re a homeowner with an HVAC system, it’s important to know the answer to this question: When should I replace my outdoor unit? Generally, you’ll be told that after 10 – 15 years you should consider purchasing a new one. But.
We say you should ask yourself this question instead: Is my system working fine? Because it’s not uncommon for some systems to last 20, 25, 30, or even 45 years. Any technician that has been around for a while has witnessed this.
A note about the systems that live into their 40s: They tend to have been manufactured long ago. This brings to mind the old adage, They don’t make ‘em like they used to.
We invite you to keep reading to learn more!
The Reliability Question
When thinking about replacing your system, we advise that you ask the question, Is my system working fine?
What we mean by fine: It reliably keeps you cool in hot weather and warm in cold weather. Other than having regular maintenance performed on it and having the occasional minor part replaced, we say don’t worry too much about it.
Speaking of replacing minor parts, you can expect to replace your capacitors. The average HVAC system will have two of them: One for the furnace (indoor or crawlspace unit) and one for the condenser (outdoor unit). In simple terms, it’s a battery that gets your system running and keeps it running.
As for your outdoor unit, it’s important to know that it undergoes a lot of stress from huge amounts of electricity when it first turns on. Over time, this stress wears down your system. So we suggest installing a hard start kit to help it out in its old age.
If your furnace is in a dusty area, like a crawlspace, it’s common for your blower wheel to get coated in a thick layer of dust. For more details about this, click here. This dust decreases the efficiency of your system, so having it cleaned may increase your system’s performance and, ultimately, your comfort.
Dirty air filters are also a common source of furnace issues. The fix is simple: Make sure you regularly change them every 2 – 3 months!
As for major or expensive parts, you may have to replace your inducer motor over the life of your furnace. This mechanism is responsible for expelling toxic gasses from your furnace, so if it’s fried, your furnace will receive a signal to shut down.
Circuit boards are also known to malfunction. The one in your furnace is the brains of your whole HVAC system; if it isn’t working properly, nothing will! If your outdoor unit has a circuit board, it may also need replacing at some point. Unlike the circuit board in your furnace, if this one malfunctions, it solely affects your outdoor unit and not your furnace.
Another major part you may have to replace is your blower motor. It is responsible for blowing warm or cool air throughout your home via your vents.
Low refrigerant levels in your system will cause it to become ineffective at cooling in the summertime. And depending on the age of your system, refilling your system with refrigerant will be more or less expensive.
Condenser fan motors are located in your outdoor unit. They’re responsible for cooling down your refrigerant, so your home will be cool in the summer. These are somewhat pricey to replace but are easy and noninvasive to replace.
Repair Costs and the Value of your System
Just like cars, the time could come when the cost of repairing your HVAC system isn’t worth it: If your repair costs are half the value of your system, that’s when you should consider replacing your system.
With really large repair estimates, it may be worth it to get multiple opinions from various HVAC companies. To borrow from the example of cars again, it’s not uncommon for one mechanic to tell you that you should spend 100s or 1000s of dollars to get a certain repair, then another mechanic will tell you your vehicle is mostly fine.
So we recommend spending a little extra money to avoid spending a ton of money on repairs and a replacement system. To wrap it up, our message is that many times it’s worth it to have your system repaired rather than replacing it.
If you’re in Northwest Arkansas or Northern Texas, call Absolute Heat & Air! We’ve been providing excellent service to our customers for 15+ years. To contact us, click here.