Editor's Note: This post was originally published in August 2018 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
Your HVAC system is intended to provide perfect air to your home, no matter if it's the hottest day of the year or the coldest winter night. But one day, you realize you have to turn up the volume on your TV every time your AC turns on, or you notice your system is running around the clock, struggling to reach the set temperature on your thermostat. These are just a few of the signs that it may be time to repair or replace your residential HVAC system. Before you contact your local Lennox® dealer to discuss your options, it's important to review the six questions below to see if it's best to repair or replace your HVAC system:
1. How old Is your HVAC system?
It's important to know how old your HVAC system components are. Air conditioners and heat pumps last an average of 10 to 12 years, while furnaces have a life span of around 15 to 20 years, although a number of factors, including previous maintenance and the climate you live in may impact your system's life span. If your equipment is within those ranges, you should consider a replacement rather than repairs. This will mean a larger investment up front, but Lennox offers a variety of financing options in addition to seasonal promotions that can ease the financial burden. Be sure to ask your Lennox dealer about any current promotions or rebates before you complete your repairs or new purchase.
2. Have you performed a system inspection
Your heating or cooling system may not be the leading cause of your home comfort problems. Be sure to check your air filters, as clogged filters can limit proper airflow, and this can cause your system to operate inefficiently. You should also ask your dealer to perform an annual inspection as your system ages. This will determine if any belts or motors have worn down, which can impact your HVAC system's performance. Finally, it's important to have your dealer conduct a ductwork inspection. The average home's ductwork leaks 30% of its air* before it actually reaches the rooms in your home. Your dealer can seal or replace any ductwork to help your system work more efficiently. By performing these simple inspections, you may extend the life span your HVAC system.
3. Are you following the $5,000 rule?
A little math goes a long way in knowing whether to it's time to repair or replace your heating and cooling system. It's simple: Multiply your unit's age by repair costs. If the number exceeds $5,000, it's best to replace the unit. If your total is less than $5,000, it's probably best to make repairs. You may also consider the number of times your system has required repairs over the past year. If you're repeatedly calling in your HVAC technician to repair your system, ask for a return on investment and lifetime cost analysis for a replacement system versus ongoing repairs.
4. Is your current system energy efficient?
If you've noticed an increase in your monthly energy bill, there's a chance your system is running inefficiently. Your HVAC equipment accounts for about 50%** of your home's energy use, and upgrading to new ENERGY STAR® certified equipment ensures your units meet or exceed federal standards for energy efficiency. You may also get additional rebates for ENERGY STAR certified products. Check to see if your unit is ENERGY STAR qualified, and ask your local Lennox dealer to check whether you're eligible to receive rebates based on your location.
5. Does your system have outdated technology?
Older HVAC systems use outdated technology that not only impact your comfort but also your repair costs. The HVAC industry has evolved significantly in recent years, and while older analog systems can function well, modern digital systems now offer a range of efficiency and communication features. By replacing aging HVAC equipment, you can benefit from new equipment that offers integration with smart home technology like thermostats and zoning systems. These features not only enhance your comfort, but also increase your system's efficiency to save you money on utility bills. Older HVAC systems also use an ozone-depleting R-22 refrigerant, which is gradually being phased out and will be completely unavailable after 2020. The phase-out makes this refrigerant difficult to find and often very costly. If your system runs on R-22, it's time to consider a new unit. All current Lennox units use R-410A, which is better for the environment and is more energy efficient.
6. Is Your System Sized Correctly?
It's possible your unit might not be the right size for your home. A number of factors, including your home's orientation and number of windows, can affect what size system you need. And, in this case, bigger isn't always better. If your system is too large for your home, it will only operate in short bursts and won't have an opportunity to dehumidify the air. It also costs more to operate. A properly sized system, on the other hand, runs a little bit longer each time it turns on, allowing it to cool and dehumidify your home. The end result is a higher level of comfort in your home. Having a poorly functioning heating or cooling system can seem like a stressful situation, but by completing this questionnaire, you'll be armed with the resources to make the decision whether you should repair or replace. If you're living uncomfortably, contact your local Lennox dealer today to see how you can improve the air in your home.