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6 Signs That It Is Time To Replace Your AC & Heating System

By Your Advisor 8/11/17 8:20 AM Time to read:

As with any big-ticket item in your life – car, computer, washer/dryer – your air conditioning & heating system will eventually reach the end of its lifespan and need to be replaced with a newer model. It can be hard to let go of old equipment, thinking that it might be worth it to continue to repair and replace parts. Although it can be tough to commit to a big purchase, sometimes it is beneficial for health, efficiency or environmental reasons to update your HVAC system. How do you know when you should call it quits with your current equipment? Read on for a list of 6 signs that it is time to replace your home heating & cooling system.

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The main reason for replacing equipment that is older, but still running, is that efficiency levels (SEER ratings) have typically vastly improved. What may have been top of the line 10, 15, 20 years ago is no longer the case now. An older 10 SEER unit may run well, but is using significantly more energy than a newer 25 SEER model. Your electricity bill will thank you when you upgrade to a newer system.


The average lifespan of an HVAC system is 10 – 15 years – even one that has been impeccably maintained. If your equipment is approaching its twilight years, it might not be a bad idea to spring for a new system now, rather than sink money into equipment that will only need to be updated soon. It will also benefit you to not have your AC reach its last leg in the middle of a California heat wave (when we are at our busiest and you may have to wait for a week or more for a spot on our new installation schedule).


R-22, also referred to as Freon, is a refrigerant that was frequently used in AC systems for years. In 2010, as part of the Clean Air Act, the EPA deemed R-22 a potential environmental risk because it is a hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) compound, meaning it contains chlorine. If accidentally leaked into the air, R-22 can deplete the atmosphere of ozone. Units that utilize R-22 have been phased out of the market over the past several years, and after 2020 anyone producing it could be subject to fines or other penalties.

Considering the damage that R-22 can do to the environment and the rapidly approaching phase-out date, if you have a unit that relies on this refrigerant it may be time to replace it. New equipment runs on a more environmentally friendly refrigerant, R-410A, which is chlorine-free and therefore safer to use. Unfortunately, R-410A cannot be used in systems that previously ran on R-22, so a simple switch in refrigerant won’t work. As the supply of R-22 diminishes, recharging these systems will only become costlier. Now is the time to upgrade to a new model and save not only the environment but also a lot of cash!


If expenses related to your AC are on the rise but your use has not changed, it may be a sign that your system is not working efficiently and it is time to replace it. Wear and tear to internal parts is normal after several years of use, but when major parts – like the condenser coils, condenser, or compressor – start breaking down, it can get pricey to repair them. As with all appliances, your AC unit will eventually live out its life cycle and no longer be viable. Consider replacing it if you’ve noticed you’re making more frequent calls to have it repaired or facing a costly fix to one or multiple parts. A new AC system will cost significantly less over time than many costly repairs to an old unit.


Noisy equipment could mean your heating &/or air conditioning system is not sized properly for your home. Systems can be under or oversized with similar issues.  Thinking “If I get the biggest unit it will cool faster” or “the smallest unit will be cheaper” is really not the case. Maybe you’ve added on or bought the wrong size system initially. If it’s oversized or undersized for the space it’s trying to cool, your equipment will be working overtime, costing you more money than it should. Consider getting a quote from an HVAC professional for a more appropriately-sized system for the square footage of your home – the money spent up front could save you big time on your monthly costs in the long run.


Just like with a car, there may come a time when repairing your AC is just not worth it anymore. If your unit is less than five years old, most of its components are probably still under warranty (usually warranties don’t cover labor). But if your unit is older, pouring money into repairs for the system is just not smart. When facing frequent breakdowns or expensive repairs, it might be a better option to put that same chunk of change toward an entirely new and updated HVAC system. Calling a professional can help you to determine if your AC is worth repairing or if you need to consider purchasing a new system.

If you’re wondering if it’s time to replace your HVAC equipment, a cost-benefit analysis could convince you that making repairs to an old system won’t be as economical as just replacing the unit itself. When you do go to buy a new system, be sure to weigh several options and research your new system to make sure you’re making the change that is right for your household.

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