HVAC – Repair or Replace?

HVAC – repair or replace and though this question is often asked, unfortunately there is no one answer for everybody. A little bit of investigation will go a long way to help make the correct decision.

As with so many other industries, the world of air conditioning has really changed a lot in recent years.  So much so, that if your HVAC system has had a significant breakdown you might be better off replacing it instead of repairing.

Just a few examples of changes are mandatory use of new refrigerants since 2010, and large improvements in efficiency of units (hence saving in electrical costs) could mean the offset of lower monthly utility bills which in turn would pay for a new unit. 

Unless your problem is relatively minor (like clogged fans, bad belts etc.) then it would be wiser to call your local HVAC repair.   If the unit is over nine years old it is probably best to opt for replacement.  While you are thinking about your HVAC, take into account ductwork that might be leaking excessive amounts of cold or hot air, and insulation that might be allowing air into places other than where you want it to go! 

Here are several steps we encourage you to take when making such a decision:

Assess the Efficiency of Your Current System

Newer units have the ability to cut your utility bills in half. That is a lot! SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) is a measurement of the amount of energy needed to provide a specific cooling output. In 2006 federal law mandated 13 SEER where previous units might have a 10 SEER.  This is a 305 difference in energy consumption. Now you can jump to 16 SEER and possibly get Federal Tax Credits as well.  Ask us to run the numbers for you.

Inspect the Condition of the Ductwork

You could upgrade to the highest efficiency gear available and still not feel comfortably cool on hot days if your ductwork is dumping cold air into your attic or other spaces.  The average house’s ductwork leaks 10% to 30% of its air before it can reach your living space.  We can run a duct-leakage test by sealing the vents and measuring how much air escapes the system to see how efficiently the duct system is operating. 

Ducts can be sealed or replaced with newer, better insulated equipment that will bring much cooler, cleaner air into your home.

Consider the Building Envelope and Insulation 

We can install a high efficiency HVAC unit and still have poor results if your house is poorly insulated.  Solving this issue alone might mean that your old system will have enough cooling power to continue to do the job for a few more years. Or it may enable you to buy a smaller replacement system, lowering your upfront and ongoing energy costs significantly. 

We can assess and offer advice on how to upgrade the building envelope.  For instance, we could seal gaps in the outer walls and attic floor, or blow insulation into the walls or attic. Insulation may be a more effective solution to your cooling problems than replacing the entire unit.

Size it correctly

We will perform a load calculation on your home so that we know what size system you need and why.

Most older systems were installed with a general rule of thumb – so many tons for so many square feet of heated space – but this often meant an oversize system. (“Let’s just be sure we are right”)  Too big equals unnecessary expenditure and often leads to poor operation. 

Load-calculating software uses factors such as the number of windows in your house, the thickness of insulation, the configuration of the attic, and the building’s orientation to the sun.

With this data. We can produce not only an exact tonnage requirement, but determines how much cool air each room needs. 

Call today (505) 250-2329 to learn more about replacing or repairing your HVAC, then enjoy a lower utility bill, quieter machinery and better conditioned and cleaner air in your home!