No one wants to replace an entire system, whether it’s your entire HVAC set up, just a furnace, or your AC. It’s expensive, time consuming, inconvenient, and an all around headache. Our whole industry is setup around maintaining these systems as they age and break down. There is however, a point where you can’t keep a dead horse limping along anymore.
Signs of an Impending Upgrade
There are two big considerations to determine when you’re better off replacing an entire HVAC system, over trying to salvage the hardware you have on hand. We use the Rust and Wear of the existing system, against the gains in Efficiency, Performance, and Features of a newer system. If your central air was installed two years ago, you have little wear to consider and little incentive to upgrade. Even a twenty year old system might be worth keeping if it runs without incident. There are however, cases for systems that are perhaps five to ten years old, in particularly rough environments, that have become worn, failure prone, and a real pan to use. Those tired old systems are ready to retire.
Procure Inc’s own head salesman himself, Scott, just used our two-factor thought process to look at his 16 year old central air system and decide it’s time to upgrade. He put in a preventative $400 in small repairs, but there’s easily $4000 of parts and labor needed to keep everything running in the months to come. Or he could limp on this system for a few weeks and burn $4500 on 2017’s finest. Let’s take a look at what Scott’s dealing with.
Rust and Wear
As equipment ages, faces the elements, and gets run around the clock, it’s going to degrade. We can thank Entropy for this and the rest of physics. Everything in working condition will do it’s very best to enter a state of not-working condition. The biggest signs of this in your HVAC system will be rust on casings and mounts, excessive slack and ‘play’ in fittings and belts, and loud noises when parts break lose and rattle around.
This deterioration is a pretty big factor. A tiny bit of rust on a newer system can be fixed with some sand paper and paint. On a more worn system, where the rust accounts for more of the hardware than solid metal, it’s going to be a lost cause. You have to factor in the condition of everything when you consider that replacement. Maybe you just need to drop in a few new parts or maybe you’re two gentle breezes from a full system failure. If someone could sneezes and your compressor catches fire because of it, you’re past due to move on.
Besides the fragile nature of the aging system, you have to ask: how much is this going to cost me year after year? If it costs $1000/year, without fail, to keep it running, and newer hardware is $5000 maintenance-free for four or five years, you’d save money by replacing everything.
In Scott’s case, there’s worn hardware everywhere. His fittings are rusted up. There’s some clunky noises. It sounds like that $40 heap of scrap that drives down the road every now and then spewing black smoke. Inside the casing, there’s the remains of something that crawled in, touched a capacitor, and got fried. The hardware could live on, be replaced and kept going, but, there’s little incentive to spend that money.
Efficiency and Performance
Newer tech offers great incentives to upgrade. Just think for a moment. Would you be happy using your Cell Phone of 20 years ago, today? Or that gas-guzzling 8 MPG SUV of your youth for a 1000 mile round trip summer vacation? New HVAC tech is no different. For the cost of the upgrade, you’ll get lower electricity bills, better performance, and new features like smart thermostats as part of the bundle.
When you get a quote for $5000 to fix something, using old parts or spend even $7000 to replace it outright, you’ve gotta give that upgrade some weight. You’ll spend more, but of the two, the upgrade will probably make you happier in the long run than trudging on with that old system. You can put in per-room zone controls, remotely manageable smart thermostats, quieter equipment, and whatever else suits your fancy. Moving on to a new system is an opportunity to get the things you want out of your heating and cooling solutions.
Scott’s new system will include a move up to smart thermostats. We’ve talked about them before. They’re one of the coolest things in our industry right now. Between the thermostat, better compressor, better coils, and safer refrigerant, I’m pretty sure our lead salesman will be kept cool and comfy out of the scorching heat.
The Wrap Up
Did we get something wrong? Got a topic for us to cover in the future? Let us know in the comments below! We welcome your feedback!