Repair vs. Replace: Heating and Air Conditioning

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As heating and air conditioning systems age, you will eventually be confronted with the decision to either repair or replace the system. The decision can be challenging from both a comfort perspective, as well as a financial perspective, where repair costs can range from hundreds of dollars upwards to thousands for a replacement. Below are some general tips to consider when facing the decision to repair or replace your heating and air conditioning equipment.

Top Reasons to Repair a Heating & Air Conditioning System:

  • The problem is covered. The furnace, central air conditioner, heat pump or boiler is still under a manufacturers warranty or service contract that covers the failed part and/or labor.
  • Equipment has serviceable years. Based upon the average life expectancy of the heating and air conditioning system, the equipment has enough service years remaining to justify the repair.
  • Repair costs are reasonable. One general rule of thumb identifies "reasonable" as "less than 50% of the cost of a new heating or air conditioning system.
  • Consistent reliability and operation. If the heating and cooling system has been reliable, has operated without failure, or if you particularly like the model and features, then repairing the equipment may be the best option.

Top Reasons to Replace a Heating & Air Conditioning System:

  • High repair costs. If the cost to repair the heating or air conditioning system is more than 50% of the cost of a new system, investing in a new HVAC system may be advisable.
  • No repair coverage. The equipment is not currently covered by a manufacturers warranty or service contract, which would cover the costs of repair.
  • Age of the equipment. The age of heating or cooling system has surpassed its average life expectancy and the repair will not adequately extend the life of the equipment.
  • Service reliability issues. If the heating and cooling system has been unreliable and undergone numerous repairs, then replacing the equipment may be the best option.
  • Unavailability of replacement parts. As heating and air conditioning equipment age, replacement parts may be more difficult to find.
  • Improved energy efficiency. Newer models of heating and air conditioning equipment have drastically improved energy efficiency ratings. Compare the annual energy savings of the new model to the cost of running the old model. Savings from higher efficiencies may help the new equipment pay for itself over a relatively short period of time.
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