Repair or Replace? Making the Best Decision for Your Building’s HVAC System
For the owner or manager of a building, an unreliable heating or cooling system can be more than a simple annoyance. If your HVAC system doesn’t work properly, your tenants will be inconvenienced at the very least, and could become justifiably angry over difficulties with the HVAC equipment. Customers and clients, too, will be uncomfortable and irritated if the interior of your building isn’t kept at a seasonally-appropriate temperature. In the most severe cases, a balky HVAC system that doesn’t maintain a reasonable indoor temperature could cause damage to tenants’ merchandise, equipment, or raw materials. If the HVAC equipment in your building is showing signs of wearing out or is not working like it should, you can use the following guidelines to determine if your better course of action is to repair or replace the system.
Repair or Replace: Factors to Consider
Age of the system: The first factor that should be considered when making a repair or replace decision is the age of the HVAC equipment. This information will have a substantial bearing on whether or not the system should be replaced. In most cases, commercial heating equipment such as furnaces or boilers should last at least 15 years, while air conditioners or heat pumps should last at least 10 years. It’s not unusual for these types of systems to last longer than their expected functional life spans if they are properly maintained and kept in good condition. For this reason, age of the system should not be the only criteria you apply when deciding whether repair or replacement is more appropriate. If your furnace, boiler, air conditioner, or heat pump is still in generally good shape, even if it is over 10 years old, you can reasonably expect to get more service out of it once it is properly repaired. However, if the system is older and not in good condition, or if one or more of the other factors on this list is present, it may be a good idea to consult with your local trusted HVAC professional about replacement.
System performance: When you reach for the thermostat to adjust the indoor temperature, you should be able to rely on your HVAC system to respond appropriately. If the equipment isn’t producing heated or cooled air like it should, it may be time to replace it. Issues such as inconsistent heating or cooling, hot or cold spots in your building and excessive or unusual noises could indicate a need for replacement.
System reliability: A heating or cooling system that breaks down frequently is a good candidate for replacement. Not only are frequent repairs costly, they can consume resources that could be used toward a newer and more reliable HVAC system. In general, once the repair bills for the system add up to half the cost of a new system, it’s time for replacement.
Equipment efficiency: Older HVAC systems typically have lower efficiency levels than newer ones, but a dramatic decrease in system efficiency can mean the equipment is ready for replacement. When efficiency drops, you waste both energy and money, paying more for heating and cooling than necessary. Check your monthly heating and cooling bills to see if there are any spikes in expenses that can’t be explained by seasonal temperature extremes or other known factors. This can indicate a loss of efficiency that may lead to replacement.
Indoor air quality: If you have noticed an increase in humidity or your indoor air contains more dust and other particulates than usual, it could mean your HVAC system isn’t working properly and may need to be replaced.
Our goal is to help educate our customers about plumbing, HVACR, fire protection and alarm systems in mechanical, commercial and residential settings. For more information on whether to repair or replace your HVAC system, and to view projects we’ve worked on, visit our website.