I've been working in the home heating and cooling industry for more than 30 years. Over all those years, I've seen many products and techniques come and go. Of all of those things, the one that never seems to change is the premature replacement of home systems such as furnaces and air conditioners.
Time and again, I've had customers ask me when is it time to replace a system. Unfortunately, that can be a very complicated question. Honestly, the answer, isn't always black and white.
However, there are some major factors that I always discuss with my clients and ask them to consider when this question comes up. Those factors are:
Age of the system
Overall condition of the system
The owner’s confidence in the system
Most systems are repairable. In fact, the only time a furnace replacement is 100% absolutely necessary is if there is a compromised heat exchanger. This is a major component and it is what keeps the combustion gases from entering your home.
A compromised heat exchanger can lead to serious health problems including carbon monoxide poisoning. If you've read previous blog posts I've written, you may recall that carbon monoxide is colorless, odorless, and tasteless - in fact other than the negative health effects, it is undetectable by humans. Carbon monoxide poisoning can cause headaches, the inability to concentrate, nausea, and even death.
If the heat exchanger is in good condition, anything else can be repaired safely.
Even if a system can be safely repaired, the repairs may not make sense financially. Consider how much you've already invested in the system and if more repairs may be necessary in the near future. Determine at what point the cost of repairs would outweigh the cost of a new system.
Here are some advantages to replacing your system:
Reduced utility costs
Increased owner confidence
Increased property value
When you call a service company, don’t let them rush you. If they take one look at the system and tell you that you need a whole new setup, don’t hesitate to ask specific questions. Go so far as to get a second opinion. The age of a system is not a fool proof indication of its condition. As I tell people "I'm old and I still work".