Repair or replace my comfort system?

Taking Care of Business

Like most of us, we don’t turn on our air conditioning system until that first 80-degree day hits. For some spoiled like myself, that happens at 75 degrees! In our area, that can be April, May and sometimes even March. Often enough, when we are standing in front of the thermostat about to turn it on, we often start to sweat a little. Not so much from the warmth of the day, but the fear that the system that has been off since last September won’t come on. That can be a little nerve wracking. 

If you have a service agreement with your preferred comfort provider, chances are the comfort provider has visited to perform the cooling inspection and it is good to go. Chances are you haven’t, and chances are it may not come on. Will it come on? Can it be fixed? Is it time to replace? There comes a time with your home or business comfort system when a repair or a replacement becomes a major HVAC question. While no two situations are alike, here are some tips to hopefully guide you.

When to repair. When considering repairs, a simple rule of thumb formula used across the HVAC industry for evaluating the best use of your money is to take the cost of the repair at hand and multiply it by the age of the system. If the total exceeds $5,000, it’s time to consider replacement. You’ll want to consider the same if you’re repeatedly repairing the same system. On the other hand, if your system calls for an occasional small repair while performing well overall, it’s likely a replacement is not needed yet. Either way, your comfort provider can provide you with a return on your investment and a lifetime cost analysis to help you decide.

Know your system’s age. We all know age affects reliability, electronics, mechanics and even people, so age absolutely matters when it comes to HVAC. According to ENERGY STAR, if your air conditioning unit is older than 10 years and/or your furnace is older than 15 years, it’s time to consider a replacement. The average lifespan on a heat pump system is roughly 12 years.

Freon-related repairs. There have been two types of refrigerants most widely used in heat pumps and AC systems, R-22 and R-410A. Due to the 1987 Montreal Protocol and the associated clean Air Act amendments of 1990, a phase-out of R-22 was in effect. On January 1, 2020, R-22 was no longer allowed to be manufactured for air conditioning equipment or servicing. If you currently have a system operating on R-22, be prepared for quite expensive repairs if your comfort provider can actually get the chemical. Now is a great time to look at replacement. Currently all new systems run on R-410A refrigerant to reduce energy costs and environmental impact.

Advancements. The HVAC industry has evolved significantly in recent years. While older analog systems can function well, modern digital systems open up a world of efficiency and communication features. Depending on the age of your system, there are plenty of home comfort advancements that could transform your air, including drastically improved efficiency, variable speed and variable capacity units, indoor air quality innovations, zoning technology and smart thermostats with monitor sensors that even allow your comfort system to react, diagnose and even troubleshoot issues, reporting them directly to you and your comfort provider. 

Upgrading and replacing your comfort system can seem like a daunting experience, but lean on the professionals at your comfort provider to help you find the perfect system for your home, based on your budget and your needs. By considering factors including your home’s layout, current ductwork and the number and size of windows in every room, your provider can quickly identify the right sized, whole house system tailored specifically for “your” desired comfort. No more need to sweat! 

About John Kennedy 14 Articles
John Kennedy is general manager of Art Newsome, Inc. and can be reached at 873-0345 or by email at

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