Knowing when to replace your HVAC system will help prevent the most dramatic effects of this aging — high maintenance costs, inefficiency and costly breakdowns.

Performing a timely HVAC system upgrade for clients will save them money, increase customer satisfaction and can generate new business opportunities for the professionals who install and maintain this equipment. To make the most of that opportunity, contractors must first know when and how to replace these systems.

When to Replace Your HVAC System

Every HVAC unit is unique, and several factors can elongate or shorten this equipment’s service life. Consequently, there is no single answer to when to replace your HVAC system, but there are some indicators to watch for. Knowing these can help contractors make helpful recommendations and perform timely services.

Equipment Is Nearing the End of Its Average Life Span

The most straightforward way to judge when to upgrade an HVAC system is to look at its age. Most HVAC equipment will last at least a decade, but some systems age faster than others, so it is essential to understand each one’s average life span.

Window AC units typically last between eight and 10 years, but integrated whole-home units — which are less susceptible to the elements — can last up to 15. Furnaces and boilers typically also remain efficient for 15 years. Many heat pumps and radiant heaters are the same, but those in well-insulated homes can last up to 20 years if they have received regular maintenance.

It is crucial to note HVAC units may lose efficiency long before these ranges or exceed them in rarer cases. However, if a system is nearing the end of these averages, it warrants further inspection.

Bills and Repair Costs Are Rising

Another way to gauge when to replace an HVAC system is to monitor its ongoing costs. Energy prices are prone to fluctuation and often spike in winter and summer when electrical loads are highest, but unusually rapid price hikes could indicate aging equipment.

If contractors notice they are performing more frequent maintenance for the same client, it could also mean it is time to replace the system. It is another warning sign when these repairs are becoming more complex and expensive.

These increasing costs may be a more reliable indicator of when to upgrade an HVAC system because they directly correlate to its condition. Average life spans are easy to remember, but they are also prone to more variables. While bills and repair costs can also fluctuate with outside factors like shifts in the energy market, they more closely follow a system’s actual efficiency.

Performance Is Declining

Similarly, declining performance is another sign it is time for an HVAC system upgrade. The easiest way to determine this is to look at residents’ comfort. If clients say the building feels too warm or cold despite the system being set to ideal levels, the HVAC equipment is likely not operating as it should.

Uneven heating or cooling between different rooms is another sign of poor performance. Too much humidity in the summer or too little in the winter are other indicators. These factors could result from other issues — such as outdated air filters or poor insulation — but if contractors address those problems and the poor performance persists, it is likely a system issue.

Tips for an Effective HVAC System Upgrade

Replacing an aging HVAC system is an opportunity to ensure higher client satisfaction in the future. Here are a few things contractors can do to make the most of an HVAC system upgrade.

Select Equipment Carefully

Before replacing any HVAC equipment, contractors should review clients’ budgets, needs and goals to find the optimal upgrades. While scroll compressors are almost 100% efficient at pumping trapped fluid and require less ongoing maintenance, they are typically too expensive for many residential applications. Similarly, an air-source heat pump may be best for homes in moderate climates, but those in colder areas may need gas furnaces.

It is vital to get detailed measurements of the building to size the equipment properly. Go over these specifics to ensure efficient HVAC systems are maintained, leading to satisfied customers.

Consider Going Green

As contractors discuss HVAC upgrades with clients, they should propose green options to help lower carbon footprints and boost energy efficiency. One of the most straightforward ways to embrace sustainability in this area is through duct sealing.

HVAC contractors can use insulation and adhesive materials to seal metal ductwork, reducing energy waste by protecting systems from temperature fluctuations. It can also help to perform an energy audit to further HVAC efficiency. The Residential Energy Services Network HERS Index can find certified energy assessors in the area. In many locations, these services are free for some income levels.

Contractors can also suggest sustainable choices like solar power or geothermal heating while reviewing options with clients. Renewables can improve air quality and stabilize energy prices, helping users get the most out of their HVAC systems. These systems are also less expensive to manage over time despite their high upfront costs. Several certified energy efficiency practitioners also offer rebates on energy-efficient products, helping offset the costs of going green.

Capitalize on the IoT

Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity can optimize HVACs, too. These wirelessly interconnecting devices can monitor temperature, humidity and air quality in real-time and adjust systems as necessary to provide optimal conditions while reducing energy consumption. Some smart thermostats can save users up to $50 annually by using less electricity.

IoT sensors can also alert users when they need repair. These updates help contractors provide timely service to maximize the service lives of their clients’ HVAC equipment, boosting customer satisfaction.

Replace Your HVAC System Efficiently and Effectively

Having to replace an HVAC system can be stressful, but a knowledgeable contractor can make the process easy and highly beneficial. When HVAC professionals know when to upgrade a system and how to do it effectively, they can enable lasting improvements. All parties involved will benefit from these changes.