How do you know you need a new HVAC system? Short of complete system failure, there are some key clues that let you know when your home's heating and cooling infrastructure needs an upgrade. The following factors help you to be ready for an investment in new HVAC hardware.
Signs your home needs a new HVAC system
If your HVAC system is over a decade old, you may begin to see some loss in function — and this can manifest itself in steeper heating and cooling bills. The United States Department of Energy suggests replacing a heat pump or air conditioner that is over 10 years old and a furnace or boiler than is more than 15 years old.
When your repair costs start ticking up — and up — and up — then buying a new HVAC system may be a better idea than continuing to invest in temporary solutions. A good rule of thumb: when the cost of annual repairs comes out to more than half the cost of a new HVAC system, it's time to buy. If the cost of the repair multiplied by the age of the unit in more than 5,000 — as in $5,000 — talk to your HVAC installer.
3. Indoor comfort.
Does your home always feels too hot or too cold? Do you have trouble maintaining consistent temperatures in different rooms in your home? These are red flags that your system is on the skids.
4. Humidity issues.
Moisture in the air — whether it’s too much or too little — can also indicate that your HVAC system is struggling.
5. High utility bills.
A sudden spike in utility bills — or even a gradual increase over time — means your HVAC system is probably not running smoothly. Newer, high-efficiency HVAC systems can function up to 20 percent more effectively, saving you cash on heating and cooling.
If your HVAC system makes metal-on-metal, scraping, thumping, humming, rattling, squealing or banging sounds, that's not good. These noises could indicate your system has components are loose, broken, out of balance or worse. If you hear a rumbling sound or the squeal of metal on metal, turn the system off and call an HVAC pro near you immediately.
Pro tip: Hiring an energy efficiency auditor can help you understand what areas of your home may be vulnerable to energy loss — from your HVAC system to your windows. An HVAC pro can assess the condition of your heating and cooling system and provide regular tune-ups, as well. Consider a service partnership agreement that includes regular HVAC maintenance, inspection and waived fees. Learn more about service partnership agreements right now.
HVAC considerations for your home
A variety of factors can affect how well your current HVAC system works. An older HVAC system is likely to have efficiency issues. This dated system may even have a heating or cooling unit that's too big or too small for the residence. An improperly sized HVAC system, or system that's installed incorrectly, can actually be dangerous.
Your HVAC technician will perform what's called a load calculation when you're trying to figure out the right system for your home. What, you may ask, is load calculation?
"An HVAC load calculation measures several aspects of a home,"notes the Hartford Services blog, "to determine what size, application and style of HVAC system will be the most efficient and cost-effective, including total square footage of the home where air will circulate; the number of windows, doors and entrances to the home; the integrity, location and density of insulation in the home; how much living space is on each level, including the attic and basement; what landscaping surrounds the home and provides shading; window treatments to keep the sun out, such has curtains, blinds and shades; (and) the condition and scale of the ductwork."
Why load calculation is important
"An accurate HVAC load calculation can help you find the right size system for maximum efficiency and comfort," the blog continues. "The right size system will also help you reduce energy by not excessively cooling or heating your home, which in turn lowers your utility bills. An HVAC load calculation can also help diagnose larger issues with regards to heating and cooling your home that might need to be addressed prior to the HVAC system being installed, such as ductwork repairs or a broken thermostat."
Know your HVAC pro
- Licensing: Make sure any professional you’re considering hiring has the proper credentials for the job. Some states and municipalities require that HVAC professionals have licenses to work.
- Bonding and insurance: Inquire whether your contractor holds the proper paperwork. It's not offensive to ask! Protect yourself while work is being done on your home.
- Estimate: A legitimate service provider won’t hesitate to give you a detailed estimate for the job.
- Brands: HVAC contractors often work with a select number of manufacturers or brands. Find out whether the products they use meet your needs and budget.
- Finances: In addition to your estimated bid, you’ll want to ask your contractor about a few more money-related questions. Does your installation qualifies for any local or federal tax rebates or credits? Does the company offers financing? If you need a cushion, it's good to know.
Expert HVAC repair and installation starts in Alexandria
John C. Flood is your source of expert HVAC repair and installation. From our home base in Alexandria, Virginia, we serve the Washington, D.C. metro area, Maryland and Northern Virginia. Visit our HVAC page for more info or schedule service now.