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Understanding, Managing or Replacing an Older HVAC System

Many of the items or systems we use regularly will experience standard wear-and-tear and aging processes, and your home’s HVAC system is a prime example. Older systems are naturally going to have more issues than newer ones on average, and this is especially the case when components in your HVAC system are at least 10 years old.

At My Buddy the Plumber, we’re here to help with these and many related themes. We provide a huge range of HVAC repair and replacement services, from air conditioner installation to various tune-ups and repair services as-needed. We’ve assisted many clients who are dealing with an older system, helping them understand some of the risks and also what can be done to remedy them. Here’s a general primer on how to approach this entire realm.

Older Units and Common Issues

While the 10-year mark is something of a rough guideline, it doesn’t mean your HVAC system will have major issues the day after it hits the 10-year mark. However, on average, systems will start having more components fail as they age. One common issue that leads many people to seek out replacement services is simply inadequate performance.

Older systems may not be able to maintain ideal temperatures as they once did, and this can be for a variety of reasons. One is that the system may not have been properly maintained, leading to a gradual decline in performance. Additionally, parts within the system may have gone bad or simply worn out over time. You might also need more frequent repairs as your system gets older, which can also lead to decreased performance as well as added costs.

Aging systems are also more likely to experience complete failure of one or more components. This could be anything from the compressor to the ductwork, and when this happens, you’ll need repairs or replacements as soon as possible.

In some cases, it may make more sense to replace the entire system rather than continuing to patch it up with repairs. We’ll discuss this theme in further depth below.

Signs Your System is Showing Its Age

Here are some of the most common signs that your HVAC system is potentially beginning to wear down, whether overall or just within a few specific components:

  • Frequent failures: Perhaps the most common sign that your system is beginning to have issues is if you find yourself needing repairs more and more frequently. A system that’s well-maintained should last for many years without any real issues, so if you’re starting to call for repairs every other year or even more frequently, it may be time to start thinking about replacement.
  • Major jump in energy bill: In some cases, an HVAC system that’s beginning to fail will start consuming more energy in order to maintain the same level of performance. If you’ve noticed a sudden and unexplained jump in your monthly energy bill, it may be time to have your system checked out.
  • Repetitive sounds: Noises like squeaking, grinding, grating, or banging could all be signs that your system is having issues. This is often due to failing parts or improper installation, so if you’re hearing strange noises coming from your HVAC system, it’s best to have a professional take a look as soon as possible.
  • Thermostat malfunctions: In some cases, an aging or failing HVAC system will start having issues with its thermostat. If you find that your system is no longer responding to input from the thermostat, or if it’s having trouble maintaining a consistent temperature, it may be time for repairs or replacement.
  • Coolant or water leakage: If you notice any coolant or water leakage around your HVAC system, it’s important to have a professional take a look as soon as possible. This could be a sign of a major issue, and the sooner it’s addressed, the better.
  • Strange odors: If you smell burning, mildew, or other strange odors coming from your HVAC system, it could be a sign of a serious problem. In some cases, these odors may indicate the presence of carbon monoxide, which can be incredibly dangerous. If you smell anything strange coming from your HVAC system, shut it off immediately and call a professional.
  • Dust accumulation: Finally, if you notice an abnormal amount of dust around your home, it could be a sign that your HVAC system is no longer filtering it out effectively. This could be due to a clogged filter or another issue, so it’s best to have a professional take a look.

Repairs Vs. Replacement for Older Systems

The big question for many homeowners dealing with an older HVAC system: Whether to keep repairing it or replace the system entirely. In some cases, it may make more sense to just keep repairing the system as needed since replacement can be quite expensive. However, there are also a few situations where replacement may be a better option:

  • If repairs are becoming too frequent or expensive: If you find yourself needing repairs more and more often, or if the repairs are starting to get expensive, it may be time to start thinking about replacement. At a certain point, it becomes more cost-effective to replace the entire system rather than keep repairing it.
  • If the system is no longer energy-efficient: Older HVAC systems are often much less energy-efficient than newer ones, so if you’re looking to save money on your energy bill, replacement may be a good option.
  • If you’re planning to sell your home: Finally, if you’re planning to sell your home in the near future, it may be worth replacing the HVAC system before putting your home on the market. This can be a major selling point for potential buyers, and it may even help you get a higher price for your home.

For more on dealing with an older HVAC system, or to learn about any of our HVAC, plumbing or electrical services, speak to the team at My Buddy the Plumber today.

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