Like any mechanical piece of equipment in your home, your heat pump will eventually reach a point at which it costs more to continue repairing it than it does to invest in a replacement. But how do you know when you should stop paying for minor repairs and make the move to replace your heat pump?
You can start by using our HVAC Repair or Replace? worksheet. This simple online tool will ask you a few questions about the age and condition of your current system and produce an overall score that will indicate if it’s time to repair or replace. In addition, here are a few generally accepted guidelines that can help you decide.
Frequent repairs. A steady stream of small repairs can add up to big bucks that you could be investing in a new system. If you’re calling for service more often than you’re calling for pizza, that’s a good sign your system is on its last leg. The expenses may seem small and manageable when they are sporadic, but collectively the costs can really add up.
System age. Some pros estimate heat pump lifespan to be as little as 8 years or as long as 15 years. In our experience, the lifespan is somewhere around 10 to 12 years. Homeowners who have experience with traditional oil-fired or gas-fired furnaces are often frustrated by this seemingly short lifespan when they compare it to the 30-year life of a furnace. The difference is that a furnace typically only operates for part of the year during the colder months. A heat pump, on the other hand, operates year-round to provide both heating and cooling. So, when it comes to total operating time, the two systems are actually similar in lifespan; the heat pump is just doing double duty and, therefore, wears out in half the time.
Low efficiency. The efficiency of your system can also depend a lot on its age. Currently, the minimum SEER rating you can purchase in the U.S. is 13 or 14 SEER, depending on your region, but if yours is more than 10 years old, it may be as low as 10 SEER. That means a new system is going to be significantly more energy efficient, which will save you money on your utility bills and help offset the cost of replacement.
Poor performance. A noisy system can be a sign of imminent failure or an indication that components and motors are wearing out. Likewise, inconsistent heating and cooling that’s not attributable to blocked vents or leaking ducts can be a sign the end is near, especially if you’re starting to see your energy bills creep up.
If you already know you want a new heat pump, or you need some assistance, make sure you contact a trusted service provider to help you make your decision. An experienced, reputable provider can perform an evaluation to determine the amount of life remaining in your system. This information can help you make short-term decisions about repairs or plan for a replacement. Your service provider may also be able to help you finance a new system, so that you don’t have to break your budget to get what you really need. A knowledgeable technician can properly size a new system and specify the appropriate ratings for your home. This service may also be included in a complete home assessment, which typically includes identifying and remedying other inefficiencies throughout your home. A good time to perform a home assessment is right before you install a new system, so you can get maximum efficiency out of your investment.
To learn more, call HB McClure at 717-232-HEAT (4328) or schedule an appointment online.