When To Replace Your HVAC System

Your hvac unit may need replacing when your heating and cooling bills increase without reason

Avoid unnecessarily replacing or paying expensive utility bills and maintenance as your HVAC unit begins failing. Knowing when you should replace your HVAC system will save you from skyrocketing utility bills and costly repairs.

elearning-training.com gathered the following information about determining when you should replace your HVAV system to avoid unexpected breakdowns, increased utility bills, and system failures.

How Long do HVAC Systems Last?

The average HVAC system lifespan is somewhere between 10–25 years. This estimation is significantly influenced by:

  1. Your climate
  2. What type of HVAC system you have
  3. What kind of maintenance program you have maintained

Your HVAC system may last less time than that if it has been overworked by poor insulation or airflow from unsealed air leaks. Read more about the longevity of HVAC systems at How Long Does an HVAC System Last.

The following are the signs and indications that your HVAC system is failing and needs to be replaced:

1. Your Utility Bills Keep Increasing

Rising utility bills may clearly indicate that you need to replace your HVAC system. The efficiency of a system reduces over time from normal wear and tear. Typically, the buildup of dirt and corrosion on the unit’s inside causes the greatest damage and efficiency loss.

Note: While it is normal and expected to spend more on utilities when cooling your home in the summer, your bill shouldn’t be sharply higher than it was in the same period last year.

2. Your HVAC System Won’t Shut Off

On hot summer days, your air conditioning system might kick into overdrive to keep your home comfortably cooled. However, an air conditioner that won’t turn off on a regular day may be failing and require immediate attention.

This is an excellent indicator that your system doesn’t have the capacity it used to possess. Your unit may be impacted by an accumulation of dust that needs to be removed and have everything professionally cleaned and rebuilt. Or, it could be that the compressor has stopped functioning as well as it should.

3. Your HVAC System is Aging

It’s not usually worth spending the resources to repair an aging system that’s in its last days, especially if it uses R22 refrigerant, as that was to be completely phased out by 2020.

That’s like trying to repair a rotary phone instead of getting an iPhone. You have to consider whether you’re fixing something that’s on its way to becoming obsolete, even in its repaired or operational state.

4. Uneven Temperatures

Multilevel homes will experience temperature fluctuations with a one-zone HVAC system. A wide variance in temperature between rooms on the same level or between floors might indicate there’s something wrong in your system. Call a service technician to help diagnose whether this is a simple issue with your thermostat calibration or a more concerning issue like leaking ductwork.

5. Humidity Irregularities

Your hvac unit may need replacing when excess humidity collects in your home

You have humidity irregularities when your home is too dry in the winter or too humid in the summer. Humidity problems are an indication that there may be a defect hidden in your ductwork. As a DIY project, this may be a costly and time-intensive project. The installation and replacement of ductwork are best left to HVAC professionals.

6. Frequent Repair Calls

Do you find yourself calling for multiple repairs to your system each year or season? It might make more sense to acquire and install a new system and absorb the short-term cost than to continue paying elevated utility bills and out-of-pocket expenses for frequent and costly repairs.

7. HVAC System Efficiency

HVAC efficiency is measured by annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE). This rating is listed as a percentage and is a calculation of how efficient the appliance is in converting energy to heat in a typical year. Call an experienced technician to measure your system’s AFUE and determine if a replacement is necessary.

The US Department of Energy recommends an AFUE of 90% or higher. Any rating below that mark is worth considering an HVAC system replacement.

8. Your HVAC System Stopped Working

If your system isn’t functioning at all and you can’t troubleshoot what’s wrong, it’s time to call an HVAC technician.

To avoid having to prematurely repair or replace your expensive HVAC system, learn what maintenance you can do proactively. Preventative maintenance can help avoid catastrophic HVAC failures, even when the system is past its life expectancy. Read 7 Reasons You Need HVAC Preventative Maintenance to learn more about the benefits of preventative maintenance.

Replacing Your HVAC System

In this article, you discovered how to determine when your home’s HVAC system can no longer function efficiently and should be replaced.

Knowing when to replace your failing HVAC system can help you avoid out-of-control utility bills, multiple maintenance visits, and total system failure.

Not knowing when to replace your HVAC system can leave you without AC or heat when it’s most needed.

Sources:
energy.gov/energysaver/central-air-conditioning
energystar.gov/campaign/heating_cooling/replace
epa.gov/ods-phaseout/homeowners-and-consumers-frequently-asked-questions
florida-academy.edu/repair-or-replace-hvac-system/

What Size Air Conditioner Do I Need

A rooms size will help you determine what size air conditioner you need

Avoid buying the wrong air conditioning system that can’t properly cool your property. Knowing what size air conditioner you need for your property will help you enjoy well-conditioned air through the hottest months of the year.

elearning-training.com gathered information about determining what size air conditioner you need to sufficiently maintain a comfortable and clean environment.

How Do I Calculate Air Conditioner Size for a Room?

To calculate the appropriate air conditioner size for a room, multiply the room’s length times its width; this will give you the area to be cooled. Then, multiply the area times 25 BTU. This equation allows for ample cooling, regardless of external weather conditions. Consider the following:

Property Length

Property Width

25 BTU

Required A/C Output

30 feet

20 feet

25 BTU

15,000 BTU

50 feet

30 feet

25 BTU

37,500 BTU

60 feet

30 feet

25 BTU

45,000 BTU

Tip: Adjust your calculations to account for high ceilings (over 8 feet) by multiplying the required output amount by 1.25 (25%).

What is BTU?

A fundamental measure of an air conditioner’s power is its British Thermal Unit (BTU) rating. BTUs are the energy exerted to increase or remove heat from a room. The more BTUs an A/C unit has, the better equipped it is to condition a larger space.

The three standard measurements of AC capacity are ton (tonnage), Watts, and BTU. Since all three measure the same thing, they can be compared or equated as:

• 1 Ton AC = 12,000 BTU = 3,500 Watts

Note: For perspective, one BTU is equivalent to the amount of heat required to increase the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) uses BTU as a unit of energy content.

Can you Oversize an A/C Unit?

Yes. An oversized HVAC unit can make your home’s inside temperature uneven and uncomfortable. An HVAC system with excess capacity can heat or cool your home more rapidly, but that speed will often result in a couple of troubling issues.

First, your property won’t benefit from gradual, even heating or cooling. As a result, you will be left with a number of hot or cold spots throughout the space.

Second, in cooling mode, an appropriately sized HVAC system will dehumidify the air as it cools. An oversized system usually doesn’t run long enough for the dehumidification process to efficiently take place.

Note: Unfortunately, many property owners end up with an HVAC system that’s too powerful for their property to accommodate.

Determining Air Conditioning Requirements

Your condenser size will get larger depending on the space and BTU output

To properly match a structure’s new HVAC system with its estimated heating and cooling needs, HVAC contractors must not only calculate the square footage of your home’s total space but also consider a broad range of factors, including:

The space’s cubic footage – This measurement accounts for structures with taller ceilings.
Type of Space – A room’s purpose (kitchen, fitness center, office, etc.) will significantly affect any decision about the A/C size you require.
Current ductwork design – Duct size and location play a fundamental role in conditioning your structure’s space.
Window quantity, position, and quality – Windows are often responsible for an HVAC unit’s difficulty in properly cooling or heating a space.
The structure’s insulation – A properly insulated building will retain its internal air temperature more efficiently.
Average occupancy – The more people that occupy a space, the more challenging it will be to cool or heat the air.
Lighting – Inefficient lighting fixtures can generate sufficient heat to significantly increase your space’s temperature.
Heat-producing equipment and activities – Many appliances can generate tremendous amounts of heat, requiring a more powerful air conditioning unit. Such appliances may include:

  • Stoves/Ovens
  • Furnaces
  • Water Heaters
  • Dishwashers
  • Refrigerators
  • Vending Machines
  • Televisions/Entertainment Units

Tip: With so many crucial factors to consider, it is highly recommended to hire a professional HVAC technician to thoroughly evaluate your space, calculate its A/C requirements, and recommend an appropriate A/C size and model.

Selecting the Right Air Conditioning Size

In this article, you discovered how to calculate your property’s air conditioning requirements, which factors influence your property’s A/C needs, and how over-estimating an A/C’s output can leave you with irregular air conditioning.

Knowing how to accurately calculate the appropriately sized air conditioning unit for your property will help you maintain a comfortable atmosphere, efficiently cool or heat your space, and save significant money on A/C operating costs.

Oversizing your air conditioning unit can result in uneven cooling and high internal humidity, while underestimating the proper size can leave your air conditioner struggling and expenses skyrocketing.

Sources:
eia.gov/energyexplained/units-and-calculators/british-thermal-units.php
energy.gov/sites/prod/files/guide_to_home_heating_cooling.pdf
nrel.gov/docs/fy02osti/31318.pdf

How Long Does an HVAC System Last

HVAC units last longer when regular maintenance is performed

Don’t miss the opportunity to extend your HVAC system life and prevent losing valuable business because your HVAC unit stopped working. Understanding how long HVAC units last will help you get it replaced while it is still an option.

elearning-training.com gathered information about an HVAC’s lifespan, how you can help it last longer, what maintenance should be done, and what signals that it’s time to replace the unit.

How Long Will My HVAC Unit Last?

Most Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems are built to last from 15 to 25 years, but depending on the type of system and other contributing factors, estimated lifespans may vary.

How to Prolong Your HVAC’s Lifespan

Your HVAC unit is already built to last for decades. However, you can keep it running efficiently and extend its lifespan by:

  • Installing, upgrading, or reinforcing your building’s insulation
  • Check your structure’s weather stripping and seals
  • Periodically checking on your condenser’s performance
  • Leaving the unit’s settings on “AUTO”
  • Upgrading to smart thermostats throughout your building
  • Regularly change the system’s filters
  • Schedule biannual HVAC maintenance visits
  • Encourage using fans and space heaters to lighten the load on your HVAC unit

Note: The operational health and efficiency of your HVAC will almost always depend on whether or not you properly maintained it throughout its lifetime.

HVAC Maintenance

HVAC units function properly for longer periods when regularly serviced

Whether your HVAC technician is inspecting your unit for the summer or winter season, routine maintenance typically includes:

  • Thorough cleaning (coils, drains, internal elements, etc.)
  • Testing safety controls
  • Monitoring refrigerant pressure
  • Testing heating elements and exhaust system(s)
  • Lubricating all moving parts
  • Inspecting and repairing connections, thermostat function, and motor operation

Note: HVAC tune-ups provide a valuable service to property owners and managers. They can restore a unit’s lost efficiency and capacity, and tune-ups significantly improve reliability by detecting problems before they lead to system failures.

HVAC Repair and Replacement

Your HVAC unit will likely operate for years without calling much attention to itself. However, when things go awry, and malfunctions begin occurring, immediate attention should be given to getting it repaired or replaced. The following are signs that your unit has reached or surpassed its life expectancy:

  • Your air conditioning is blowing warm air
  • Little to no air is blowing out of your vents
  • The thermostat has stopped working
  • Your unit is making loud noises
  • Water or gas leaks increase around the unit
  • Your electric bill skyrockets
  • Pilot light Problems have become commonplace
  • The unit has reached its projected lifespan

Humidity – One of the principal functions of an HVAC unit is significantly reducing the amount of humidity inside your structure. Even when located in a low humidity climate, the ambient air maintains small amounts of moisture. If you detect humidity within your building while the air conditioning component is running, the unit may need immediate repair.

Bad Odors – If you detect a moldy odor from your HVAC unit, chances are likely that mold or mildew has begun growing in or around your HVAC unit. This is commonplace since the air conditioning components remove excess moisture (humidity) from your structure in addition to cooling it. When condensed moisture cannot drain, mold and mildew grow quickly in areas retaining that moisture.

Electrical Malfunctions – There are multiple electrical components controlling your HVAC unit, including:

  • Circuit boards
  • Power wires
  • Fans
  • Compressors

If your HVAC emits a smell like burning gunpowder or plastic, it likely means any one, or a combination of these components are burning. In this situation, immediately shut down your HVAC unit and consult your professional HVAC technician for emergency repair or replacement.

Gas Leaks – The most alarming of these signs is the smell of gas leaking from your HVAC system. Natural gas itself has no smell, but utilities and gas companies mix it with methyl mercaptan to give it a distinctive odor. This odor ensures immediate detection and helps prevent fires, explosions, and severe harm from inhalation when gas leaks. In this case, your first action should be to shut off the gas flow, shut down your HVAC unit, ventilate your building, and call your gas provider to locate and repair the source of the problem.

Note: Malfunctions and maintenance emergencies often occur during severe weather and temperature. This is when your HVAC system is pushed beyond its capabilities. A properly working HVAC unit is crucial to a building’s occupant’s comfort and health.

HVAC Lifespan

In this article, you discovered how long HVAC systems last, how you can extend their lifespan, what maintenance is required, and signs that it’s time to replace your unit.

By keeping up with your HVAC unit, its maintenance program, and watching for signs of its decline, you can keep your building’s air consistently conditioned for decades.

Ignoring your HVAC unit and its needs can result in angry tenants, loss in revenue, and costly repairs.

Sources:
rsi.edu/blog/hvacr/troubleshooting-basic-hvac-problems/
coynecollege.edu/common-hvac-airflow-issues-how-to-fix-them/
florida-academy.edu/5-common-hvac-issues/
epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/should-you-have-air-ducts-your-home-cleaned

7 Reasons You Need HVAC Preventative Maintenance

HVAC units often malfunction from a lack of regular qualified maintenance visits

Prevent your HVAC from breaking down at the worse time. Understanding why your HVAC unit needs regular preventive maintenance will help you avoid costly repairs and replacements.

elearning-training.com gathered information about 7 reasons why you should keep a maintenance agreement and schedule your professional HVAC technician for frequent preventive maintenance visits.

Is HVAC preventative maintenance worth it?

Yes. When it comes to your HVAC system, prevention is the best thing you can do for it. Having a professional look at and listen to your system can help detect small problems before they turn into outrageously expensive ones. Regular cleaning and filter changes can also help you maintain a cleaner and healthier environment. Here are 7 reasons to keep your HVAC preventive maintenance agreement up-to-date:

1. Extend Your HVAC’s Lifespan

Regular HVAC maintenance will extend the lifespan of your system, reducing or eliminating the likelihood that you’ll need to prematurely pay for an HVAC replacement any time soon.

2. Reduce Power Bills

Preventive maintenance helps your HVAC system run as close to peak efficiency as possible. This can translate to upwards of a 30% savings on your power bill.

3. Preserve Warranty Coverage

Most HVAC manufacturers will require proof of annual preventive maintenance when a repair claim is submitted while under warranty. Investing in annual maintenance to keep the unit’s most expensive components covered under its warranty can save a lot of money if something goes wrong.

4. Protect Your Business or Home

HVAC systems are designed to safely operate, and they rarely cause significant or severe damage to a business or home. However, keep in mind that these units are powered by electricity, natural gas, and other fuels that can turn dangerous if not maintained and used correctly. Preventive maintenance prevents minor issues from evolving into big problems.

5. Improve Air Quality

HVAC systems are designed to help maintain a healthy and comfortable indoor atmosphere. Keeping your HVAC system cleaned and serviced regularly enhances its ability to meet that objective.

6. Prevent Costly Malfunctions

When an HVAC system or component fails, replacement and/or repair costs can significantly surpass the costs of preventive maintenance. Most HVAC problems can be avoided with regular professional maintenance.

7. Reduce Your Structure’s Environmental Footprint

When your HVAC system operates at its peak efficiency, it naturally uses less fuel, and that’s a “win” for the environment. As new and more advanced technologies come to market, your HVAC technician can recommend upgrades, replacements, and other ways to further minimize your environmental footprint.

What Does Preventive Maintenance Include?

In a typical preventive maintenance visit, a professional HVAC technician will perform several checks and takes actions, including:

  • Checking refrigerant levels
  • Inspecting the system for leaks
  • Inspecting electrical connections (tightening as needed)
  • Checking natural gas connections for leaks or malfunctions and making minor repairs when needed
  • Inspecting, cleaning, and straightening condenser coils to encourage proper airflow
  • Checking and lubricating moving parts
  • Testing the thermostat to ensure it’s functioning properly
  • Cycling the system on and off
  • Checking, cleaning, and replacing air filters as needed

While preventative maintenance visits are comprehensive, they don’t take very long to complete, and unless there is a catastrophic system malfunction, they are not disruptive or intrusive to business operations or home life.

How Often Is HVAC Maintenance Required?

Central air units require periodic maintenance

There is no “cookie-cutter” definition to determine the right frequency for preventative maintenance visits on your HVAC system. This is defined by factors like:

  • The size of the heating and air conditioning units
  • How often the equipment is in operation
  • Long periods of severe high or low temperatures
  • The detection of irregularities in the unit’s operation
  • Manufacturer’s warranty requirements

As a general rule, you should have a professionally trained HVAC technician assess and comprehensively service your system at least once a year. For systems in high-demand environments, biannual or quarterly maintenance may be required.

Another reason for contracting multiple technician visits per year is to have your air conditioning system serviced in late spring, before the hot summer months, and then have your furnace serviced ahead of cool autumn weather and winter’s frigid cold.

HVAC Preventive Maintenance

In this article, you discovered why preventive maintenance is crucial to your unit’s peak operation and ability to regulate the structure’s internal climate.

Keeping up with your HVAC’s preventive maintenance will help your unit clean the air, keep your home or business safe, and surpass its lifespan.

Putting off or canceling your HVAC’s preventive maintenance schedule can void your unit’s warranties and result in costly malfunctions, repairs, complete unit replacements, or severe damage to your home or business.

Sources:
energy.gov/energysaver/maintaining-your-air-conditioner
energystar.gov/campaign/heating_cooling/maintenance_checklist
florida-academy.edu/hvac-preventive-maintenance-tips-for-fall/
cleanenergyresourceteams.org/sites/default/files/FSELP_PreventativeMaintenance.pdf

5 Common HVAC Problems and Solutions

HVAC units often malfunction due to neglect or a lack of regular maintenance visits

Prevent your HVAC unit from failing and potentially damaging your roof when extreme weather and temperatures settle in for the season. Knowing how to spot trouble with your HVAC unit and get it taken care of will help you save money and prevent more severe problems in the future.

elearning-training.com gathered information about 5 common HVAC problems, the inconveniences they can cause, and how to solve them before they cause expensive damages to the unit or the structure it’s meant to regulate.

What are the most common HVAC problems?

Your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) unit uses various technologies to control the temperature, humidity, and air purity in an enclosed space. The ultimate goal is to provide continuous thermal comfort and reasonable indoor air quality.

There are multiple reasons your HVAC system may stop functioning properly, and here are 5 of the potential reasons, the damage they can cause, and how to get them fixed:

1. Dirty Filters

HVAC units often malfunction or develop severe problems due to dirty air filters

Dirty air filters are one of the most common and repetitive issues affecting your HVAC’s performance. A dirty filter is also one of the most straightforward problems to fix. Your air filter(s) should be changed regularly. Replacement intervals will depend on your local air quality, whether you have pets, if you smoke, or even how/what you cook. You may need to change your filters every month.

At the most basic function, air filters remove impurities like dust, pet dander, or (higher grade filters) bacteria from the air that flows through the system. This improves the air quality within your home and protects your HVAC system from damage.

Solution: Maintain a schedule that reminds you at a set interval to inspect or replace your HVAC system’s air filters.

Tip: For those suffering from allergies or may have a compromised immune system, HEPA filters are designed to remove a minimum of 99.97 percent of particles in the air 0.3 microns or larger. This title is endorsed by the Energy Department. While most commonly used in commercial settings requiring ­extremely clean air, like hospitals and laboratories, they can be used in residential structures.

2. Clogged Drain Pipes and Water Leaks

Air conditioners and high-efficiency furnaces tend to produce condensate. Drain pipes are used to encourage proper and consistent water drainage. However, furnaces can leak water if the drain lines are either clogged or develop cracks. In residential structures, this problem can be avoided by helping keep the drain lines clean by pouring bleach down the drain periodically.

Other potential leak sources may be the collector box, heat exchanger, or drain pan. A professional service technician should be contacted to determine the source of the water leak and repair options.

Note: Water leaks can go on for weeks, months, or years depending on their location and how frequently your HVAC unit is serviced. According to atlantacommercialroofingcontractors.com, these leaks can result in costly structural damage to your home (when the HVAC unit is installed on your rooftop, this problem can lead to roofing system failure).

Solution: Have your HVAC unit thoroughly inspected at least once per year by a professional, licensed technician.

3. Lack of Maintenance

One of the more common causes of HVAC problems and mechanical failure is disregarding regular system maintenance. Regularly scheduled maintenance by a professional, licensed service contractor is necessary to keep your system in top working order.

Many typical furnace or system repairs can be avoided with regular maintenance by a certified professional service contractor. Home heating and cooling systems are typically expensive investments. Why not protect that investment?

If you neglect to perform regular maintenance, you will most likely experience unexpected and costly structural damages, increased energy cost, and poor unit performance, or complete breakdown.

Solution: Scheduling regular HVAC unit inspections will help you stave off or permanently avoid expensive HVAC repairs or replacements.

4. Thermostat Problems

HVAC units often malfunction due to aging or poorly programed thermostats

Thermostat technology has changed how we interact with our heating and cooling, and even when controlling your HVAC unit on-site or remotely. Smart, programmable HVAC thermostats can help you economize on energy costs while maintaining a more comfortable environment.

Programming the correct thermostat settings for your home may take some time and effort on your part. Whichever thermostat you settle on for your home, read the instruction manual to ensure that you’re getting the most out of its features and capabilities.

Even the best or most sophisticated thermostats can malfunction. If you’re having difficulties maintaining specific temperatures in your home, a maintenance inspection may identify thermostat sensor problems or other developing problems.

Solution: Know the capabilities of your thermostat and how to use them to your advantage. When you encounter a glitch, don’t hesitate to get a professional involved to guide you through it.

5. Pilot or Ignition Issues

Ignition problems can result from several malfunctions. A dirty pilot, change in airflow, obstructed flame sensor, or clogged burners can cause a pilot outage, furnace lockout, or delayed burner ignition.

This problem could also result from a gas supply problem or wear and tear of an ignition component. When pilot and ignition issues arise, it is best to have them seen and handled by a trained service technician familiar with the dangers and required protocols for handling natural gas and high voltage.

Solution: Your HVAC’s pilot system, gas connection, and exhaust should all be regularly inspected and serviced to avoid potential gas poisoning or explosions.

What Can Go Wrong With HVAC?

In this article, you discovered 5 common HVAC problems and how they can be treated or avoided altogether.

Keeping your HVAC unit properly maintained and serviced will help you avoid air conditioning interruptions, structural damages, and premature unit replacement.

Ignoring HVAC problems can lead to catastrophic damages to your home, lower breathing air quality, and even lead to potentially fatal gas leaks.

Sources:
energy.gov/energysaver/common-air-conditioner-problems
epa.gov/iaq-schools/heating-ventilation-and-air-conditioning-systems-part-indoor-air-quality-design-tools
energystar.gov/campaign/heating_cooling/maintenance_checklist