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The Best Time to Replace Your Old HVAC System – An Expert Guide

Executive Summary

  • The typical lifespan of an HVAC unit is 15-20, but it may shown signs of wear and aging much earlier than that
  • Before replacing your unit, you should consider its age, condition, energy efficiency, and the time of year you’re planning the replacement for
  • When buying a new HVAC unit, it’s important to find the right contractor for the job, consider its size, and always double-check a unit’s SEER rating before your finalize the purchase
  • Older systems can potentially be hazardous to your health, which is why it’s crucial to stay on top of things and schedule a replacement whenever you start noticing any signs of major wear and tear.

The Best Time to Replace Your Old HVAC System – An Expert Guide

As HVAC systems age, they become more susceptible to shorting out, resulting in the loss of heat when they become cold. They can also trigger an electrical fire. Regular maintenance is crucial to prevent such incidents and extend the lifespan of the system. However, upgrading to a new system or AC unit is recommended to ensure safety when the system is a decade old.

While you don’t need to replace the HVAC system immediately upon hitting its ten-year anniversary, it is an excellent time to consider a new system or save up for one. Regular maintenance is still necessary regardless of age to ensure energy bills are low and the system lasts for the longest time.

So, when’s the best time to replace your old HVAC system? Let’s find out.

Things to Consider Before You Replace Your Old HVAC System

  • Age, condition of the unit, its energy efficiency, and the time of year during which the replacement will take place are all crucial factors to think about.

The best time to replace an HVAC unit depends on a few factors, such as the age of the unit, its condition, and the time of year. Then there is also the fact that the best time is a relative question. For instance, some people may find that the best time is when they have the money to foot the bill for the installation of a new air conditioning unit.

Generally, a few factors are worth considering when deciding whether this is the right time to replace the unit.


The typical lifespan of an HVAC unit is between 15-20 years. If your unit is approaching or exceeding this age range, consider replacing it, even if it works fine. That’s because with age, not only does it become more unreliable, but it also loses efficiency. So, replacing an old HVAC unit will mean you save money on electricity bills moving forward.


If your HVAC unit requires frequent repairs or is experiencing significant problems such as a malfunctioning compressor, coil problems, etc., it may be more cost-effective to replace the unit rather than continuing to spend money on repairing it. Not to mention that these issues could be raising heating and cooling costs too.

Time of the Year

The best time to replace an HVAC unit is during the off-season, like during spring or fall when temperatures are milder and HVAC contractors are less busy. This can help you avoid the higher costs and long wait times associated with getting this done during peak season.

Energy Efficiency

If your HVAC unit is old, there is a good chance that there are newer, more efficient units available. Many of the latest ones, especially those manufactured within the past five years in the US, are highly energy-efficient, with their Energy Star rating to prove it. Just think about how much money a unit like this can save you in the long run!

The Cost of Installing The Latest HVAC Unit

  • The actual cost of installing a new HVAC unit can vary, but the national average in the US sits at $7,000.

When the home’s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) unit starts to slow down, aka show signs of inefficiency, it might be time to consider replacing it. So, the next question you’re probably asking is how much does an HVAC unit replacement cost? Reports from various regions of the US show that replacing an HVAC unit can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000; the national average in the US hovers at $7,000.

It is worth bearing in mind that the cost of an HVAC unit replacement can vary depending on several factors, such as labor costs, the accessibility of the unit, the size of the house, and the climate where the home is located. Then there is also the fact that the chosen unit, including the brand and the efficiency rating of the device, can impact its overall price. Some central air conditioner brands are obviously more expensive than others.

It’s worth noting that HVAC unit replacement is a technical project that should be handled by certified professionals. Incorrect installation can lead to costly repairs or even injuries, so it’s essential to work with a reputable HVAC contractor so that the replacement is done right.

A few common signs that your HVAC unit may need to be replaced include unusually high energy bills, uneven temperatures, strange noises, excessive dust, etc.

While the cost of HVAC unit replacement may seem high, it’s essential to consider the long-term benefits, including increased energy efficiency and potential cost savings associated with new air conditioning units. However, you will want to do some research to find the most energy-efficient and reliable unit within your budget.

HVAC air conditioner

What to Check When Purchasing a New HVAC System for Your Home?

  • Once you make the decision to get a new HVAC system, you’re going to have to spend some time choosing the right contractor for the job and select your new unit with its size and SEER rating taken into account.

Purchasing an HVAC or cooling system may seem as simple as buying the latest iPhone. However, in reality, there is a lot more to it, and if you end up with the wrong unit, trust us, you will be very unsatisfied.

While we strongly encourage homeowners to work with professionals to choose the right HVAC unit, there are a few things worth considering:

  1. Start by choosing a professional contractor
  2. The efficiency of the unit is determined by how well it is installed. It is important to hire a reputed contractor who can work with you. Ensure you interview candidates to get a quote from them before deciding who you think will do the best job within your budget.

  3. Estimate the size of the unit
  4. The easiest way to ensure you get an accurate estimate of the size is to evaluate your needs. The contractor will usually start by doing what’s called a load calculation; the calculation will take the climate, roofing materials, size of the home, and other factors into consideration. Professionals will often consider things such as whether there is a crawlspace, perhaps a basement, in addition to the amount of insulation layered across the attic, the total number of floors, and how many people are living in the home. In addition, they may also want to account for other features such as windows installed, the height of the ceiling, and what temperatures you want to maintain indoors. On average, homes need 20 BTUs for every square foot of space. The more that’s needed, the higher the resulting HVAC installation costs will be.

  5. Pay attention to the unit’s SEER rating
  6. Usually, the higher this rating (SEER), the higher the efficiency of the unit. That said, higher SEER-rated units are more expensive but will help you save more over the course of several years. So, we recommend buying the most efficient one even if the HVAC system costs more.

Replacing Your Old HVAC System? Check the Warranty

  • A comprehensive warranty cover can protect you against all sorts of unexpected expenses related to your new HVAC system.

Investing in a high-end home system can be a significant expense but doesn’t guarantee trouble-free performance. Even if you spend a considerable amount on HVAC replacement, unexpected issues can still arise. To safeguard your investment and budget against such unforeseen costs, choose a new AC unit or HVAC that is covered with the best possible warranty.

A quality home warranty ensures you’ll be protected from unexpected repair and replacement costs due to normal wear and tear, regardless of your HVAC system’s age. Every home service plan includes air conditioning and heating warranties, ensuring your system is always covered. If a covered problem cannot be repaired, subject to contract limitations and exclusions, they will replace your HVAC unit. However, always go over the warranty plan with an HVAC installation professional since they have the experience required to understand such things.

Should The AC and Heating Unit Be Replaced At The Same Time?

Typically, heating units will outlast air conditioners with an average lifespan of around 20 years compared to a decade or maybe even up to 15 years for A/C units. As a result, it’s possible that the cooling unit will fail before the heating unit. If your A/C unit requires replacement, but the heating unit is still in good condition, consider retaining it, as it will mean you save money.

Keep in mind that replacing both heating and A/C units simultaneously is more expensive than replacing only the cooling unit. That said, if you can replace both, it may be worth avoiding the hassle of mismatching systems. When installing the latest, high-efficiency unit, ensure it is paired with an existing unit that is also of equivalent efficiency.

HVAC technician

Other Reasons To Replace Your HVAC Unit

  • Your HVAC unit may need replacing if it starts producing loud noises, has been running over time, or exhibits signs of CO2 leakage.

Now there are several other reasons why you should replace the HVAC unit. These don’t necessarily mean there is a problem with your unit, but they could indicate an issue with it which may become a source of frustration sometime later.

Here are a few reasons why you might want to consider replacing your HVAC system:

You Hear Loud Noises

If you hear loud noises from your HVAC unit, this could indicate a problem with the indoor coil of the cooling equipment. You can contact our professional, who will examine your HVAC unit and then help you decide whether it is a problem that can be reliably addressed or if it would be best to replace it.

Your Boiler, Furnace, and AC Are Running Over Time

If you have noticed that the HVAC unit is running over time, it is a sign that it may need to be replaced. When you have a heating unit that’s consistently running, it also means that it will draw lots of energy, resulting in high energy bills. So, you might want to monitor how often the unit continuously runs.

Older Systems Are Known to Pump CO2 Into Your Home

Most older furnaces are at a high risk of cracking. The heat exchangers often crack, which allows CO2 to leak into the home. As the system ages, there is a higher chance of corrosion which can lead to cracking. However, you will need to have a CO2 detector installed which will indicate if there is a leak.

Final Word

There are many reasons why you’d want to replace your HVAC system. Some of the telltale signs of a malfunctioning unit would be uneven temperatures, loud noises, or unusually high energy bills.

Still, the best time to replace any system is when it becomes old. It would be best to wait until it starts breaking down or leaking. So, the earlier you replace an older HVAC system with a newer, more efficient unit, the more money you will save. However, always have a professional on your side you trust who can help you buy a new air conditioner.


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