To Repair, Or Not To Repair… That Is The QuestionHands around the world

Every homeowner is faced with a malfunctioning or broken down heating & cooling system at some point. It’s uncomfortable; you’re either sweating or freezing. It’s stressful; who do you call, how long will it take for them to get here, will they be able to fix it. It’s unexpected; you didn’t budget for this to happen.

Sometimes the issue is a simple one and can be quickly, easily, and inexpensively repaired. Other times, not so much, and you might just be throwing good money after bad. When you are faced with this repair versus replace fork in the road what should you do?

The first question to ask yourself is, are you happy with the comfort? Are the temperatures even throughout all rooms of your home? Is the humidity comfortable year-round? Is your air clean and refreshing? How are your utility bills? Is your old system noisy? After all, aren’t those are the bare minimum requirements for being comfortable in your own home?

The next question to ask is, how old is your current system? Energy Star recommends that any system either 10-years old OR not delivering ideal comfort (see the first question above), should be a candidate for upgrade. Industry wide, AC and heat pumps average 10-12 years, while furnaces a little more like 15-20 years. There is some give & take regionally; for example, the International Associations of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI), puts the average life expectancy of AC’s & HP’s in Florida between 5-12 years, which is a whole lot less than the national average. Makes sense, AC systems run a lot more in Florida than they do it New York!

When I’ve surveyed homeowners, they almost always tell me they expect to have to upgrade every 8-10 years. Even the manufacturers are betting on 10-years being the average, as evidenced by the fact that that’s typically the maximum warranty period any of them provide, with several providing shorter ones. One thing is for sure though; HVAC systems do not improve with age!

If your HVAC were a car, how many miles would it “drive” every year? Well, there are 365-days in a year, or 8760-hours annually. Even if you assume that you need heating or cooling only half the time, that’s still potentially 4380-hours of run time. Of course, the actual load hours vary by region and climate.

If you drove your car 4380-hours at the 55-mph speed limit, you’d drive over 240,000 miles a year! In other words, you’d make nearly 10-trips AROUND THE WORLD every year. Wow, that’s a whole lot of miles!

As Americans, we upgrade our cars every 6-8 years, and I’m guessing it’s way, way before we’re anywhere close to a QUARTER OF A MILLION miles. Even at the 10-year mark, your HVAC system has gone enough “miles” to go to moon and back five times! No doubt about it, your heating & cooling system is one tough son-of-a-gun.

Seems obvious now, doesn’t it? The older your current system, the more likely it’s ready to be upgraded. Some other crucial factors to your repair versus replace decision, include:

The “Silver Bullet Value” (SBV) formula we recommend when trying to determine if repairing or replacing makes more financial sense is as follows:

Age of Your System X Repair Costs = Silver Bullet Value (SBV)

If your SBV is less than $5000, repairs could make more financial sense, depending on how you answered all the other questions.

If your SBV value is more than $5000, repairs are likely a poor financial decision, and you could be throwing good money after bad on a system that should be upgrade.


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