Whether it’s a warm, inviting retreat on a cold winter day or a cool refuge from the summer heat, your home can always be comfortable – thanks to your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system. But indispensable as it is, it won’t last forever.
Your furnace and air conditioner will eventually need to be replaced. Even if you find great prices, these upgrades can cost a few thousand dollars, so it’s important to plan ahead and budget to replace your HVAC system before it breaks. Likewise, your thermostat could use an update after many years of service.
The initial cost may be daunting, but these investments pay off. Advances in HVAC technology ensure that replacing older equipment with even standard-efficiency modern equivalents will result in significant energy savings. And if you install the most energy-efficient replacements, the savings can be substantial.
Bring the Heat
The average lifespan of a furnace is 15-20 years, making it one of the longest-lasting appliances in the typical home. But to reach that milestone (or even go a few years beyond), it’s important you care for your furnace from the moment it’s installed.
A thorough inspection and tune-up should be performed by a licensed technician before heating season each year. This maintenance is essential to smooth operation, and it’s the best way to catch small problems as early as possible so they can be repaired before they affect other components of your HVAC system.
It’s also important to check and replace the furnace filter on schedule, and to prevent corrosion by controlling the humidity level in your home. You can use a digital hygrometer to identify excess humidity, and an HVAC expert can help you choose the right dehumidifier to prevent moisture from rusting out your heat exchanger.
Age isn’t the only sign your furnace may need replacement. If your aging furnace starts making unusual noises, or the air flowing out of your vents just doesn’t feel warm enough, it may be time to replace it. It’s also wise to start considering replacement if your winter utility bills are unusually high.
Keep It Cool
Air conditioners last almost as long as furnaces, although few make it to the ripe age of 20. Most systems need to be replaced after about 15 years, and just as with furnaces, the secret to longevity is in the maintenance.
Tune-ups and inspections should be performed annually and before warm weather arrives; timely filter replacement is likewise a critical step to extending the life of your blower. You should also check on your outdoor condenser unit periodically to ensure that no vegetation or debris are blocking the vents.
When an air conditioner starts to fail, the most noticeable symptoms are often warmer conditioned air and weaker air flow. You may also find signs of trouble in a visual inspection of the condenser, such as rust from excess moisture or oil splatters from a blown seal.
With few or no moving parts, your thermostat could be older than your last two furnaces combined and still provide reliable service. As a result of this long product life, most thermostats aren’t replaced due to failure, but because better technology exists.
The biggest opportunity in upgrading older thermostats is the ability to program heating and cooling schedules for your HVAC system. Low-priced digital models offer this feature, but if you want the best, consider upgrading to a smart thermostat. These models offer user-friendly programming interfaces and can be controlled from anywhere in the world using a smartphone or tablet.
You can’t keep an HVAC system running forever, but with proper care and inspections, you’ll have plenty of warning before replacement becomes necessary. Make a plan for your future upgrades and always trust your installation and repairs to a licensed local HVAC technician.