Home comfort relies on it staying at the right temperature for the season. Being cozy and warm on cold, rainy winter nights and cool and relaxed on hot summer days depends on selecting the right HVAC system for your home. Working quietly in the background HVAC systems regulate temperature and enhance the indoor air quality in homes, malls, offices, stores, and more.
What is an HVAC System?
HVAC stands for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning and is typically one of the things you don’t think about until you have to. Your HVAC system is made up of several key parts:
- Thermostat: the brain of your home HVAC system
- Air return: circulating air is vital to the functioning of an HVAC system. Air returns suck in air, pass it through the HVAC filter and into the main system.
- Blower: draws air through the HVAC system
- Heat Exchanger: when the thermostat calls for heat this answers the call
- Coils: part of the cooling system of your HVAC, coils carry refrigerant that transfers heat
- Compressor or Condensing Unit: converts the refrigerant from gas to liquid and send it to the coils
- Ducts: move the cold and warm air throughout your home
- Air Filter: boosts the HVAC system’s energy efficiency and cleans the air as it runs through the system
- Outdoor unit: houses the compressor/condensing unit, connected to the indoor unit via refrigeration lines.
This whole system works on the principles of heat transfer, fluid mechanics, and thermodynamics to keep your indoor climate comfortable.
How Long Does an HVAC System Last?
It depends. In general, most HVAC systems last between 15 and 25 years depending on the system and if it has been well maintained. Factors that can affect your HVAC systems longevity are:
- Wrong system size for your home
- Improper installation
- Poor maintenance
- Heating or cooling improperly, such as with the doors and windows open
An HVAC system is a significant investment so proper maintenance is one of the most important things you can do for long life. Here are typical lifespans of common HVAC systems:
|Furnace||20 years or more|
|Air Conditioner||15 years or more|
|Heat pump||15 years|
|Ductless mini split system||15 years|
If cared for correctly, gas furnaces can last 20 years or more. Most air conditioners can last 15 years or more. Heat pumps because they are used year-round, last an average of about 15 years. And ductless mini split systems similarly have a typical lifespan of about 15 years.
Additional reading: 7 Secrets To Extending The Life Of Your HVAC System
When to Replace an HVAC System
If your current system is 10 to 15 years or older it may be good to evaluate your system. Technology has changed in the last 15 to 20 years and the new HVAC systems are more efficient. The savings of upgrading to a newer, more efficient HVAC system could be a good investment, especially if your system is starting to show signs of problems.
Another time to consider an HVAC upgrade is if you have done major remodeling in your home. Major changes diminish the efficiency of your system and will lead to higher bills and more wear on your HVAC.
What Size HVAC Unit Do I Need?
While there are a few ways to calculate the correct size of an HVAC system for your home, the most reliable is something called a Manual J calculation.
Developed by engineers, Manual J takes into consideration a whole list of factors that include dimensions, insulation, windows, home shape, orientation, and load calculation. Just replacing your HVAC system with the same size isn’t the best option.
Changes in your home through remodeling can make a significant difference in how your HVAC system performs. Having an HVAC professional ensures that you have a “just right” system that will save you money and system issues while providing optimal comfort.
Additional reading: AC Sizes Explained: What Size Air Conditioner Do I Need?
How Much is a New HVAC System?
The cost of a new HVAC system depends on what you are replacing. There are many combinations of heating and cooling units to choose from depending on what your home needs.
A central air conditioner can cost between $4,500 and $8,500 while a gas furnace can run between $4,500 and $7,000.
All-in-one units like heat pumps that work as both a heating and cooling unit can be between $5,500 and $9,500 but offer a return on investment with lower bills all year long.
Additional reading: Heat Pump vs Air Conditioner: Which is Right for You?
Air ducts are an often forgotten part of your HVAC system but are critical if you have a centralized system. Aging, deteriorated and damaged ductwork will cost you money in poor HVAC performance and diminish the comfort in your home.
Additionally, poor airflow will reduce the life of your HVAC system. If your home is feeling musty or you have hot and cold spots around your home it may be time to have your ducts checked.
If your ductwork needs to be replaced the cost can run between $2,000 and $8,000 depending on what needs to be replaced and where. Attics can take more time than an open basement and if walls need to be opened that can add to the project as well.
Is a New HVAC Worth the Investment?
The long-term benefits of replacing an aging or poorly performing HVAC system can be significant. Studies have found that high-efficiency systems can lower energy costs by 20% or more. Over the lifetime of the HVAC system that savings add up.
Newer HVAC systems have precision variable speed motors that ensure optimal airflow throughout your home year-round. They are also quieter, minimizing noise throughout your home. Smart thermostats give you the ability to control your entire HVAC system both at home and on your smartphone when you are away.
If you have an older HVAC system that is constantly needing repairs, the cost of replacement will be worth it long-term.
Additional reading: HVAC Financing for New Heating & Cooling Systems
Best Time of Year to for an HVAC Replacement
If your existing HVAC system isn’t working and can’t be repaired, then the time to replace your HVAC system is immediate. But most of us have time to plan. Shoulder seasons like fall and spring can be better times of year for HVAC upgrades, though in 2021 there have been no shoulder seasons for HVAC companies. For Jacobs Heating & Air Conditioning, these are less busy seasons.
Also, it could take a couple of days for the new HVAC system to be installed. The mild weather of fall and spring are good seasons to potentially be without heat or air conditioning for a few days.
And no matter what time of year, you can’t have a new system installed the next day. It takes two home visits before the installer will come out to install. On the first visit, consultants provide options, and on the second visit, the job supervisor will come out to ensure the installer has everything needed on the day(s) of install.
Additional reading: When to Service Your Air Conditioner (And How Often)
How Jacobs Can Help
If you are concerned about your current HVAC system and need expert advice, a Jacobs Heating & Air Conditioning consultant can perform a full inspection of your system and offer options. If you know that it is time for an HVAC upgrade or to replace your current HVAC system, give us a call. We offer a variety of flexible financing options and we’ll walk you through the process of how to pay for your new system.
Avoid extra costs and fewer repairs by scheduling a tune-up for your existing system before issues arise. Our maintenance plans keep your system running like clockwork without any stress or hassle. No matter what you need we’re always just a phone call away. You are welcome to review our statement on COVID-19 and how we’re taking precautions to protect you, our team, and our communities.