Homeowners’ Five Most Common HVAC Questions

No matter how long you have owned your home, your HVAC system can be confusing. Everyone from new homeowners to people who have lived in the same house for 30 years have questions for our professionals. Many of our clients ask us the same questions over and over again, so we thought it might be helpful to answer these questions here.

1. Is it always better to have a bigger HVAC system?

This is a common misconception when it comes to sizing HVAC systems. Having a big system is not always the best way to get superior performance and energy efficiency. The size of your HVAC system should correspond to the size of your house. A cottage will need a smaller system, while a multi-story home will need a larger one. It’s important to have the correctly sized unit because if your unit is too large, it will have a cycle that is too short. Though it may cool down your home faster, an oversized HVAC system will use a great deal of energy from having to stop and start so often. And shorter cycles mean parts in your unit will wear out more quickly, resulting in more repairs and a shorter lifespan. Instead of buying the biggest system available, make sure you have a properly sized unit based on your home’s square footage.

2. Should I repair or replace my HVAC system? 

This is a tough question that many homeowners struggle with. Is it worth repairing an HVAC system repeatedly, or should they invest in a new unit to save money over the long run? Of course, the answer to that question depends on many different factors, including:

  •  How old the system Is: Older HVAC systems have less energy-efficient technology and higher repair costs, so you may sink more money into them than it would cost to buy a new unit.
  • How severe the problem Is: If you have a minor problem like a clogged drain line or damaged ductwork, it can be an easy fix. But if your condenser coils or compressor needs to be replaced, it will be very expensive to repair.
  • How much the repairs cost: If the unit is still under warranty or if the repairs will cost less than half of the price of a new unit, it is better to fix your old system. But if the job will cost 50% or more of a new system, it may make more sense to invest in a new one.
  • How energy-efficient the system Is: New units have a SEER ratings as high as 20. If your unit is rated 13 SEER or below, you should invest in a new energy-efficient model that will save you a lot of money in the long run.
  • How often repairs are needed:  If you have needed 3 or more major repairs on your unit in the last decade, it might be time to consider an update.
  • Unit size: If the unit is too large or small for your home, it will break down frequently and be inefficient. A properly sized and installed unit will heat and cool your home effectively and efficiently.

If you have an over-sized, 15-year-old system that breaks down every 6 months, you should probably buy a new unit that will save you money on your energy bills and run smoothly. If you have a 5-year-old unit that only needs a small repair, get it fixed and don’t worry about getting a new system.

3. How can I save money on my energy bill?

In New England, heating costs in the winter can be astronomical, and it gets warm enough in the summer that our air conditioners rack up a serious utility bill. We have some great tips to help you keep your energy bills down:

  •  If you have an older HVAC unit, invest in a new, energy-efficient model.
  • Have your HVAC technician install a programmable thermostat that you can use to turn down your unit at certain hours of the day. Turn your HVAC system down when everyone is at work or school to save money.
  • Regularly change your air filters.
  • Get a maintenance check for your HVAC systems twice a year—once before the winter and once before the summer.
  • Use ceiling fans to cool your home in the summer and warm it up in the winter.

4. How often should I change my filters?

How often you should change your filter depends on what kind of filter you have.

  • If you have a 1-inch Standard Air Filter, change it once a month.
  • If you have a 4-inch Media Filter, change it twice a year when you get your HVAC system maintained.
  • If you have an Electronic Air Cleaner (EAC), clean it at the beginning of all four seasons.

5. How long will my HVAC system last?

Though we can’t tell you exactly how long your HVAC system will last, we can tell you that it will last longer if you have it regularly maintained. Regular maintenance can catch problems before they become expensive and dangerous. If you keep your HVAC unit regularly maintained, you can expect your system to last between 15 and 20 years.

The average lifespan of your unit also depends on the type of system. 

  • Heat pumps and Air Conditioning units have an average lifespan of 11-13 years.
  • Furnaces generally last 18-20 years.
  • Tankless water heaters usually work for 20 years.
  • An electric or gas heater has a 10-year life expectancy.
  • Thermostats can last for up to 15 years, but you may want to update them more frequently depending on whether more efficient technology becomes available.

Hopefully these answered your most frequent homeowner questions. If not, you can call or email Evolved Mechanical to speak to an expert today! Our expert HVAC technicians have years of experience and are always happy to help.