When Is It Time To Replace Your System?

Thinking about getting your furnace or air conditioner replaced? 

Wintry weather is coming, making it a perfect time to consider your options and ensure you and your family are comfortable all year long. 

At Gem Heating & Air, we feel it’s important for you to be informed about this decision. It’s a big decision to make and can often be confusing, especially if this is the first time you’ve waded into the waters of air conditioning systems. That’s why we are here! To answer all your questions about possible system replacement and help provide the best solutions for your comfort!  

We have compiled 7 Questions to Ask Before Replacing Your System: 

  1. How old is my system anyway? 

An easy way to answer this question is to check the manufacturer information sticker on your system.  The serial number will indicate how old the unit is. Each brand of equipment has a slightly different model  and serial number ‘nomenclature’ (trade-lingo for “how we tell you what you’re looking at”), so here’s  an easy resource to use: 

    Lennox Models 

    Trane Models 

    Carrier Models 

    Goodman Models 

If you’re brand isn’t listed here, a quick search online for “[insert brand here] serial nomenclature” will provide you with plenty of resources! Once you have this information, you can look at the following questions with a deeper understanding of what you’re looking at. 

  1. How long should my system last? 

The industry standard for the life of all HVAC systems – whether furnaces, air handlers, heat pumps, or air conditioners – is 10-15 years. Of course, this is impacted by a variety of factors. Some of these include the type of weather in your region, how harsh the peak seasons of summer and winter are, how often the system is running, how hard the system is running, how often it is serviced, what components have been replaced, as well as the quality of the installation itself… it’s a big list – we know – and it all plays a role in the lifespan of your system. 

Oftentimes, units will have a Service History sticker. In a similar way to car service history records, these stickers will have information regarding what work was done, when it was done, and who it was performed by.  

For other types of fixtures such as water heaters, water softeners, humidifiers, or air purifiers, the lifespan will depend on similar variables. The typical lifespan for these units is closer to 6-10 years. 

  1. How has my system been running?

If you’ve lived in your home for several years, odds are you have a fairly good idea of how those units are working. Are you calling a heating company every summer to top off refrigerant? (Side note – this  shouldn’t be a recurring issue and would indicate a leak in the system.) Or has it been a struggle to keep the pilot light in the furnace lit all through winter? Has that bathroom at the back of the house given your family issues with consistent water pressure or temperature? 

These are all great questions to ask when determining the condition of your system. 

On the other hand, if you’re new in town and have just moved into your home, make sure to ask for service records from the previous homeowner. They will go a long way in telling you the story of that furnace, ac, etc. If for whatever reason these aren’t available to you, we would recommend having a  technician come out to do a full system inspection. Along the way, he will be able to answer any of your questions. It’s the fastest and easiest solution to provide you with clarity and peace of mind about your new system. 

If things are running well – awesome! Make sure to keep the age of your system in mind, and understand that with more time, parts will continue to age and repair costs will rise. The furnace and air conditioner are mechanical objects made up of many crucial parts, and just like a car, they all wear out and eventually fail. And, like a car, if you notice something doesn’t seem to be working correctly, you may be right. 

  1. What should I be looking for in a new system? 

If you’ve come this far and have determined you’d like to see some options presented, then this is a  crucial question to ask! Like any other product on the market, HVAC systems come in many assorted styles, each with unique features, pros and cons. When looking for a new system, the biggest factors are going to be (1) the product you choose, and (2) the company you choose to install it.  

First, let’s talk about the product. In the HVAC world, you can go after as much craziness, or as much simplicity, as you’d like. The industry offers everything from ready-made solutions to custom-built systems, tailored to a specific home. For the typical home, an electric air conditioner and gas or electric furnace is a good road to take. Consider the cost of gas vs electricity in your area, to help determine what sort of units make the most financial sense. In certain climates, such as the southwest, a furnace wouldn’t normally even be installed. 

Now let’s look at the company. It’s important to look for a company that has integrity and stands by their word. Pay attention to the online reviews of a company, as they will often paint a good picture for you. Make sure that you feel comfortable with the individuals you deal with – whether they are the ones taking your first phone call, or the ones sitting at your kitchen table presenting options. Remember, you are the one making decisions, so if you sense fear tactics or other shadiness, you are fully within your place to call another company and get a second opinion.  

At Gem, our company goal is to provide you with options best suited for your (1) size of home, (2)  desires for functionality, and (3) your budget. We strive to act with honesty and integrity, seeking your best throughout the entire process. We know that if you win, then we will too. 

When speaking with a comfort advisor, it is the best time to bring up gas vs electric furnaces, heat  pumps vs air conditioners, sheet metal vs flex ducting, 1-stage vs 2-stage furnaces, differences in 

running noise, zoning options, and even the style of thermostat you’d like. With him onsite and able to see how your home is built, with its particular heating/cooling needs, he will be able to help you make an informed decision – one that you can stand behind for years to come. 

  1. What sort of filtration do I want? 

In today’s world, we all have unique needs when it comes to indoor air filtration and quality. You can have anything from a standard 1” MERV 8, single-pleated filter to a 4” MERV 16 carbon filter, or even in duct UV filtration bulbs.  

PS – MERV stands for “minimum efficiency reporting value” and reflects well the filter removes particles from passing airflow. A higher rating means more particles are removed, but also impacts the amount of airflow and can put a strain on your system if used incorrectly. This can eventually lead to system breakdown. We always recommend asking a licensed company about moving to a higher MERV rating. 

    Struggling with dry air?  

         You can even add a whole-home humidifier to the system, and often are               eligible to receive a rebate from your power company! 

  1. What does an installation look like? 

Depending on the scope of your installation, a typical system installation will take 1-2 days. You can coordinate the schedule with your company, so it works well for you and your family. We know what it’s like to get kids off to school, get to work, deal with doctor’s appointments, or make sure the dog gets that morning walk. 

Once the equipment is in and running, permits will be issued by the city to ensure the work is up to the local municipal code. Inspections are then scheduled for the work to be signed off. This process is usually handled by a coordinator within the company you choose.  

  1. How much do I want to spend? 

At the end of the day, the price for a new installation is entirely up to you. If your company is doing a  respectable job, you shouldn’t feel pressured to move to a higher-tier option if you don’t want to. Price will vary based on three things: (1) the size of the system, (2) the quality and features of that system, (3)  and what it will take to install correctly – the first time. 

Be wary: In our market, “Chuck in a truck” is everywhere and will often perform shoddy workmanship with no guarantee of follow-up to fix mistakes. Then you’re calling yet another company to get the system running the way it should have been in the first place! 

All of this to say, if your system is around the 15-year-old mark, it is a wise idea to begin planning for replacement. Start setting aside money to put towards the project, as it will be an investment in your home. Secondly, schedule a free estimate with Gem Heating & Air! We can provide you with customized options, with zero obligation, so that you are well informed and can act accordingly. 

If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us! Our office is open six days a  week, all day long. 208.912.6304.

Thanks for reading!