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Repair or Replace? Residential HVACs

It’s puzzling what some homeowners will tolerate. For example, one Spring resident said he did laundry at night because there was no water pressure anywhere in the house when the washing machine was operating. In Tomball, a family survived several summer months without water-heated water because “We haven’t had cold water since April anyway. It’s hot in Texas.”

When it comes to your HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning) system, what are you willing to live with – or without? “It’s hot in Texas,” and we can’t live without cool indoor air. If you need air conditioning repairs, you may be wondering if you should upgrade to a new AC system or HVAC replacement.

Signs You Have HVAC Problems

Before you decide whether to repair or replace your heating and cooling system, it’s important to identify the signs your HVAC needs service.

  • Age (10+ years)
  • Air temperature erratic
  • Drafts or some rooms too hot/too cold
  • Dustier than usual
  • Electrical burning smell (Turn your unit off immediately.)
  • Humidity higher than usual
  • Low/no airflow
  • Noises (bangs, buzzing, groans, humming)
  • Short circuiting
  • Smells (gassy/rotten eggs, moldy, musty)
  • Starts up/shuts down frequently
  • Thermostat needs to be adjusted too often
  • Too many repairs
  • Utility bill spikes for no reason

Never ignore it if your carbon monoxide alarm trips. Don’t assume it’s malfunctioning. Always assume it is working.

We encourage our neighbors to install a carbon monoxide detector about 15 feet away from your indoor HVAC unit. (You should also have a CO detector that distance from dryers, fireplaces, gas clothes dryers, gas stoves, and gas water heaters.)

  1. Evacuate all loved ones (including 4-legged furry family members) outside where there is fresh air.
  2. Call 911.
  3. Don’t reenter the home when the alarm stops. If you open windows and doors, the amount of carbon monoxide in the air may be less, but the source could still be leaking. The CO levels can build to dangerous levels if you close windows and doors.
  4. Request emergency responders tell you if it’s safe before you return indoors.

Making the Decision To Repair or Replace

HVAC maintenance may be the best investment you can make. It saves money and prolongs your heating and cooling system’s lifespan by years. But even with maintenance, a unit can have problems. In general, there are some guidelines that you can follow when it comes to deciding what the best plan of action is. Consulting with your HVAC professional can help confirm your decision.

Repair if:

  • You plan to move within 7 years.
  • You’ve had 0-2 repairs in the last three years.
  • Your:
    • AC is SEER (seasonal efficiency ratio) is less than 10.
    • Heat pump rating is less than 10 SEER or 8 HSPF (heating seasonal performance factor).
    • Heating system AFUE (annual fuel utilization efficiency) is less than 80%.
  • Your system’s age is less than 10 years old.
  • Your warranty is active and repairs may be covered.

Replace if:

  • Performance function is bad.
  • The AC or HVAC system is more than 10 years old.
  • You plan to stay in your home long-term.
  • You want to save energy as well as reduce monthly energy bills.
  • You’ve had 3+ repairs within the last three years.
  • Your unit uses R-22 freon.
  • Your warranty has expired.

The $5,000 Rule is a good idea to follow:

Photo Credit: Angi's List

Types of Northwest Houston Home HVAC Systems

Here are the major types of HVAC systems:

Boiler

Boilers are the underrated, long-lasting thermal systems that we don’t see much of in the southern U.S. states. Boilers send heated water throughout the home using a pipe/radiator system and are sometimes supplemented with a separate AC system.

Ductless Mini-Split

Using inverter technology, a consistent, comfortable temperature is maintained throughout the home. This energy-efficient HVAC doesn’t require ductwork; IAQ (indoor air quality) is naturally better as a result. Ducted units are available but the installation costs more.

Electric

Electric heating and cooling are always more eco-friendly options. Ductwork is required but electric HVAC installation is usually cheaper than fuel-driven systems.

Furnace/Split AC

This type of cost-effective and energy-efficient system is beneficial to larger homes because it can be more easily customized. The outside unit has a compressor for cooling and a condenser for heat, while the inside unit has an air handler (AC) and evaporator coil (heating).

Geothermal Heat Pump

Geothermal heat pumps are hands-down the most energy-efficient heating and cooling option. They use natural sources – earth and water – to heat and cool the home. If you can afford the upfront investment, a geothermal heat pump can save thousands of dollars in energy expenses plus measurably increase your property value.

Heat Pump/Air Handler

Operating costs nosedive with heat pump air conditioning systems. The heat pump is located outside and uses a refrigerant to cool outdoor air that is then delivered indoors by an air blower.

Trusted, Trained, Experienced: Country Air Pros

Country Air HVAC professionals guarantee your satisfaction with superior air conditioning repairs in Montgomery County and Northwest Houston homes. But if you need a new AC system, Country Air will work with your square footage and your lifestyle to find the most affordable type of HVAC unit.

We welcome questions: Call 281-356-8564, or contact Country Air.

FAQs

Some of the frequently asked questions we receive about residential HVACs include:

Planning is one of the longest phases of geothermal installation. We must carefully consider:

  • Space available
  • Loop depth/configuration
  • Soil quality
  • Unit size

The installation itself is usually 1-2 weeks.

Indoor air quality (IAQ) is important to everyone. Air ducts are a main component in circulating cleaner, healthier air throughout your home and office. Air duct-cleaning every 3 years is recommended, but if you have:

  • Allergies
  • Indoor smokers
  • Multiple pets
  • Ongoing health issues

…or other environmental factors, consider annual air duct cleaning.

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