Replacing the HVAC System? 4 Points to Discuss First

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iStock_000002448982XSmallIf you're shopping around for a new heat pump, A/C or furnace for your Lufkin home, or if you’re not really sure if the time is right for replacing the HVAC system, read through the following points to make sure you’ve covered all your bases. You can make an informed decision and reap the rewards of maximum energy savings and home comfort through the years.

Replacing the HVAC System: Is It Time?

HVAC stands for heating, ventilation and air conditioning. HVAC systems, such as a heat pump and air ducts, are the primary systems for home comfort, and they account for about half of the energy budget. So, when it's time to repair or replace one or more systems, there's a lot at stake and many factors to consider.

But how do you know when it’s time to replace? Here’s some clues:

  • Many factors affect the useful service life of a heating and cooling system, including frequency of maintenance, workload and environmental conditions. As with your car, it's difficult to accurately pinpoint the life span. However, it's widely accepted that once an HVAC system is beyond 10 years old, it's past its prime. It's better to plan for a replacement in the next few years, rather than be pressured into a quick decision upon system failure.
  • If you are facing a repair or replace decision, you may be better off replacing the HVAC system if the repairs are more than half the price of a new system.
  • Certain noises are indicative of a failing system. For instance, scraping and grinding noises indicate a problem with the blower motor. Aging compressors make loud clunking sounds when cycling on and off. Rattling and clamoring noises are signs of loose ductwork.
  • Uneven air pressure from the diffusers may signal a problem with the cooling, heating or ductwork system.

Short of a system failure, ask your HVAC professional for an inspection of your systems. There may be a simple solution to comfort and energy bill problems without the need for a replacement.

Critical Repairs or System Replacement

Since an HVAC system is comprised of multiple systems that make up the whole, some parts and components may fail before others. If they are primary parts or components, such as a condensing coil on a heat pump or furnace blower motor, the new part, if replaced, will surely affect the performance of original components, and usually not for the better.

In the case of replacing heat pumps and A/C systems, newer systems are manufactured using high-efficiency refrigerant (R-410a), rather than the old standard R-22 refrigerant. R-410a operates at much higher heating and cooling pressures and efficiency, which older condensers, evaporators and compressors are not designed to handle.

HVAC System Sizing Done Right

In the HVAC world, correct sizing matters. A heating, cooling or ductwork system that is too small won’t adequately condition your home. A system that's too large will cost more. Over-sized systems quick cycle (frequent on/off switching), and, therefore, do not reach peak efficiency. Energy is wasted and comfort suffers.

Your contractor should use industry best practices Manuals J, S and D for sizing, selecting and installing HVAC systems, as developed by the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA).

  • Manual J is used for calculating the heating/cooling load of the home.
  • Manual S is used for sizing and selecting the right heating and/or cooling system.
  • Manual D is used for sizing the ductwork system for adequate airflow to each room of the home.

HVAC System Selection

Many homeowners have preferences for system types, such as a furnace, boiler or heat pump heating. However, there are many choices available today with a wide range of benefits. For instance, a heat pump and gas furnace hybrid system offers premium heating efficiency by utilizing the most cost-effective energy source (electricity or gas) at any given time. A geothermal heat pump surpasses a hybrid system, but costs more to install. Your HVAC contractor should perform a cost analysis of different system types to show you actual lifetime costs and return on investment of each.

Moreover, to maximize your HVAC investment, consider the following add-on systems:

  • Zoning systems condition each zone in the home according to your liking and lifestyle.
  • Whole-house dehumidifiers automatically remove moisture from your home.
  • Programmable thermostats are the perfect companion to zoning and dehumidification systems.

If you have any questions about replacing the HVAC system in your Lufkin and Nacogdoches area home, please contact us at McWilliams & Son Heating & Air Conditioning.