Anyone with an aging heating and cooling system is going to ask themselves, when is it time to replace a unit rather than repair it?
This is one of the most frequently asked questions of homeowners: When is it best to repair vs. replace? Often a heat pump doesn’t need to be replaced, but sometimes it does.
What is a Heat Pump?
A heat pump is a refrigeration system that relies upon a cycle of mechanical-compression in order to work. This cycle is reversed to heat or cool. Basically, a heat pump cools and heats your home.
A Heat Pump System Includes All of the Following:
- The heat pump unit, which is the outdoor unit and is similar to a central air conditioning unit
- The air handler, which is the indoor unit
- A compressor that moves the refrigerant
- The refrigerant, which is the substance that absorbs and releases heat between the outdoor and indoor units for cooling and heating purposes
Here are a few signs a heat pump may only need to be repaired instead of replaced:
- If your heat pump is not yet 10 years old.
- Your heat pump only needs to have the dirt and dust build-up removed.
- The repairs are not too expensive.
- The repairs are minor.
- Your heat pump has not needed any repairs to date.
When Does a Heat Pump Need to Be Replaced?
There comes a tipping point in the life of every heat pump unit when the costs of repairing the unit start adding up, and it’s not economical to continue putting off replacing it. A heat pump replacement may be the best course of action.
Do you risk a repair and face the possibility of even more repairs? Or do you just absorb the cost of a new unit, which you weren’t planning to do for a few more years? It's best to get the recommendation of a professional HVAC technician (or two) before making this decision..
Here’s a hypothetical example that is all too common:
You’ve had your HVAC system for nine years, and suddenly the compressor just stops working. With just nine years of use, you could probably choose to have the repair without giving a second thought to replacing the entire unit, and wisely so.
However, think about if the system were 16 years old. When the age of the system starts approaching 20 years, it's time to start leaning towards replacing the unit instead of repairing it. Sure the repair could fix that problem, but there’s a great likelihood that another costly part might break a few months later.
The Risk of Expensive Repairs to an Old Heat Pump
This is where homeowners need to consult an HVAC technician who is trained in evaluating HVAC systems and can give you expert advice. It’s important to note, however, that if the HVAC unit has been working without any major problems, most technicians would advise a homeowner to keep on using it, even if the unit's efficiency has declined slightly. They will likely suggest maintenance to keep it in tiptop shape.
There Comes a Time in the Life of Every HVAC System...
There comes a time in every HVAC system’s life, when the decision has to be made whether to replace it or continue to repair it. If you find that your heat pump has never needed repairs, is fairly young at 10 years old and/or merely needs an inexpensive part, then it’s best to simply repair it.
However, if your HVAC unit is getting too old or breaking down too often, it may be time to replace it. If that's the case, do a lot of research and consider speaking with a few top-tier HVAC companies. Then you can make a well-informed decision about replacing your heat pump.
Get a Heat Pump Repaired or Replaced in Richmond, Virginia
We have fixed or replaced heat pumps for thousands of customers throughout Richmond and Central Virginia. Contact us for heat pump pricing if you have concerns that your heat pump isn't going to make it through another winter, or check out our Heat Pump Buying Guide.