Heating and cooling systems have lots of moving, mechanical parts. Keeping them cleaned, oiled and tuned-up allows your HVAC to work more efficiently - and it keeps it running far longer than it would otherwise. This is why regular HVAC tune ups are so important when it comes to saving money and extending the life of your system.
If you're building a new home, or installing HVAC system that has never had that type of heating and cooling system, cost is likely going to be a major consideration.
While a new HVAC system is one of the most expensive appliances you'll ever purchase, it's important to weigh both first-time and lifetime costs for each option to ensure you invest in the highest-quality system you can afford. In almost all cases, spending extra now for a system that is both energy-efficient, and has the features most important to your lifestyle, will pay off over time.
Topics: HVAC Cost
When you buy a new home, there’s always a phase of discovering little nuance issues a few months later. Things you never would have even thought about during the purchase. Cold spots are something that doesn’t usually register as a problem until temperature fluctuations are felt firsthand.
Carbon Monoxide, CO for short, is an odorless and colorless gas which can cause severe health issues, or even death, in humans and pets. It is found in fumes produced when cars or trucks, engines, generators, gas appliances and furnaces are running. If these fumes build up, or there is a leak, CO poisoning can occur in a matter of minutes.
In Central Virginia's climate, the ideal scenario is to have a furnace serve as the alternative heat source when you have a heat pump system. Installing both a heat pump and furnace is not always financially feasible. In this article, we’ll discuss a few factors that will help settle the heat pump vs furnace argument and hopefully lead you to the right decision.
Once the cold weather hits, many a Richmond, VA homeowner is faced with an important question: Is it time to replace my heating system? If the answer to that question is, "yes," there are some serious decisions to be made.
Topics: heating systems
- Average Cost of HVAC Tune-Ups. The average cost of an HVAC tune-up ranges between $100 and $200 - with prices varying according to the size of your home, the type of system you have, the age of the system, etc.
- Average Cost of HVAC Repairs. The average cost of an HVAC repair runs between $120 and $1000 or more. Keeping in mind that the average "show up" cost to have a repair person in the home is $100, labor charges typically run between $100 and $150 per hour, and parts can run the gamut from $100 circuit boards to $1000 leak repairs, plus some companies charge service fees as well.
Those lower-cost "repairs" are typically the result of "operator error," meaning the system works just fine when we get there, but a wonky thermostat setting or a tripped breaker made it seem like the HVAC wasn't working properly - thus customers end up with a "show up" repair charge.
This difference in tune-up versus repair costs is the reason we're so relentless with our advice to take advantage of routine HVAC maintenance in order to minimize lifetime repair costs, in addition to extending the life of your system.
Repairs Performed During Routine Tune-Ups Cost Much Less
We don't need the folks at Thumbtack to tell us about average costs. After fifty years in the heating and cooling business, we've learned that repairs that take place during routine HVAC tune-ups cost significantly less than those generated by a repair call.
No "Show Up" CostsAs cited above, HVAC contractors have a base "show up" charge. Since this fee is absorbed into a pre-set, tune-up appointment cost, you're already saving a nice chunk right there.
Hourly Labor Charges Add UpHourly labor charges can add up quickly, and you're typically billed for a full-hour from the first minute a technician walks through your door. If we're already there for a scheduled maintenance appointment, and we notice a red flag, we may be able to repair it there on the spot, saving precious time and money. Similarly, if we notice a repair is serious or that your system needs to be replaced, you aren't typically charged a show-up fee for the ensuing repair appointment.
Not surprisingly, HVACs have uncanny timing with the way they start trouble. Your system is most likely to break down on the very hottest/coldest days of the year (along with half of the mid-Virginia area), just after we close on a Friday night, or in the middle of your Saturday night party.
Unfortunately, while most heating and air conditioning companies worth their salt offer emergency repair hours, the costs associated with after-hours and/or weekend/holiday visits are typically double or triple what they would be during a Monday-Friday, working hours version.
Thus, observing your bi-annual HVAC tune-up schedule - A/C tune-ups in the early spring and early fall for your heating system (we do 6-month tune-ups all year round, not just Spring and Fall) - is the best way to minimize repairs at a holistic level, and reduce the costs of necessary repairs in the meantime.
HVAC Repairs That Cost The Most
While it's certainly not fun to have any part of your HVAC system unexpectedly repaired, it's worth noting that there are some repairs that you absolutely want to avoid.
That's why preventative maintenance is so important, as regular tune-ups can help sniff out small problems before they become, big, expensive ones.
Here's a look at some of the most expensive HVAC repairs that preventative maintenance can help you avoid.
Heat Pump Fixes
Heat pump repair or replacement is one of the most expensive HVAC repairs, with costs ranging anywhere from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars.
Heat pumps are important HVAC components, which work to bring outside heat indoors when it's cool out and remove heat from the home when it's warm out.
Sometimes heat pump issues are simple fixes like a blown fuse or an issue with the thermostat. But in the case of a major issue, the costs can add up to a significant sum.
Air Conditioner Repairs & Replacements
Your home's air conditioning unit performs the crucial role of keeping homes cool during the warm summer months. It's also one of the most expensive pieces of the total HVAC system to repair or replace.
When it comes to AC replacement costs, the average national cost is $5,400. If your unit can be salvaged, then it may cost hundreds of dollars to repair depending on what is wrong with it.
Bottom line: Spending a little bit of money on scheduled maintenance now can save you a great deal of money down the road on air conditioning repairs.
Fixing Refrigerant Leaks
The air conditioner uses refrigerant to keep your home cool and comfortable during the summer months.
Refrigerant is designed to stay at a consistent level to accomplish this, but when leaks occur it can reduce refrigerant levels, thereby putting more overall strain on the air conditioning unit. Notably, excess strain is placed on the compressor. When this occurs, the air conditioning unit may stop working entirely due to the compressor overheating.
Refrigerant leaks are typically expensive to repair because it can be time-consuming to locate the source of the leak. Then, of course, there's repair costs and a cost to fill the refrigerant back to proper levels.
If the leak led to compressor damage, that's another repair or replacement that will be necessary to get the AC unit back up and running. Essentially, any type of refrigerant leak can snowball into a very expensive problem.
Air Compressor Replacement
The compressor is somewhat like the engine of your air conditioning unit, as it is responsible for moving the refrigerant through the system to perform home cooling.
So when the compressor goes out, so will your AC unit.
Compressor failure is often due to the component overheating and failing, and this may be caused by several things. There's the aforementioned refrigerant leak (or low levels of refrigerant), dirty coils, or blocked lines.
If your compressor fails and requires repair or replacement, it's going to cost you. Expect to pay anywhere from $1,350 to $1,800 for air compressor replacement.
The HVAC exterior condenser isn't so much an expensive part as it is a complicated part.
In other words, it consists of many components that all play a role in it working effectively. Because of all the parts involved, diagnosing the issue behind condenser problems can potentially take hours for a service technician.
Then there's the cost of repairing or replacing the part after the issue is discovered.
Coils are another important, yet difficult to repair/replace component of your home's HVAC system.
Estimates range anywhere from $650 to $1,200 for coil replacement, largely because they're often challenging for a technician to reach. Hence, coil replacement often requires an intense amount of labor to perform.
Comfort Club Members Reap Exceptional Costs Savings & Other Rewards
Are you a member of your HVAC company's Comfort Club? That's what we call it here at Howell's, but most HVAC companies have something just like it. For a small, annual fee, Comfort Club members reap generous rewards - including reduced repair costs.
In addition to regularly scheduled tune-ups at a reduced price, discounts on repairs, replacement parts, and replacement systems, our Comfort Club members also get a free service visit if their recently repaired or replaced item, or system, breaks down within three months of the previous Comfort Club tune-up visit.
Also, once you're a member of the Comfort Club, you're never charged that "automatic show up" fee for your scheduled maintenance visits. We simply come on by for free; homeowners only have to pay for parts and labor charges.
And, did we mention that you'll also have priority service when/if you need HVAC services outside of your twice-yearly service visits?
All in all, joining the Comfort Club saves our homeowners hundreds - and even thousands - of dollars per year.
Schedule That HVAC Tune-Up Pronto!
Do yourself - and your wallet - a favor by calling your HVAC company right now and scheduling that visit once and for all. Join their Comfort Club while you're at it and give yourself peace of mind.
Together, regular tune-ups and service-oriented savings will drastically reduce the amount of money you spend on repairs, replacements, and your energy bill over the life of your HVAC system.
Interested in working with one of Richmond's most trusted HVAC contractors?
Contact us here at Howell's Heating and Air and we'll provide top-notch service at a competitive price.
The average life of a residential builder-grade heat pump is 14 years.
Commercial grade heat pumps tend to last a bit longer.
Less expensive, off-brand heat pumps do not last as long and tend to break down before the brand name models.
Topics: Heat Pumps
Between the cost of gas heat and the cost of electric heat, which is more expensive? Ultimately, the costs of gas heat versus electric heat are dependent on multiple factors - the type of system you have, whether your house is powered by renewable energy or not, and so on.
In general, we'd argue that the best and most affordable alternative for our Richmond, VA climate is one that has a gas furnace combined with an electric heat pump or geothermal heat pump. In other words, the answer is, both!
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.
Topics: Heat Pumps