Planning an HVAC System Replacement? Consider These 4 Points Before You Choose
An HVAC system replacement represents a major investment for your home both financially and for your long-term comfort. These four points will help guide your decisions as you work through the selection process.
1. Does It Need Replacing
Once a system reaches 15 years old, it’s lost nearly all its efficiency and may start to have frequent breakdowns. Although a new system is an investment, it’ll start paying you back in lower energy bills each time it runs. Often as these systems age, they require more frequent repairs and part replacements that can be expensive. A system that makes noise or doesn’t cool or heat rooms sufficiently that were previously comfortable is a sign of a system whose functional lifetime may have passed.
2. How Much Needs Replacing
The primary components of an HVAC system include:
- The compressor, fan and condensing coil
- The air handler and evaporator coil
- The burner and heat exchanger in the case of combustion heating furnaces
While it’s possible to replace a single part or a combination of them, it seldom makes sense to do so unless your system is relatively new and parts are still available that will be compatible with the whole system. The condensing and evaporator coil must match each other perfectly to get the most efficiency and trouble-free performance from the system.
If your equipment was installed before 2010, it may be more difficult to find compatible components, since minimum energy efficiency ratings have increased. Part of the compatibility includes the energy efficiency rating and its overall capacity. Replacing the heating side of the HVAC system also presents challenges if it’s older. Often the parts are unavailable, expensive or require a good deal of labor to replace.
Sizing an HVAC system replacement carefully will give you the highest level of energy efficiency, comfort and durability. The contractor you choose needs to use Manuals J and D software in order for it to operate at the specifications the manufacturer intended. These software tools take into account many variables inside your home that contribute to the amount of cooling and heating it needs.
The sizing step helps you avoid choosing a system that’s too large or small. One that’s too large will run in short cycles, which drives up energy costs, reduces comfort and results in higher repair and maintenance costs. A system that’s too small won’t handle the most extreme weather we experience.
Cooling systems that are too large don’t run long enough to remove excessive indoor humidity. They use the most power at startup, which increases your overall energy bills because of their more frequent starts and short running times. The load on the all the parts is also highest when they first start, so it’s crucial that the system be properly sized to reduce wear.
The contractor will use Manual D to verify that the existing ductwork is compatible with the new HVAC system replacement. If not, the software will specify the configuration and capacity it needs to be to comfortably and efficiently deliver the conditioned air throughout your home.
Since ours is a relatively mild winter climate, several options exist for the HVAC system replacement, including heat pumps or central air conditioners with gas furnaces. A heat pump both heats and cools and eliminates the need to use gas for heating. Heat pumps work efficiently for both until temperatures fall into the low 30s, at which time it’ll have more difficulty gathering all the heat your home needs.
You can combine a heat pump with a gas furnace, called a hybrid system, to take advantage of our normally mild winter temperatures, and use gas heating only when backup is needed. However, if you have young children or aging family members, an air conditioner combined with a gas furnace may be your best option.
The other consideration regarding type is whether it’s a split or package system. If space is tight indoors, a package system will work well because all the components sit in one container that’s placed on the ground or the roof. A split system has a separate air handler indoors and the condensing unit outside. Of the two, the most common are split systems.
For top-notch help with an HVAC system replacement, contact the pros at Wilson Bryant Air Conditioning. We’ve provided NATE-certified HVAC services for homeowner in Gray, Macon, Eatonton, Milledgeville, Greensboro and Warner Robins since 1960.