It’s no secret that replacing your heat pump is a major consideration for your home, with an average cost of about $7,000 and high-end models coming in as much as $12,000. While your system won’t last forever, you should plan on some repairs before it’s time for a replacement. Consider these 12 ways to tell if it’s time to replace your system versus scheduling a repair.

1. Is It Still Safe to Run?

Your heat pump’s safety is one of the most important considerations when determining if it’s time for a replacement. Some issues pose a significant risk for your home, such as a cracked heat exchanger. When this cracks, it increases the risk of carbon monoxide exposure for everyone in your home. In this event, you should plan to replace the system rather than try to repair it.

2. Check Its Age

The average heat pump should have a service life of 15 to 20 years when it receives proper maintenance. If you aren’t sure how old your heat pump is, check the label with the model number. The first character is a letter, and the next two are numbers that indicate what year it was manufactured. The next two digits tell you what week during the year the heat pump was manufactured. If your heat pump is more than 15 years old, you should consider planning a replacement.

3. Consider Your Repair Costs

Costs for repairing your heat pump can range, depending on what component has failed. There are two ways to evaluate whether the needed repairs warrant a replacement versus a repair. First, consider any individual repair and whether it’s more than 50% of the cost of a replacement.

Next, consider the total cost of repairs over the last two years. Add those together and multiply by the age of your system. When this exceeds the cost of a new system, it’s time for a replacement.

4. Evaluate Your Energy Consumption

Track your energy consumption each month compared to the year prior. Continually higher consumption each month indicates your heat pump may not be running as efficiently, which happens with age. If you notice that your utility costs are jumping by several hundred dollars a year or more, look at your consumption. When combined with age, this is a strong indicator that your heat pump is nearing the end of its life.

5. How’s Your Home’s Comfort?

Consider how well your heat pump currently heats your home. You may notice that it’s not providing consistent heating throughout your home, leaving some areas cold. This can be both a sign of some repairable problems, but can also indicate an aging system that may quickly need a replacement.

To determine whether it can be repaired, start with identifying the underlying cause. Then run it through the equation of the cost for the repair and age.

6. Does the Noise Make Your Nervous?

When your heat pump is running normally, you’ll barely hear the whir of the circulating fan and you may hear a whoosh when it first lights. However, you may hear louder noises that make you nervous. The ones to be most concerned with are when it sounds like loud booming or an explosion. This indicates a delayed ignition with the fuel, which can cause excessive strain and damage to your unit.

There are a range of causes for delayed ignition, including dirty or misaligned burners, incorrect fuel-to-air ratio, or corrosion. Depending on what your technician finds, this could be a simple repair, but could also require a replacement in the case of excessive corrosion.

7. Think About Your Heat Pump’s Maintenance History

You should also consider your heat pump’s maintenance history. Ideally, your heat pump should have preventive maintenance once annually. When this maintenance is neglected, it causes the heat pump to experience increasing strain over time, wearing the entire system more quickly. Without proper maintenance, you could shave 5 years or more from its service life. If you’re not sure about the maintenance history of the unit, have an experienced technician perform maintenance and give you a sense of its condition. If it’s evident it’s been neglected, you’re more likely to have cascading problems with it as you move forward.

8. When Do You Plan To Move?

There are different schools of thought as to whether you should replace your heat pump if you’re planning to move in the near future. On one hand, it’s a sunk cost that won’t likely increase your home’s value. However, if your heat pump is more than 15 years old, it could become a sticking point during contract negotiations. Further, a higher-efficiency heat pump can make your home more attractive than a comparable home with an aging system.

9. Are There Airflow Restrictions?

Even if you have some of the other problems we’ve discussed above, pause for a moment to look for airflow restrictions. This can be as simple as a clogged air filter, closed or blocked vents or ducts that need cleaning, repair or sealing. This could alleviate everything from inconsistent heating and excessive energy consumption to some noises.

10. How Often Do You Need Repairs?

Consider how often you’re calling for heat pump repairs. Experienced technicians will tell you that in the last two years of a heat pump’s service life, repairs become more frequent and more expensive. This happens because as components wear out, they put additional strain on the rest of the system, which causes a cyclical pattern of failing parts. This is part of why you should track the expense of your repairs over the prior 2 years.

11. Do You Have Any Major Life Changes on the Horizon?

Consider your plans over the next few years. Aside from moving, do you plan for any major life changes, such as retirement, new children, or sending kids off to college? You may want to consider replacing your system a little early if you foresee life changes that could affect your ability to do it down the road. This is especially true if your unit is nearing or over 15 years old. Planning ahead a little bit now can provide substantial savings.

12. Do You Qualify for Rebates or Tax Incentives?

Finally, consider the incentives available for replacing your system. For instance, the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 provides incentives for upgrading your heat pump to a higher efficiency model. Waiting could jeopardize the availability of some of these incentives, sacrificing any cost savings they could otherwise provide.

Bold City Heating & Air is on a mission to provide the best HVAC service to property owners around Jacksonville. Our expert technicians provide AC and heating installation, repair, and maintenance along with duct cleaning, repair and sealing, indoor air quality solutions, and insulation installation. Call to schedule a consultation with one of our NATE-certified technicians to help you evaluate whether a new heat pump is right for your home.

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