Getting a second opinion before getting a new system or doing a costly repair might just save you a ton of money. Over the years I've found people often are convinced they should replace their unit well before it needs to be. Lets deconstruct a few common reasons given to to replace your system and what might be the counter argument.
If you are being told any of the following and your BS meter is going off give us a call before getting a new system
Red Flag 1 "Your 20 yr old unit is getting to the end of its lifespan and they only last so long. So you should replace it before it stops working"
Red Flag 1 response- The HVAC unit on my roof is about 40 yrs old and running strong with no major red flags. They can go for 40+ years and often will if people don't replace them prematurely. For the most part when the HVAC unit stops working its just one part that has malfunctioned. Once the failed part is replaces the unit will typically continue working. Consider this, if a new HVAC system cost $10k and last 20 years then its $500 per year to own the equipment. So even if you spent $500 per year on repairs that would be your break even point.
Red Flag 2 Freon will no longer be produced as of 2020. So if you have a R-22/ Freon unit you should replace it now because its obsolete.
Red Flag 2 response- Even though new freon will no longer be produced as of 2020 there is still a supply available at a reasonable cost. Also reclaimed FREON is still allowed to be sold. Besides that there are many options for drop in Freon replacements that can work with your existing equipment.
Red Flag 3 Your A/C has a freon leak, its over 10 years old, and its needed more freon every year. The leak is slow but its not worth finding/ repairing. It will cost to much to fix so you should just get a new system.
Red Flag 3 response-This one peeves me the most. I would never just add freon to an air conditioner that is low. System only need freon if there is a leak. If a system takes longer than two weeks to leak out all of the freon then we consider that a slow leak and would be a perfect candidate for a stop leak sealant. Fast, effective, and affordable makes using a sealant the best option before replacing your old a/c just because it has a small leak. I would say overall 80% of the systems we put a sealant in are still working fine 2 years later. Bottom line if you make the decision to just add freon vs Fixing the leak make sure to ad a sealant.
Red Flag 4 Your heat exchanger looks like its carroding so it could leak Carbon monoxide and kill your family
Red Flag 4 response-This might be the biggest bs red flag i will hear of. If a tech tells you this before checking for Carbon Monoxide coming out of the vents you're getting some serious scare tactics. Seeing a little rust on a heat exchanger is common. The only thing that matters when it comes to air quality safety is how much Carbon Monoxide is the furnace putting into the air in the living space. Consider this, when you cook with a gas stove and the fan isn't on you have huge open flames venting exhaust into the kitchen. Yet we don't freak out because a little exhaust wont kill you, its when there are high concentrations in the air that we should be concerned. Again a little rust on the heat exchanger isn't the end of the world especially if there isn't any carbon monoxide coming out of the vents. Get quality carbon monoxide detectors with a digital readout and call it a day. If no CO is detected in the home don't freak out
Red Flag 5 Your old unit is inefficient, you should replace it so you can save money every month
Red Flag 5 response- So your bill is $200 per month on average and the new system should bring the bill to $150 per month or a savings of $600 per year.. Amazing. No doubt the new systems are more efficient but lets first look at a few ways to drop your bill $50 a month without having to spend 10K + for a new system.
1- Run your system less, instead of walking around in shorts in the winter time put on a sweater and some sweat pants. In the summer learn to tolerate a little warmer temperatures and run fans.
2-Get a smart t-stat and stop running the system so much during peak energy hours and when your not home. Smart Thermostats like nest also allow you to track the past week run times so you can see how many hours its actually running for.
3- Get a whole house fan, if you take advantage of cooler temperatures at night investing in a whole house fan could help you run your a/c half as much in the summer. I think everyone should have a whole house fan. Besides it helping to cool th home in the Summer they are also great at clearing out old stale air, smoke, and general odors from the house
4- Get an attic fan, in the summer the attics can retain a lot of heat. If you have an gable fan it will help cool down the attic decreasing the heat load on your home.
5- Get a tune up on your system. Ensure your system is running as good as possible and get a heating and A/C tune up
Sometimes it does make since to get a new system for the sake of a lower utility bill but in most cases i don't think so. There is a reason I haven't replaced my 40yr old unit. Like grandpa used to say "if it aint broke dont fix it"