Author Topic: When to replace heater and AC unit[s]?  (Read 1201 times)

APBioSpartan

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When to replace heater and AC unit[s]?
« on: July 16, 2022, 09:54:13 AM »
Some helpful context: my wife and I recently purchased a home in Colorado that was a single-owner property built in 1978.  The house is ~2,200 livable sq feet and is ~3,000 total sq feet including the unfinished basement that we use for storage.  We have a young child [<6 months] and a few pets in our home.  Our heater/AC unit(s) are 23 years old, and from what I can tell, are about 80% efficiency units.  They both currently work well, though are slightly expensive to run and the AC unit is a little loud.  Neither of those are a big deal to us, just worth mentioning. 

We recently got a quote for new units and unfortunately they came back MUCH higher than we thought.  I was originally budgeting ~$10k, but the estimates that we got back were ranging from $17k - $20k.  The guy that came out said that their costs have gone up significantly with inflation.  He could do the same units/labor a year or two ago for like 10-13k. 

With all this in mind.... my question to you all is:
    1) should we replace proactively?
              Pros: peace of mind, cheaper monthly bills
              Cons: expensive, would take funds away from other projects that we want to do [replace flooring, landscaping, etc.]
    2) should we wait until either the units die or things get cheaper [whichever happens first]?
              Pros: cheaper [today], more funds for other projects
              Cons: what if the units die in the middle of winter?  marginally more expensive monthly bills 

Any thoughts/advice/past experiences are welcomed.  Thanks!
« Last Edit: July 16, 2022, 10:07:32 AM by APBioSpartan »

Jon Bon

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Re: When to replace heater and AC unit[s]?
« Reply #1 on: July 16, 2022, 11:18:15 AM »
Some helpful context: my wife and I recently purchased a home in Colorado that was a single-owner property built in 1978.  The house is ~2,200 livable sq feet and is ~3,000 total sq feet including the unfinished basement that we use for storage.  We have a young child [<6 months] and a few pets in our home.  Our heater/AC unit(s) are 23 years old, and from what I can tell, are about 80% efficiency units.  They both currently work well, though are slightly expensive to run and the AC unit is a little loud.  Neither of those are a big deal to us, just worth mentioning. 

We recently got a quote for new units and unfortunately they came back MUCH higher than we thought.  I was originally budgeting ~$10k, but the estimates that we got back were ranging from $17k - $20k.  The guy that came out said that their costs have gone up significantly with inflation.  He could do the same units/labor a year or two ago for like 10-13k. 

With all this in mind.... my question to you all is:
    1) should we replace proactively?
              Pros: peace of mind, cheaper monthly bills
              Cons: expensive, would take funds away from other projects that we want to do [replace flooring, landscaping, etc.]
    2) should we wait until either the units die or things get cheaper [whichever happens first]?
              Pros: cheaper [today], more funds for other projects
              Cons: what if the units die in the middle of winter?  marginally more expensive monthly bills 

Any thoughts/advice/past experiences are welcomed.  Thanks!

If they seam to be running well I would let them ride until prices come back down (if this ever happens)

Are you calling guys that answer their own phones and drive a white van? Or guys that have an office staff and a matching fleet of F150 larients?

I realize prices have gone way the hell up. but my guy will do an AC replacement for 3k, say with inflation it is  4k now. He did a 96% furnace for $2950 in January. I mean all that equipment comes from the same factory, the prices feel high.

I agree that materials have gone up, but this guy wants 10k in labor alone? Feels like a crazy amount of money for a few days work. Quick google search shows the equipment should be about 5-8k depending on brand.

https://hvacdirect.com/goodman-4-ton-14-seer-96-afue-gas-furnace-and-air-conditioner-system-upflow-id1333.html?utm_source={google}&utm_medium={cpc}&utm_campaign=17226032588&adgroupid=&utm_content=&utm_term=&gclid=CjwKCAjww8mWBhABEiwAl6-2RfMD2IBH1AKJOvETmPOWeavP0IqBGuN0aqDw4sKUbQGASfSPNBcDqhoCvmwQAvD_BwE




lukebuz

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Re: When to replace heater and AC unit[s]?
« Reply #2 on: July 17, 2022, 09:27:04 AM »
Totally, let them ride.  Amortize that cost over a few more years.  Start putting away $200 (over whatever appropriate) a month towards replacement fund so you have a good jump on payment.

Sibley

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Re: When to replace heater and AC unit[s]?
« Reply #3 on: July 17, 2022, 11:56:32 AM »
I also have hvac that's in that age range. I'm doing the regular maintenance, and have done a couple minor repairs. Yeah, I could get slightly better efficiency but its not cost effective. When there's a real reason to replace, then I'll do so.

Cadman

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Re: When to replace heater and AC unit[s]?
« Reply #4 on: July 17, 2022, 03:24:40 PM »
Keep up on the maintenance, and keep 'em running, especially the A/C. I follow a few professional HVAC groups and the consensus is that while new units may be more efficient, you're lucky to get out of the warranty period without a failure, especially in the sealed system. Outside of warranty, you'll be upside down on any savings. And much like anything these days, paying for a premium brand or high-tier model may get you more features, but the quality is no better.

Dicey

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Re: When to replace heater and AC unit[s]?
« Reply #5 on: July 17, 2022, 06:06:11 PM »
Maintain 'em 'til they die. Last Friday, we spent $5k for a 5-ton York A/C unit. Six years ago, we put the same sized unit in another rental, using the same contractor, for $3k.

It's likely that prices will settle down, so it's a good idea to wait. Having the unit serviced gives you a way to vet service providers until you find someone you like and trust. We found this guy when we did the replacement six years ago. We have used him to maintain all of our rentals since. When the A/C went out, he was there in 90 minutes and the work was done by the end of the day...on a Friday afternoon!

BeanCounter

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Re: When to replace heater and AC unit[s]?
« Reply #6 on: July 18, 2022, 05:18:14 AM »
We just replaced our 17 year old Carrier system last week. (Both gas furnace and a/c). We paid $9,600 for a Payne (carrier made) 96% efficient, 3 ton, 16 seer, variable speed unit. We also got a quote on a Goodman and it was about $8,500. We are in the Midwest.
I have a receipt that shows the previous homeowner paid $5,900 to have the old system installed 17 years ago!! We used the same company, same tech to do this one.
The tech recommended as a way to say money to not do the variable speed. Single speed would have been about a $1,000 less and he said would be cheaper and easier to fix if something goes wrong outside the warranty. The single speed systems are not as efficient and we felt they might contribute to areas upstairs that donít cool as well. (We really need to get a mini split for our master)

NotBadForADad

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Re: When to replace heater and AC unit[s]?
« Reply #7 on: July 18, 2022, 05:50:52 AM »
To any consolation, Home Depot's 'Pro Special Buy' of The Week is showcasing water heaters on sale.

Nutty

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Re: When to replace heater and AC unit[s]?
« Reply #8 on: July 18, 2022, 06:35:48 AM »
Run to failure.

My unit developed a leak in the coil (known issue in this model, bottom coil rubs to failure).  Large AC company was first to respond and guy gave me a hard sell for huge money for whole new system.  This one was less than 10 years old.  I declined, he continued the hard sell.  Don't hard sell me and expect ANY business, even if it's hot.  He did cash my call out fee check for his time and giving me grief. 

Small one-man company showed up, confirmed leak and bypassed the bottom coil for $100.  I lost 4% efficiency and still running it.  I like my small companies.  He installed the unit years ago.  He also talked me through trouble shooting a capacitor failure and fan motor replacement.  I am the labor. 

Dicey

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Re: When to replace heater and AC unit[s]?
« Reply #9 on: July 18, 2022, 07:26:46 AM »
We just replaced our 17 year old Carrier system last week. (Both gas furnace and a/c). We paid $9,600 for a Payne (carrier made) 96% efficient, 3 ton, 16 seer, variable speed unit. We also got a quote on a Goodman and it was about $8,500. We are in the Midwest.
I have a receipt that shows the previous homeowner paid $5,900 to have the old system installed 17 years ago!! We used the same company, same tech to do this one.
The tech recommended as a way to say money to not do the variable speed. Single speed would have been about a $1,000 less and he said would be cheaper and easier to fix if something goes wrong outside the warranty. The single speed systems are not as efficient and we felt they might contribute to areas upstairs that donít cool as well. (We really need to get a mini split for our master)
FWIW, the unit we just replaced was a 12 year old Goodman. It was there when we bought the house in 2016. The previous owners tended to be "top of the line" people, so we're not sure how they ended up with a brand with a poor reputation.for longevity,  but they surely paid through the nose for it.

To Nutty's point, the guy we use and love is also a one-man shop. That is, until his boys finish school. He's teaching them the trade and brings them along periodically. They seem like hard workers, so they have a bright future ahead.

ChpBstrd

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Re: When to replace heater and AC unit[s]?
« Reply #10 on: July 18, 2022, 08:52:54 AM »
Another vote for let them ride. Given the cost of these units and their ~12 year lifespans, each additional year you get out of them is worth hundreds of dollars.

But bear in mind that the most probable time for HVACs to fail is in the coldest / hottest time of the year, which is the time when labor is least available. Since you have the storage space, maybe hold onto an old window AC unit or electric baseboard heaters to get you through when that time comes (and you know it's coming). You don't want your pipes to freeze while waiting a week for service. Have a plan rather than wasting a unit that could work years longer or being caught unprepared when it quits.

You probably won't be able to do any more maintenance on the AC if it uses a discontinued refrigerant like R-22. DO NOT attempt to clean the inside coils at this age. You're more likely to flex the piece of rust out of place that keeps it from leaking. I made that mistake this year.

economista

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Re: When to replace heater and AC unit[s]?
« Reply #11 on: July 18, 2022, 09:57:32 AM »
I would wait until they fail. That price sounds about right for replacing them both, though. I am in Lakewood, CO and just had an AC installed for $7400. The house previously had a swamp cooler that we were hoping would limp along for another few years, but when we got it serviced/turned on at the end of May (just bought the house last Sept) we discovered that it was almost completely dead, there was a hole rusted through the pan, and the water line going to it had 2 leaks. The guy basically used band-aids and duct tape to get it to turn on for us. This was a small company and the guy said we could probably try to keep it running this year while we save for an AC, but we decided to just do the AC this year. (New swamp cooler would be $7,000 installed, AC was estimated at $7500 installed). I was actually budgeting $10k for a new AC given the inflation we've seen the past few years and was really happy when he quoted $7500!

Our water heater was from 1995 so we replaced it before moving in. At almost 30 years old, we didn't want to run the risk of having it fail and flooding the basement without warning. That is a much cheaper replacement though.

Dee_the_third

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Re: When to replace heater and AC unit[s]?
« Reply #12 on: July 18, 2022, 10:38:20 AM »
Definitely wait, unless you live in a climate where it's literally dangerous to not have climate control for 48 hours.

Get some quotes now though. Get at least 3, and call dedicated HVAC outfits (not general contractors). Don't necessarily go for the cheapest, though in my experience it usually happily turns out that the contractor I like the most and trust to do the job well also turns out to quote the cheapest. That way you know who to call when it does die, you also learn ahead of time if (e.g.) the parts you need are on backorder or whatever.


Just Joe

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Re: When to replace heater and AC unit[s]?
« Reply #13 on: July 28, 2022, 03:04:17 PM »
We replaced a ??? brand air conditioner with electric strip heat for our upstairs floor. It was first installed in 1993.

We replaced it with an American Standard Silver heatpump. $5K all in. New outside unit, new inside coils. Electric backup heat.

No ductwork changes. No electrical changes.

Dancin'Dog

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Re: When to replace heater and AC unit[s]?
« Reply #14 on: July 28, 2022, 06:34:31 PM »
I recently got a bit burned replacing one of our heat pumps.  It wasn't blowing cold air & we had an upcoming party w/ out of town guests, so I wasn't in the position to shop around or do much research.  They did a hard sell, which I didn't appreciate, but I got them down from $10K to $8K.  Our place is waterfront & in a gated neighborhood, so I expected an upcharge.  I figure the labor was about $5,000 for 2 guys doing a half day's work.  But hey, they've got billboards & vans to pay for, right?


I'm collecting names of small one-van AC guys for when it's time to replace the other two units. 


lifeisshort123

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Re: When to replace heater and AC unit[s]?
« Reply #15 on: July 28, 2022, 06:37:57 PM »
I would wait until they go generally.  There may be specific reasons why you canít wait (health concerns, animals, extreme climate, etc.), but otherwise just wait until they go.

 

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