Now that we are starting to see some temperature relief from the coldest temperatures, you may be experiencing some relief that your heating system made it through yet another winter.
If you find yourself in this position, it is definitely time to consider having an HVAC expert come out and take a look at your system. If your heater has been misfiring, making strange noises, or just not living up to your expectations it is time to consider repairs, servicing, or even replacement.
But how do you know when it is in fact time for repairs? And how often should a heating unit be repaired?
To answer those questions, we must examine several factors.
- The average lifespan of a furnace is 15 to 20 years.
- The average lifespan of a heat pump is 10 to 20 years.
If you own a furnace or heat pump that is nearing the end range of those spans, and you begin to experience significant trouble, perhaps it is time to think about replacement rather than repair.
If, however, your heating system is not near those end ranges or is experiencing its first real problem, perhaps it is best to consider repair options over replacement.
There are plenty of other factors to consider when determining whether repair versus replacement is the answer for you. These include:
- Continuous repairs – If you’ve already had to make major repairs previously, it is probably time to replace the unit.
- 50 percent rule – If you know the value of your heating unit and the cost to repair it is less than half of its value (and you have not had significant costs in repairing or maintaining it in the past) a repair might be the better long term option.
- The $5,000 rule – Take the age of your unit and multiply it by the amount of your last repair bill. If the total you come up with is greater than $5,000, then you should consider replacing your unit instead of repairing it because you will save more money in the long run.
- Maintenance contract – If you have a maintenance contract with an HVAC company – or the unit is under warranty – then by all means, go for the repair, or at least talk with the HVAC company and see what they recommend.
Other Factors to Consider Regarding Your Heating Unit
There are also other signs that your heating unit is breaking down too often or that it has problems that might not be easily solved by repairs – in other words, the repair will be so costly that it would be more cost effective to buy a new heating unit.
Has your heater had three repairs in three years?
If you find yourself in this situation you may simply be throwing good money after a bad solution. If you are at the three and three level, the funds required to continuously fix a heating unit will outweigh the value of replacing it.
Do you have high energy bills or increasing energy costs?
(NOTE: You must take increased energy costs in this factor into account) If what you pay in energy utilities this winter keeps getting more expensive – despite the fact that you have not changed usage habits, then your unit losing efficiency and using more energy to warm your home.
If none these are not concerns, then perhaps it is best for you to repair your heating system. Before you schedule a repair call, however, there are also some simple fixes you can try and see if these solve your concerns. And, yes, some of these are incredibly simple, but we’ve seen so many of these be the problem during a repair call.
Check the power
It could be that simple. First, make sure your thermostat has power. After all, your thermostat is the brain of your entire air conditioning system. Without it, your heating and cooling does not know what to do. If the thermostat does not respond, get some fresh batteries for the unit and replace them. Also, there should also be power switch located near your air handler — check to see that it has not been turned off (it will be located on or near the unit, which is inside your home). You will also need to check your home’s circuit breakers or fuses and make sure none of those are tripped or burned out, thus incapacitating heater.
Do a thorough check of your thermostat settings
You, or someone in your household, may have accidentally changed the settings, or it is possible that the thermostat is still set for summer and therefore not prepared to kick on the heat. So, to make sure it’s heating at full strength simply set a temperature higher than your home’s current temperature reading. Give it a few minutes and see if the heater kicks on at full blast.
Ensure that all of your home’s vents are wide open
Again, something simple here. However, you’d be surprised how many times this simple step can help you avoid calling a professional for central air repair. And poor flow through the duct of one area of a home will certainly affect the entire heating/cooling unit.
Check the air filter
You may need to find your user’s manual for this (to either locate where the filter is housed or the appropriate size of filter). A clogged filter will restrict airflow from circulating through your ductwork. It could also cause your HVAC system’s evaporator coil to freeze. Replace any old/clogged filters. And be sure to get a new filter that meets your manufacturer’s requirements. Ideally, you should replace your filter at least once a quarter to avoid this eventuality – more often than that if you have indoor pets.
One last simple easy repair attempt
If you are still not receiving strong air flow through your vents, you may also try switching your thermostat from “heat” to the “off” position and then switching the fan from “automatic” to “on.” Let the fan run for 30 minutes and then power up your heating unit. The issue may resolve itself within 12 hours.
If these don’t work, then please be sure to call a professional, NATE-certified technician. They will come and perform a multi-stage checklist to determine what is wrong with your heating system. These steps include:
- Checking the heating mode
- Checking operation of backup heating source
- Checking ignition, burner assemblies and heat exchanger
- Testing clearances
- Testing ventilation
- Testing combustion air
- Testing gas pressure and piping
HVAC manufacturers suggest that you have both your heating and air conditioning systems maintained by a professional/knowledgeable service technician at least once every year. So please do so even if your system is not experiencing any issues, as this may help you prevent repairs in the future.
However, if you find your heating system struggling, making weird noises, emitting foul smells, or simply not working, please turn it off immediately and contact a professional technician.
Conditioned Air Systems is ready to help
For almost 40 years, Conditioned Air Systems has been helping residents throughout north Georgia and metro Atlanta to experience fully functional and comfort-inducing heat in their homes. Our commitment to customer service means that your satisfaction is ultimate concern – that means we will be honest and open with you about the repair/replacement situation for your heating unit. And, because we are a factory authorized dealer of some of the leading names in the HVAC industry, our NATE-certified technicians can repair any system – or replace it with one guaranteed to give you years of warmth and comfort. Please contact us today to experience the Conditioned Air Systems difference: 770-536-7509.