By Hemphill Services

August 28, 2019


To Repair or Not to Repair? – That is the Question.

So, you’re sitting at home, watching TV. Maybe you’ve just come inside after working in the yard during the heat of the day. You notice no relief, however, from the heat, while reclining on the sofa. At least outside, there was a light breeze.

When you start having issues with your heating and air unit in your otherwise comfortable Birmingham abode, how does one know whether or not you need to replace or simply repair your system? Honestly, that can be a daunting question to answer without an experienced and trustworthy technician giving a proper examination of your system. Having said that, however, we have some valuable tips you can use to help you in making the right decision to repair or replace.

Don’t ever let someone tell you over the phone that you’d be better off getting a new system. Have it checked out first. If the issues you’re having with your system cannot be resolved without costly repairs, replacement may be your only sensible option.

If you do, however, end up needing a new unit, it’s important to call a company who has trained and experienced technicians. It’s also important that the company you call on assigns you the same technician each time, as he will be familiar with your home’s systems and not have to re-learn the nuances each item. It is likewise recommended to install a reputable system that’s known to last, such as Trane. 


Benefits of Repairing Your Heating and Air System

Of course, most people know that by repairing your unit instead of replacing it, the main benefit is the immediate savings versus replacing the system. Keep in mind, though, that as your system begins to get older, you might begin to pay out more in repairs in the long run than you’d pay by going ahead and replacing your system. On the contrary, by doing the right repairs and maintenance, however, customers can usually extend the life of their heating and air systems for many more years, saving you money. That depends on a number of factors, including the age of your unit, which we’ll cover shortly.


Benefits of Replacing Your Heating System

It’s probably no surprise, but the biggest benefit to replacing your heating and air system is that many of the newer systems (Trane in particular) are much more energy efficient. Even though you will most likely pay more initially for the replacement than a repair, you will very likely experience big savings on your monthly energy bill immediately upon replacement.

In addition to the efficiency, replacing your heating and air system can greatly improve the air quality in your home. You very likely will notice less dust accumulating in your home after a new unit is installed. A new unit can help reduce allergens and bacteria in your home. Also, be sure to ask about air-filtration and air-quality options.

What’s more, having a new system installed will give you peace of mind. It feels good in more ways than one to know when you turn on your AC unit in the summer or your heat in the winter that you and your guests are going to get comfortable quickly and remain that way.

At the time of replacement, it’s also important to think about your other unit in the home, if you have more than one. The reason is, you may want to consider installing a heat pump or a dual-fuel system to greatly decrease energy costs during the moderate times of the year, the spring and fall.

Bottom line, having a qualified, trusted contractor come out to your home to do a thorough evaluation of your system is recommended. He can also give you a good idea how much usable life your system has left. In addition, he will also give you some good solutions to consider now and down the road.


Is My Current Unit Energy Efficient?

You have to ask yourself, is my system energy efficient? Is it going to cost me more money not to replace over the next few years than the cost to replace the unit now? Many people do not realize what a difference in savings having a new unit will make. As I was preparing to write this blog post, I overheard a few of our staff members at Hemphill Services talking about how they each had replaced their units with a new Trane system and what a difference it made in their utility bills. It was refreshing to hear them talking about the big savings they each had realized because they installed a newer, more efficient system. It’s not uncommon to realize a 30% savings or more on your utility bills each month after the installation of a new Trane unit!

save money on your utility bills

Is your current system over ten years old? If so, its efficiency has seen its better days, and a new unit will likely save you appreciably on energy costs.


Do the Math/ See the Graph

Determining whether your old system should be repaired or replaced can be determined using a lot of different factors. One of the most useful is considering the following as a general rule of thumb:

  • For a unit that’s 5 years old, if the repair is greater than $1,400, it very likely will make better financial sense to replace your unit.
  • For a unit that’s 10 years old, if the repair is greater than $800, replacing likely makes more sense.
  • For a unit that’s 15 years old, if the repair is any more than $300, you’re likely better off just replacing the unit.

repair or replace

It’s important to look at not only the cost of the repair, but the age of the unit. It’s like an engine going out in your car. After a certain point, it just makes more sense to buy a new car than to keep sinking money into an older system that may continue having frequent issues. Statistics show us where the smart money goes when deciding to repair or replace!


The 50-Percent Rule

Another rule of thumb we sometimes hear is what’s called the 50-percent rule. I warn you, however, this one is possibly just a little ambiguous. This classic rule says, when the repair costs approach 50% the value of your unit, it’s best to replace. The problem with a rule this general, is, unlike the graph above, there’s no regard given to the age of your unit with respect to repair cost. Definitely take this old rule of thumb with a couple of grains of salt as you consider repairing versus replacing your heating and air unit.


The $5,000 Rule

This is one of my favorite methods for determining whether you need to repair or replace your heating and air unit. This method uses a more affordable replacement cost of $5,000 in considering whether to repair or replace. Here’s how it works. Determine the total cost of repairs your unit needs and multiply that by the number of years old your unit is. So, if the repair is $850 and you’ve had your unit for 9 years, that’s $7,650. In this scenario, you have broken the $5,000 threshold. You therefore are likely to want to replace your unit. Simple and easy to follow!

It is understandable, however, that you may be in a financial situation where it makes the most sense for you personally to simply repair the unit. Often times, there are available, however, financing options for a new unit, which may make it more appealing for you than paying the high cost of a repair. It’s important to consider and carefully weigh all of your options.


When is the Best Time to Replace My System?

Sometimes, Heating and Air contractors will provide special offers or discounts during the cooler or more moderate times of the year. This can help keep their technicians busy during those slower servicing times. It might be best to consider a company whose prices are intentionally kept at a low price point year-round. No sense suffering in discomfort waiting for better pricing.


Scheduled Maintenance

Scheduled maintenance is also very important. You certainly wouldn’t not change the oil regularly in your car, would you? Of course not. Your heating and air system is like your car. It needs servicing to maintain its life and durability.


A Few Final Thoughts in Summary

So, you’ve learned there are many factors to consider while deciding whether to repair or replace your heating and air system in your home. Remember to ask yourself, What is the general condition of my system? And just because your system is 15 or 20 years old doesn’t mean it needs to be replaced. The system may have been well-maintained, just like a car whose owner has taken good care of it, changing the oil regularly, and it might be in good running condition. Or it might be that a system is less than 10 years old, but is already falling apart and not performing well due to a lack of regular maintenance.

So – To repair or to replace? – That is the question. Which option is right for you? If you live in the Birmingham metro area, the team at Hemphill Services can help you to decide. Please give us a call today. For all your heating, cooling, and plumbing needs, call the name Birmingham has trusted since 1954, Hemphill Services, (205) 229-2090.