Every homeowner with a central heat and air conditioning system probably has an annual inspection done, but heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) problems don’t occur on a set schedule. That means you need to know the signs when it’s time for HVAC restoration. In this article, we’ve assembled the top warning signs that your HVAC needs immediate replacement.
Essentially, an HVAC provides early warning signs like smelly operating odors or noisy operations. Taking action by calling an HV AC repair service that also handles installations ensures you can have heat and cooling when you need it. Let’s consider the signs that your HVAC needs an HVAC restoration service.
1. High Energy Bills
Your first HVAC restoration clue comes from higher-than-normal energy bills. Each month, compare your bill to the one from that month in the prior year. Unless the weather delivered an unexpected blizzard, cold snap, or heat wave, you should not see much difference between the costs from, for example, July of one year and July of the next year. Also, compare one month’s utility bill to the previous month. Any unusual spike in usage results in a sign that something’s awry with the system.
Your repair service will examine all parts of your home’s HVAC closed loop system. In some cases, you only need to change the system’s air filter, but in other cases, the spike stems from issues with the air compressor or ductwork problems. The spike in bills can also indicate a need for maintenance.
2. Loud Noises
Hearing loud noises from the HVAC system when you turn it on or while it operates indicates a need for HVAC restoration. Although you might hear the noise during summer, that does not indicate only a need for AC repair because modern heat and air systems use shared parts and components.
3. Frequent Repairs
If it seems as if you have gotten to know the HVAC repair service better than the school bus driver or your co-workers, stop calling them for repairs and request an HVAC restoration or replacement instead. An HVAC system should need one annual maintenance visit from the pros that occurs on a regular schedule. You should change the system’s air filter each month. Otherwise, if you need to phone them for a service visit, make sure you keep it to just one.
After that first repair, if you need to call the HVAC service a second time within the year, ask bluntly if you need to buy a new HVAC. Here’s the deal from someone who does not make money from your broken HVAC. Considering both the labor costs and materials costs of two or more visits to repair an HVAC system, you’re probably better off buying a new system or component. Constant repairs cost a lot of money and can add up to more than the price of an HVAC system plus labor, which ranges between $4,800 to $9,300.
The price of an HVAC service visit that you find online of $150 to $450 refers to the cost of visiting your home and examining the system to determine the problem. Repairs cost much more than that. Something simple, like a broken heat pump, might cost just under $600 to repair, but a broken compressor costs about $3,000. Just two repair visits equal two-thirds the cost of a new system to the cost of a new system.
4. Indoor Humidity
When the humidity in your home causes moisture and condensation everywhere, you need HVAC restoration. You also need HVAC repairs if the opposite occurs and your home feels exceedingly dry air. The air conditioning portion of a modern HVAC unit features a control for setting the desired humidity. Modern heat systems let you do the same, so if your home feels as dry as the Sahara or as wet as a Florida swamp, you should call an HVAC service.
Note the caveat “modern HVAC.” Today’s systems offer many features that antiquated ones do not. Your home’s HVAC system might come from an age that did not offer such amenities. Check your system components, including your thermostat, for this humidity setting. If you do not find one, you have an older system that probably needs replacing.
5. Broken Thermostat
About those thermostats – when they break, it takes down the whole system. Your heat and AC repair company can replace the thermostat easily, making a simple HVAC restoration that costs little. Spend the $100 to $250 to purchase a smart thermostat. Labor adds a little to the cost, but the enhanced functions of these devices prove well worth the added $70 in price.
6. Foul Odors
As simple as thermostats prove to be repaired, odors coming from your HVAC can mean complex problems with the system. Contact local heating companies for help with this issue. Smelly HVAC typically signals a problem with mold or mildew in the ducts or a dead animal in them. It also indicates ventilation issues, evaporator coil problems, or the need for a new air filter. Your local HVAC professional can help you determine the cause of the smell and repair it.
7. Uneven Cooling
Your system’s signal that it needs HVAC restoration might come from uneven cooling. Unless your home features mini-splits, each room should feel the same temperature throughout. If you notice the living room temperature seriously diverges from the bedrooms, and there aren’t any closed vents in either room, you need to call professional air conditioning repair for servicing.
Let’s say you do need uneven cooling. Perhaps your mother-in-law just moved into the guest bedroom and needs the room to be significantly warmer or cooler than the rest of the home. You don’t need to install a window unit, and a space heater to handle it. Install a mini-split instead to enjoy better insulation than a window unit provides and a smaller draw on utilities.
8. It’s Leaking
Your HVAC restoration sign might come from a system leak. Sometimes water pools beneath the air filter vent, other times it does so outside at the heat pump or air compressor. A leak can also drip out of the ducts, so anywhere you note water, mop it up, place a bucket under the source, and phone the air conditioning company to set an appointment.
Sometimes, homeowners don’t spot the leak until it’s been there a little while. Water may burst through the drywall or suddenly gush from the system. This also happens with old water heaters, but that’s another article. In these cases, phone an HVAC service that offers emergency repairs and apprise them of the leak and flood so they can send one of their plumbers with the HVAC team to address the entire problem at once.
9. It’s Old
Most modern HVAC systems can last for 15 to 25 years, but most homeowners replace their current systems when they reach the age of 16 years. Today’s heartier systems last longer and offer more utility with proper maintenance. Appropriate maintenance can help an HVAC system run well for eight to 10 years longer than the average system.
Part of appropriate HVAC maintenance comes from an annual air conditioner and heater inspection that unearths problems at their outset, so a small repair can squelch them. These annual inspections usually include some professional maintenance of the system, too. That maintenance can help your system avoid needing HVAC restoration.
10. Not Working
One day, your HVAC just stops turning on. Call the HVAC installer because if your system already hit 15 years old or near it and stopped working, it does not need HVAC restoration. It needs HVAC replacement. Depending on the current configuration and condition of your home’s ductwork, it may also require ductwork.
What Does HVAC Restoration Entail?
Restoring your HVAC to a healthy working condition can require a small part, a rest, or major repairs. A service call is the only way to determine what the heat and AC system needs. A few services offer free service calls with an estimate request, but most charge for service calls, as mentioned above. In most cases, the company deducts the service charge from the bill if the homeowner hires them to make the repairs.
Ask which billing process they use so you don’t get any unwelcome surprises and so you can compare one company’s estimate to another fairly. Also, ask about their schedule and how quickly they can address the problem. If hot or cold weather threatens, you need to know you can count on your HVAC system to keep you comfortable and keep the temperature in your home bearable.
Some HVAC installers who also make repairs will straightforwardly tell you that your system is shot. Others will try to convince you to make repairs, knowing that your system needs replacing. They’re counting on you phoning them for another repair visit.
Unless the system sprang a huge leak, try to obtain two or three repair quotes. This lets you weed out the companies trying to get you to spend more than you should. Often, a new HVAC costs less than a year of repairs.
Maintenance to Keep Your HVAC Healthy
Ask your local HVAC service provider if they offer maintenance plans. Many companies do, combining their annual inspections with a visit in which they clean all the major components and sometimes drain the system. Your service person may show you a few things you can do each month to upkeep the system, such as changing the air filter.
Changing an air filter proves a simple task that most people find easy. You unscrew the large vent cover over the air filter and remove the old one. Replace it with a new air filter of the same size. Replace the vent cover.
This five-minute task can save you thousands of dollars because it helps keep the system operating at peak efficiency by keeping it clean. HVAC units pull outside air into the home, then treat it to either heat it or cool it. The outside air comes with dirt, dust, and debris that the air filter captures, so it does not get to enter your HVAC system’s inner workings or into the air you breathe that emits from the air vents.
Those with respiratory issues, such as asthma or COPD, can benefit from changing the air filter more frequently during times of hazardous air quality. Checking the filter at the end of each hazardous day and changing the filter when it begins to turn gray instead of remaining white can help make breathing easier.
Many modern systems include built-in HEPA filters to help clean the air before it flows into the home. Adjust these newer systems using the mobile app that comes with the HVAC system or the thermostat. Many newer HVAC systems offer a range of settings to help improve the home’s air quality.
Avoiding the Temptation to Try to Fix It Yourself
Sure, you might be a really experienced do-it-yourselfer, but your HVAC system and its components, including the thermostat come with a warranty. You void that warranty if you attempt to repair it yourself. That’s what makes the service call worthwhile.
Let’s say your five-year-old HVAC system breaks down. Calling an HVAC service results in a licensed professional determining the problem and providing you with written documentation of it. If they find a faulty part, your warranty covers all the repairs – parts and labor.
Trying to determine the problem and fix it on your own not only negates the warranty, but it also means you pay out of pocket for parts and must spend your own time to repair it. Calling a pro for a diagnostic and repair estimate always proves the better choice since you could easily get the work done for free. Read your system’s warranty fully before problems occur so you know what it covers.
Signs of an HVAC Problem
Learn the early warning signs of an HVAC problem so you can stem the progression of damage. When you notice a noise or odor, call for an appointment for a diagnostic. Early repairs result in savings, and improved maintenance can help modern systems last 20 to 25 years.