Any homeowner who has made the call to replace their old, outdated cooling or heating system can tell you that a new install isn’t the lightest load your finances have ever shouldered. Energy-efficient HVAC systems are more affordable than ever, but that doesn’t mean they’re cheap by any means. And so, if you’ve been considering HVAC replacement, you may have come across an important question: “Should I replace my air conditioner and furnace at the same time?”
As long as we’ve been in business serving the Greater Pittsburgh Region, we encounter this “million-dollar question” almost everyday. It’s a great question. Unfortunately, it’s not an easy question to answer.
Scenarios in Which Replacing Your Cooling System and Heating System Works
The first bit of information we want to get across as plainly as possible is this: it is not always advantageous to replace your systems at the same time. There are situations where it is ideal, and also times where it’s only marginally beneficial, or not beneficial at all. Our team recommends replacing, essentially, when it will be more cost-efficient or effective to your comfort to do so.
1. Both of your systems are old
The general issue with replacing both systems at the same time is that a furnace tends to far outlive most standard air conditioning systems—this is especially true for a customer who recently called Spurk HVAC for a replacement on both systems. His air conditioning system was 15 years old and his furnace…wait for it…45 years old. Besides belonging in a museum (and being extremely inefficient), his furnace was in great shape. However, that’s an outlier. If both of your systems are over a decade old, replacing them both will typically provide enough benefits through energy-efficiency, performance, and reliability to make replacing them both together quite worthwhile.
2. You’re Upgrading
Likely, the largest potential benefit to replacing both your air conditioner and your heating system at the same time is in order to get what is called a matched system. While your furnace and your central AC don’t share the majority of their components, they do in fact share the blower assembly system that is housed in your furnace. Often times, matched systems can also come in at a lower price point as a package rather than buying them at different times a la carte.
This means that if you are getting a high-performance air conditioning system, then the performance of your new system will suffer because it is less than compatible with what your furnace has to offer in terms of the blower motor. It would be like putting off-road tires on a Prius. You’d probably get something out of it, but not as much if you put them on a Silverado Z71.
3. You’re retiring soon
Retirement is a wonderful event that we all look forward to. It’s also not at all a time when, as your financial situation is stabilizing, you want to incur additional unplanned expenses. If you’re planning to retire and both of your systems are reasonably old, replacing them both right now can ensure that the next handful of years will be completely free of the stress of a furnace breakdown or an air conditioner failure.
When to Replace Your Furnace and When to Keep It
In most cases, it’s a good idea to replace the furnace at the same time as the air conditioner.
The most common reasons are:
- The new air conditioning unit has increased efficiency, with SEER over 16. If your furnace is old (15 years old or more), it won’t contribute to the efficiency of the HVAC system, making the AC unit an impractical expense.
- The furnace is approaching the end of its lifespan and will need replacement soon.
- In terms of maintenance and repair, installing a new furnace is easier than keeping it.
When It’s Not Necessary to Replace the Furnace
If your furnace is less than 10 years old, it can often last until the next time you will need to replace the air conditioning unit. Usually, that happens in 10-15 years, and on a rare occasion a furnace may last for 25 to 30 years.
In conclusion, replacing your furnace at the same time as the air conditioning system is often a better option, because you will get the most out of a matched pair. Call Spurk HVAC at (724)-766-8105 or click here to schedule an appointment to see whether replacing both components of your HVAC system is right for you.