What You Need to Know about HVAC System Replacement

- Wednesday, March 22, 2023

From deciding whether your system needs replacement to the completed installation – what are the stages? What is being replaced – certain parts or entire system components and ductwork too? What are anticipated costs and timeline? Your HVAC system plays an important role, providing comfort in all seasons. It’s critical to know when repairs are needed versus a complete system replacement. The last thing you want is for your HVAC to suddenly fail. It’s a good idea to know a little about the subject and then consult with an expert HVAC company in your area - like Covenant Heating & Air Conditioning, the exclusive Pekin, Peoria, East Peoria and Lincoln area dealer for Goodman™ and Carrier® Central AC.

Repair or System Replacement

Determination Phase

Should you repair or replace it? The basic rule is if over 15 years old, replace it. However, other factors need to be considered:

Constant Repairs

One of the first signs that your HVAC needs replacement is constant repairs. Constant breakdowns are a tell-tale sign that you need a replacement. Prolonging it will end up costing you more money on constant repairs and higher energy bills.

Energy Bills

If you find energy bills increasing, it could signify that your HVAC system isn’t cooling and/or heating properly. When not performing as it should, the system struggles to get to desired temperatures. This makes it work harder increasing energy usage. An expert HVAC technician will inspect the system and recommend the best options for the right solution.

HVAC System Performance Issues

Unusual smells coming from the vents or popping sounds heard? A reduction in airflow can also be a sign you need an HVAC replacement. If you notice any of these, remember to contact an expert HVAC company for a proper inspection.

What Does a Complete Residential HVAC System Include and Cost?

There are nine parts to your HVAC system to be familiar with: air return, filter, exhaust outlets, ducts, electrical elements, outdoor unit, compressor, coils and blower. Your air return is the part of your system that marks the starting point of the ventilation cycle. If you need a complete replacement of your home’s HVAC system including new duct work, this can cost between $6,700 and $12,100. While the ductwork does add to the final cost, it’s mostly the labor that significantly raises the price.

HVAC System Replacement

Selection Phase – BTU Capacity

While there are many things to consider, essential is BTU capacity. BTU stands for “British Thermal Unit”, a way to measure energy in air conditioning units and HVAC systems. An expert HVAC company will consider the size of your home, SEER rating, and the total BTU capacity.

Wrong BTU Capacity?

If you don’t get the correct BTU capacity, you won’t cool or heat your home properly. This results in wasting money, including upfront costs and higher monthly utility bills, all while being uncomfortable in your home.

Incurring Extra Cost if HVAC Unit is Too Small?

Installing an HVAC unit that is too small to accommodate the layout of your home means the system will struggle to maintain a comfortable home. The unit may be running for hours on end just to keep the home at set temperatures and result in costing a lot on your monthly utility bill.

Incurring Extra Cost if HVAC Unit is Too Large?

Installing an HVAC unit that is too big means you’ll be wasting more money upfront, which could also lead to discomfort and moisture issues. Ask an expert HVAC company to ensure your new system has the right balance by recommending the correct type of cooling or heating system that meets the needs of your home’s layout.

Ceiling Heights & BTUs

An expert HVAC company will also consider the heights of your ceilings. If ceilings are higher or lower in height, it affects the measurement of BTUs required (BTUs are commonly measured with a standard height of 8-foot-high ceilings). Ceiling heights will impact the power output of your HVAC System.

Impact of Location

When sizing the correct amount of BTUs needed, where your home is located has an impact. Areas with hotter weather, direct sunlight, drafty homes, and lack of insulation all require an HVAC unit with a greater BTU capacity. Hot temperatures, coupled with high humidity, affects how your unit cools & heats.

Selection Phase - Air Quality Design

Air Quality Matters. When it comes to HVAC System Replacement you need to know about air quality design.

Regulating the Humidity in Your Home

HVAC systems use filters to improve air quality. A system that has poor air output will be counterproductive. A quality-designed system will regulate the humidity inside a home to improve air quality year-round. Balance is always key. If the air gets too dry or moist, it will create discomfort. Moreover, it can also cause various health issues, such as sinus problems and possibly property damage.

Replacing Your Air Filters

Hand in hand with air quality is the air filter. To keep your HVAC system working at an optimal level, you must replace the filters timely (as recommended for your system). This is essential because it keeps the system and ducts clean & healthy by filtering out dust & dirt particulates, pet dander, and other allergens of concern.

A New Duct System

If your old HVAC system is over 15 years old, you may need new ducts. Air ducts have a maximum lifespan of about 20 to 25 years. Replacing ducts may be a good decision. It is recommended that ducts are cleaned within the first year a home is built and at least once every three to five years after that. Ductwork that performs poorly severely affects air quality and diminishes energy efficiency, keeping the system from running at its best.

Selection Phase – Energy Efficiency Design

Along with BTUs, SEER ratings are important in HVAC system design. The term “SEER” stands for “Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio or Rating.” The ratio is measured by using cooling output of any normal cooling season and dividing the energy in wattage hours. The SEER rating gives you an idea of the cooling system’s energy efficiency levels.

High SEER Rating

There is no SEER rating that is the perfect rating, but a higher rating for an HVAC system is ideal if you live in a hot region. Units that carry a high SEER rating provide quality, indoor comfort. They usually feature a variable-speed compressor and blower.

Single Stage Components

AC units that operate in a single-stage component will come with lower ratings. This may affect your final investment because cooling units with lower SEER ratings may be unpredictable. They’ll turn on and off more frequently compared to higher-rated units. You may also notice cold and hot spots throughout your home.

A Good Investment

Uneven cooling can be frustrating, especially in the hot summer months, hence why a higher SEER may be the choice for you if you prefer cooler temps in your home with more affordable energy bills. If you’re deciding on what SEER rating would be a good fit for you, remember that anything over 13 is a good investment.

Installation Phase

When it comes to replacing your HVAC system, the timeline can vary. A standard replacement can take from four to six hours. For a larger system or if there are complications, it can take around three to four days. Consult an expert HVAC company to get an accurate timeline:

timeline can vary based on size of home, type of HVAC system, and other factors.

During this time, contractor installs outdoor unit, connects it to home’s electrical and ductwork, and tests system to make sure it’s working properly.

Your Next Step?

Now that you know what to expect if your HVAC System needs replacement, when that time comes, consult with the experts at Covenant Heating & Air Conditioning to determine the system that’s right for you. They can also help you save money with programs like Ameren's incentive program for Illinois residents. Covenant services over 5,000 property owners and offers service maintenance packages, providing you peace of mind you can count on.