At what point do you replace your HVAC system?

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CobraKai
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At what point do you replace your HVAC system?

Post by CobraKai »

My furnace and central A/C unit was installed nearly 30 years ago.

Both are still running okay, but I figure that they are on borrowed time.

I am in the upper midwest so winter can be quite cold.

I probably should think about replacing the units pre-emptively, eh?
Normchad
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Re: At what point do you replace your HVAC system?

Post by Normchad »

CobraKai wrote: Thu Sep 22, 2022 7:45 pm My furnace and central A/C unit was installed nearly 30 years ago.

Both are still running okay, but I figure that they are on borrowed time.

I am in the upper midwest so winter can be quite cold.

I probably should think about replacing the units pre-emptively, eh?
If I was in your position, I would replace them.
mbres60
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Re: At what point do you replace your HVAC system?

Post by mbres60 »

Replace them at your convenience and not when they are not working and your house is either freezing cold or it is 95 degrees every day and you have no a/c.
Minty
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Re: At what point do you replace your HVAC system?

Post by Minty »

I just replaced my 22 year old system after a heat wave in NorCal. It was hot.
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Rdytoretire
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Re: At what point do you replace your HVAC system?

Post by Rdytoretire »

You got 30 years out of the existing units so you did well. The new units will be quieter and more efficient. I replaced both of my still working AC and gas furnace at about 30 years. Glad I did so.
mortfree
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Re: At what point do you replace your HVAC system?

Post by mortfree »

When you can get rebates or tax credits or 0% financing?

When your trusted HVAC person says it is time?
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brian91480
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Re: At what point do you replace your HVAC system?

Post by brian91480 »

CobraKai wrote: Thu Sep 22, 2022 7:45 pm
I probably should think about replacing the units pre-emptively, eh?
I live in Minnesota, and my HVAC is also very old. So I purchased a repair and replace plan last year from my local utility company. I pay a small monthly fee, and whenever the unit craps out... I'll just call them and I'll get a new install free of charge. And then I'll cancel my membership in the repair and replace plan.

--- Brian
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CobraKai
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Re: At what point do you replace your HVAC system?

Post by CobraKai »

Rdytoretire wrote: Thu Sep 22, 2022 7:57 pm You got 30 years out of the existing units so you did well. The new units will be quieter and more efficient. I replaced both of my still working AC and gas furnace at about 30 years. Glad I did so.
Someone else got some of those years, but I get your point. :)
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CobraKai
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Re: At what point do you replace your HVAC system?

Post by CobraKai »

Thanks for the responses.

I guess my urge to start shopping around was correct.

I would expect the furnace to go out at the worst possible time.
runner3081
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Re: At what point do you replace your HVAC system?

Post by runner3081 »

We replaced ours at 20 years, the winter after it went out on a 119 degree day. Wasn't going to take that risk again.
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snackdog
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Re: At what point do you replace your HVAC system?

Post by snackdog »

HVAC companies do emergency service all the time. They could fail tonight or in ten years. I would wait. If they are high quality units you can replace parts and have a better unit than brand new plastic trash.
student
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Re: At what point do you replace your HVAC system?

Post by student »

I am also in the Midwest. Here is my recent purchase experience. viewtopic.php?t=383336
Last edited by student on Thu Sep 22, 2022 9:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
finite_difference
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Re: At what point do you replace your HVAC system?

Post by finite_difference »

You might run the numbers on ROI.
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Ozonewanderer
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Re: At what point do you replace your HVAC system?

Post by Ozonewanderer »

Don't worry, they only break down when you need them. You know that because you are using them.

30 years? You are a winner! Replace them know while you are ahead.
hudson
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Re: At what point do you replace your HVAC system?

Post by hudson »

CobraKai wrote: Thu Sep 22, 2022 7:45 pm My furnace and central A/C unit was installed nearly 30 years ago.

Both are still running okay, but I figure that they are on borrowed time.

I am in the upper midwest so winter can be quite cold.

I probably should think about replacing the units pre-emptively, eh?
If I was in your shoes, I would get 3 quotes and get it done.
If money is tight and you are tough, wait until it fails. That was my plan when I was younger.
Now I plan on appliances, water heaters, heating, and cooling units to last 10 years. If the money is running OK, I'll replace at age 10. I write the install date on each unit with a sharpie.

As possible and practical, I try to have backup heating and cooking solutions of some kind.

Bottom line: avoid emergency replacements if possible.
Valuethinker
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Re: At what point do you replace your HVAC system?

Post by Valuethinker »

hudson wrote: Fri Sep 23, 2022 5:30 am
CobraKai wrote: Thu Sep 22, 2022 7:45 pm My furnace and central A/C unit was installed nearly 30 years ago.

Both are still running okay, but I figure that they are on borrowed time.

I am in the upper midwest so winter can be quite cold.

I probably should think about replacing the units pre-emptively, eh?
If I was in your shoes, I would get 3 quotes and get it done.
If money is tight and you are tough, wait until it fails. That was my plan when I was younger.
Now I plan on appliances, water heaters, heating, and cooling units to last 10 years. If the money is running OK, I'll replace at age 10. I write the install date on each unit with a sharpie.

As possible and practical, I try to have backup heating and cooking solutions of some kind.

Bottom line: avoid emergency replacements if possible.
Big increases in efficiency are also possible at a time of rising gas and electricity prices.

A 30 year old furnace might only be running in the mid-high 70% efficiency, whereas a highly rated new one can do 95%. So c 1/4 reduction in consumption.

An air conditioning unit now, SEER = 15, could have double the efficiency of one of 30 years ago, that has also aged. It might only be SEER 7-8. So again up to 50% improvement (in practice, perhaps 1/3rd)?

Various forms of Freon/ R-number refrigerants, are either banned or being phased out. At some point, a refill may just be impossible (or very expensive).

Balanced against this:

- the new ones are more complex & so more to go wrong
- possibly the build quality has declined. I don't know if there is hard evidence on that, but anecdotally it has. They aren't made to last 30 years any more


I would be sufficiently worried of the cost/ inconvenience of a failure in the middle of winter or in a heat wave, that I would be tempted to move preemptively.

On the other hand, if the OP is only going to be in the house for say less than 5 years, or is money constrained, then it might be worth trying to stretch it out.

Certainly a service contract, if obtainable, seems advisable.
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Re: At what point do you replace your HVAC system?

Post by jpelder »

With the new tax credits kicking in next year, it might be worth waiting until January if you qualify. I would definitely start thinking about getting quotes from a few companies so you can be ready to jump on it when the time comes. It may also be worth signing up for a maintenance plan with your preferred vendor, so you get priority for emergency service if you have a failure.

In the upper Midwest, a 95% AFUE or better furnace is definitely worthwhile. If you want air conditioning, a heat pump (with the furnace as backup) may be worthwhile, since it'll probably be cheaper to run in the fall and spring when it's 30-50 degrees (especially with gas prices being what they are these days)

TL;DR: Replace this fall, or definitely in the spring if you want to gamble to get tax credits.
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snackdog
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Re: At what point do you replace your HVAC system?

Post by snackdog »

Valuethinker wrote: Fri Sep 23, 2022 6:02 am
Big increases in efficiency are also possible at a time of rising gas and electricity prices.

A 30 year old furnace might only be running in the mid-high 70% efficiency, whereas a highly rated new one can do 95%. So c 1/4 reduction in consumption.

An air conditioning unit now, SEER = 15, could have double the efficiency of one of 30 years ago, that has also aged. It might only be SEER 7-8. So again up to 50% improvement (in practice, perhaps 1/3rd)?

...
Yes, maybe. You would need to check the existing system specs and potential replacement efficiencies and costs carefully. My 30 year old Lennox HVAC is 14 SEER and 92% efficiency. A new cheapo Goodman/Coleman system would be around $17,000 for 16 SEER and 95% efficiency. Electricity prices here are well regulated so I would just be getting the 10% increase on the AC. It would take a lot of natural gas price increase (like more than 10x) to pay off the 3 point increase in furnace efficiency in any reasonable time frame.
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Re: At what point do you replace your HVAC system?

Post by bradinsky »

In 1988, we lived in a all electric home that had an electric furnace. For those who aren’t familiar with electric furnaces, they remind you of a toaster, laying on its side, with a fan blowing across the coils. On the coldest night of that late winter, at about 3am, it caught fire. We awoke to the smoke detectors blaring & the house filled with gray electrical smoke. Very exciting! We caught it early on & thankfully the issue was contained in the furnace. We spent a few days with just a fireplace & a couple of portable heaters & the weather finally warmed up. At the time, that neighborhood had just received natural gas service, so we contracted to have gas connected to the house & installed a high efficient gas furnace & water heater.
Bottom line: don’t wait! Do it on your schedule & not when you’re forced to do so.
Valuethinker
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Re: At what point do you replace your HVAC system?

Post by Valuethinker »

jpelder wrote: Fri Sep 23, 2022 7:06 am With the new tax credits kicking in next year, it might be worth waiting until January if you qualify. I would definitely start thinking about getting quotes from a few companies so you can be ready to jump on it when the time comes. It may also be worth signing up for a maintenance plan with your preferred vendor, so you get priority for emergency service if you have a failure.

In the upper Midwest, a 95% AFUE or better furnace is definitely worthwhile. If you want air conditioning, a heat pump (with the furnace as backup) may be worthwhile, since it'll probably be cheaper to run in the fall and spring when it's 30-50 degrees (especially with gas prices being what they are these days)
One thing Europeans struggle with is to understand North American weather. Southern Europe is hot to very hot in summer, but most places it isn't usually that humid-- it's much more like southern California. It's that latter (and the effect on nighttime temperatures) which gets you.

The Midwest. Ohio (say) in summer is hot and *humid*. You get multi-week long heat waves of 95+ degrees F? And it doesn't cool much below 80 F at night? OK summer is short. But it's not mild. At least based on the weather in Canada... just across Lake Erie. (My relations there kept their home in the high 70s - they said it was medically advised to have less of a dramatic shift between interior and exterior temperatures in summer).

HPs are actually efficient these days down to the low degrees F (see posts by poster talzara among others). However the furnace is a good comfort to have as a backup. And gas prices may be structurally far enough below electricity prices to still make gas the cheaper option. Agree re high efficiency furnace: do this once hopefully, (in the slice of life one spends in that home), do it right.

I can't really imagine living in the US Midwest without AC. I am not even sure about Minnesota?
TL;DR: Replace this fall, or definitely in the spring if you want to gamble to get tax credits.
Yes.
mlipps
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Re: At what point do you replace your HVAC system?

Post by mlipps »

Valuethinker wrote: Fri Sep 23, 2022 7:51 am
jpelder wrote: Fri Sep 23, 2022 7:06 am With the new tax credits kicking in next year, it might be worth waiting until January if you qualify. I would definitely start thinking about getting quotes from a few companies so you can be ready to jump on it when the time comes. It may also be worth signing up for a maintenance plan with your preferred vendor, so you get priority for emergency service if you have a failure.

In the upper Midwest, a 95% AFUE or better furnace is definitely worthwhile. If you want air conditioning, a heat pump (with the furnace as backup) may be worthwhile, since it'll probably be cheaper to run in the fall and spring when it's 30-50 degrees (especially with gas prices being what they are these days)
One thing Europeans struggle with is to understand North American weather. Southern Europe is hot to very hot in summer, but most places it isn't usually that humid-- it's much more like southern California. It's that latter (and the effect on nighttime temperatures) which gets you.
The user you quoted is from North Carolina, not Europe :oops:



We replaced our 20 year old unit last year. The control panel was starting to fail and we were in the middle of a Chicago winter. We went with a 2 stage which has a ultra low energy fan that runs 24 hours a day. It balanced out the temperatures in our home drastically better and our electric bill went down $20/month in February and March compared to the prior year. Gas bill changed minimally as we were not able to get a significantly more efficient furnace due to the venting set up.

Another data point, my best friend's furnace went out last November and it took 2 weeks to get replaced. We had an unusually early and brutally cold snap here in Chicago at the same time so it was rough for her. Supply chain issues seem to be on the upswing but definitely not fully resolved. I wouldn't wait until it goes out personally unless the 2023 tax credits represent a significant savings for you.
afr
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Re: At what point do you replace your HVAC system?

Post by afr »

snackdog wrote: Thu Sep 22, 2022 8:25 pm HVAC companies do emergency service all the time. They could fail tonight or in ten years. I would wait. If they are high quality units you can replace parts and have a better unit than brand new plastic trash.
New units may last you 10-15 years at best. Biggest issue is with cheaply made aluminum(not copper) coils and other components. Newer refrigerants put greater pressure on the coil and don’t hold up for the long haul
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Re: At what point do you replace your HVAC system?

Post by jpelder »

Valuethinker wrote: Fri Sep 23, 2022 7:51 am
The Midwest. Ohio (say) in summer is hot and *humid*. You get multi-week long heat waves of 95+ degrees F? And it doesn't cool much below 80 F at night? OK summer is short. But it's not mild. At least based on the weather in Canada... just across Lake Erie. (My relations there kept their home in the high 70s - they said it was medically advised to have less of a dramatic shift between interior and exterior temperatures in summer).

I can't really imagine living in the US Midwest without AC. I am not even sure about Minnesota?
When I hear "upper Midwest", I think Minnesota, Northern Wisconsin, or Michigan UP.

I used to live in Ohio (Toledo area). My first apartment up there just had a window unit AC, and my wife's (back then, she was my girlfriend) first two apartments didn't have AC of any sort. They were cheap college apartments, so that may be why! It was unpleasant in mid-day the summer, but I mostly wasn't home during the day. At night, I typically opened windows and was comfortable. It rarely broke 90 degrees for the high.
random_walker_77
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Re: At what point do you replace your HVAC system?

Post by random_walker_77 »

I just heard the other day that a treaty to ban current HFC refrigerants was just ratified.
So as I understand it R-22 (CFC) was banned, and replaced by R410a, which is now slated to be phased out. According to this a/c company
https://www.foxfamilyhvac.com/r-454b-re ... placement/, the new R454b refrigerant will see broader use starting in January 2023. So... if you get a system using the older refrigerant, keep in mind that it'll probably run into the same problems in 10 years with finding replacement refrigerant. On the other hand, if you were to get a system using the to-be-phased out refrigerant, it'd be good to try and negotiate a discount.

https://www.techtownforum.com/knowledge ... arts-info/
random_walker_77
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Re: At what point do you replace your HVAC system?

Post by random_walker_77 »

This is a better article and says that "R-410A is scheduled for elimination from all new systems in 2023."
https://indoortemp.com/resources/puron- ... efrigerant

Bottomline, if you replace in the next 6 months, make sure you don't get stuck with the closeout equipment using R-410A, unless you're getting a discount for it.
illumination
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Re: At what point do you replace your HVAC system?

Post by illumination »

I remember in my first home preemptively replacing my 20+ year old unit (thinking it was only a matter of time) and the first summer I had with it, the brand new unit went out. Took like two weeks for them to fix it because of getting some part (my guess is I went to the bottom of the list being a warranty repair) It also had other issues afterwards, the old one was a tank.

I do think there's something to be said that the older units were simply more robust, simpler and easier to repair. I'm in the camp you just run it until you start having refrigeration leaking issues or a compressor failure. Most everything else is easy to repair.

Right now is a REALLY bad time for any sort of work to be done on a home. If it's not urgent, I would probably wait. Companies are shooting for the moon right now.
random_walker_77
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Re: At what point do you replace your HVAC system?

Post by random_walker_77 »

I have a next-door neighbor who replaced their A/C system this past spring, to avoid risking a failure in the summer. One of the new units failed and they were without a/c upstairs for a few weeks, during a record-setting heat wave, until a replacement unit could be procured.
Topic Author
CobraKai
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Re: At what point do you replace your HVAC system?

Post by CobraKai »

jpelder wrote: Fri Sep 23, 2022 7:06 am With the new tax credits kicking in next year, it might be worth waiting until January if you qualify. I would definitely start thinking about getting quotes from a few companies so you can be ready to jump on it when the time comes. It may also be worth signing up for a maintenance plan with your preferred vendor, so you get priority for emergency service if you have a failure.

In the upper Midwest, a 95% AFUE or better furnace is definitely worthwhile. If you want air conditioning, a heat pump (with the furnace as backup) may be worthwhile, since it'll probably be cheaper to run in the fall and spring when it's 30-50 degrees (especially with gas prices being what they are these days)

TL;DR: Replace this fall, or definitely in the spring if you want to gamble to get tax credits.
That's another thing I've been debating whether it's worth it to go 95% (which would require them putting a hole in the roof or side of the house) or stick with 80%. The difference in price is almost 2K.
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CobraKai
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Re: At what point do you replace your HVAC system?

Post by CobraKai »

random_walker_77 wrote: Fri Sep 23, 2022 1:01 pm This is a better article and says that "R-410A is scheduled for elimination from all new systems in 2023."
https://indoortemp.com/resources/puron- ... efrigerant

Bottomline, if you replace in the next 6 months, make sure you don't get stuck with the closeout equipment using R-410A, unless you're getting a discount for it.
Thanks for the heads up.
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CobraKai
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Re: At what point do you replace your HVAC system?

Post by CobraKai »

I was quoted 10K for 80% furnace and A/C unit, 12K for a 95% efficiency furnace with A/C. 10 year parts warranty / 2 year labor. One year service agreement. A little higher than I thought but I'll be requesting a quote from another company or two next week.
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CobraKai
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Re: At what point do you replace your HVAC system?

Post by CobraKai »

illumination wrote: Fri Sep 23, 2022 7:34 pm Right now is a REALLY bad time for any sort of work to be done on a home. If it's not urgent, I would probably wait. Companies are shooting for the moon right now.
That thought came to mind.

OTOH I was told by the HVAC company that came out is that they are really slow this time of the year. That will change at the end of next month. I was able to get an estimate on the same day I called.
carolinaman
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Re: At what point do you replace your HVAC system?

Post by carolinaman »

HVAC systems tend to die when under stress from a heat wave or maybe a cold wave. We replaced our last system after 17 years. It died on a very hot August day. We were able to get prompt service because my son has a friend at a reputable company who came and repaired enough to limp along for a few days. We then replaced it using that company.

It is better if you can do this at a more opportune time. That way you can pick the system and the company you want.

When these systems fail in very hot weather, the HVAC companies are inundated with service calls and it often takes days before anyone will come out.
student
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Re: At what point do you replace your HVAC system?

Post by student »

CobraKai wrote: Sat Sep 24, 2022 10:13 am
jpelder wrote: Fri Sep 23, 2022 7:06 am With the new tax credits kicking in next year, it might be worth waiting until January if you qualify. I would definitely start thinking about getting quotes from a few companies so you can be ready to jump on it when the time comes. It may also be worth signing up for a maintenance plan with your preferred vendor, so you get priority for emergency service if you have a failure.

In the upper Midwest, a 95% AFUE or better furnace is definitely worthwhile. If you want air conditioning, a heat pump (with the furnace as backup) may be worthwhile, since it'll probably be cheaper to run in the fall and spring when it's 30-50 degrees (especially with gas prices being what they are these days)

TL;DR: Replace this fall, or definitely in the spring if you want to gamble to get tax credits.
That's another thing I've been debating whether it's worth it to go 95% (which would require them putting a hole in the roof or side of the house) or stick with 80%. The difference in price is almost 2K.
I am in the upper midwest and I went with 80% recently. I live in a condo sharing walls so that's part of the reason.
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Tubes
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Re: At what point do you replace your HVAC system?

Post by Tubes »

If you live in a mid temperate climate, like the central belt of the USA, or even southeast, I'd wait until it breaks. I do relief work with a lot of low income people and they survive fine with window A/C and space heaters. Now I am not saying this is comfortable or efficient, I'm just saying they survive because we don't see huge extremes in the southeast. (I'd love to get them all into central A/C but that's a whole different issue.)

The point being, if you push it and your unit fails in summer: get a window A/C while you work your options. If it fails in the winter: get space heaters. If you live where it gets to be a life threatening 40 below, then at 30 years, replace it before winter sets in.
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beyou
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Re: At what point do you replace your HVAC system?

Post by beyou »

If you live in a cold climate, wouldn’t wait for furnace to fail.

If you live in a hot humid climate, I wouldn’t wait on AC.

Those who with good weather year round, probably aren’t asking this question.

So for most, the answer is to be prepared for the weather you can’t tolerate. People can freeze to death in parts of the world, heat is nothing to mess around with.


That all said, I am always concerned about the relatively poor quality today of most products. New isn’t always better. But the old while better, will not last forever.
illumination
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Re: At what point do you replace your HVAC system?

Post by illumination »

CobraKai wrote: Sat Sep 24, 2022 10:30 am
illumination wrote: Fri Sep 23, 2022 7:34 pm Right now is a REALLY bad time for any sort of work to be done on a home. If it's not urgent, I would probably wait. Companies are shooting for the moon right now.
That thought came to mind.

OTOH I was told by the HVAC company that came out is that they are really slow this time of the year. That will change at the end of next month. I was able to get an estimate on the same day I called.

The problem I had is I could not get the equipment I wanted without a long wait. Every other installer had the same issues. I also got a quote from someone I had worked with like 12-18 months ago and the same job went up almost 40%. I think much of what's going on right now is not just the rate of inflation, it's almost a panic buying from home owners mixed with contractors basically testing how high they can go. But not every part of the country may be experiencing that.

If i had a perfectly working AC/Furnace, I'd probably just circle back to in 12 months, but I can also understand just wanting to get the job done.
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Re: At what point do you replace your HVAC system?

Post by Californiastate »

snackdog wrote: Thu Sep 22, 2022 8:25 pm HVAC companies do emergency service all the time. They could fail tonight or in ten years. I would wait. If they are high quality units you can replace parts and have a better unit than brand new plastic trash.
We replaced our HVAC system a few months ago. Our unit is much more efficient and is significantly quieter. I’ll never go back to a single stage AC system again.
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