While many HVAC systems last between 15 to 25 years, you may not know exactly when your unit can't operate any longer. The system may seem to work sufficiently at times, but troubling symptoms could have you wondering whether the unit is about to give out soon. Don't let yourself be stuck without heating or air conditioning. Look for the following signs that it's time to upgrade your HVAC system.
The Temperature Never Reaches the Target Level
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Perhaps the biggest sign your HVAC system is not working efficiently is an inability to reach the specified temperature. Assuming you have an HVAC system that's the appropriate size for your home, your HVAC system should always be able to cool or heat your home given enough time. This type of issue could signify a problem with the thermostat, but more than likely, the problem is with the system itself.
The Unit Is Always Running
It is not normal for your HVAC unit to be constantly running. The system should function in cycles, turning on and off every few minutes when the air in your home needs to be heated or cooled. If you notice your air conditioner or furnace is staying on for long periods of time, this constant operation is a sign that the unit is having trouble keeping pace with temperature demands.
Your Energy Bills Are Increasing
If your furnace or air conditioner is running more often, this extra time operating will lead to an increase in your energy bill. You should have a good idea of how much you spend on energy usage. Naturally, your utility bill could increase during the winter or summer, when outdoor temperatures can be more extreme. However, if the bill is much higher than it was at the same time last year, you could have a problem with your HVAC system.
The Unit Makes Weird Noises
Normally, HVAC units should be relatively silent. You may hear your system when it turns on, but you shouldn't hear any loud sounds while the furnace or air conditioner is running. If you hear any of the following HVAC system sounds, a replacement system is something you should consider in the future:
- Thwapping, especially when the blower is running, could mean something is stuck and hitting the blades as they spin, which puts extreme wear on the motor.
- Rattling from the outdoor unit is a sign of severe failure. While the problem could be loose hardware, more often this sound is a sign that the compressor is failing.
- Screeching or squealing can often indicate a bad motor bearing or belt. While these problems are easy fixes, if they keep happening on a regular basis, you are better off replacing your system.
- Clanging or banging could mean the system may be failing on the inside.
Overall, you won't know for sure when you need to replace your HVAC system. That decision should only be made by a qualified HVAC technician after a thorough inspection of the unit. Only an HVAC specialist has the experience and knowledge necessary to know whether your system should be repaired or replaced.