If you've recently begun your journey with home ownership, you undoubtedly already know that you'll need to be responsible for household maintenance and repairs — and if you're like most new homeowners, you also realize that you'll need to learn how to perform basic maintenance tasks such as changing furnace and air conditioning filters, unclogging a stopped-up drain, and troubleshooting problems with household appliances. Of course, you'll need to depend on professional services when major breakdowns of household systems occur. One of the most important things that those in your position need to learn is when to tell that a primary household system should be replaced. Here's the basics to get you started.
How to Tell When Your AC Unit Needs to Be Replaced
There comes a time with every household system when replacing it makes more sense than continuing to baby it along with repairs, and air conditioning units are no exception. One of the most important factors in deciding whether to put an air conditioning unit out to pasture and replace it with a new system is age. As a general rule of thumb, if the age of the system multiplied by the estimated cost of the repair exceeds $5,000, it's time to start researching replacement options. Keep in mind that the average lifespan of a modern air conditioning unit is 14 years.
If you live in an area that receives a significant amount of seasonal heat, you should also consider the energy efficiency of the unit. Even if it hasn't yet started showing its age, it might be worth your while to replace it with a more energy efficient model. Look for US-certified ENERGY STAR products. Be sure to ask your HVAC contractor if any rebates or tax credits apply for purchasing ENERGY STAR products — although this is very common, incentives change on a regular basis, so your contractor should have the most current information.
The overall best time to have your air conditioning system replaced is before it's on its last legs. Keep in mind that most major air conditioning malfunctions take place during the first major heat wave of the summer because they're having to work extra hard after a period of relative inactivity. Repairs as well as replacement costs may be higher during this time period because it's an extremely busy time for HVAC contractors. The best time for air conditioning replacement may be autumn or winter, when contractors aren't so busy and when many air conditioning retailers are holding sales.
How to Tell When Your Plumbing Needs to Be Replaced
If you've fallen in love with a classic vintage property, you're probably enjoying the graceful, timeless ambiance of the home. However, if the original plumbing is still in place, you should have it tested for lead and have it replaced if test results are positive — lead may leach into the water you use for drinking and cooking if you choose to leave the pipes in place. You should also have polybutylene pipes replaced because they break extremely easily. Plumbing made with polybutylene pipes was popular from the 1970s through the 1990s.
How to Tell When Your Furnace Needs to Be Replaced
If your furnace is over 15 years old, you should talk with an HVAC contractor about replacement options. Other signs that it may be time to have it replaced are escalating heating bills for no apparent reason such as increases in utility rates, frequent breakdowns and other maintenance issues, excessive noises such as rattling, clanging, and banging, and the emission of dust, pet dander, and other particulates despite frequent changes of filter.