HVAC fix or replace?

10 Replies

Hi,

My PM company informed me that they received a maintenance call on the HVAC blowing hot air instead of cold. They sent an HVAC person out to inspect and see what needs to be done and their conclusion was that the entire system should be replaced for "reaching it's economic lifespan", for almost 3,500$ . The system is a heat pump that was manufactured in 2006 but when I bought the house this March I did have it inspected, pulled and cleaned and it seemed to be fine.

They haven't yet specified exactly what the problem is but I'm wondering if they're just preferring that I install the new system to make it easier for them, or to make their subcontractors happy with the work, or if it's really something not worth trying to fix.

Anyone with experienced insights?

Thanks.

Seems like a short lifespan but also seems like a very cheap replacement. Maybe it’s a smaller system? If it’s not so hot that the tenant is suffering get a second quote. The original company should be able to give you a repair estimate as well. If it’s way less do that. If it’s over a$1,000 repair then it’s questionable. 

Hmm... Are you sure you have a good Property Manager!!??!  LOL!    

In my 16yrs owning some rental properties of my own that I manage, I've only come across this 2 times. One is for a rental SFR with a 20yr old unit and my personal residence because I was too broke to buy a good brand then when I first bought and rehabbed my house.

Did they test the heater? If its still blowing hot air and not cold air, that means the furnace still works.. so the issue is likely just in the cooling part of the system.   I can't imagine why you need to replace entire system, unless both units are broken.   It may just be the thermostat, condenser unit going bad (coils leaking, etc), perhaps its out of freon, or maybe even bad fuse or solenoid.   Did they give you an detailed explanation of what exactly is broken or needs to be replaced???   Did your PM get multiple inspections/quotes??   

For my all houses, I go with good reputable brands like Trane, Carrier or Bryant.  Pay for the better brands... less headache for you later.    I used a Goodman brand on my residence before, and that condenser only lasted 7 yrs... it was a piece of crap.   I recently replaced it with Bryant that is high efficient retaining (which paid for itself because now my utility bills are cut in half compared to before).  Totally worth the upgrade. 

That said, these things are not made the same way they used to... none of them are.   So the expense is up to you to replace it...    If you have the bandwidth to replace entire system and not worry about it for the next 5- 10yrs depending on warranty, then go for it.  

@Yossi Tzemach

Hi Yossi,

Different brands of A/C have different lifespans.

Perhaps you can get by with just replacing the outdoor portion vs the whole system.

Since you might be looking at a whole system replacement, it might be a good idea to get a couple more inspections/bids.

But if you want to keep your tenants (cool) don't drag out the replacement.

Good Luck!

@Yossi Tzemach

Just had a similar issue last week. Turned out it was low on refrigerant and the filter needed replaced. HVAC guy fixed these issues at no charge (I of course give him a lot of business on other jobs).

Maybe get a second opinion. "Trust, but verify."

Sounds like it's low on refrigerant.  You can swing by and open up the unit, the inside part - take the cover off and look at the evaporator coil.  See if you have any signs of leaks.  I'd probably give it a shot of freon and go from there.  That's not a bad price for a new unit if you decide to replace it.  

Originally posted by @Yossi Tzemach :

Hi,

My PM company informed me that they received a maintenance call on the HVAC blowing hot air instead of cold. They sent an HVAC person out to inspect and see what needs to be done and their conclusion was that the entire system should be replaced for "reaching it's economic lifespan", for almost 3,500$ . The system is a heat pump that was manufactured in 2006 but when I bought the house this March I did have it inspected, pulled and cleaned and it seemed to be fine.

They haven't yet specified exactly what the problem is but I'm wondering if they're just preferring that I install the new system to make it easier for them, or to make their subcontractors happy with the work, or if it's really something not worth trying to fix.

Anyone with experienced insights?

Thanks.

Common problem. In the unit I had a tech look at on friday it was a circuit board that cost $160 to fix. I'd get a tech out for a "preventative maintenance" call and see what he says. Sounds like you need a couple more opinions by AC techs.

@Yossi Tzemach Your PM probably will not be happy because a replacement makes things easier for him also, but I would get a couple more opinions on what is going on with the system. This system should have more than a 12-13 year lifespan, it is possible there is a repair that can get it back up and running as opposed to a full replacement.

Thanks everyone for sharing all your great insights!

I just spoke with the PM company. The HVAC company they sent said the compressor was bad and not worth changing. I asked them for a quote for the repair vs replacement.

Besides that, the PM is sending another HVAC company to check and give a quote for repair or replacement as well.

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