When to replace A/C & Furnace?

10 Replies

Hi all! I'm new to BP and was hoping to get some advice. I have a 25 year old single family home with its original A/C & furnace. The A/C unit is pretty rusted outside but still functions. However, my tenant notified me that there is water leaking from the humidifier and drain so there is a small puddle underneath the furnace. Most likely the drain pipe is clogged which I can service or take care of myself but the repair could be more expensive.

In November 2014 the furnace had a minor issue with the furnace thermo coupler which cost less than $80 to repair.  The furnace is also 25 years old. 

Should I replace the furnace and A/C to reduce future problems or keep repairing & servicing so I don't have to make such a big upgrade right now (tenants are planning on staying here for 2 more years)? 

I would call a professional to let you know what exactly the problem is.  Hopefully the repair wont break the bank. If its repairable Id repair it and start getting quotes and  get the cash/financing to replace in the near future. 

It's always good to have a trusted professional (HVAC) that you can have look at and service the unit and ask them their opinion.   Get quotes and go from there.   When I say trusted, make sure they are not just trying to get you to put a new one in to make a few bucks off of you.

@Arpan Chokshi a few years after I got my first house (I was living in it and renting rooms to friends) the AC went out.  I called around and went with the cheapest person and didn't do any homework being I was young and new to being a home owner.  I think I spent a little over 2K to have the air handler replaced.  Years later I realize they never sealed it properly to the duck work and I was cooling the attic in the FL summers on my dime.  In the years since I have spent money pretty much ever year on small AC repairs and keeping the compressor outside alive.  I decided last year the next time I have something go wrong that's going to cost over $100 I'm replacing EVERYTHING.  My wiring is all rigged together from the AC company that did the shotty work the from the start and I could have easily put a new unit in by now and had less headaches.  So if you were in FL I'd definitely say replace it all new with it being that old.  I don't know prices up there and have heard the furnace can be very expensive.  As others have mentioned get many quotes from different people.  Check online reviews for these people.  Ask other investors in your area who they use and trust.  Also check with your power company and the government for rebates, grants, and discounts for a new unit that will be more energy efficient.  But let's hope it's just a clogged drain line, if so put those blue tablets in the line to prevent from clogging again.  

Welcome to BP.

25 years old hvac is good enough time for this equipment. I would say you would be better off in a long, if you replace hvac units now.

Thanks for your tips so far. I'm going to have a few people come take a look at it that got good reviews on Angie's List. Does anyone have any suggestions on whether it is better to take 0% financing and pay a little bit more or to pay straight out in cash up front when replacing an HVAC unit?

Originally posted by @Arpan Chokshi :

... there is a small puddle underneath the furnace. Most likely the drain pipe is clogged which I can service or take care of myself but the repair could be more expensive.

...

Sounds like it could be a clogged condensate line. But if you have a system that old, you are correct in guessing that it is near end of useful life - so replacement should be evaluated while things are still functioning, to allow you to shop around and set an accurate budget for this to be replaced. 

Be sure to check withyour local utility company, as well as your county and state, for any $$ taxcredits, discounts, or financial asistance.

Also check around for people that buy old units.  You might be able to tell the company you want to keep it and you can flip it to someone that recycles or uses them for parts to make a few extra $$. 

Sounds like it just needs a repair. So it's old, it still does the function its intended to. And don't for a moment think that new units are trouble free either. With a new unit you'll get a warranty but the moment that's out, it will still have occasional problems.

Justify the unit properly by getting an efficiency test for the AC company and take it from there. If it's showing a SEER of say 8 and you'll replace with a 14, then there is your justification of the upgrade path. 

A clogged drain pipe doesn't sound that expensive. I would probably try to fix it (depending on the what you get as a quote). My usual way of thinking is to run the HVAC into the ground. When it finally requires either a really big fix or dies, then I replace it.

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