Should I Replace My Furnace at the Same Time as My Air Conditioner?

Here in Tampa and other areas of central and south Florida, it largely will depend upon the type of heating and cooling system used in your home. Many homes have what is known as a “packaged system” or all-in-one air conditioner/heating solution.

This type of system has most of the parts and components required to cool and heat your home contained in a single unit. They are beneficial because they eliminate the need to have a split system, where one part of the air conditioner (AC) is outdoors, the furnace is indoors, and they share the same blower and air handler indoors.

hvac technician

With a packaged system, you can use that extra space inside the home for a pantry, laundry room, or other purposes. Even if you have an existing split-system, and it is time to replace the furnace and AC together, you may want to consider a packaged system instead of separate units.

If you have a packaged system and something goes wrong where the unit needs to be replaced, then, yes, you will need to replace your furnace and AC at the same time. However, if you have a split system, then, in certain cases, you may be able to replace the AC but not the furnace and vice versa (replace the furnace, but not the air conditioner).

When Should You Replace Your AC and Furnace?

Your AC and furnace will eventually need to be replaced with a new system. One telltale sign that it is time for a new furnace or AC unit is when heating and AC repair is becoming a monthly occurrence. This is a good indication the system has reached the end of its usefulness. Rather than continue to spend money on monthly repairs, it makes more sense to buy a new system.

The average lifespan and usefulness of heating and AC systems vary, but a good general timeframe is:

  • 15 – 20 years on packaged systems
  • 20 – 30 years on furnaces (split systems)
  • 10 – 15 years on air conditioners (split systems)

Most people will attempt to push their existing systems to the upper limits before replacing them. Part of this has to do with the costs associated with getting a new system.

furnace system

However, in more recent years, as technological improvements have made home heating and cooling systems much more energy efficient, we are finding people are replacing their systems when they are between 10 and 15 years old. This allows them to take advantage of the newer efficiencies and increased energy savings.

You should also consider replacing your AC and furnace if you notice your energy bills are increasing. This could indicate the system is no longer operating at peak efficiencies. A tune-up from one of our AC and heating repair technicians might help if your system is not that old.

On the other hand, if it is getting up there in years, then a tune-up is only a short-term fix. Eventually, you will need to replace the system, as tune-ups will no longer help maintain the system’s efficiency.

Benefits of Replacing Both at Once

The most obvious benefit of replacing both your AC and furnace at the same time is you will have a “matched” split system. This means all of the parts and components used indoors and outdoors are designed to work together to provide maximum operating performance and energy efficiencies.

With an “unmatched” system, where you replace only the AC or the furnace, the maximum efficiencies output by the new part of the system may not be able to be fully reached. This will largely depend on the age of the other part of the system you are not replacing.

new furnace units

Another benefit of replacing both units at the same time is you may qualify for a special rebate, incentives, and offers by the system manufacturer. Home heating and cooling unit manufacturers often run different promotions, much like car manufacturers, so you will want to inquire what current incentives are available.

In addition, your home heating and cooling sales and installation company might provide a discount since you are purchasing both at the same time. For instance, the costs to replace just the furnace could run between $2,000 and $5,000, depending on the model and features.

However, if you were to get a new furnace when you had your AC replaced, the costs to add this on could range from $1,000 to $3,000. Please keep in mind, this is just an example to illustrate how you could save money by doing both at the same time, and your actual savings and costs can and will vary.

Other Reasons to Replace Both at Once

Aside from aged systems and potential cost savings, there are other times when it makes sense to replace both your AC and furnace at the same time, as follows:

  • The installation of the new system poses specific challenges that make the job difficult. If the furnace or the blower and air handler are in hard-to-access areas, you may want to do both at the same time.
  • You live in a remote rural area. If you are already having a technician come out to replace your AC or furnace, and you know the other one will need to be replaced in the near future, it is better to get both done at once.
  • You want to upgrade to an HE (High-Efficiency) AC model. If you are looking at new AC units with a 16 SEER rating or higher, then you will want to get a new furnace at the same time. This is because these HE units have to be matched to a compatible furnace model. These types of systems require variable speed motors and other modern technologies to operate correctly.

You are getting ready to retire. Once you retire, if you are like most retirees, the last thing you want to worry about is having to buy a new AC or furnace on a fixed income. Replacing both now allows ensures you will not have to worry about this expense for the next 10, 15, or 20 years.

hvac repair

Times When You Will Not Want to Replace Both

There are a few times when you may not need to replace both the AC and furnace at the same time. These exceptions apply to split systems, not packaged systems.

  • The AC unit is less than 5 years old. Split system AC units will last between 10 to 15 years, on average. So, if you are replacing the furnace and not converting from a split system to a packaged system, then it can be better to wait.
  • The furnace is less than 10 years old. Furnaces on split systems last between 20 to 30 years, on average. Since furnaces have almost double the lifespan of AC units, it makes more sense to wait and replace both the next time the AC unit has to be replaced.
  • A salesperson told you to replace both. If you went shopping for a new AC unit or furnace at a showroom, the salesperson may have said you had to do both at the same time. The reason they said this is partially because they are working off a commission, so, if they can sell you both, they earn more.

If you know you need either a new furnace or AC and are not sure if you should replace both, the best thing to do is to contact us and have one of our licensed, bonded, and insured HVAC technicians take a look at your system. Our technicians will let you know if you can wait on one or the other or if it would be better to replace both now.

hvac technician in action

For more information on whether to replace both your AC and furnace, HVAC system repairs, furnace or AC maintenance, installation, or for help selecting the right system for your home, please feel free to contact Air Rescue at (813) 375-9982 today!