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!

11 HVAC Must-Dos Before You Leave on Vacation

You’ve boarded the pets, asked the neighbors to get the mail, and turned off all your appliances and lights. You’ve taken care of everything, and now you can enjoy a few weeks of well-earned vacation away from the hassles and tasks at home.

Not quite. Before you hit the road, there are a few things you need to do regarding your HVAC system to keep it in good shape and ready to resume service when you return. At the end of your vacation, the last thing you want to do is return to a hot, sweltering home and a big heating contractor bill because you failed to take a few simple precautions before leaving on your trip.

vacationing on the beach

Your HVAC unit is one of the most complex pieces of machinery in your home. It’s also one of the biggest consumers of energy, accounting for about 48 percent of energy use in the typical home in America, and likely even more in hot and humid areas like Tampa. Properly maintaining it when it’s in use and during periods of dormancy such as vacation travel will help preserve the longevity of your unit and help you keep your energy costs down.

Vacation HVAC Checklist

Before your next vacation, be sure to take care of these tasks to keep your unit in good repair and to lower energy costs while you’re gone:

  • Turn it down, don’t turn it off – Contrary to popular belief, you shouldn’t completely shut down your HVAC unit while you’re gone. HVAC units are designed for regular usage, and when they are inactive for long periods, important components can deteriorate and operate at diminished capacity when put back into regular use. Also, when your HVAC isn’t active for long periods of time, moisture can build up in your home, creating conditions where mold can flourish.
  • When preparing to leave your home for a vacation, turn your thermostat up by about five degrees. Your unit won’t run as often as it does when you’re there, and the need for a comfortable temperature is paramount, but it will run enough to prevent moisture buildup and to provide sufficient activity for the system. Experts say the ideal temperature to turn up your unit to in the Tampa area is around 80 degrees.

  • Change the air filters – Under normal conditions, you should change your air filters once a month to prevent them from becoming clogged. While you’re gone, your HVAC unit will be running less often, and dirt and dust will have less of an opportunity to build up on the filters.
  • You should still pop a fresh one in the unit before you leave to ensure the unit has the best possible protection from dirt and dust while you’re away. If you’re leaving for an extended vacation of several months, it may be worthwhile to have a neighbor or your regular ac maintenance technician change the filter a few times during your absence.

  • Prepare for adverse weather – Tampa is prone to storms during the summer, and these storms can cause damage to an HVAC unit. The most likely cause of storm damage to an HVAC unit is that of downed trees and limbs. Before leaving on vacation, inspect the area around your unit to see if there are any limbs hanging over it. If there are, remove them. Also, clear the area of underbrush and other objects a storm could cause to collide with your unit.
  • Give your home a good vacuuming – Dust and other contaminants will accumulate while you’re gone and will circulate through your HVAC system. Reduce the amount of dust and allergens available to accumulate by giving your home a thorough vacuuming and cleaning before you leave for vacation.

home vacuum cleaning

  • Ensure sufficient airflow to your outdoor unit – Good airflow is essential to the operation of your HVAC unit. When the outdoor unit’s air intake is clogged, it has to work harder to perform, consuming more energy and putting more wear and tear on the device. Before leaving on vacation, check the intake on your unit and clear any leaves, limbs, or grass clippings from it.
  • Make sure all windows are closed – Closing all the windows will reduce the amount of hot air entering your home, causing your unit to run less often. It’s also just good common sense from a security and safety standpoint.
  • Close all your blinds and curtains – Blocking sunlight from entering your home will reduce the temperature inside, thus reducing your unit’s workload. You’ll want to make sure that there’s no direct sun shining on your unit’s thermostat, as this can cause it to indicate the room is hotter than it actually is, resulting in increased usage of the unit.
  • Make sure the unit isn’t leaking – A leaking unit is the sign of a serious problem. If your unit is leaking, resolve the issue before you leave for vacation. An AC technician can quickly diagnose the problem and make a fix, averting the likelihood that the leak will result in the system failing. Replacing a system is much more expensive than fixing one, in most cases, so you’ll need to take care of this problem ASAP.

vent check

  • Make sure all vents are open – Open all the vents in your home to ensure that air flows throughout the system and your house. HVAC systems are designed to operate with maximum airflow, so opening the vents will allow the system to operate in optimal conditions while you are away.

condenser coils

  • Clean your system’s condenser coils – Your outdoor condenser coils are vital to the operation of your system. Condenser coils take heat collected from your home and release it into the outdoor air. When condenser coils are dirty, they won’t function at peak efficiency.
  • You can easily clean your condenser coils with water and coil cleaner but, if you’re not comfortable with doing this, you can get an firm to handle the job for you. If you clean the coils yourself, be sure to turn off the power to the unit before beginning work.

    Keeping your coils clean is one of the most helpful things you can do to reduce energy consumption. According to the Department of Energy, dirty coils can increase the amount of energy needed to run your unit by about 30 percent . Giving the coils a good cleaning before leaving for vacation helps ensure they don’t accumulate debris and dirt that can hinder their effectiveness.

setting thermostat

  • Use a smart thermostat – If you haven’t invested in a smart thermostat yet, now may be an opportune time. Smart thermostats allow you to program your thermostat to run at certain times or maintain certain temperatures. Many can be managed remotely from your mobile device.
  • Smart thermostats are great for people who own multiple vacation properties, as they can adjust those properties’ thermostats remotely for reduced use when guests aren’t in residence. For vacationers, a smart thermostat can ensure that they don’t return to an uncomfortably hot home.

By taking appropriate steps before they hit the road, vacationers can avoid expensive A/C repair bills when they return. Homeowners can also avoid expensive repair work by entering into service agreements with reputable ac repair and maintenance companies. These contracts provide regular service, such as inspections, coolant recharging, duct cleaning, and more and can help homeowners avoid having to replace their units too early.

Air Rescue is a Tampa HVAC repair and maintenance firm offering a wide range of services, including ac repair, ac maintenance, duct repair and replacement, total system rejuvenation, and furnace repair and replacement. For comprehensive care from a firm with the experience and expertise to handle all problems, contact Air Rescue today.