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Get New HVAC or Keep Old? #5116171 05/26/19 09:48 AM
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tc1446 Offline OP
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Background: HVAC is 20 years old. Working fine, never had a problem, elec bills extremely reasonable. However, If it were to go out now during long weekend holiday we'd be up the creek. Two old folks, 3 dogs, 1 cat. No motel would take us, no one to take us in. Not sure we could stand the heat. Don't know of any repairmen that make weekend calls. We expect to live here as long as possible.

Am thinking perhaps I should get ahead of the potential problem and have new HVAC installed.

Yes or no?.


'14 Kia Soul, 2.0L (29K)
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Re: Get New HVAC or Keep Old? [Re: tc1446] #5116180 05/26/19 09:58 AM
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MrMoody Offline
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Some motels allow pets,

Simple solution: Buy a window unit as an emergency backup. And a generator to run it.

Edit to add: Be wary of HVAC dealers, they are just as bad as car dealers.

Last edited by MrMoody; 05/26/19 10:04 AM.

2018 Hyundai Kona 1.6T DCT
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Re: Get New HVAC or Keep Old? [Re: tc1446] #5116196 05/26/19 10:12 AM
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bullwinkle Offline
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As a pro refrigeration tech (& occasional A/C guy for friends & relatives), you're getting up there in age for compressor lifespan. not to mention coil life. How does the outside unit look? Are you keeping it as clean as possible, giving it a good bath & washdown AT LEAST once a year (I recommend in the spring when first starting it)? Do you change your furnace filters regularly? Does the compressor sound good when it is running (smooth, even growl, no banging on start up/shutoff)? I have heard too many stories of shady operators in the A/C business, almost ALL companies pay a spiff (bonus or bounty) to their techs to sell new systems, AND pressure them to sell a certain amount of systems-or they're gone! This is why, much like auto repair, why people need a good relationship with a trustworthy service guy to avoid getting ripped off.


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Re: Get New HVAC or Keep Old? [Re: tc1446] #5116199 05/26/19 10:15 AM
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Rolla07 Offline
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Id say No. What you need is a temporary backup solution. Go and buy a large window A/C or portable A/C unit. 300$...and if ever it goes kaput, you bring out the portable unit to keep one of your rooms cool, until a repair can be done. Issues with HVAC can happen on new systems also, this way..even if u replace it with a new HVAC down the road, you have backup. Thats what id suggest.


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Re: Get New HVAC or Keep Old? [Re: tc1446] #5116200 05/26/19 10:15 AM
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skyactiv Offline
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There's more to it than cheap utilities.

If your well off and want the most comfort possible, you'd get a variable speed AC with a matching furnace or air handler.
You can blow the humidity out of your house running the AC at 78 degrees on a hot day while you'd need to set it lower with a single stage system.
Two stage AC works well if it can be sized correctly for the size of your house.
As people age, women especially, they tend to want to tick the thermostat up higher.

if you can afford the toys in your signature, you should consider spending a few bucks for your wifes comfort and yours, too.


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Re: Get New HVAC or Keep Old? [Re: tc1446] #5116203 05/26/19 10:17 AM
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bugeye Offline
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Smaller portable floor units are available. Heat and moisture are rejected through a flexible duct through a fitting placed in an open window.

Re: Get New HVAC or Keep Old? [Re: tc1446] #5116213 05/26/19 10:31 AM
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JMJNet Offline
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Have you maintained the system properly?
Washing the outside coil every year or even 2x a year.
Check the capacitor every year and replace as necessary.
Make sure the condensation line is not blocked from the evaporator (may be in the attic).
HVAC tech can check the refrigerant pressure and the amperage usage during starting to see the health of the system (DIY if you have the tool).
etc...

A lot of AC issue happens when capacitor went out.
It is not a bad idea to check what capacitor is used in the unit and have spare at home at least 1 for each type or get one of those multi capacitance capacitor.
A unit will have at least 1 or 2 running capacitor and 1 starting capacitor.

Here in DFW area, there are a lot of HVAC company that will come on the weekend.
I have a friend that I met at my daughter's school that do HVAC and he is in my phone book.
Last time, I called him on Sat night and he came on Sunday morning.

Last edited by JMJNet; 05/26/19 10:33 AM.

  • 2017 Toyota Sienna
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Re: Get New HVAC or Keep Old? [Re: tc1446] #5116214 05/26/19 10:33 AM
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gman2304 Offline
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I live 20 miles from you and their are plenty of HVAC people in our area who do emergency calls all the time. They even advertise as such on their work vans. My 24 year old Trane is happily humming away but if it poops out in the next hour I feel confident I can get someone out here today to fix it, granted at a premium on a holiday. I had a new furnace installed last fall and the tech checked my ac unit and said “ they don’t make them like this anymore” and it would be worth repairing when the time comes, though it does take more energy to run. As an aside, do you still have that IBM 30 cal carbine?

Last edited by gman2304; 05/26/19 10:40 AM.
Re: Get New HVAC or Keep Old? [Re: tc1446] #5116220 05/26/19 10:39 AM
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Fitter30 Offline
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20 year old unit has a seer factor ( efficiency) of 10 at best. New systems at a minimum have 13. Compare nameplate amperage both compressor and fan fan motor and compare it with new equipment. For under $200 can buy a 5k to 8k window unit for emergency and piece of mind it will keep a bedroom cool and can always put a box fan in the doorway and blow air into the rest of the house to take the edge off.

Re: Get New HVAC or Keep Old? [Re: MrMoody] #5116242 05/26/19 11:06 AM
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atikovi Offline
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Originally Posted by MrMoody
Buy a window unit as an emergency backup.


Or a portable unit for the bedroom. A/C units made 20 years ago are much better built than the new ones with Chinese compressors and other parts. If yours runs on R22 I'd pick up a drum of it off Craigslist in case you get a leak. 29 year old HVAC in my house works fine and I heard some people still have the original units from houses built in the 70's. As long as parts are available, even universal ones, it can be kept working a long time.

Re: Get New HVAC or Keep Old? [Re: tc1446] #5116275 05/26/19 11:36 AM
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Dave9 Offline
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Depends on how handy you are. An old unit can nickle and dime you but if you are handy at DIY repairs, some things can be fixed a few dozens of dollars at a time instead of hundreds at a time.

For example once my parents had their motor start/run capacitor fail and they called out a repairman. He charged around $250. That capacitor lasted only 14 months and they had me take a look at it. I got the same cap (had reservations about doing that after the 1st had such a short lifespan but it was the only brand that supplier had, it was summer and they're older) for $13 and it took 5 minutes to install.

Then again, it's a matter of how long you can tolerate the system being out. If that will cause much distress I would go ahead and replace it instead of paying even more for a window unit... buying the window unit probably isn't going to make it last much longer so it's just more expense.

Keep in mind that while many advise that you should replace the furnace and A/C at the same time, in many situations there is no real reason why you need to. A higher efficiency unit may have a larger A-coil but if it still fits in your furnace stack, it's compatible. Granted if the furnace is also 20 years old it may not have a long life ahead of it either, but again you gamble how long you can DIY repairs at what cost per yer vs inconvenience if it fails. Personally I find it easier to find alternate sources of heat than cooling, portable heaters are only $20 and there's stove burners or oven, fireplace, etc.

Last edited by Dave9; 05/26/19 11:37 AM.
Re: Get New HVAC or Keep Old? [Re: JMJNet] #5116279 05/26/19 11:38 AM
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Kestas Offline
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Originally Posted by JMJNet
Check the capacitor every year and replace as necessary.
A lot of AC issue happens when capacitor went out.
It is not a bad idea to check what capacitor is used in the unit and have spare at home at least 1 for each type or get one of those multi capacitance capacitor.
A unit will have at least 1 or 2 running capacitor and 1 starting capacitor.

As long as we're on this topic, how do you manage capacitors in HVAC units? What do you look for, and when do you replace them?

My unit is 34 years old... original furnace and a/c. The a/c isn't used much here in Michigan. It'll likely die from corrosion before it wears out.

Re: Get New HVAC or Keep Old? [Re: Kestas] #5116291 05/26/19 11:48 AM
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spasm3 Offline
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Originally Posted by Kestas
As long as we're on this topic, how do you manage capacitors in HVAC units? What do you look for, and when do you replace them?

Look for capacitors starting to bulge or already bulging.


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Re: Get New HVAC or Keep Old? [Re: gman2304] #5116309 05/26/19 12:00 PM
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MrMoody Offline
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Originally Posted by gman2304
I had a new furnace installed last fall and the tech checked my ac unit and said “ they don’t make them like this anymore” and it would be worth repairing when the time comes, though it does take more energy to run.

An honest company like this deserves to be named publicly.

DO NOT let just anyone come to your house for a quote or inspection. A few are not above sabotaging your system (slow leak etc) to get a sale.


2018 Hyundai Kona 1.6T DCT
2006 Pontiac (Holden) GTO AT
2001 Pontiac Grand Prix GT 3.8 NA (beater)
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"Fob" and "Noack" are not acronyms.
Re: Get New HVAC or Keep Old? [Re: tc1446] #5116341 05/26/19 12:45 PM
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irad Offline
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Keep running it. If it is an r22 system you could add two teaspoons of mineral oil to keep it going longer. You will need gauges and r22 tank to do this. Did this to my daughter unit in NC, unit was 30 years old and still running when she sold the house.

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