HVAC stands for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. It’s often confused with regular air conditioning, but it does a lot more for your home and allows you to control the environment around you in a much more complete way. A properly operating HVAC system will let you heat, cool, and properly ventilate a building which is why it’s an important asset for any home.
Like any home equipment, your HVAC won’t last forever. It’s important to understand the cost of a new HVAC vs. an HVAC replacement cost. In this guide, we’ll help explain when you need to replace your system and how much it might set you back.
When To Replace Your HVAC System
It’s not always obvious that your HVAC system needs to be replaced, but you don’t need an expert diagnosis. It’s useful to understand the key signs that your HVAC may need replacing, so here’s a quick breakdown:
The AC System Is More Than 10 Years Old
Government guidance recommends that HVAC systems that are more than 10-15 years old should be replaced. Many HVAC units are built to be long lasting, but certain components within the system will start to deteriorate over time.
The coolant, typically freon, used to help cool your home can also be harmful to the environment. Upgrading a modern HVAC will help to improve the overall efficiency and make your system safer for the planet.
Repair Costs More Than Half the Cost of a New AC
Your HVAC system will need maintenance and repair work from time to time. However, if the repair work starts to become more frequent and your system is starting to get older, then you need to consider if it’s worth it. As a general rule, if your repair works costs more than 50% of the cost of a new system, then you’re better off getting a new one.
The Energy Bills Keep Increasing
If you notice that your energy bills are rising month on month, it generally indicates that there’s something wrong with your HVAC system. If you’re maintaining your system properly and your energy bills are still going up each month, then it means some internal components are deteriorating and impacting the efficiency. It’s usually a sign you should think about replacing your HVAC.
If you notice a suddenly different smell from your HVAC, it’s not a good sign. It can mean that some of your electrics’ wiring has become damaged, and there’s some internal burning. It can also mean that mold and bacteria have developed within the system.
Either way, this can be a serious safety hazard, and you need to get the HVAC checked out. It is usually a sign that the system needs to be replaced.
If you start to notice hissing, grinding, banging, or any other strange sounds, then there’s probably an issue with your HVAC. You need to get the whole system checked because there is probably some internal damage, which could be a sign that you need to replace it.
Poor Air Quality
If the air quality drops in your home, it can be dangerous for you and your family. This is generally caused by mold or mildew in your system and could be a sign your HVAC isn’t working properly and needs to be replaced.
Unable To Maintain Temperature
If you find that you can’t properly maintain a comfortable temperature in your home, then you need to get your HVAC checked. It could be the thermostat, clogged vents, damaged ducts, or internal damage. On the other hand, it may be a sign that your system needs to be completely replaced.
Understanding HVAC Replacement Costs
If you’ve decided that you need to replace your HVAC, there are two elements to consider. Firstly, you need to think about the cost of the new system itself and all the different parts. Secondly, you need to consider the installation costs of having the HVAC installed. This is what you’ll pay a professional for their time and expertise to get it fitted in your home.
HVAC installation can be done yourself, but it’s too big and complicated a job for most homeowners. The cost to hire an HVAC contractor will vary a lot depending on your location, and it’s worth getting quotes ahead of time so you can be sure you’re getting a reasonable price. Networx lets you get accurate quotes, fast so you can understand the options available to you and know the real costs associated with the replacement.
HVAC Unit Prices
HVAC’s come in all different shapes and sizes with slightly different functionality. There’s no set cost for an HVAC system, but the average cost within the US is $7000. However, you can spend anywhere from $2000 to $15,000 depending on which parts you’re buying and whether you need to replace the whole unit. That’s before you even consider the installation costs. The reason for the huge variation in price depends on what it’s designed to do and the brand.
Some premium brands like American Standard or Lennox are more expensive because they’re of higher quality. These companies generally have more durable components and modern features that make them more desirable in the home.
Some budget brands like Coleman and Amana offer HVAC systems which are sometimes 60 or 70% cheaper, but they tend to be more basic and less durable. The key to HVAC replacement is finding the right balance between functionality and cost so you can determine what’s the best value for you.
Alongside size and brand, there are a few key factors that influence the price:
Efficiency of HVAC systems is measured in SEERs, which stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. Your HVAC will come with a rating, and the higher the number, the more efficient it will be. The better the SEER rating, the more expensive the HVAC will be, but it will cost less to run in the long term.
The cost of the system itself will depend on what you decide to buy. A standard HVAC will have a cooling and heating unit with ductwork to connect them. These are typically more affordable than other types, but the ductwork can increase your installation costs.
Mini-split systems have no ducts, so the installation costs are lower, but the unit itself costs more because there are units in each individual room. You can also get packaged systems where most of the machinery is outside with a blower to drive it around your home. These are usually quite affordable but require much more maintenance because they’re exposed to the elements.
The size of your HVAC will be influenced by the power you need. This isn’t just the size of your home, but the insulation levels and ventilation throughout your home. The better the insulation, the more affordable HVAC you’ll be able to get.
We’ll go through the different types of HVAC units later on in this guide so you have a better idea of how much it would cost you for each.
HVAC Installation Costs
Just like the unit costs vary for HVACs, the installation costs will vary too. You could pay anywhere from $1200-$8000 just for installation costs, and the reason for the huge discrepancy comes down to a few factors:
Type Of HVAC
If you select an HVAC that requires duct and ductwork, then there’s significantly more work needed to install it. The contractor will need to do some serious building work, and it will increase the time required to do the work. If you want to lower your installation costs, you’re better off going for a mini split.
Size Of HVAC
The larger your HVAC, the more work will be needed. HVACs are full of electrical components which help to measure the temperature and air pressure throughout the system. This will need more complicated electrical work throughout your home and raise the installation costs. Some HVAC professionals will charge per square foot, and you can expect to pay $15-25 per foot.
HVAC contractor prices vary in each region depending on the competition in the market and the price of materials in that area. It’s worth using a tool to get an estimate in your area and see if there are any deals available.
For Single Zone Residences
When talking about HVAC systems, a single zone residence is a home with just one thermostat. This doesn’t mean you have just one room in your home; it just means that the entire area is heated and cooled as one. This is generally in smaller homes or homes with a simpler layout that allows heat and cold to flow easily.
This means that you only need a single HVAC system and one thermostatic control. You can therefore look to purchase a more affordable system because you don’t need it to be as large. The installation costs are typically lower, too, because you don’t have to fit a very complicated HVAC system. There may still be some ductwork, but generally, it isn’t too extensive.
You can usually go for a single zone mini split which would cost you between $2000 and $4000, or a split system which will cost between $3000 and $6000. Of course, the price will vary depending on the exact unit you choose and the installation costs, and you’ll need to pay more for extra zones.
Dual Zone Residences
Dual-zone HVACs operate slightly differently from single zones. They provide your home with two distinct areas where the temperature can be set differently according to individual needs. This often happens in larger homes with several floors or a basement, and dual-zone HVACs can also be found in homes where there’s a lodger who needs their own control.
There are two ways to create two different temperatures and environments in your home. You can opt for a dual-unit system where two completely separate HVAC systems which operate independently. As you can imagine, this drives the costs up as you’re paying for two units and for two installations.
Instead, you can opt for a dual-zone system. This uses modern technology to help create two distinct areas that can be controlled from one HVAC system. This is done using sensors and dampeners to direct heating or cooling to the right place. The installation is slightly more challenging for these HVAC systems and will cost more, plus the system itself is normally more costly.
If you’re looking to add a zone onto an area, it will typically cost about $2000-$4000. If you want to install a completely new dual-zone HVAC, then you will be looking at anywhere from $4000-$8500 depending on the type of system and the size.
When installing a new HVAC system in your condo, you need to consider the type you want. In most cases, you’ll want a central air conditioning system with some ductwork, but not all condos will be suitable for this. You can opt for a mini split, but they’re generally better suited for large family homes. The other option for some condos is a Packaged Terminal Air Conditioner (PTAC) which is a small, self-contained unit that is often found in hotels.
Condos generally don’t need a huge HVAC system, and it’s not worth investing in anything too large. You should probably go for a single zone central air HVAC, which will typically set you back between $3000 and $7000, slightly less for a PTAC, but it won’t provide any heating functionality. If you need extensive ductwork, then it could cost extra too. Remember, if you don’t own the condo, you need to speak to your landlord first because making these changes without consent can be illegal.
Additional Installation Costs & Considerations
On top of your standard installation, there are some other elements that can add to the overall cost:
Ductwork is what allows the heating and cooling to travel through your home and control your environment. Unfortunately, the ductwork itself is really expensive to install because it requires some work to the structure of your home. On average, it costs between $2000 and $6000 to have ductwork installed, but it can quickly spiral if you have a big, complicated home.
Adding Zones/Split levels
Having several zones in your home can stop any squabbling over the thermostat, but it can be costly. You can usually upgrade your HVAC and create a new zone for about $3000, but it will vary depending on your area.
Insulation will help support your HVAC by keeping the heat and the cold in your home. This means you can use less energy, and your HVAC system won’t need as many BTUs. Insulation allows you to spend less on your HVAC but can cost between $1000 and $5000 to fully cover your home. The larger the house, the bigger the cost, but it generally is worth the investment in the long term.
Cost To Replace Your HVAC System (By Type)
We’ve talked a lot about the different types of HVAC systems you can go for and how it impacts cost, but what do we actually mean? Well, HVAC systems are made up of several different functions, and you won’t always need them all. In fact, you may only need to replace a single function in your HVAC rather than undertaking a complete overhaul.
We’ve given a rough breakdown below for parts and installation, but the Networx form allows you to get more customized quotes based on your individual needs.
|HVAC Type||New Unit Price Range||Average Installation Cost|
Cost To Replace Your HVAC System (By Size)
Size has a massive impact on the amount you’ll spend on your HVAC, and it’s crucial you get a system that’s appropriate for your home. If you don’t, you could end up with an expensive but useless system that doesn’t add much at all.
The size of your HVAC is generally linked to the number of BTUs it will produce. A 1 tonne HVAC will produce roughly 12,000 BTUs which will work in a space of up to roughly 600 square feet. A 5-tonne system will produce closer to 60,000 BTUs and work in a much larger space. The larger the HVAC, the more powerful the heating and cooling.
We’ve given a quick breakdown of the average cost for each unit based on size but remember this is just a guide, and it’s worthwhile getting an accurate quote.
|HVAC Size||Cost Per Unit||Average Installation Cost|
|5 Ton System||$9000-$18000||$3500-7500|
|4 Ton System||$7000-$12000||$2500-$5000|
|3 Ton System||$6000-$10000||$2000-$4000|
|2.5 Ton System||$5500-$9000||$1750-$3500|
|2 Ton System||$4000-$7500||$1200-$3000|
Cost To Replace HVAC System Parts
You don’t always need to replace your entire HVAC system, and you can instead look to replace the component itself. It’s worthwhile understanding how much it will cost you to replace a specific part so you can determine whether it’s worth the repairs or if you need a whole new HVAC. Here’s a quick breakdown of the average cost, but remember it’s a lot more for larger units:
|HVAC Blower Motor||$200-$600|
|HVAC Fan Motor||$450-$850|
|HVAC Damper Motor||$200-$400|
What Affects Price When Replacing Any HVAC System?
As you can see from the breakdown above, there is a lot of variation in terms of how much you’ll pay for your HVAC. We’ve covered some of the factors already, but here are some other key factors that will impact how much you pay:
Size of the Unit
The size of your home, the insulation, and the ventilation will influence the size of the HVAC you buy. You need a system with enough BTU to heat and cool the space, and this is the most important factor. Your decision shouldn’t be influenced by the price but rather by what you need from an HVAC machine. Unfortunately, the larger the HVAC, the more you’ll pay, so if you have a big home, you’re going to have to spend more.
Required HVAC Features
Not every home will need to have heating and cooling. If you live in a hot area, then you may only want AC, and that means your HVAC is less complicated. You won’t need to buy two separate components and can save money by just getting the different parts you need. Take stock of exactly what you need because it could save you thousands of dollars.
The Condition Of Current Ductwork
Ductwork is one of the most expensive parts of your HVAC. The unit cost isn’t that high, but the installation costs are very high because of the amount of time and effort needed to fit a new duct. If you are replacing your HVAC and already have ductwork in place, then you may not need to have this work carried out. If you’re just installing the unit itself and connecting it to existing ducts, then you can save over $3000 in some cases.
The environment you live in will influence the amount of heating or cooling you need. If you live in an area with a mild climate, then you can get a more affordable HVAC because it won’t need to work as hard. If you live in an area with more extreme weather, you may need a more specialist and powerful HVAC system to deal with the heat and cold.
The rate for contractors will vary massively from region to region. You’re paying for their time and expertise, so you don’t want to cut any corners, but it’s worth getting a few quotes so you can make sure you’re getting a fair rate.
Unfortunately, if you live in a less competitive area, you may not have much choice, and you’ll have to pay more for the work. Bear in mind that rates are also linked to the standard of living, so if average wages are higher in your area, then you will be paying more.
How To Save Money On HVAC Replacement
There is no denying it; HVAC systems are expensive to replace. However, there are a few ways that homeowners can save money when it comes to replacing yours:
Maintain Your HVAC System
Taking the time to clean and maintain your HVAC will help your system last longer and protect the components. This makes it less likely that you’ll need to replace it all in one go and could save you from spending a fortune in one go. By protecting key parts, like ducts, you can save a lot in installation costs for your new system.
Check For Factory Rebates
At certain times of the year, some factories and companies will offer incentives to get homeowners to purchase new HVAC systems. These are often in fall, just before the cold winter months, and there are often some good deals. Make sure you check different manufacturers to see if there are any rebates you can take advantage of.
Occasionally, the US government offers incentives in the form of tax rebates to reward homeowners for getting more efficient HVAC systems. This helps to protect the environment and enables you to save some money on a new system.
It’s always worth checking a few different manufacturers for quotes on goods and getting several quotes for the installation work. This can be quite time-consuming, but Networx has a simple and efficient way to get accurate quotes from your area. This lets you find the best deal and lower the overall cost of your HVAC replacement.
People Also Ask (FAQ)
How long does an HVAC system typically last?
You can expect a good HVAC to last 15-25 years, but after 10 years, you’ll start to notice more issues with the system.
Do I have to replace both internal and external units?
You don’t have to replace both units at the same time, but a lot of professionals recommend that you do unless the system is still relatively new.
How often should HVAC be serviced?
Your HVAC should be checked and serviced at least once a year to make sure it’s all running correctly.
How long does the HVAC ductwork last?
Your ductwork should last 20-25 years if it’s properly maintained. It pays to maintain your ducts because it will save you a lot in installation costs if they don’t need to be replaced.
Your HVAC system helps to keep your home comfortable during hot or cold conditioners. Unfortunately, replacing your HVAC system can be really expensive, and there’s a lot of variation in what you’ll pay depending on the installation and unit costs. Hopefully, this article has explained what impacts the cost of replacing your HVAC system and helped you understand how you can do this in the most cost-effective way.
Last Updated on December 8, 2021
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