Repairing or replacing your HVAC system is likely the type of experience you place on the I’ll-get-to-it-later list. However, your attentiveness to this system can actually make or break your home experience. Not only can a faulty system create quite the dent in your monthly budget, it can also result in an uncomfortable living space and is quite dangerous to your safety.
A cracked or clogged system creates a fire hazard and can spread harmful gases into your home environment. However, you can easily prevent these issues by being proactive before problems arise. As long as you pay attention to red flags and remain mindful of choosing reliable repair methods, you’ll be ahead of the game and your home will remain a happy and healthy place.
Here are a few warning signs that it might be time to consider replacing your HVAC system:
1. You Regard Your HVAC as an Antique
Ask yourself how long your HVAC system has been in place. If something is amiss but your system is younger than 10 years, you may simply need some replacement parts.
However, if your HVAC is more than 10 to 15 years old, it may be time to replace the entire system. You might think your system still has a few years left, but it isn’t likely to be performing at full efficiency. If you notice your monthly bills are much higher than usual for the same output of heating or cooling, it’s time to take action.
2. Something Doesn’t Smell So Good
Trust your sense of smell when it’s telling you that something just isn’t right. There are a couple key problems occurring if you’re noticing a not-so-pleasant odor. The most likely culprit is an improperly functioning flue – gases from your fireplace and chimney are remaining trapped in your home rather than making it safely outside. While the problem is easily solved by repairs to your HVAC system, this is not something you should put off until tomorrow. Aside from an unpleasant odor, trapped gases are poisonous to humans and animals and can lead to death. Make that phone call to your contractor immediately and you’ll be able to rest easy once the problem has been addressed.
3. You’re Not Feeling Comfortable in Your Own Home
An efficiently running HVAC system is meant to keep you and your family members comfortable. When you begin to notice discomfort, think about repairing or replacing your system. The types of problems to watch for include spaces that don’t warm up or cool off like they used to, feeling new drafts, noticing that you’re encountering a lot more dust than you’ve seen in the past or smelling or seeing signs of mold.
4. Things That Go Bump in the Night (Or Day)
An easy-to-recognize red flag is when you begin to hear strange noises. Most machines make their own quirky, characteristic sounds, but take a listen for anything out of the ordinary. There are several potential issues that may be occurring; from improperly attached pipes, fans or blowers to parts that are about to stop working, strange noises mean it’s time to call in the professionals for an assessment.
5. You’re Ready to Go Green
Even if your HVAC system is still operating quite well, you may decide to replace it for a modern system that’s more efficient. Retrofitting your home means you’ll save money on heating and cooling without using as much energy – it’s as good for the environment as it is for your wallet. The best part? You don’t necessarily have to foot the entire bill on your own. Take a look at the Government of Canada’s ecoENERGY program that offers grants of up to $5,000 to assist homeowners in creating a more energy-efficient space.
6. You Realize This Is Not a DIY Project
Remember, choosing a contractor to assist with your HVAC means doing a little research. Avoid tinkering on your own and make sure you choose a reputable, licensed contractor for the best experience possible. Check out StyleAtHome.com and the Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Institute of Canada (.pdf) for tips on finding the right person for your home.
Even though taking care of your HVAC system is often the last thing you’re in the mood to deal with, solving problems before they escalate allows you to keep your extra money in your pocket while avoiding accidents. Your home is your safe haven — keep your HVAC in good shape and that sanctuary feeling can last a lifetime.
By Tarah Damask