Should You Wait For Your HVAC System to Completely Fail before replacing?


We hear from homeowners quite often that they want to wait until their furnace or air conditioner unit dies before they replace it.  The logic seems correct – maximize the life of the HVAC unit, and in theory save money. However there are several reasons that may outweigh the reason to do this.  Let’s take a look!

  • Heating and Air Conditioning units have a higher probability of failure during heavy work loads.  Most furnace failures happen when it cannot keep up in extreme cold conditions.  The motors overheat, or the computer boards fail from cycling on and off repeatedly.  For Air Conditioners, failures happen when they are maxed out on 90 degree days.  When the failure occurs during these times, it is something that cannot be replaced in a couple of hours. A properly sized unit might need to be ordered, taking several days or weeks. This may affect your family comfort and the pocket book.  Also, there might be extra expenses to have expedited delivery, and/or temporary heating or cooling equipment installed to ensure personal or home safety.
  • Scheduling the work during high demand can often be met with challenges. During extreme temperatures, heating and cooling companies are in high demand.  Your preferred company may not be available for 2-4 weeks.  Do you wait or try your luck with an unknown or less than reputable company?
  • Product availability might also be limited during severe temperature conditions.  Certain models sell out faster than the manufacturer can make, possible causing you too purchase a unit outside of your budget, or with less options than you desire.
  • Not many people realize that you are wasting energy during the last two years of the units’s life span.  As the unit ages, so does the energy efficiency.  Near the end, the efficiency has a steep drop, usually contributing to the failure.  Over the span of the unit’s life, the newer models that are developed might be more energy efficient then the original unit when it was brand new.  Replacing the unit before the major efficiency drop will help you save some money in the long run.
  • Your repair bills are adding up. Old units that are on the brink of failure will often need numerous service calls and this can add up quickly.  If any repair would happen to cost half the price of the replacement, we would recommend replacement.

Proper assessment and planning will ensure you are getting the unit that is sized right for your home with the options that fit your lifestyle.  Installation can be on your terms and during moderate weather, keeping your family and home safe from extreme temperatures.

Reputable contractors usually know when the right time is for replacing a unit, maximizing the life expectancy and saving you money.  If you need help in calculating the life expectancy of your units, contact us to schedule a furnace or air conditioner maintenance call.


Clint Pharo is a local HVAC Contractor in Madison, WI. He and his team of HVAC professionals at Pharo Heating & Cooling cover a broad range of services in commercial buildings, new home construction, and residential homes and locally represent Bryant Heating and Cooling Products. He regularly posts on his company’s blog at


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