Repair Or Replace: How To Make An Informed Decision When Your Commercial HVAC System Is Down During Winter

Repair Or Replace: How To Make An Informed Decision When Your Commercial HVAC System Is Down During Winter

When your commercial HVAC system is down, it can be hard to decide whether it needs to be repaired or replaced, and if it’s down during winter, it’s especially important to get it up-and-running as soon as possible. 

If your HVAC system has leaks, makes odd noises, or has any kind of similar defect, you’re usually faced with two options: repair or replace it. While replacement parts can be costly, there are some instances where this is the best, and even most cost-effective option, especially during winter. Continue reading to find out more. 

Why Might I Need To Repair Or Replace My Commercial HVAC System?

Whether your commercial HVAC system needs major repairs or replacement parts entirely depends on what’s wrong with it, the age of the unit, the circumstances surrounding it, and the extent of your budget. For example, if your HVAC system is down during the winter, not only could your operations be put on hold, but your building will also run much less efficiently, costing you money. In these cases, fixing the problem as soon as possible is the best course of action, so if it’s repairable, this is usually the quickest and most immediately affordable option. 

Sometimes, however, continually repairing faulty components can end up costing you more than replacing them with higher quality parts. This may be more expensive up-front, but it will save you money in the long run by extending the work life of your HVAC system and optimizing its performance. 

The life expectancy of your HVAC system depends on several factors, including:

  • Whether there’s been regular maintenance of the HVAC system
  • The  amount of use (load on system), which determines how likely it is to break down
  • The quality, wear life, and durability of its components
  • Overall design of system and any changes in building

It’s also important to remember that different parts of an HVAC system have different life expectancies. Mechanical or moving parts, for example, have a much shorter wear life than structural parts because of how much friction they experience. Structural parts, like a typical air conditioning compressor, on the other hand, have a lifespan of around 10 to 15 years.

So, as a rule of thumb, you should always opt for replacing an HVAC component if it’s reached its optimal life expectancy. This should mean that your system will always be running safely and efficiently. Similarly, you should repair a component if it’s relatively new and the defect or damage isn’t too severe. In most cases, you can save money if you choose to repair something – just make sure that the system or component can be repaired without sacrificing reliability and longevity of your entire commercial HVAC system.

How Do I Decide Whether To Repair Or Replace My System?

Deciding whether to replace or repair your HVAC system pretty much boils down to the economic factor, which, of course, is crucial when you’re running a business. The first thing you should ask yourself is whether or not you will be able to save money in the long term.

As we’ve just explained, repairs are usually sufficient – but if your system is old, inefficient, and needs constant repairs, you’ll be better off choosing to replace the problem part in your HVAC system. This will ultimately save you money and quite a lot of effort, but always consult experts in HVAC systems before you decide.

Of course, there’s always the last resort – do you actually need to replace your entire HVAC system? If it’s so old that it is run on R-22 refrigerant or  seemingly built from replacement parts, it  is worth investing in a new system. With the EPA phase out of R-22, the refrigerant and replacement part costs will only continue to skyrocket. In the long run, it will be more efficient and you’ll start seeing savings on your energy bills which will go a long way in offsetting the cost of having a new system fitted.

What Should I Consider?

There are several things to consider when deciding to either replace or repair components in your HVAC system. These are primarily concerned with the life expectancy of the system, and include: 

  • The age of the system: Older systems are less efficient and are usually prone to breakdowns. If your HVAC system falls into this category, you’d be better replacing it or the specific part, especially if it’s older than decade. 
  • Environmental factors: Extreme weather conditions, from long winters to sudden heat waves, can take a toll on the performance of your commercial HVAC system. While very high temperatures makes the A/C work harder, low temperatures mean more work for the heater. Other environmental factors to consider are humidity and sea mist, which can cause corrosion.
  • Airflow: The compressor or condenser in your HVAC must be placed in a location that has sufficient airflow. If not, the motor will have to work a lot harder, leading a shorter wear life as it will be exposed to more friction and corrosion. 
  • Energy efficiency of the components: Some components that have been installed for over ten years are less efficient compared to high-quality components on the market today. If you’re struggling to fix your HVAC system, first figure out how much you would save on repairs and electricity bills if you upgraded to more efficient components.
  • Size of the system: HVAC systems that are properly measured and fitted for the building they’re meant to service are more likely to last longer. This is because the performance of these systems will be optimized for the space they’re in, meaning that they won’t under or over perform.
  • Regular maintenance: HVAC systems that are regularly maintained will have better longevity than those that are ignored – or only looked at when something goes wrong. Quarterly or semi-annual checkups are necessary if you want to correct minor defects before they become major breakdowns. From inspecting electrical components to checking for leaks, periodic maintenance will significantly extend the service life of your HVAC system.

Is It Cheaper To Repair Or Replace Parts In My HVAC System?

Generally speaking, it’s more affordable to opt for repairing your HVAC system than to replace it. However, repairing an old system is usually not cost-effective over a long period of time. Not only will this burden you with constant repairs, it will also drive up your building’s electricity bills because of the inefficiency of the system. With that in mind, replacing parts in your HVAC system is more cost effective if they’re outdated or experience frequent problems.

If you’re in the Kansas City metro area and would like to chat about your commercial HVAC system, contact us today for your customized quote.