Repair vs Replace: How to Talk to Homeowners

Eliminating Doubt

The decision of whether to repair or replace an entire HVAC system is a dilemma contractors are often asked about by customers.  On average, people will likely purchase four new cars before they are faced with a major repair or the need for a new system.  Because of this, customers can often be skeptical of your judgments about how long a system should last – and the question is complicated and hard to explain.  One thing customers need to hear is that it usually depends on how frequently the system has been used – not just how old it is.  If your customer has a heat pump in the Southeast or upper Midwest then they have one of the shortest-lived systems available.  This is not because it was designed poorly or installed incorrectly.  It is simply a factor of running through its usable life.

How We’ve Helped

To help you with these types of conversations, we’ve gathered information regarding the “useful life” of various HVAC systems in various environments.  We developed this table based on our experience with average HVAC run times and the anticipated use each system will experience in its lifetime.  The assumption is that each system was installed and maintained properly.

Tip: You’ll also note we added a few comments about the benefits consumers will experience from upgrading to a newer system with the increases in standard minimum efficiency ratings we have experienced since 2006.  If the system is much older than that the efficiency improvements are greater and probably should be replaced on this basis alone.

We hope this helps you explain the average life expectancies of various systems to your customers.  If so, we’d love to hear their reactions to seeing the data!


To download the chart in PDF, please click here.

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