When to Replace (or Repair) Your Heat Pump

Technician checking a heat pump

As an alternative to HVAC systems powered by gas or fuel oil furnaces, residential heat pumps are becoming increasingly popular as a choice for both heating and cooling your home. The technology behind heat pumps isn’t new – these devices work similar to a refrigerator or an air conditioner – but many homeowners aren’t nearly as familiar with them as they are with traditional heating technologies.

As a result, it can be difficult to understand certain aspects of how a residential heat pump needs to be maintained, repaired, oreven replaced. That’s why we’ve collected the following information for you so you can learn when you should replace, or repair, your heat pump – and which option might be best for you.

Should I Replace or Repair My Heat Pump?

Heat pumps might work quite differently than a traditional heating system like an oil or natural gas furnace, but they do have one thing in common: they all suffer wear and tear over time. This means they’re likely to eventually need to be repaired or even outright replaced. Also, like with these other heating systems, there are many different factors to consider when deciding whether to repair or replace your heat pump. Here’s what you should keep in mind:

  • The age of your heat pump. A heat pump that is 10-years-old or older is likely to start to have more problems and may not be worth repairing.
  • The cost of repairs. If the cost of repairs is more than half the cost of a new heat pump, it may be better to replace the unit.
  • The efficiency of your heat pump. If your heat pump is not as efficient as it used to be, and you notice your energy bills increasing or your system needing to work harder to keep you cool or warm, it may be time to replace it.
  • The warranty on your heat pump. If your heat pump is still under warranty, you may be able to get it repaired for free or at a reduced cost.

What Causes Wear and Tear on Heat Pumps

All heating and cooling units wear down over time, and heat pumps are no different. Dirt and debris can build up on the coils of your heat pump, reducing its efficiency and making it work harder. This can lead to premature wear and tear on the unit. Extreme weather also plays a role in a heat pump’s ability to work properly. Extreme heat or cold can damage a heat pump, especially with prolonged exposure, and that can lead to reduced efficiency or even total failure.

Meanwhile, faulty parts can also lead to heat pump failures. Just like any other appliance, heat pumps can have faulty parts. Not installing your heat pump properly can also lead to it experiencing more wear and tear than it would otherwise, just as not having that heat pump maintained regularly to keep it running properly. This means having your heat pump serviced annually to clean the coils, check the refrigerant levels, and check to ensure all of the parts are in good working condition will prevent undue wear and tear. 

This may feel more expensive now, but it could save you thousands in the long run. It will prevent you from having to worry about costly repairs for your heat pump or even replace it sooner than you would have to otherwise.

More Tips for Evaluating Your Heat Pump

Making a decision between repairing your heat pump or outright replacing it can be tricky. Here are some additional tips to help you decide whether you should repair or replace your heat pump:

  • Consider the climate you live in. If you live in a cold climate, you may need a heat pump that is more durable and can withstand the elements. Remember that temperature extremes can and will wear down your heat pump more quickly.
  • Think about your budget. Replacing a heat pump can be expensive, so you need to make sure you can afford the upfront cost as well as the ongoing costs of maintenance and repairs. Depending on the age of your heat pump, it might be more cost-effective to repair your existing one instead of having it replaced completely.
  • Do your research. Different models and brands of heat pumps have different capabilities. You’ll need to compare those capabilities to find the best one for not just your heating and cooling needs but also for any affordability concerns. Experienced HVAC companies like Burns & McBride will be familiar with the brand you have or are considering and can make recommendations. 
  • Get multiple quotes. When you have decided to replace your heat pump, get quotes from several different contractors to make sure you are getting a fair price. Not every contractor is equal, and some will naturally charge more than others. Getting multiple quotes can help you establish an acceptable range of costs. Remember that cheapest is very rarely the best.

Choosing Repair or Replacement for Your Heat Pump

Heat pumps are becoming increasingly popular today because they offer better comfort at a wide range of temperatures, are more efficient and don’t rely on burning fossil fuels to function, and can be used in both the summer to cool your home as well as the winter to heat it. Like any other heating or cooling system, heat pumps need to be maintained regularly throughout their lifecycle. Once a heat pump stops working, you should either get it repaired if possible or replace it outright.

If you are not sure whether to repair or replace your heat pump, it is a good idea to consult with a heating and cooling professional. They can assess the condition of your heat pump and help you make the best decision for your needs. Find an organization that has been in the area a long time and has built up trust in the community, to provide advice on if you should repair or replace your heat pump. Additionally, a good contractor can help extend the lifecycle of your heat pump by providing you with regular maintenance.

Burns & McBride has served New Castle County and part of Pennsylvania and Maryland for more than 70 years. We can provide an honest assessment of your system. Schedule a service call now.

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