Home>Discussions>INSULATION & HVAC>Thirteen year-old electric heat-pump HVAC system: should we replace or repair?
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Unk
Thirteen year-old electric heat-pump HVAC system: should we replace or repair?

The fan on the outside heat-pump unit stopped working. A local HVAC tech diagnosed a faulty pressure switch. He advised that due to the age of the system the $400 cost to replace the switch would not be economically wise. His repair was to bypass the switch to keep it running. He said if it were his house that is what he would do even though it could eventually cause a compressor failure and the entire unit will have to be replaced. Spending $400 now would not be a major burden but if the system is really near the end of its life expectancy would it be wise? Should we have the switch replaced or just continue with the bypassed switch and save the money and consider a system that may be more efficient in our Missouri climate? We will probably live in the house for three more years.

HoustonRemodeler
Re: Thirteen year-old electric heat-pump HVAC system: should we replace or repair?

How much of a gambler are you?

That's all it boils down to really. Pick a time when the unit you need is best priced, perhaps when last year's models are being sold off, or when you have the money and time to replace it.

Besides, the new ones work much better than the old ones. You'll save money on the efficiency each month.

keith3267
Re: Thirteen year-old electric heat-pump HVAC system: should we replace or repair?

Your unit should be good for 20 years. So theoretically, a $400 expense spread over 7 years is only $57.15 per year. A new unit about $4000 spread over 20 years is $200/year plus a mid life expense along the way. And you are going to only be there three more years.

I would not jury rig the fan though. My recommendation is that you find a knowledgeable and qualified repairman to fix the unit.

dj1
Re: Thirteen year-old electric heat-pump HVAC system: should we replace or repair?

Both good answers.

Tell you what I would do: if I know for sure that I'll be moving in 3 year - I would repair it. But if I know that I'll stay in this house a long time, I would replace it.

Unk
Re: Thirteen year-old electric heat-pump HVAC system: should we replace or repair?

Thanks for the replies. Does $400 to have the pressure switch replaced sound reasonable? The diagnosis, temporary fix bypass of the switch and cost estimate was done by a tech from a local hvac/plumbing company.

dj1
Re: Thirteen year-old electric heat-pump HVAC system: should we replace or repair?

It doesn't sound unreasonable, but you need to get 2 more estimates.

Everything you buy must depend on comparisons of apples to apples (except if you're a rock star, like Justin Beiber).

dj1
Re: Thirteen year-old electric heat-pump HVAC system: should we replace or repair?

Or Bieber, I'm not sure.

A. Spruce
Re: Thirteen year-old electric heat-pump HVAC system: should we replace or repair?

All good answers.

I would recommend getting at least two more quotes for pressure switch replacement AND for total replacement before making your decision. Do not leave the unit jury rigged, as you will have to disclose this at time of sale, which will hurt you. Get it properly repaired and as far as you know the unit is good to go, even if it fails at the signing of escrow. You will even have a repair receipt to prove it.

Unk
Re: Thirteen year-old electric heat-pump HVAC system: should we replace or repair?

Thanks, I will be calling a couple other contractors Monday.

keith3267
Re: Thirteen year-old electric heat-pump HVAC system: should we replace or repair?

The switch itself isn't very expensive, but if this is the system pressure switch (freon) the system has to be drawn down, the switch replaced and then recharged and that is where the cost is. I think this switch is part of the motor compressor unit and if so, you might ask the cost of just replacing the motor compressor unit and the starter capacitor. This has most of the moving/wear parts of your system which would be almost like a new unit but at a much lower cost. It is worth asking anyway but I would not do it if it is more than half the cost of a new system.

Edit: I didn't ask this question before but did the first technician check the system pressure to make sure it was OK? If the freon is low, then the switch will not allow the system to come on and jumping the switch will eventually harm the system. If the freon is low, then there is a leak and it must be found or you will just throw good money after bad.

Unk
Re: Thirteen year-old electric heat-pump HVAC system: should we replace or repair?

No, the first tech did not check the pressure. I talked to another HVAC tech today and he said he could install an after-market switch that would Tee into the high-pressure line and would not require draining the system, quoted $244.35 for parts and labor. I have a call into the company that did the bypass for their input.

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