It depends on what type of system you have. If you have a package unit where all the major components are in one single enclosed case (usually mounted on your roof), then everything will get replaced when you buy a new unit as it is all one unit.
But if you have a split system where the condensing unit and compressor are outside the home and the furnace/air handler/blower along with the evaporative coil components are inside the house (usually in a closet, attic, or in the garage), then homeowners are usually faced with a tough decision when it comes to investing in their comfort system. Should I replace my A/C and Furnace at the same time?
We can all agree that replacing an air conditioner and a furnace at the same time is a costly investment. The problem is that the average lifespan of a central air conditioner is about 12-18 years while the average lifespan of a furnace is about 15-25 years. In general, furnaces last longer than air conditioners, sometimes over twice as long.
We will discuss why we believe that investing in both at the same time considered the best option, but we will also be honest and explain when it is ok just to replace one.
Why You Should Replace Both?
1. Matching the Components for more Efficiency
The blower, also known as the fan, is the component that blows the air throughout your home. It is normally part of your furnace (not your A/C) and is necessary to produce the proper airflow to the evaporative coil and heat exchanger to operate at their manufacturer’s rated efficiencies.
So back to the original question, can I replace just one component? Yes, you can, but know that you are not gaining the efficiency of a new unit which saves you on your electric bill
Although it is possible to mix and match, it is not recommended especially if the furnace is over 12 years old.
Replacing the outdoor unit while leaving the older indoor unit will result in lower efficiency and cold result in premature failure of other components.
2. Save Money on Installation
Note: You should always replace all your air conditioning components (condenser, compressor, and evaporative coil) at the same time. This does not necessarily mean it always makes sense to replace the A/C and the heating components at the same time.
However, keep in mind that you will save a lot of money replacing both A/C and heat components at the same time because a lot of the cost for labor is already used when replacing the evaporative coil with connects to the heating unit.
Also, know that not all installations are alike. Some are more complicated than others especially if your furnace is in a tight spot like in a closet or attic. In some instances, doors and trim must be removed to remove the old unit and fit the new unit in its place. Then the trim must be reinstalled which is not always the responsibility of the A/C company to fix.
Sometimes you must have a trim carpenter to come in and replace the trim. You do not want to just replace part of the system (say the evaporative coil) and then a couple of years later replace the furnace and then you have to pay for labor to replace your trim again! Save money on complicated installs by getting everything done at the same time.
The only time it really makes sense to wait on replacing the furnace is when it is less than 12 years old. This way the furnace will most likely last until the next time you need to replace the A/C components.
Summary of When to Replace the Air Conditioner And Furnace at the Same Time
- If your furnace is over 12 years old.
- If you are wanting a higher energy-efficient system.
- If the installation is labor-intensive and complicated.
- If you want peace of mind and no repairs for a while.