If you keep your home long enough, eventually you’ll be confronted with the decision to either repair or replace the furnace or heat pump. The combined expected service life of these units averages about 15 years, and many gas-fired furnaces are still on the job for up to 20 years. Nevertheless, like all mechanical devices, furnaces and heat pumps incur wear and tear over that time span. They are also steadily left behind as more energy-efficient units with higher performance specs are constantly coming on the market. How do you decide whether now’s the time to repair or replace the furnace or heat pump? Here are some suggestions for making the right call:

Major Repairs

At some point, fixing a malfunctioning furnace or heat pump isn’t worth it anymore. Certain big-ticket repairs are deal-breakers when it comes to hanging on to existing units. For example, the price of replacing a cracked heat exchanger in a gas-fired furnace is seldom a cost-effective choice once the unit is over ten years old. In the case of a heat pump, a failed compressor—the most expensive component in the system—in a ten-year old unit should be the signal to buy a new unit rather than repair the existing one.

Outdated Efficiency

A 20-year old furnace came new with an AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) rating of about 70 percent. A new unit today comes with a minimum 80 percent AFUE, and high-efficiency models with AFUE ratings above 90 percent are also available. Repairing and continuing to hang on to a furnace with 1990s efficiency in the year 2016 is a money-losing proposition. Upgrade now and start reaping lower monthly heating costs from day one.

Safety

Particularly with older gas-fired furnaces, safety issues may arise with defects involving the heat exchanger or combustion. Because furnaces produce toxic gases including carbon monoxide, it’s better to stay on the side of caution and not compromise safety by continuing to repair failing, outmoded units.

Ask the HVAC pros at Apollo Home for more advice on whether to repair or replace your furnace or heat pump.