According to the EPA, HVAC systems make up approximately 38 percent of facilities’ energy use. Another statistic states replacing an HVAC system that is more than 10 years old can save a facility as much as 20 percent or more on energy and maintenance costs. The decision on whether to repair or replace an aging unit can make a huge impact on your facility’s bottom line. So at what point do you stop repairing the unit and replace it instead?
Unfortunately, there’s no single formula that applies to every facility and every unit, but here are some considerations:
Cost of repair
Many facility managers use the formula that if a repair costs 50 percent or more of replacement costs, it’s time to buy a new system — which is a pretty good rule of thumb. However, this means you’re already finding yourself in an HVAC emergency repair situation.
The only way for this to work is for you to have already researched new systems, so in this crisis moment you’re ready and can avoid as little HVAC downtime as possible. If your unit is almost at the 15-year mark, which is the average lifespan of HVAC systems, you should start the process of shopping for a new unit.
Assuming you’re not currently facing a repair emergency, another calculation to consider is the cumulative maintenance and labor costs. If they equal replacement costs, then it’s time to replace. Keep your repair records handy so you don’t have to dig through records at the last minute.
Reactive vs Preventative
If you are spending more on repairing equipment than you are on preventative maintenance, it may be time to replace. Also, if you find yourself deferring maintenance, you could be putting your facility at risk for an HVAC emergency.
While it’s true that older equipment can theoretically be repaired indefinitely, it’s also true that newer systems are more energy efficient. Even the best-maintained HVAC systems that are older than 15 years will continue to lose efficiency. Conduct a performance assessment to see if you are overlooking potential energy savings.
R22 refrigerant will no longer be in production after 2020. Costs for this refrigerant have been rising for years and will soon skyrocket. Now may be a good time to switch to a system that uses one of the alternatives.
At the end of the day, your decision repairing or replacing your HVAC system is about saving the organization money. These tips will help you figure out the best way to evaluate your costs.
For more help on maintaining your aging systems, contact Vanguard Resources.