As a homeowner, deciding when to replace a heat pump can be tough. After all, it’s a major investment, and it can be hard to tell when it’s more cost-effective to replace the entire thing rather than repairing components that have broken down. In order to help you make a well-informed decision, we’ve put together a few guidelines for when it’s time to replace your heat pump.
First, consider the age of the heat pump. The average lifespan of a heat pump is ten to fifteen years. If that seems short to you, keep in mind that, as Jim Rooney of the Capital Gazette points out, unlike a traditional furnace, a heat pump runs year round because it provides both heating and cooling. Once your heat pump is over fifteen years old, you should definitely plan to replace it soon.
However, according to the US Department of Energy, even if your heat pump is only ten years old, you might want to go ahead and replace it. That’s because newer heat pumps are significantly more efficient than those made ten years ago or more. As Rooney reports, since 2006 all new heat pumps sold in the US have been required to have a Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating (SEER) of 13 or higher, while older heat pumps are generally SEER 10 or lower. Therefore, the cost of a new unit may be offset in the long run by lower utility bills.
Aside from age, several other signs can indicate that it’s time to replace your heat pump. If your energy bills keep increasing, this may mean that your heat pump is becoming less efficient. If your heat pump becomes noisier, this can also be a sign that it’s wearing down. Another possible sign of an aging heat pump is that your home is no longer being heated or cooled evenly, leaving some rooms uncomfortable.
And finally, the most obvious sign that it may be time to replace your heat pump is that it breaks down. If you have a pump that’s eight years old or more and a major component has to be repaired, such as the compressor or reversing valve, it may make more sense financially to go ahead and replace the unit rather than continuing to put more money into an older heat pump that will have to be replaced within the next few years anyway.
Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide when to replace your heat pump. But keep in mind that ordering and installing a new unit can take a few days or more—so you might want to make the decision sooner and have it done on your own schedule when the weather is comfortable, rather than waiting for it to break down and taking the risk that you’ll have to replace it in the middle of a heat wave or cold snap!