7 Signs Your HVAC Has to Go

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This past summer, during the most humid time of the year, our home’s AC unit stopped working. We rushed out to get a replacement but, to our dismay, were informed of a 2 month-long wait list.

During this period, we made attempts to make our home as comfortable as possible—we kept the windows open and hung blankets to block the heat of the sun. Unfortunately, none of these efforts provided the relief we craved.

Looking back, if we’d noticed the signs leading up to its breakdown our suffering could have been avoided.

To help you avoid a similar disastrous situation we’ve compiled a list of 7 major signs that your HVAC needs to go. 

Old HVAC System

An old, damaged HVAC system.

Most HVAC systems last between 15-20 years. Older HVAC models are less energy-efficient and effective than newer models, resulting in costlier energy bills. An older system can be irreparable when it breaks down if replacement parts are no longer in use or near impossible to track down.

Even if you haven’t noticed your HVAC system failing, the DOE reports that upgrading ten-year-old systems would save you $500 a year. For older systems, the savings are even greater. (For more on this, read Efficiency of 2020 HVAC Systems: Is it Worth Upgrading?)

Constant Repairs

Constantly repairing your HVAC unit will cost more in the end–and the repairs may never end. Rather than paying for each service repair, replacing your unit is a more permanent and more cost-effective solution.

A person repairing and HVAC unit in his ceiling.

Unusual Odors

If your HVAC unit gives off an unusual smell then something is burning or rotting within your system. If such an odor lingers for days or weeks it may indicate that a replacement is necessary.

Unusual Noises

If you hear “clunks” or the whirling fan squeaking, your HVAC unit likely has broken internal components. In this case, repairs or replacement are unavoidable.

Using your HVAC unit while internal parts are broken can be dangerous—it could start a fire or spring a leak. If a suspicious sound is worrying you, contact an HVAC specialist right away.

Poor Air Quality

Three different, damaged HVAC units producing dirty air.

Poor air quality in your home can result in allergens and an excess of dust in your daily environment, making it difficult to breath or leave you feeling sick. 

If your home feels muggy or humid, your unit is either broken or in need of major repairs. Humidity introduces mold into your home, causing migraines, nausea, and other symptoms. Because an HVAC system is responsible for cleaning and ventilating the air inside your home it’s important to your health that it work correctly.

Faulty Thermostat

A cold woman crouching next to her HVAC unit.

A faulty thermostat can be evidence of a broken HVAC unit. For example: if your thermostat is set to 72 degrees but your home’s temperature feels hotter or cooler, your unit is not functioning correctly. While this may sometimes indicate a faulty thermostat, it is equally likely that the issue lies in the HVAC unit itself.

Increased Utility Bills

A properly working HVAC unit shouldn’t be running 24/7. It shouldn’t turn on irregularly or unnecessarily. If you notice an increase in your utility bills and the reason isn’t obvious, like a change of season, it’s a clear sign your HVAC unit is faltering.


If your HVAC system is showing any or all of these signs, it’s time to replace yours for a newer model that will save you time, energy, and money.

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