Is My HVAC Outdated?

By jairadmin
In August 21, 2017
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Understanding why you need to replace an outdated HVAC system and when replacement is needed can be the difference between a healthy, energy-efficient home, or expensive utilities and poor indoor air quality. Our San Diego HVAC experts provide some valuable information on how to spot an outdated HVAC system and what you can do to protect yourself from the hazards of an old system.

What is Considered an ‘Outdated HVAC’?

An HVAC system is comprised of several mechanisms working together including the AC, furnace, heat pump and ductwork and other integral parts that aid the workflow of the heating and cooling process. Air conditioners and furnaces generally have the same life expectancy, around 15-20 years. Whereas heat pumps work year-round and have a slightly shorter life, typically 10-15 years. The lifespan of your ductwork largely depends on what type of material was used. Metal lining ductwork can last for 100+ years if little to no moisture gets inside. Silver lining ductwork typically lasts around 50 years and flex lining (often plastic) varies greatly depending on the size and type of ductwork installed.

However, the age of your HVAC system should not be the only determinate when considering an upgrade; with all the rebates and tax-deductive incentives, it may make economic sense to go with an energy-efficient system sooner.


Concerns Related to Older HVAC Systems

Carbon Monoxide
Carbon monoxide poisoning is especially common with outdated HVACs. Over 200 people across the nation are known to die each year from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by toxic gas build up produced by their HVAC systems (1).

Furnaces 20 years or older are especially dangerous. Although newer furnace models with pilot lights have sensors that will automatically shut down if a problem is detected, having a pilot light still poses a significant safety concern. Older pilot lights are typically controlled manually, and even a slight adjustment defect can produce carbon monoxide gas.

A breach in a heat exchanger is another major cause of carbon monoxide poisoning. Heat exchangers transfer heat from the fuel flame to an air or water medium, making them more susceptible to wear and tear, often in the form of holes, rust or cracks in the furnace. A breach allows gas to mix with the air resulting in high levels of carbon monoxide.

House fires caused by pilot lights, bad ventilation and/or gas line leaks are another major safety hazard of an outdated HVAC system. The combustible materials or any flammable objects near a heated HVAC mechanism can create an increased possibility of fire or explosion.

It’s no surprise an outdated HVAC system requires more repairs and maintenance than newer models. If your heating and cooling system needs frequent repair and the costs for those repairs continually increase, it’s a strong sign your HVAC is at the end of its serviceable life. An outdated HVAC must also work harder to maintain thermostat settings, resulting in expensive energy bills.

An outdated HVAC not only increases costs associated with repairs and utility bills, it can also cost home and building owners in property damage. For example, water leaks in boilers require expensive property repair if the boiler is not replaced or the leak goes unrepaired, even for a short amount of time.

Since outdated HVAC systems can’t consistently maintain thermostat settings, residents are left to deal with in uncomfortable temperatures during the peak seasons. Old HVAC’s also cause the air to be really dry in the winter and too humid during warmer months, decreasing indoor air quality and in-home comfort.

Energy-Efficient HVAC Systems Will Keep Your Space Safe, Comfortable and Lower Utility Costs

The good news is that today’s high-efficiency heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems are 60 percent more efficient than technologies from just a decade ago (2).

Today’s HVAC systems are designed to encompass energy conservation, indoor air quality, and comfort. When the design considers the local climate and is built as an integral part of a sustainable home or building, the HVAC system can be smaller, less costly and require less maintenance.

Where to Start with Your HVAC Upgrade

Replacing your outdated, inefficient HVAC system with a new one can seem like an overwhelming project, but is well worth the money you will save on your utility bill and repairs.

Be aware that before any equipment change or installation, a sizing blueprint is necessary. This involves a certified technician carefully measuring the home to calculate the heat loss/gain requirements, document overall size, and shape, the location of windows and doors and compute the insulation values of walls, ceilings, and floors.

If your HVAC system is more than 10 years old, or you are making frequent repairs to your equipment, now is the time to contact Johnson Air Systems, Heating and Air Conditioning in San Diego. Our comfort specialists will assess the system’s performance and determine what type of upgrade provides a solution for your needs.


1. U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Retrieved 6 July 2017.
2. U.S. Department of Energy. Retrieved 6 July 2017.

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