Can I Just Replace the Broken Part in My Air Conditioner? Installation Questions from Roseville Homeowners

blog-icon-hvacRoseville is the kind of town where people do lots of research on stuff before they buy it. Whether it’s the school they want to send their kids to, the next vehicle for a shop project, or jewelry that uses ethical gemstones, our experience with folks in Roseville is that they know what they want  but they do a lot of homework before they make the decision.

So when it comes to HVAC problems, you can bet that a Roseville homeowner will have exhausted the research available to them and come at us with great, informed questions. Some contractors don’t like that, but we’re definitely for it! It’s always nice to deal with people who know what condenser coils are, realize that yellow burning gas is a bad sign, and want to learn more about the expensive and complicated systems that keep their homes comfortable.

#1: Do I Have to Replace the Whole System, or Can I Just Replace the Broken Part?

This is a great question, and it allows us to talk a bit about what an HVAC system really is. When we say “system,” what we’re really talking about is a sum of many operating parts. You have a furnace, ducts, a condenser, and an air conditioning unit in addition to fans, thermostats, and other small pieces necessary to the function of the whole.

Air Conditioners and Furnaces

When we talk about replacing a whole system, what we really mean is that you need a new furnace or air conditioner. If that’s the case, you’ll definitely need one or the other, and possibly both. It’s common practice to replace both at the same time if you can, but depending on your finances, it can make sense to only replace one or the other. This is the worst news to get about a system, and we don’t like giving it to our clients. If we can repair a system reliably, we prefer to do that, even if it’s just to limp things along until a client can afford a new system.

Reasons to do both systems at the same time are three-fold: you save money, time, and effort. If you have one year left on your furnace and six months on the AC, it makes sense to do them both now. Once you have the system pulled apart, you’ll find your contractor is much more willing to negotiate on installation for a new furnace or AC unit. After all, if the unit is already pulled apart…might as well ask! That’s our attitude, anyway, and we’re willing to work with our clients because it just makes sense. It’ll be less hassle than to do the same thing again in six months. This is especially true if your home has a “combo” unit with both systems in the same housing. Why go through it again in October when you can do it all now for cheaper?


If your compressor goes out, you might as well replace the whole condenser because it probably won’t be much cheaper to just do the compressor. The other pieces of the system, like the blower, can be replaced on an as-needed basis. Unless, of course, you really need a new blower. We’re always upfront and honest with our clients about what they can and can’t expect from any new installation, and of course, our warranties cover the work.

#2: How Long Will an Installation Last?

The answer is simple: It depends on how well you take care of it. We have clients with systems made in the 80s that still run. We probably wouldn’t recommend that to your family (newer systems are much better designed for energy efficiency), but it’s possible to keep these systems in good working order for ten years or more, sometimes much more.

Despite those outlier cases, most HVAC systems built before 2011 are designed for a ten-year lifespan. (Today’s systems are a little different, but we’ll get to that in a moment.) So if these systems are only supposed to be around for ten years, how can someone have one that lasts fifteen years or more?

Maintenance! The systems that last the longest are the ones with no maintenance gaps. We’ve been working on them since we installed them, the homeowners schedule us to service them regularly, and they follow our guidelines on frequent HVAC maintenance. They get tune-ups in spring and fall, and they change their filters every 3-6 months. And when something doesn’t work, they call for an immediate repair. It sounds simple, but very few people are that dedicated. We do our best to remind clients, but it’s not always easy to stay on top of this stuff, even with handy reminders that it’s time for a check up.

So how long will a brand-new system last? Any system built by a good manufacturer in the last five years is designed to last 15 years or more. That’s the lower end “safe” estimate given by the manufacturer, but I’m sure we’ll be working on 2011-built systems in the field in the year 2030. Seriously. If you’re going to spend the money on new equipment, spend the money on regular maintenance and your systems will take care of you.

Bell Brothers will take care of you too. With expert technicians, great prices, and our “No Surprise” guarantee, trust us to give you the family treatment this summer with whatever HVAC or plumbing needs you might have.