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Question DetailsAsked on 4/30/2014

Need help deciding most cost effective option for replacing/repairing ac/heat pump system.

I live near Annapolis, Maryland. I have a 3.5 ton heat pump system that was in installed in 2002. It uses R-22 refrigerant. It has a SEER rating of 10. The compressor has been replaced a few years ago. There is now a refrigerant leak in coil on the air handler. It may be possible to replace the coil for about $1500 including recharging.
Contractors have been quoting replacement costs for a whole new two-stage 4 ton system for about $12K (including discounts/rebates). I do not intend to stay in the house beyond another 7 years.
How should I choose a system to replace or to repair based on expected overall savings during the 7-year period? Basically, I need to figure out the best ROI over 7 years.

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4 Answers

Voted Best Answer

$12K would be high end even for a top-end extreme efficiency unit - either you have unbelievable access issues requiring opening up a roof and needing a crane and such (which should only add $1-2,000), or someone is trying to take advantage of you.

Like other comment said - complete replacement for a central air unit like yours would typically run in the $4-7,000 range - commonly $1-2,000 less than that. Is it possible they were quoting top-end extreme efficiency combined furnace AND A/C system - which might then reach $12,000, though even then near top end of price range.

Even if you replace it now, your cost of money (lost interest) is likely at least about $500/year for 7 years if currently reasonably invested - and that assumes you have the cash in hand, not borrowed. If borrowed more like $1500-2000/year average interest - so paying $1500 upfront to replace the exchanger now is a no brainer, if that is indeed the full cost. Even if you have to borrow the money for the repair, you are talking maybe $200/year interest the first year and declining from then, so still a bargain compared to spending or borrowing $12,000 or even $4-7000 range for a more normal unit. With a new evaporator and quite new compressor your system is fairly likely to survive with only routine maintenance till you sell in 7 years, and if it doesn't, then you are still better off keeping the money invested (or not having borrowed it) till then, and install a new unit then if needed - at which point it will be quite new for resale, so then its recent replacement will be a valid selling point.

Even if you did put in a new system now, it would be well on its way to half its life when you sold, so I don't know that it would give any resale advantage, though having an R-22 unit might be a deterrent to some knowledgeable buyers - which means a few percent, maybe 10% of buyers if their home inspectors are on the ball. However, you would be surprised how few buyers look at the HVAC system at all - many do not even know at closing when they go to insure it whether it is forced air or baseboard heating, central or split A/C, etc. Had one couple in my neighborhood who bought a house in dead of winter, which had been winterized by the mortgage holder (pipes drained and such) so they did not comment on the fact there was no heat - turned out after closing there was also no furnace at all - evidently stolen, or failed and was removed by previous owner or mortgage holder and was not replaced - maybe why it was winterized, though that is commonly done on foreclosed or abandoned properties in true winter areas to save on the couple of hundred dollars a month in heating costs.

Answered 5 years ago by LCD


With a 12 year old heat pump, I would replace now, there's to great a chance that you'll have another major repair,or need to replace in the sytem in the next 7 years.

$1500 is a low price for a new coil, based on what we see everyday in the trade. Be sure that is all inclusive ,if you decide to repair.


Answered 5 years ago by BayAreaAC


if your intentions are to sale the house in 7 years. for all purposes your are looking a sizable gain in resale if you refit your system now, cause the savings you would be getting will not match the lost in resale you would lose. 12000 dollars is kind of steep for a four ton unit that is a heat pump. heat pumps in your neck of the woods are not cost effience in the winter time compare to a gas pack unit of the same size.


koolray heating and air


Answered 5 years ago by Raymond Gonzalez


I would go for the repair costs. $12K is very high for a new 3.5 ton heat pump system but $1500.00 seems a fair price to repair the leak, as long as the contractor gives you a one year warranty. In So. Ca. I estimate around $7K for a new system of this size. The costs in Maryland may be high or the equipment is in a ihard to access location. The life expentancy of a unit like that in Ca. is approximaterly 16 years. My 3.5 ton heat pump system is 20 years old and still operating satisfactorilly.

Source: Experience

Answered 5 years ago by PoppyRoss


I have to say that for the 4 ton , two stage , high SEER system, the price is not out of line.

Prices vary greatly around the country, due to equipment cost and contractors expenses, both vary according to the cost of living ,in the area you live.

The cost will be lower ,or higher depending on where you live. We operate in Florida, known for lower prices, yours is not that much more then it would be here.


Answered 5 years ago by BayAreaAC

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