Timberline Blog

10 Considerations When Upgrading/Replacing Commercial HVAC Equipment

January 23, 2023 by Timberline

Upgrading or replacing your commercial HVAC equipment is an investment. Yes, it’s one that pays off many times over as you, your employees and your customers enjoy comfortably cool temperatures on hot summer days and pleasantly warm ones in the fall and winter months. Nevertheless, there is a significant cost involved in making a change.

Consequently, you should approach your upgrade or replacement project carefully and be fully aware of several essential considerations. We outline them below.

commercial hvac system

Having HVAC Work Done? Ask Yourself These Important Questions.

When planning an HVAC replacement or upgrade, it’s easy (and not uncommon) to simply “go with what we had before” or “get the same system that my fellow business owner has.” But taking that approach can mean overlooking changes that could improve your comfort, lower your operating costs, etc.

That’s why it’s worth the time and effort to go through the list of considerations below with your HVAC contractor. Before signing on the dotted line to get your project rolling, ask yourself these 10 questions:

1. What’s the average lifespan of an HVAC unit? Furnaces tend to last 15 to 20 years, and air conditioning units and heat pumps have a life expectancy of 10 to 12 years. This is important from the perspective that if you’re considering an equipment replacement, but your system is well under those age limits, you might want to dig deeper into what’s wrong with the equipment. It may be that a repair will be more cost-effective than replacing the components. Of course, if you’re replacing inefficient systems with new, high-efficiency equipment, any time is a good time!

2. What size system do we need? You shouldn’t assume that your current system is ideal for the amount of space you’re heating and cooling. It certainly may be, but that’s something you should investigate. There are resources online you can use to estimate the “tons” of capacity you need (in this context, the word tons refers to heating/cooling power, not the weight of the equipment). Or better yet, you can talk with an expert like one of our technicians at Timberline Mechanical. They can take the numbers from a cookie-cutter heating/cooling system estimate and fine-tune them based on their real-world assessment of your requirements.

3. Does our space heat and cool evenly? If your existing system has historically struggled to maintain an even temperature throughout your facility, that could be a sign that it isn’t the right size for the space. Or, you may have issues with your ductwork that should be resolved before you install the new HVAC equipment.

4. Should we purchase high-efficiency equipment? Most HVAC systems today have high-efficiency components. That means that rather than converting 80% of energy to heating or cooling as older systems do, they convert 95% or more. That can mean utility bill reductions in the neighborhood of 20%! Plus, high-efficiency equipment is better for the environment. And not only is buying it a good idea for that reason but current and potential customers tend to appreciate those kinds of Earth-friendly decisions.

5. Are there new options or add-ons we should consider? If it’s been several years since you last replaced or upgraded your HVAC system, you may be surprised at how “smart” the technology is today. There are also more products for cleaning the air than ever before. Be sure to ask your HVAC service provider or product manufacturer about the current state of HVAC systems and accessories.

6. What are variable-speed fans, dual-fuel heat pumps, etc.? As with the peripheral tech, core components of HVAC systems have also changed significantly in recent years. Before making a purchase, you should ensure you understand how the new system will work and what advances are worth the price.

7. Who makes the best HVAC equipment? The answer to this question depends on several factors, including the type and size of the equipment, how you will use it in your environment, etc. Your HVAC service provider can share their experiences with different manufacturers and make a recommendation.

8. How will the project’s level of complexity affect the installation and our business operations? This isn’t a question about the equipment, but it’s important, nevertheless. If the installation has the potential to impact your operations, it’s critical that you prepare for the disruption, including notifying your employees and customers.

9. How can we protect our HVAC investment? You can get far more “mileage” out of your system if you care for it correctly. That includes actions you can take (like changing the air filter according to the manufacturer’s specifications) but also testing, cleaning, etc., that should be conducted by a trained technician. The best way to ensure you don’t forget about periodic maintenance is to get on a maintenance plan with a company like ours. Having an annual (or more frequent if needed) visit from a Timberline Mechanical technician helps ensure that minor issues won’t become major problems. You should also be sure you understand your system’s warranty coverage so that you don’t end up paying for service, parts, etc., that should be the manufacturer’s responsibility.

10. Who’s the right contractor for the job? It’s important to consider an HVAC company’s experience, reputation, certifications, and other factors before hiring them. Quality equipment will only provide the maximum value when installed by qualified and conscientious technicians.

Don’t Forget the Permits!

Generally speaking, HVAC system installations and major modifications require permits from your local authorities. This may seem like a hassle, but the requirement actually protects you. A post-project inspection can reveal any problems with the installation or upgrade, after which the “responsible party” (the HVAC contractor) must correct the issues.

Learn About Timberline Mechanical

Contact Timberline Mechanical today to learn more about our commercial and industrial HVAC services, from maintenance and repairs to design, installation, and special projects. We’re happy to talk with you about your project and how we can handle it for you in a timely and cost-effective manner.

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