How Much Does an HVAC Unit Replacement Cost?

HVAC unit replacement costs range from $5,000 to $10,000, with the national average at $7,000.

HVAC Unit Replacement Cost

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  • Typical Range: $5,000 to $10,000
  • National Average: $7,000

Your home’s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) unit keeps you warm in the winter and cool in the summer, and it’s always circulating fresh air to eliminate allergens and dust. If your HVAC unit isn’t performing as efficiently as it once did, it may be time for a replacement. According to HomeAdvisor, full HVAC unit replacement costs range from $5,000 to $10,000, with the national average at $7,000. This comes out to about $25 to $60 per square foot. Prices depend on the size and brand of the HVAC system, the size of the house, ductwork length, and the new unit’s efficiency rating. For new installations, expect to pay from $1,500 to $12,500. HVAC installation prices typically include labor costs of between $500 and $2,500. The total cost relies on the type and condition of the current system. It typically costs more to retrofit forced or central-air heating than to replace an existing unit.

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Factors in Calculating HVAC Unit Replacement Cost  

Several factors affect HVAC unit replacement costs. Prices can differ from the national average due to the cost of the new unit, labor prices, installation, accessibility, removal and disposal fees for the old unit, climate, and the home’s age and condition.

New Unit

New HVAC systems cost between $1,000 and $10,000, depending on the brand and size of the unit. A new furnace typically costs between $1,000 and $4,000, and an air conditioner runs from $1,500 to $8,000. Consider that a newer, more energy-efficient model may save you money on energy bills in the long run.

Labor 

Labor can run from $500 to $2,500, and the price is usually included with the overall installation costs. Depending on the size and complexity of the installation, the job can take between 6 and 10 hours if the old HVAC system is being replaced with a new one. If new ductwork is needed, the installation could be extended by 1 to 3 days.

Installation and Accessibility

There are three types of installations for an HVAC unit: a change-out installation that includes a new heating and cooling system, a full installation that includes all HVAC equipment and ductwork, and a full install that also includes a zoning system and any other additional features. The more difficult it is to access the existing HVAC system, the more expensive the replacement will be. If the HVAC unit is in a historic home, in a small attic or an attic with blown-in insulation, or if the HVAC unit requires custom-made pieces, it will add to the price of the installation.

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Removal and Disposal

HVAC unit replacement cost typically includes the price of removal and disposal of the existing unit. Always check with the HVAC professional that’s handling your replacement on how they charge for removal and disposal.

Climate

The climate you live in also impacts the overall price of HVAC unit replacement cost. Residential furnaces typically run between 35,000 to 100,000 BTUs (British thermal units). One BTU is equal to the heat of one match. If you live in a hotter climate, the BTU output for cooling will increase by 10 percent. If you live in a dry climate, it will cost extra to add a humidifier to the HVAC unit.

HVAC Unit Replacement Cost

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Additional Costs and Considerations

When budgeting for HVAC unit replacement costs, there will be additional price factors and considerations. These include ductwork; adding zones, insulation, or a thermostat; additional add-ons and upgrades; furnace and air conditioner replacement; asbestos removal; and the savings from rebates.

Ductwork

HVAC duct replacement costs between $500 and $2,000. If only a section of the ductwork needs to be replaced, expect to pay between $10 and $20 per linear foot. Ductwork installation can add between 2 and 4 days of labor. It’s a good idea to replace the ductwork if you’re replacing the entire HVAC system to ensure the ductwork is free of dust and allergens and to safeguard that the system is leak-free.

Adding Zones

Adding zones to your existing HVAC system can raise the price by $2,000 to $3,000. If you install a new system, the costs can range from $7,500 to $12,500. A zoned system uses a specific thermostat for each zone of your house. Dampers in the ductwork open and close according to the needs of each particular zone based on how much heating and cooling is needed in that area.

Insulation

Insulation typically is not part of an HVAC unit installation, but if you live in an older home, the rooms are cold and drafty in the winter, and the upper floors and attic are sweltering in the summer, you may want to consider it. Insulation costs can run from $1,000 to $2,100, but it can lower heating and cooling costs by 10 to 15 percent.

Insulating HVAC ductwork can help the system run more efficiently and save money on utility bills. Insulated ductwork can help eliminate condensation and in turn, mold and mildew.

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Thermostat

Thermostat installation can cost from $125 to $275, depending on the type. Many HVAC professionals will include a new thermostat with the purchase of a new AC unit, heat pump, or furnace. Smart thermostats or ones that connect via Wi-Fi can run an additional $100. A programmable thermostat that regulates heating and cooling is much more efficient than a standard manual one.

Add-Ons and Upgrades

Installing a new HVAC system with extra add-ons and upgrades can run from $13,000 to $17,000. With all the additional features, the project can take from 4 to 7 days to complete. Some add-ons are a zone system, a whole-house humidifier, UV lighting, or a variable speed fan.

Furnace and Air Conditioner Replacement Cost

The cost to replace a furnace is between $2,700 and $6,400. Keep in mind that high-efficiency furnaces cost more and if any ductwork needs to be repaired or replaced, that will increase the cost of the project. Central air installation runs from $3,800 to $7,500, not including ductwork. The overall price depends on the size of the air conditioner and whether any repairs need to be done to the existing HVAC system. A furnace and air conditioner combination replacement is cost-effective if repair prices come close to 30 percent of the cost of a whole new HVAC unit. Combination prices depend on the rating, brand, and labor prices in your area.

A ductless mini-split air conditioning unit can cost between $2,000 and $14,500. This type of system is ideal for setting specific temperature zones or for homes without ductwork. The overall cost depends on the size of the system and the number of air handlers. Most homes have four to eight air handlers.

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Asbestos Removal

If asbestos is found in your home, you need to hire a professional asbestos removal company to extract and remove it. In some states, only a licensed professional can remove asbestos from a home. This is to ensure the safety of you and your family. Asbestos removal costs between $500 and $1,000.

Rebates

Rebates can help homeowners save up to $3,000 on the cost to buy and install an HVAC unit. Some HVAC companies offer savings on the more expensive options such as a zone system, and many local energy companies offer discounts or rebates on upgrading or replacing an HVAC system, especially if it’s an energy-efficient option.

HVAC Unit Replacement Cost

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HVAC Unit Replacement Types

There are three types of HVAC unit replacement types: change-out, full installation with ductwork, and full installation with add-ons.

Change-Out

If the ductwork in your home is in excellent condition, a change-out HVAC replacement will work for you. A change-out replacement typically runs between $4,820 and $9,350. It involves changing out the major parts of the HVAC system without replacing the ductwork. Most HVAC replacements will require new ductwork, so be sure to double check with your HVAC professional to see if you need to replace the ductwork. A change-out replacement typically takes about 1 day to complete.

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Full Installation With Ductwork

Installing an HVAC system with ductwork costs from $6,820 to $12,350. The job usually takes between 3 and 5 days. Replacing ductwork adds 2 to 4 days of labor at approximately $2,000 to $3,000. It’s recommended to replace the ductwork at the same time as the HVAC system. If the system is old and worn out, chances are the ductwork is as well. New ductwork can help lower energy costs since the entire system is clean, new, and free of dust and allergens.

Full Installation With Add-Ons

Expect to pay from $13,000 to $17,000 for an HVAC installation with extra features. This project can take between 4 and 7 days to complete. A zoning system can add between $2,300 and $3,500 to the HVAC unit installation cost. Some other add-ons can include UV lighting, a whole-house humidifier, or a variable speed fan.

HVAC Unit Replacement Cost

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Do I Need to Replace My HVAC Unit?

An HVAC unit typically lasts between 10 and 20 years. As units get older, they wear down and become less efficient, and the cost of repairs become more expensive. A few signs that it’s time to replace the HVAC system are the age of the unit, expensive utility bills, costly repairs, inconsistent temperature, strange noises, and excessive dust.

System’s Age

The U. S. Department of Energy recommends that homeowners replace their HVAC system every 10 to 15 years. Different parts of the system age at varying rates: The heat pump lasts about 10 to 20 years, the furnace has a lifespan of 15 to 30 years, and the air conditioning unit lasts between 15 and 20 years. Older units can use R-22 freon that is harmful to the environment. By upgrading to a newer HVAC system, you can save on energy costs and reduce your carbon footprint.

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High Energy Bills

Energy bills will fluctuate with the seasons, but your bill should be similar in the same month of different years. If you notice the utility bill getting more and more expensive, your HVAC system is probably not working as efficiently as it should. Regular maintenance will help extend the life of your system, but over time some HVAC components will deteriorate.

Repair vs. Replacement

If the cost to repair the HVAC unit is 30 percent or more of the overall cost to replace it, opt to replace the HVAC system. Replacing the entire system is a good investment if you’re making frequent repairs.

Home Temperature

An aging HVAC unit will struggle to keep a consistent temperature in a home. If you notice that your home never seems warm enough in the winter or cool enough in the summer, the HVAC system may be to blame. Some issues that may cause inconsistent temperatures are motor damage, cracked ducts, clogged filters, a damaged or inaccurate thermostat, or low fluid levels. If the ductwork is damaged or the HVAC system is struggling to keep up with heating and cooling demands, investing in a new system will save money on utility bills.

Noises

Sometimes a failing HVAC unit will make strange squealing or grinding noises. A well-maintained HVAC system should run somewhat quietly. If you hear unusual noises coming from your HVAC unit, call a professional to assess the problem.

Dust in Home

A properly functioning HVAC unit not only heats and cools your space but also ventilates it and filters out dust, dirt, allergens, and debris. If the HVAC unit isn’t working properly, you may notice more dust in your house than usual, and it may be time to replace it.

HVAC Unit Replacement Cost: DIY vs. Hiring a Professional 

Replacing an HVAC unit isn’t a DIY job, and installing the unit incorrectly can cost up to $1,000 in repairs. Not only are HVAC units highly specialized, but they’re also large, heavy, and unwieldy! Some benefits of a professional HVAC installation include professional maintenance options after installation, peace of mind in knowing the unit was installed by an expert, and not having to do all the hard work yourself.

A few things that homeowners can do to maintain a new HVAC unit after it’s professionally installed include regularly replacing air filters; sealing any air leaks in the ductwork; clearing any debris surrounding the HVAC unit; maintaining a 2-foot clearance around the unit; replacing or adjusting the thermostat; and cleaning the evaporator coil, evaporator trap, and drain pipe with a garden hose. Some localities may also require a permit for an HVAC unit installation. A professional installer will be able to navigate the paperwork if it’s needed in your area.

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How to Save Money on HVAC Unit Replacement Cost

HVAC unit replacement costs can be high, and the additional costs associated with the project can quickly add up. One way to save on HVAC unit replacement costs is to buy the cheapest option, but there are other ways to save without compromising quality.

  • Get multiple estimates. Get at least three quotes from reputable HVAC professionals in your area, and choose the one that’s right for you.
  • Do your research. If you get an estimate that is considerably lower than all the rest you’ve received, use caution. Most times the companies that offer the lowest rate may not be licensed or insured. Estimates from reputable companies will be similar to one another.
  • Look for rebates and tax breaks. Many HVAC unit manufacturers offer rebates on specific models or at certain times of the year. If you install an HVAC unit that’s energy efficient or items that use renewable energy such as a geothermal heat pump, solar panels, or a solar-powered water heater, you may be eligible for a tax credit.
  • Get the right size. Installing an HVAC unit that is too large for your home will increase the price by $300 to $400 per ton of cooling. HVAC unit size refers to the capacity or output that’s typically set at tons or BTUs. If the system is too small, it will run constantly to maintain the correct temperature, which will drive up energy costs.
  • Choose experience. Look for an HVAC company that has experience with both commercial and residential installations. Those are the companies that have the most experience and knowledge.
HVAC Unit Replacement Cost

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Questions to Ask About HVAC Unit Replacement Cost

Asking a professional the right questions about HVAC unit replacement costs can minimize miscommunication, save money, and get the desired results. Here are some questions to ask a HVAC installation professional.

  • Are you licensed and insured? Will you provide proof? (Some states, including Illinois, Wyoming, Arizona, Vermont, New York, Indiana, Missouri, Colorado, and Kansas, do not require technicians to have an HVAC license.)
  • How many employees will be working on the projects, and do you have workers’ compensation?
  • Do you have referrals?
  • Will you fill out and submit warranty, rebate, and other paperwork for me?
  • What size HVAC system do I need?
  • Do I need a zone system in my home?
  • Does the HVAC system qualify for a tax credit?
  • How efficient is the new HVAC system?
  • Do you test air ducts for leakage?
  • Do you offer a service plan?
  • What type of warranty do you offer?
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FAQs

Deciding on a new HVAC unit while staying within your budget can be a daunting process. Here are some frequently asked questions about HVAC unit replacement cost to help guide you in your decisions.

Q. How often should I replace my HVAC system? 

It’s recommended that homeowners should replace their HVAC system every 10 to 15 years.

Q. Do I have to replace both internal and external units?  

If the unit is relatively new or it’s still under warranty, the manufacturer may supply another internal unit that is compatible with the external unit. If you have an older HVAC unit, it’s recommended to replace the entire unit to ensure the condenser is compatible and to confirm that the system is not using the banned R-22 refrigerant.

Q. How much does an AC unit cost for a 2,000-square-foot home? 

The price for an entire HVAC unit for a 2,000-square-foot home runs between $5,000 and $9,000. If you just want to purchase an air conditioning unit, the cost will be considerably less.

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