Industry News

The Increasingly Complicated Question of ‘Repair or Replace’


Frequently the same question comes up in all projects: Repair or replace? A recent article in ArchitectureBoston took the stance that repair is almost always the better choice: “Extending the service life of any object avoids the environmental impact of replacing it.” Previously, the average decision-maker has considered factors like cost, performance and aesthetics – not sustainability. As sustainability gets added to the list now, it seems the ‘repair or replace’ question will only get more complicated.

Still, it will be easy to provide guidance sometimes. Repairing a defunct HVAC system is insufficient, and defunct can take a lot of forms – as suggested by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s guidelines on when to replace. Sometimes it is challenging to provide guidance, though. If an old system is inefficient and requires intensive maintenance, replacement may not be absolutely necessary, but it’s a chance to upgrade technologies while solving issues. It is hard to deny the importance of salvaging when possible, but it is perhaps harder to deny the importance of comfort and energy performance.

As customers broach this topic, perhaps the best response is to get them thinking about what role HVAC plays in their project, and how important each decision factor is to them. As ACH&R News discovered when interviewing contractors on the matter, there’s no right answer to ‘repair or replace’. There’s just a worthwhile conversation.