When Is the Right Time to Replace Your Furnace
Unfortunately, furnaces don’t last forever and wondering when yours may give out leads to tremendous stress. You don’t have to wait for it to give out completely; you can plan and budget for a replacement. Here’s what to look for that’ll indicate you should plan for an upgrade before the cold settles in for the winter.
It’s Simply Getting Old
With proper maintenance, the average forced-air gas furnace has a service life of 15 to 20 years. However, factors like your air quality and lack of maintenance may shorten that life.
Rather than waiting until your unit fails completely, start planning for a replacement as your unit gets older. Generally speaking, older units are less efficient than new ones, even with the same efficiency rating when new. If your furnace is nearing the end of its expected service life, start planning your replacement.
Proactively planning your replacement keeps you from having to deal with it as an emergency. Not only does this help you budget the expense, but it also keeps you from incurring emergency or after-hour rates.
Rising Heating Costs
Beyond your unit’s age, look at your utility costs year over year. If your heating expenses are consistently higher than they were last year, your system may be telling you it’s time for a replacement.
As your furnace runs, it collects small airborne particles that make it past your filter. These primarily collect on your circulating fan and on your heat exchanger and slowly reduce the airflow capacity. Your technician will clean these as a part of normal maintenance every year.
Along with these normal airflow restrictions, each component begins wearing over time, making them less effective. All of this leads to longer run cycles, which, in turn, increases your heating costs. You may want to compare three or four years of heating consumption to see if it’s been consistently climbing.
As already mentioned, each component in your system wears as it runs, eventually needing a replacement. A few of these common components include the:
- Circulating fan motor
- Gas regulator
- Inducer motor
As your system continues aging, the number of these components needing a replacement increases. Just like a vehicle, there’s a point at which it doesn’t make sense to continue repairing your furnace. There’s a simple formula you can use to see if the repairs that you need rise to that level.
Simply take the cost of the repairs needed and multiply them by the age of your furnace in years. So, if your repair cost is $900 and your furnace is 10 years old, it would be $9,000, which is significantly more than a new furnace.
Obviously, when your furnace is older, even relatively inexpensive repairs may not be worth investing in. This is particularly true if you find yourself paying for minor repairs over and over.
Beyond repairs that add up over time, your most pressing concern may be over a catastrophic failure. These are problems your system may experience on its own. Your system may then require an entire unit replacement.
The most pressing of these failures is a cracked heat exchanger. This is a series of coils that the heat and exhaust from the burn unit travel through before venting outside. The circulating fan draws air through this exchanger to warm it up.
This may crack over time, especially when you neglect regular maintenance. The buildup of dust and dirt, along with the moisture they absorb, causes the exchanger to corrode and crack. Further, if your burn unit isn’t operating properly, the by-products of the burning gas may also lead to corrosion.
A cracked heat exchanger not only causes a problem heating your home, but it’s also a significant cause of carbon monoxide poisoning. Therefore, if you suspect you have a cracked heat exchanger, call a technician to inspect it immediately.
Preparing to Sell Your Home
Finally, if you’re considering selling your home in the near future, you need to consider the age of your furnace. Even if your furnace is just getting old enough to consider a replacement, replacing it before selling your home may be a wise move. Your replacement may not reap a dollar-for-dollar return when selling your house, but potential buyers are more likely to place an offer on a home with a newer furnace. Also, if you’re targeting millennials, they’re attracted to newer, higher-efficiency smart systems.
A-1 Heating Air Conditioning & Electric has provided trusted furnace repair, installation, and maintenance in and around the Meridian area for over 60 years. Our team also provides expert cooling installation, maintenance, and repair, as well as a range of electrical services. Call to schedule your new furnace consultation with one of our experienced technicians today.