5 Signs You May Need To Repair or Replace Your Furnace

It’s smart to plan and budget for replacement of major “wear items” in your home. Your Heating and Air conditioning system are one of these things. It’s stressful when you’re family is without heat, being the result of an old and tired furnace. Good maintenance practice will keep your equipment running well and extend it’s life cycle while also maintaining it’s efficiency. But just like all mechanical equipment and things like your roof shingles, there comes a time where replacing the furnace is a good decision. Here are some indications it may be time to replace your old tired furnace, vs keeping the old one, nervously awaiting a repair.

Separately these signs may not be enough reason to replace your furnace, but the more signs that apply to your furnace, the more likely you need a new furnace. There are certainly other signs, but there these are the ones that stand out.

1. Your furnace is more than 20 years old.

According to consumerreport.org, the average life expectancy for a gas furnace is 18 years. However, according to energystar.gov, you should replace a furnace that’s over 15 years old with an ENERGY STAR rated furnace, which is 15% more energy efficient than other furnaces on the market. A furnace that is older than 25 years old is as much as 50% more efficient.

To learn more about how much money you can save by upgrading to a new energy efficient furnace, read up on AFUE ratings, which measure furnace energy efficiency.

2. Your furnace has been repaired frequently in the past two years.

Furnaces incur the most repairs during the last two years of their lives. Like a repairing an old car, It doesn’t take too many repairs before keeping your old furnace running isn’t worth the cost.  Many furnaces 15 years or older, no longer have direct replacement parts available to the original specifications. “New” available parts are not identical to the original, but may just “make it work”. Some furnaces 20 years old have no parts available to do a proper repair.

Add up the cost of repairs to your furnace over the last two years and see if it’s cost efficient to buy a new one. Sometimes people think that they have already replaced many parts, so what else can break on the furnace? There are not any hard and fast rules when it comes to mechanical equipment. The same part may need to be replaced over a couple of years.

3) Noise from the furnace has changed or worsened.

The cause is typically a motor or other components getting to the end of their life cycle. On mid and high-efficiency furnaces, there are two primary motors that may be suspect. Spending money on a pending repair of $500-$1000 might be better spent on a new furnace with a 10-year warranty.

When you turn on your furnace, does it make any rattling, popping, or banging noises? Older furnaces can make these strange noises at the end of their life.

4) The furnace does not operate the same as it used to but still keeps the house warm.

Does your blower turn on and off frequently? Will it just blow cold air sometimes?  Does the fan take much longer than previous to turn on? These problems are typically linked to electrical problems. Furnaces 20-25 years or newer have a computerized motherboard like a computer. When this goes, the cost can be very expensive. Many times, if a board needs replacing, there are other components that must be replaced at the same time to just “make it work”. Every time a component is installed that is not factory specified for that old furnace, reliability will go down.

5) The physical condition of the furnace has discoloration or rust on components or cabinet.

This is a sign there is a condensation leak, a humidifier leaking or overheating. Any water causing visible rust is a problem to be checked out and to confirm your heat exchangers have no rust spots. Water and the resulting rust means a weak spot somewhere in the furnace. Overheating can be seen by discoloration of the cabinet or heat exchangers. Insulation on the cabinet walls breaks down or is compromised by other overheating variables.

Take stock of how your heating system is behaving.  All of the above are indicators, are easily observed by homeowners.  If you have any concerns about your furnace safety, please call a professional immediately.


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