When is it time to replace the furnace?

Replacing a furnace doesn’t have to be an emergency decision

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(HengeHomes.com/Mark Pervan)

(HengeHomes.com/Mark Pervan)

After a few years of rolling black-outs, ice-storms, and metre high snow, home owners have begun to pay attention to the less-than-glamourous work horse in their home: the furnace.

Ideally purchased once every 15 to 25 years, but used daily for about 180 days, a properly working furnace is integral to the warmth and safety of your home.

So how can you tell when your furnace is about to kick the can? When it’s ready to retire? Say sayonara? Bid the big farewell forever?

There are three factors that impact the life cycle of a furnace. By using these factors, you can quickly ascertain whether or not there’s still life in your work horse, or whether or not you should be shopping for a newer, more efficient model.

A furnace age matters

The average life of a well-maintained furnace can be as long as 25 years.

But that means you need to maintain your furnace: That means consistently changing the filters (at least once per season, if not more); paying for semi-annual or annual inspections; and personally inspecting and cleaning the furnace’s different components (such as fan and blower) on a regular basis. Do all this and you’re furnace could easily last 25 years. Neglect this work and you may only get 10 to 15 years, give or take.

Cost effective fixes

Next you’ll want to consider whether it’s worth it to pay for current repairs or fork out to buy a new unit. Side by side, fixing is always dollar-for-dollar cheaper—a broken fan costs about $600 to replace, while a new high efficiency furnace can cost upwards of $5,000 to install. But, like an old car, you need to factor in all the current and future repairs and replacements to determine if it’s time to retire the old beast.

But how do you know when to pay for a repair, and when to throw in the towel? Look for some tell tale signs that your furnace is struggling and on its way out. For instance, if you have big temperature differences in different rooms (and its not an insulation issue), it could indicate furnace problems. Another sign is the frequency your furnace turns off and on. If the cycles become more and more frequent over the years, it means your furnace is struggling to keep temperatures in the house consistent and this is a sign of a furnace that’s aging. Also, if you hear an annoying hum then your furnace is already in problem-mode, while excessive dust on your furniture could mean the furnace is pumping out excessive dust or soot particles, which requires immediate repair work, and is a sign of an aging unit. Now, add up the repairs or potential repairs and you could easily be spending $1,000 or more in a few short years—that’s 20%  of a new high efficiency furnace.

Factor in energy savings

The final factor to consider is how cost-efficient it is to run your old furnace. Many furnaces now display an Energy Star rating and by using this great SaskEnergy online calculator you can figure out how much you’d save on heating bills by upgrading. You’ll notice that the cost of running a newer model high-efficiency furnace compared to a 20-year-old model is quite substantial.

By upgrading to a new furnace you’ll save on energy bills, and the new warranty will cover five to 10 years on the cost of parts, labour and compressor and 20 years on the heat exchanger.

Read more from Romana King at Home Owner on Facebook »

One comment on “When is it time to replace the furnace?

  1. Your article is timely and correct. I can’t tell you how many times dealing with homeowners that knew their furnace was ready to fail. Instead of buying and replacing during slow times when we HVAC dealers offer great incentives. Customers wait and pay extra for overtime and endure days with a cold home before their new furnace can be installed.
    Great article that follows similar themes I write about at mspfurnace.blogspot.com

    Reply

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