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Is it Time to Replace My Furnace?

Owning a home is expensive. From the initial purchase through the lifetime of ownership, repairs and replacements add up. But honestly, it’s worth it. We love our homes and the comfort that they bring. Still, some of the components wear out over time without us taking notice. Because the decrease in efficiency of a furnace happens so slowly, over a period of 10 to nearly 20 years, it’s difficult to realize when it’s finally time to replace that outdated furnace. Most people will only ever replace a furnace or HVAC system once, maybe twice, in their lifetime. Many people change houses more often than they replace a home furnace.

Proper Maintenance Provides Longevity

Furnaces are designed to be long-lived. And, as with most things, they’ll keep working far past their most effective lifespan. The lifespans on many furnaces are listed by how long the furnace will stay efficient rather than how long it will continue to function. Most furnaces have a lifespan that is between 15 and nearly 20 years before efficiency starts to suffer. The good news is that you can maximize this lifespan, and even extend it, simply by keeping the system maintained. Regular cleaning and maintenance, along with filter replacements and balanced use all help to promote the lifespan of your home’s furnace.

Removing stresses from the functionality of your furnace such as lowering the thermostat and making sure that all vents are open and functional will also help to keep your furnace running smoothly for years to come.

What Are Signs It’s Time to Replace Your Furnace?

So what should you be looking for when it comes to replacing a furnace?

  • Age
  • Efficiency
  • Repairs
  • Health

First, look at how old your furnace is. If the furnace itself has been in your home for more than 10 or 15 years, call a professional to inspect and test the furnace. Older furnaces are less efficient and prone to breaking down. At the same time, many older furnaces aren’t designed to modern specifications, making them more expensive per month.

Take that efficiency into consideration as well. If you’ve noticed an increase in your heating bills this winter or an increased rate of fuel consumption, then it’s likely time to replace your furnace. A quick examination of the furnace itself should reveal its AFUE rating (a measurement of how efficiently the furnace consumes fuel to create heat). If AFUE is less than 90, your heating bills have spiked, or your furnace seems to be having trouble keeping the house warm this year, it’s likely time to replace the unit.

Frequent repairs or a discolored gas flame (the flames should be blue, not yellow). are also a clear sign that something is wrong. Now it could be that parts are simply wearing out over time, but you could be looking at many repairs over a short period that would be better served by a replacement. Consult a licensed furnace technician if you find yourself calling for furnace repairs more than twice in a single month. Replacing the furnace is cheaper than it’s ever been before and the long-term gains often outweigh the immediate cost.

Finally, pay attention to your own health. If you find yourself feeling ill frequently or suffering from coughs and sneezes there could be a leak or the furnace may not be burning cleanly. If this is the case, never delay, consult a professional and get a replacement immediately.