Furnace Maintenance – Repair or Replace?
With the right furnace maintenance and care, a heating system can last decades. Manufacturers, however, recommend that you replace them every 15 to 20 years because new furnaces are more reliable and provide energy savings that make them worth the cost. When you have an older furnace or one that seems to need frequent repairs, knowing when it’s a good time to buy a replacement could save you money and prevent unnecessary stress.
Indications That You Might Need a New Furnace
On average, furnaces last about 15 to 20 years. If you have an older furnace that requires more repairs than usual, upgrading to a newer system is a good idea.
If your furnace poses a safety hazard, replace it. One of the main concerns with faulty heating systems that use natural gas is carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas, so it’s a good idea to keep a carbon monoxide detector near the furnace and have a professional maintain the unit at least once a year.
Warning signs of gas-related problems with a natural gas furnace include:
- A pilot light that’s yellow; it should be blue
- A flickering pilot light
- Soot streaks around the furnace
- Excess moisture on the windows and walls around a furnace
- Excessive rust on appliance jacks and flue pipes
A furnace that works well should not need a repair more than once every two years. If you have a furnace that’s 10 years old or older, consider a replacement if the repair cost is 10 percent of the replacement cost. For example, if a repair is over $200 and new furnace is $2,000, a replacement may be more cost effective in the long run.
If a furnace’s repair cost is 50 percent of the replacement cost, buy a new furnace, regardless of the current unit’s age. Similarly, if you’ve already spent about 50 percent of the replacement cost in furnace repairs, a new unit may ultimately be more cost effective, especially considering the tax benefits and increased energy efficiency savings that you may receive.
A new furnace is considerably more energy efficient than one that is 10 years old, even if it works well. Older furnaces and those in need of repairs tend to use more energy, and your power bills will only increase with time.
When looking at new furnaces, pay attention to its AFUE (annual fuel utilization efficiency) rating—the higher the AFUE, the more efficient the unit. A furnace with an 80 percent AFUE, for example, uses 80 percent of the fuel consumed to heat a home. The remaining 20 percent goes up the flue. So, it only wastes 20 cents of every $1 spent to heat a home. If your current furnace has a 60 percent AFUE, for instance, and you upgrade to a unit with a 90 percent AFUE, you’ll save over $33 for every $100 that you spend on heating costs.
Don’t Procrastinate on Furnace Maintenance and Repairs
Annual furnace maintenance is great for a system tune-up so the furnace can run more efficiently and reliably throughout the year. During the maintenance process, the HVAC professional may also find smaller problems that are inexpensive to remedy before they turn into expensive or dangerous issues.
If you notice any of the following with your furnace, call a Portland HVAC professional soon:
- Strange sounds
- Your home feels cold or drafty, even when you turn up the heat
- Pilot light problems
- The furnace doesn’t turn on or stay on
- Your home is more dusty than usual
While it may seem easier to put off a furnace repair, doing so may:
- Put your family’s health and safety at risk: Never take a chance with appliances that use natural gas
- Be more expensive: Time has a way of turning small, inexpensive repairs into costly headaches
- Waste energy: Furnaces that don’t work well use more energy to heat a space
- Make your home feel uncomfortable: Why pay high energy bills when your home still feels drafty
If you have an older or problematic furnace, talk an HVAC specialist at AAA Heating & Cooling. We’ll assess your furnace’s current situation and history to make a recommendation that’s financially sound, keeps your family safe, and aligns with your needs. Get in touch with us today.