Furnace On Its Last Leg? When To Repair Or Replace

Posted On: April 04, 2014

If you own a home, it’s likely that you’ll experience a broken furnace at some point. When your furnace does break, you’ll be faced with a challenging question. Is it better to replace or repair?

There’s no hard and fast rule in the furnace repair or replace dilemma. Every furnace issue is unique. However, there are some common signs you can look for that may help you make a more informed decision.

You should consider replacing if:

  • The furnace poses a danger or health risk. For example, if the furnace has a cracked heat exchanger, your home may be vulnerable to leaked carbon monoxide. That’s too great a risk to take in order to save money.
  • The furnace is nearing the end of its life span. A 2007 study from the National Association of Home Builders reported that the average lifespan of a forced air furnace is 15 to 20 years. If your furnace is within that range, it may be best to get a new one.
  • Your furnace is less efficient than newer models. Furnaces from 20 or more years ago often operate at a 70 percent AFUE. The minimum required AFUE today is 80 percent, which means at least a 10 percent savings in energy costs. You may also qualify for a tax credit for making an energy-efficient improvement to your home.

You should consider repairing if:

  • The cost of repair is less than a third of the cost of replacement. This is especially true if the furnace is relatively young and has useful years left.
  • The furnace is already energy efficient. If a new furnace isn’t going to reduce your energy bill or get you a tax credit, you may be best-served by sticking with your current unit.
  • The issue doesn’t present a danger. Issues like stuck valves can prevent your furnace from operating, but they don’t endanger your home. Get a repair estimate and do a cost-benefit analysis.

For more information on your furnace repair or replace issue, contact us at Ernst Heating and Cooling. We’re happy to help with all your furnace needs.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Hamel, Alton, Glen Carbon, Highland, Greenville, and Troy, Illinois and surrounding areas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about furnace replacement and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.

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