No one can predict the exact date you’ll absolutely have to replace your furnace. But one thing is for sure: it probably won’t be at the most convenient time. Since aging furnaces often fail when they’re under the highest heating demand, it will probably happen at the coldest time of the winter when you’ll have to make a snap decision and choose from a limited number of replacement options. It’s a better idea to spot the signs of impending furnace failure well in advance. Here are some things to pay attention to.
- Age of the furnace: The average gas-fired furnace has a service life of 15 years. Some may go beyond that point; many don’t get that far, but age is one factor to take into consideration. Once the furnace hits 15 years, replacement becomes a sooner-rather-than-later proposition. Safety’s another issue. Continuing to operate an aging furnace in declining mechanical condition can be dangerous to your family.
- Higher gas bills: If you’ve ruled out other causes and heating bills keep rising, suspect that aging furnace. As the years go by, furnaces become less efficient. If your unit is 15 years old, it probably had an AFUE (annualize fuel utilization efficiency) rating no higher than 70 percent when it was brand new. By now it’s using fuel less efficiently. Modern high-efficiency furnaces use 90 percent or more of their fuel to heat your home.
- Expensive repairs: It’s a good thing to be on a first-name basis with your HVAC contractor — but not because he’s at your home so often to fix your old furnace. Like any device, components in a furnace are engineered to have similar design life and begin to fail around the same time. If you’re replacing one part today, you’ll probably be replacing another soon. If repairs reach 50 percent of the price of a new furnace, it’s time to upgrade. Some expensive fixes, such as a cracked heat exchanger on an older unit out of warranty, are deal-breakers — a new furnace is always the better option.
Ernst Heating & Cooling has roots in the Metro-East area dating back to 1951. Call us now if you’re seeing signs that it’s time to replace your furnace.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in Hamel, Illinois and surrounding areas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).