Your furnace is an integral aspect of your home and a significant investment. New furnaces cost thousands of dollars, and it is understandable that homeowners want to make them last as long as possible. There comes a point, however, where you are actually losing money by sticking with your old unit and not investing in a new one. With that in mind, let us consider the various warning signs you should heed that it is at least time to start considering a furnace replacement.
The Age of Your Heating System Is Often a Deciding Factor
The age of your furnace is by far the most important factor when determining whether to replace the unit, and while you do not necessarily have to replace it when it reaches a certain year, this is indeed the context through which all of the other advice presented here will be viewed. The average lifespan of a furnace is often stated as 15 to 20 years. In actuality, electric furnaces can last upward of 30 years, and even gas furnaces can exceed 20 years with proper maintenance and a little luck. Nevertheless, the 15-year mark is the point at which age should be the primary consideration in your decision-making.
Your Heating Costs Are Going Up and Up
Budgeting experts recommend that homeowners track their heating expenses each month. By the end of the second year, you now have an idea of how much you owe each month, and that data will only get more robust with each passing year. This data not only helps you budget but makes it easier to detect outliers. It will also let you analyze trends. The older your furnace gets, the more expensive it will be to run, and this data you have been tracking will tell you exactly how much. Sure, you may be able to hang on another decade, but the data may reveal that doing so simply is not worth the additional expense.
An HVAC Maintenance Technician Tells You the Time Is Night
Seasonal furnace maintenance is essential to ensuring that a furnace lasts as long as possible and that you minimize your total cost of ownership. Within the context of the years that you could lose without it, the cost of seasonal inspections and tune-ups are nominal. It is also beneficial if you build an ongoing relationship with an HVAC company you trust and rely on. Over the years, that team will get to know your system and will maintain records on it. If at some point after year 15 your trusted technician tells you it is time to think replacement, then doing so will likely be in your best long-term financial interest.
You Are Scheduling Heating Repairs More Often
Your furnace will likely require small repairs over the years. This includes replacing worn belts and wires, but when the fixes get more involved and thus expensive, it is time to consider why this is happening. If the furnace is younger than 15 years, then there may be a manufacturing defect that is causing a cascade of issues and perhaps a warranty claim is in order. On the other hand, if the unit is older than 15 years, then you have to expect that the repairs will get even more frequent and expensive. Trust your HVAC professional when it comes to choosing between repair and replacement.
Furnace Noises Are Becoming Louder, More Frequent and More Diverse
You know your furnace better than anyone. Modern furnaces in modern homes tend to be rather quiet. But in older homes and depending on location, some noises are expected. A little bit of noise when a furnace cycles up, for instance, is usually nothing to be concerned with. However, if your furnace is developing new sounds and any or all of the sounds are getting louder and more frequent, then this is a clear indication that your furnace is no longer operating as efficiently as it once did. You should at the very least schedule an inspection to determine what has caused the increase in noise.
Home Is Slow to Heat or You Experience Uneven Heating
One of the most common problems that arises as a furnace gets older is that a home does not feel as warm or comfortable as it once did. It is worth pointing out that this is often a thermostat problem and not a furnace problem, but if you rule that out, then this could be a sign of old age. What often happens is an older furnace no longer has an optimal cycle. That can lead to a home heating slower than it used to. Another potential issue is a loss of pressure, and the most common symptom of this is uneven heating, which during winter, people will sometimes refer to as cold spots.
The Home Experiences Even More Dryness When the Furnace Runs
Old furnaces can also diminish your air quality, and it is not unusual as the furnace gets older for the heated air in a home to feel drier and drier. One of the telltale signs of this is increased static electricity. You may also notice drier skin and irritated eyes, nose, mouth and throat. Low humidity is not only an irritant. It undermines your home heating. The lower the humidity, the less warm you feel. That leads many people to turn up the thermostat and thus end up paying more for their heating.
You Have Noticed More Dust During the Heating Season
Another way that an old furnace diminishes indoor air quality is by introducing more dust. Inefficiencies throughout the system can be leading to more dust accumulation that gets distributed throughout your home. If dust is building up faster in your home and nothing has changed in terms of your dusting habits, then you will definitely want to investigate the ventilation system and the furnace itself.
Cracks, Rust and Other Visible Wear on the Furnace Unit
If you have been scheduling regular furnace maintenance, then your technician should have identified potential problems before they developed into cracks, rust accumulation and other significant wear. If there is a fault in the heat exchanger itself, then is a rather serious health risk. A cracked heat exchanger will introduce a wide range of dangerous gases to the home that can cause illness and even death. The heat exchanger is the most important aspect of a furnace and the most expensive. At this point, it is less about whether you should replace the furnace and more about how soon you can do it.
Your Furnace Specialists in Central Pennsylvania and Northern Maryland
HB McClure is a proud employee-owned American company. The HB Home Service Team has been installing, servicing and repairing furnaces and other home heating equipment since 1914. Our service areas include Central Pennsylvania—Carlisle, Harrisburg, Hershey and York—and Northern Maryland: Baltimore, Carroll and Howard counties. Our company installs, services and repairs home cooling equipment as well, and we have licensed plumbers who specialize in tankless and tank-based water heaters, water softening and conditioning, well systems and sewer lines. Contact us today with any questions about our services, and call us at your convenience to schedule an appointment.