How old is your furnace? Is it the same old furnace that was there when you first moved in? Just like any piece of equipment, furnaces need regular maintenance and upkeep to keep them running in peak condition. With regular maintenance, you can expect to get 15 to 20 years on average of service out of a good-quality furnace.
So, how often should you replace your furnace? Furnaces are kind of like old cars. Even with regular maintenance and a good brand, there’s no hard guarantee that the car will make it to over 200,000 miles or that the furnace will make it past 20 years of service. There are a lot of factors that will affect that number.
Some furnaces will remain energy efficient for a decade or more before starting to degrade in efficiency. Others will have shorter lifespans even with regular furnace tuneups.
When Should I Replace My Furnace?
Determining how often your furnace should be replaced comes down to a judgment call. Keeping with the car analogy, small but vital components in your car or furnace can break down. If caught early, that part can be replaced to repair the functionality. If ignored, that broken piece can put extra stress on the rest of the system’s parts and hasten them to a shorter lifespan.
Whether or not you should replace your furnace comes down to what it costs to keep the furnace running and the inconvenience it will cause if it breaks down.
6 Signs You Should Replace Your Furnace
To help with your judgment call on whether you should replace your furnace, watch for the following signs.
1. Costly Furnace Repairs
If your furnace consistently requires more repairs and replacement parts, it’s time to replace your heater. Constantly getting servicemen out to replace parts and repair your furnace will add up to much more than a simple replacement.
2. Furnace Is Making Loud Noises During Operation
There are various noises that indicate your furnace needs replacement or repair. Listen for abnormally loud sounds like the following:
- Popping sounds are caused by changes in the temperature of metal components such as the heat exchanger. Loud popping noises are usually a bad sign.
- Rattling noises are often caused by loose ducts or equipment. These can usually be repaired, but not always.
- Screeching noises are an indication of a broken furnace blower motor, though a loose or broken belt or pulley can also cause it.
- Humming sounds are standard for normal operation, but if they become noticeably louder, you should get it checked out.
- Clicking sounds may indicate a problem with the flame sensor or igniter. This is usually an easy repair.
- Booming sounds may be a sign of severe gas emission problems. The boom is generated from a brief delay in the ignition process, which leads to too much gas being ignited at once. A lingering gas odor is a sign that something is wrong, and it’s time to hire an HVAC professional.
3. Rising Energy Bills
Over time, furnaces naturally start to lose their original energy efficiency. It takes more energy or fuel to do the same amount of heating it once did. If you see that your energy bill is getting larger over time, and it’s unrelated to the weather, it’s probably time to replace the furnace.
Newer furnaces will measure and report their AFUE rating, which is Energy.gov’s measuring system of energy efficiency for gas-based furnaces and boilers. You can retrofit old furnaces with the sensors that will tell you what the AFUE rating is. A furnace with an AFUE rating of 80 means that for every $100 you spend on energy, only $80 is being converted into heat; the rest is lost to waste gases that exit your home through exhaust pipes.
4. Uneven Heating
Are the temperatures in your home wildly fluctuating? Sudden temperature changes could be due to problems with the duct system or the thermostat calibration, or they could be due to problems with your furnace.
5. Your Furnace is Over 15 Years Old
Older furnaces have low efficiency and cannot convert as much fuel into heat as efficiently as new units. Parts start to break down, and your furnace can be out of service for days at a time if you have to wait for service or replacement parts.
How long will your home not have heat if you have to wait for a full replacement? Kind of like an old, unreliable car, it’s best to replace your furnace with something reliable so that you know when you really need it to work, it will.
6. Soot on the Vents or Furnace Register
If you have soot or dust lingering throughout the house, it could be that there is a problem with your heat exchanger, and waste products from the combustion process are leaking into your ductwork. This excess production of carbon dioxide or carbon monoxide isn’t healthy to breathe and is an indication of problems with your heat exchanger.
Holes in the heat exchanger almost always warrant a replacement of the heat exchanger. Heat exchangers are expensive enough that it’s probably worthwhile to replace the entire furnace.
Gilmore Air’s expert HVAC technicians will find the root cause of your problems with your furnace. Call Gilmore for professional heater replacement services in Sacramento and surrounding areas.