Wouldn’t it be great if winter was all about snowflakes and sledding and sipping hot chocolate? Sure it would… but it’s not. It’s also about scraping ice off your windshields, 4:30 PM sunsets, and freezing cold temps. And for some of you, it might also be about making a big decision involving a significant expense: repairing or replacing a furnace.
Your furnace is among the most essential features of your household during the winter. So, what happens when your furnace needs a tune-up? Is it a major or minor repair? Is it worth it to repair it? Or is more cost effective to replace the unit altogether?
We want you to stay warm this winter, so here are eight questions to ask yourself when deciding to replace or repair your furnace.
Question 1: How old is my furnace?
One of the most significant factors in deciding to repair or replace is how old your furnace is. On average, you can expect a furnace to last 15-20 years. Many factors contribute to your furnace’s lifespan: good maintenance, quality of repairs, usage, original efficiency. But if it’s less than 15 years old, you’re probably better off repairing it. But keep in mind that some repairs can cause stress on other old parts, which can lead to a series of problems.
Question 2: When was my last repair?
Furnaces start needing more frequent repairs in the last two years of their lives. If you’ve called in the pros more than a couple times over the previous two years, it might be worth it to replace your unit.
Question 3: How long did my last repair take?
You can’t underestimate the value of your time. Did it take weeks to get your replacement parts the last time you needed a repair? If so, this means your unit is becoming outdated. This makes replacement a better choice.
Question 4: What do my heating bills look like?
You expect your winter heating bills to be high, but not this high. If you notice a significant difference between this year’s and last year’s heating bills, it might be time for a replacement. As it ages, your furnace loses efficiency—so the older your furnace is, the more money it takes to heat your home. Weigh the costs of a full replacement against how much more you’re paying on your monthly heating bills.
Question 5: Am I still comfortable?
Loss of efficiency also means your furnace isn’t as great at distributing all that warm air around your home. This leads to uneven heating and worse indoor air quality. If you’re experiencing any of these things, it might be time to replace your furnace:
- Colder indoor temperatures
- Constant cycling to keep up with your heating needs
- Hot and cold spots
- Drier or stuffier air
- More dust accumulation
- Static shocks
- Drooping plants
- Cracking furniture
- Musical instruments not staying in tune
Question 6: Am I hearing strange noises?
When you’re turning on your furnace for the first time this season, you might hear some rattling or other sounds as your furnace gets back into working condition. But ongoing sounds like banging, popping, rattling, and squealing are indications of a problem. It could be something easy to repair. Or it could mean your furnace is working way too hard to heat your home. Calling in MasterTech, the Columbia HVAC techs, can help you decide your next steps.
Question 7: Am I moving soon?
Furnaces are long-term investments. If you’re moving homes within the next year or so, it’s essential to factor in your furnace. You might need to replace the furnace to meet inspection standards or to make your home more marketable.
Question 8: Are there any other funky things happening in my house?
All furnaces come with a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. But the older your furnace, the more likely this deadly problem becomes. Here are some warning signs that carbon monoxide is leaking into your home:
- Yellow or flickering flame inside your furnace
- Streaks of soot around the unit
- Absence of upward draft in your chimney
- Moisture on walls, windows, or other cold surfaces
- Rusting on flue pipes or appliances jacks
- Water leaking from the base of the chimney, a vent, or flue pipe
- Rust on an outside vent pipe
- Sudden onset of nausea, disorientation, headaches, drowsiness, or other flu-like symptoms
If the last one is true, get outside immediately and call for emergency assistance. Then contact us to discuss your replacement options.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line often comes down to weighing age against cost. Here’s our general recommendation: If your current furnace is less than 15 years old—and if fixing it would cost less than a third of a replacement unit—then repair it. But every situation is unique, and we’d be happy to offer a custom recommendation.
As your Columbia HVAC professionals, we can handle all your furnace needs. Give us a call today!