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When Should You Replace Your Furnace?

when to replace furnace

The time to replace furnace equipment is difficult for many Indianapolis area homeowners to identify. The average life expectancy of any gas furnace, oil furnace, or electric furnace isn’t set in stone, leaving you to search the HVAC system for warning signs that point to a failing furnace rather than a heating unit that can survive just fine with furnace repair. Rising energy bills, frequent repairs, hot and cold spots, poor indoor air quality, and other symptoms arise as a furnace ages, but do these signs mean you need to replace your furnace or could furnace repairs fix up your old furnace and give you better energy efficiency while helping you save money on furnace replacement costs?

For most, the decision to replace your furnace versus continuing to repair the current furnace comes down to the financials. While the total cost to buy a furnace replacement is much higher than the price of repairs, there does come a point where it just doesn’t make sense to spend money on another simple repair for older units, as all you’re doing is putting off the inevitable – your heating system will need a replacement furnace sooner than later. Still, how do you determine when it’s time to replace and trade your existing unit for a new, efficient furnace?

While we cannot give you an exact expiration date for furnaces, Williams Comfort Air can help you weigh this decision by sharing the factors you should consider that apply to most furnaces as you decide between making repairs or moving to replace a furnace. Typical lifespan, furnace maintenance over the years, higher energy bills, efficiency, and more are all elements that any HVAC professional would recommend you evaluate once your furnace reaches a certain point. Receive guidance from HVAC industry pros below and contact us anytime you need repairs or a new system.

Furnace Replacement or Furnace Repair?

The choice to repair an old furnace or to install a new furnace instead is highly subjective. Take two furnaces with the same amount of use in two different homes – the average lifespan of these two heating systems won’t be the same, even if the equipment is the exact same size and model. Operating conditions, regular maintenance, energy costs from the utility company, and other factors will vary greatly over the years and impact just how long one can expect the system to last.

Average Lifespan

An HVAC contractor usually suggests that when you are deciding between repairs and furnace replacement, start with the average life expectancy for the type of furnace you have. This number is going to be different for each type of furnace, as a natural gas furnace, oil furnace, and electric furnace have great differences.

  • Natural gas furnaces usually average between 15 to 20 years of service.
  • Oil furnaces average 15 to 25 years of service.
  • Electric furnaces typically last between 20 to 30 years.

The age of a furnace is a really high-level point to look at when you’re faced with making repairs or upgrading to a new furnace. The general recommendation is that if your old furnace is close to the range for average service life, within range, or beyond that range, furnace replacement is on the horizon regardless. So it may be wise to replace your furnace versus completing repairs at that point for the shear fact that you probably only have a few years left on your natural gas furnace, oil furnace, or electric furnace anyway. The same advice typically applies for air conditioning equipment too, whether you have an air conditioner or a heat pump unit.

Age of an old furnace can certainly be used as the determining factor as you decide whether to repair or replace it. However, the age of your HVAC system doesn’t tell you anything about how long it will really last. Really, you should consider the age of your unit alongside other factors, as how you have used and cared for the furnace over the years has a great impact on the number of years you can truly expect the current furnace to last. Did you perform maintenance regularly? What temperatures did you keep in the home? These elements have a direct effect on the service life of your furnace.

If your furnace and AC unit received a tune up every spring and fall, you can likely anticipate the lifespan of your system to exceed the average for its type. Maintenance alleviates wear and tear that can damage furnaces and cause them to fail, not to mention help them maintain energy efficient performance with less operating stress so your heating bills stay low. If you didn’t schedule a tune up for your HVAC system each season, there’s a good chance your furnace or AC unit will fail before it reaches its expected service life.

Repairs Needed

When natural gas furnaces or any other type of heating system are near, within, or beyond the average years of service for their type of equipment need repair, the answer isn’t automatically time to replace. Furnace replacement costs total thousands of dollars for a new furnace, while furnace repair could be as low as a hundred dollars or so, depending on the issue at hand. If the needed repairs are minor and quite affordable, you may be able to get a few more years of good use from your existing furnace by making repairs and save money by holding off on buying new gas furnaces or other units.

Look at the age of your system as well as what needs done to boost its performance and improve its energy efficiency. Yellow flames are warning signs that can mean dirty burners, which just need a quick cleaning, and then your furnace will be able to properly ignite fossil fuels and burn natural gas from the gas lines and heat the entire home for another winter season. This is a repair you’ll likely want to make, even in an older furnace.

Cracked heat exchanger risking your family’s health by allowing too much carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide to leak out? This is a bigger system issue that often makes more financial sense to replace your furnace than to install a brand-new heat exchanger in a furnace that’s likely to die in a few short years. Strange noises like grinding and squealing may mean a motor is bad, and it doesn’t always make sense to place a new component into a system that isn’t expected to last as long as that part is designed to run.

Repair Cost

In addition to the type and severity of repairs needed to improve old furnaces, the cost of heating repairs should always be examined. If your old furnace has lots of little things that need to be fixed, these add up and even simple repairs can come with a hefty price tag.

An honest take is just part of our customer experience, as we know the price of repairs weighs greatly on your decision to repair or replace your furnace. In the HVAC industry, we have something called the 5,000 rule for this situation. The 5,000 rule can be helpful to you as you decide between repairs or buying a new furnace.

  • Multiply the cost of the repairs needed by the age of your current system.
  • If the answer is over 5,000, a replacement furnace likely makes more financial sense.
  • If the answer is under 5,000, repairs may be financially acceptable.

Another general way you can compare repair expenses to furnace replacement costs is looking at the repair price compared to the price of a new furnace. If the repairs needed to fix your old furnace total more than half the price of installing a new furnace, you may be better off pursuing furnace replacement. This is especially so if your current furnace is up there in age.

General System Performance

Repairs aside, it’s perhaps even more important to consider your experience with the current furnace. If the furnace isn’t energy efficient due to years of wear, your utility bills may be much higher than they would be if you upgraded to a new energy efficient model that lowered your heating bills with less energy use. If you’re tired of paying a high price for heat, a new heating unit can give you efficiency that your current furnace can’t, even with repairs. If your goal is bringing down your energy bills and the price to heat your home, a new furnace is the way to go.

Is the old furnace heating your home properly? Is your family comfortable over the winter season or do you struggle with rooms heated unevenly and other temperature discrepancies? Some comfort issues can be solved through repairs to an older furnace, but performance is just going to continue to degrade as time goes on. If you’re sick of not having enough heat where you need it, it may be the best choice to go ahead and upgrade to a new furnace with high efficiency performance.

Furnace Repairs and Replacement in Indianapolis

No matter what your decision, whether it’s to repair your old furnace or to replace it with a new one, Williams Comfort Air can make it happen. Contact us today to schedule furnace repairs or to request an estimate for a furnace replacement in your home.

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