Keeping your furnace running effectively is critical for maintaining your home’s comfort and safety. That said, you want to keep the costs down for keeping your unit running well, which is why you should carefully consider when it’s time to replace your heating system. Use this guide to gain a better understanding of when you can repair your system versus when it needs to be replaced.

Consider Its Age

Age plays a significant role in determining whether to repair or replace a furnace or other heating system. Generally, gas furnaces have an expected service life of 15 to 20 years, and heat pumps last 10 to 15 years. As these systems age, the components inside begin wearing out, needing replacing. The risk of older units is that they could suffer a breakdown and leave you and your family in the cold. By tracking the age of your unit, you can replace your system before being caught by surprise.

How’s Your Utility Consumption?

In addition to your system’s age, you should watch your fuel and energy consumption. Increased energy consumption indicates the system has a problem that needs addressing. HVAC professionals have observed that there’s a significant increase in energy consumption during the last two years of service. When you see a major jump in consumption, compared to the same month from the prior year, and combine that with the furnace’s/heat pump’s age, those numbers should help you determine whether you should consider a replacement.

Analyze Your Repair History

Next, you’ll want to consider the repairs your system has needed during its life and their costs. Specifically, you need to review the repairs needed right now and the repairs over the last two seasons. When any one set of repairs is more than 50% of the cost of a new system, it likely makes sense to replace it. The other litmus test is when you add the repairs over the last two seasons and multiply it by the age of your system and that total exceeds the cost of a new system.

How Comfortable Is Your Home?

Next, consider the overall comfort of your home during the colder months. Does your home feel like it stays pretty evenly warm, or are there areas that stay cold while others get hot? This can indicate some problems with circulation, such as an airflow restriction or a dirty circulating fan. However, it may also indicate your system is nearing the end of its service life when combined with advancing age.

Your System Sounds Like a Haunted House

When it’s operating properly, a heating system should only emit a low whir while the circulating fan runs. If you have a gas furnace, you may also hear a whoosh when the furnace first lights. Other sounds, especially loud ones, indicate problems within the system.

The sounds you want to pay particular attention to include booms from within the furnace and rattling that occurs only at the beginning of a heating cycle. The booms may indicate a problem with the fuel igniting, causing a delayed ignition. Rattling at the beginning of a heating cycle may indicate a cracked heat exchanger, which creates a dangerous situation where your furnace may leak carbon monoxide into your home.

How Safe Is Your System?

There are inherent risks with operating a furnace or other heating system, and safety is a critical consideration. Aside from electrical draw, gas and carbon monoxide leaks are some of the major safety concerns with furnaces. If your carbon monoxide detector is going off, you may have a cracked heat exchanger, which usually means you’ll need to replace your furnace. These cracks often occur because the system has been overheating, weakening the metal tubes in the exchanger.

When Are You Planning To Move?

There are different schools of thought on whether you should replace your furnace when you’re planning to move. If you’re planning to stay in your home for more than 10 years and your system is aging and increasingly needing more repairs, it’s likely worth the investment. If you’re planning to move, replacing your system will not usually add to the property value. However, it may help smooth the sales process and help you get your asking price. Be sure to discuss it with your real estate agent for recommendations on if it’ll help move your home.

Property owners around Fort Mill have turned to Arce Heating & AC to keep their homes safe and comfortable since 2009. Our expert technicians provide AC and heating installation, repair and maintenance together with duct cleaning and thermostat repair. Call to schedule a consultation with one of our trusted heat system experts.

company icon