During the winter heating season, your home’s furnace becomes an essential component to your comfort. If you’re having furnace problems, then you might be wondering if it’s time for a new furnace or if you should simply repair yours. While it can make sense to repair your furnace, sometimes, depending on the cost it would amount to, it’s smarter to just replace it. There are many factors that can help you decide whether you should repair or replace your furnace. An HVAC professional can also help guide you in your decision.
When to repair your furnace?
In most cases, issues with your furnace can be easily identified and repaired by your HVAC professional; especially for a new furnace (meaning less than 10 years of system life). Usually, as long as your furnace is successfully heating your home and you’re not seeing a steady increase in your heating bills, then it’s in your best interest to repair it and your furnace is considered operationally sound. A good general rule of thumb regarding furnace repairs is that assuming the total cost of the repairs are less than one-third of what a new heating system would cost you and your furnace is in the first half of its anticipated lifetime, repair is most likely your best decision. Even if you’re experiencing a drop in heating efficiency, there are other avenues you can explore before considering replacing your furnace. Get your HVAC specialist to inspect your heating system, because sometimes, upgrading your thermostat or checking the integrity of your ductwork could boost the efficiency of your furnace.
When to replace your furnace?
One instance where there is no question about whether to repair or replace your furnace is if it is emitting carbon monoxide. Any system that could potentially expose you and your family to carbon monoxide needs to be replaced – not repaired – as soon as possible. A furnace with a cracked combustion chamber allows carbon monoxide to leak into your home and should always be replaced immediately. Known as the silent killer, carbon monoxide is an odourless, tasteless, colorless gas that causes death when inhaled over long periods of time. A high number of carbon monoxide poisoning related deaths occur in the winter during the months of frequent furnace use. Signs that your furnace might be emitting carbon monoxide are a yellow furnace burner flame instead of blue; excess moisture on windows, walls, and other surfaces; rusting on pipes; streaks of soot around the furnace; absence of upward draft in the chimney; or feelings of nausea, disorientation, headaches, and other flu-like symptoms. If you notice any of these symptoms, you need to evacuate your home immediately, notify the proper authorities, and seek medical attention as soon as possible. Once things settle, consider calling a heating professional to get your furnace replaced.
When it’s harder to decide, follow these guidelines!
If the system is less than 15 years old, it’s often best to have it repaired rather than install a new one; any system over 15 years old is prone to frequent and expensive repairs so it’s better to replace it. When the repairs needed amount to less than 50% of the replacement cost, then it’s more cost efficient to repair it, as opposed to a furnace over three-quarters of its life expectancy and approach one-third of the cost of replacement. Also, repair if your furnace needs minor maintenance such as low airflow, water leaks or thermostat repairs, and get a second opinion for repeated repairs of a newer system. For major repairs such as a damaged heat exchanger or control module, replace your system. Finally, something else to consider is if you’re thinking about selling your home in the next few years. If real estate values are low in your region, it may be more economical to make simple repairs that allow your system to function and pass inspection for the remainder of your time in your current home; however, an outdated system should be replaced to pass inspection and satisfy buyers.
Some other considerations to help with your decision include knowing how much you could potentially save by replacing your older, less efficient equipment with new high efficiency heating and air conditioning. At the end of the day, repairing or replacing your heating system is a decision that only you can make based on your financial, comfort, and environmental needs. You can also count on the help of your HVAC professional!