If you’re having problems with your furnace, you might be wondering how to know when it will be fixed and when you should get it replaced. You don’t want to spend money fixing it only to have to replace it in the end. You also don’t want to replace it when it can be fixed and still give you years of warmth.
Thankfully, there are ways to tell if you can repair a furnace issue or replace it. Here are four ways to determine what you should do based on our expert furnace knowledge.
Check the Age of your Furnace
The average lifespan of a furnace is between 15 and 20 years, depending on how well it is maintained. If you care for it well, you might be able to get 20 years out of it. On the other hand, you will likely have to replace it within 5 or 10 years if you don’t schedule maintenance, don’t get filters replaced.
However, even the best-maintained furnace can experience with an unforeseen issue. Once it hits the 15-year mark, it’s a good idea to start looking for a replacement.
Monitor Your Energy Usage
There might not be an urgent issue, but the furnace might stop functioning efficiently due to some smaller issues. One way to tell if this is the case is to monitor your energy use month to month — you might see it slowly creeping up over several months, to the point that your energy bill is getting ridiculous.
You can have it inspected, but if it’s already 15+ years old, it’s a good time to replace it. If it’s still somewhat new, an inspection might find some issues where it doesn’t make sense to repair it.
Cost of Breakdowns & Repairs
No matter how old your furnace is, or how efficiently it operates, you may find yourself dealing with a significant breakdown that will require costly repairs. Our general rule of thumb is that if the cost to repair a furnace is over half of what it would cost to get a replacement, you should get it replaced.
The reason is that a breakdown that costs that much to repair—on a system that old—is not likely to stay functional for more than a few years. It’s more likely to lead to other repairs in the not so distant future. At that point, it could save you money in the long-term to get it replaced right away.
Signs of Serious Problems
If you want to be able to find signs of a severe problem with your furnace, here is a list of the everyday things we look for besides its age and energy use:
- Frequent repairs over the past 1-2 years
- Weird smells
- Difficulty getting started up
- The pilot light is discolored
- Doesn’t provide adequate heating
- Makes constant loud noises
- Reduced air quality in your home
- Starts regularly setting off your carbon monoxide alarm
If this sounds like your furnace, you can have a furnace technician come for a professional assessment to give you a better idea of its condition. They will take all of the above into account to tell you its current state, so you can make an informed decision about what to do.
For more information on furnace care, see: Why Is My Furnace Not Blowing Any Hot Air?