When your heat goes out, it always seems to be at the worst possible time. Sometimes a repair to your furnace is simple and inexpensive. Other times, they can really start to add up.
Just like with your car, making a decision about when to repair an aging HVAC versus replacement is a big decision and a big expense- so how do you know whether it’s the right time to consider a new furnace?
Below are the factors homeowners need to consider when making a decision to repair your current aging system, or when you should start considering a replacement.
- Strange smells or noises
- Increased energy bills
- Your thermostat isn’t keeping you comfortable
- Multiple repairs in the past two or three years
- Age of your current system
Strange Smells or Noises
If your furnace is giving off strange smells, if there is yellow flame instead of blue on your pilot, if you have excess moisture in your home, increased soot around your furnace, rusty pipes, or if you ever feel nausea, headaches or flu like symptoms in the home, it’s possible you could have a carbon monoxide leak.
Carbon monoxide leaks can be deadly, so if you notice any of these signs, shut don your system and call your HVAC contractor immediately.
As furnaces age, the main heat exchanger can become brittle and crack after years of heating and cooling cycles- it’s just metal fatigue.
They can start to leak carbon monoxide through these small cracks and holes, and it can build up in your home, causing illness and even death!
Replacing a heat exchanger is VERY expensive, and it is almost always more cost effective to replace your current furnace than to replace just the exchanger.
Since carbon monoxide is an odorless, tasteless gas, it can be hard to detect.
That’s why we strongly recommend every home have a carbon monoxide detector installed, so you can be aware of issues before they affect you and your family’s health and safety.
Strange banging noises, squealing or other sounds may be a sign your blower fan or other components are starting to fail ,and you should contact an HVAC contractor to come out and inspect your system.
Increased Energy Bills
While the price of gas and heating oil are increasing, if you find your energy bills are spiking without a big change in your use, it may be that your HVAC system is starting to fail.
It may be that parts and components of your current furnace are wearing out and beginning to fail, making it harder for the system to keep up with demand and leading to longer run time- increasing your energy bills.
This is definitely a sign to have your system serviced, and check for any problems.
Your Thermostat Isn’t Keeping You Comfortable
If you feel like there are rooms in your home that are too hot and too cool- the bedrooms are a sauna while your living room is a freezer- that could be a sign that your furnace cannot distribute air evenly in your home to keep you comfortable.
It can be a sign that the system is improperly sized for your home, or that it is starting to have problems keeping up with demand- a sign to get your system serviced, to be sure.
Multiple Repairs In the Past Few Years
As we mentioned above, HVAC systems and furnaces are responsible for heating and cooling your home. These temperature fluctuations eventually have a detrimental effect on the components of your furnace.
Just like how parts of your car eventually wear out after being subjected to the heat and cooling of your engine- eventually metal fatigue sets in on the furnace parts and they become brittle and crack.
If your repairs are starting to add up to between ⅓ and ½ the cost of a replacement system, you may want to start thinking about replacement.
You will end up saving moneyreplacing a system that’s starting to wear out piecepiece, especially if it’s over 15 years old- and you’ll likely save even more money on monthly energy billsgetting a new system that’s more energy efficient.
Age of Your Current System
Most furnaces tend to last 16- 20 years. If your system is in that range or older, it may be getting to the end of its expected life span.
The good news is that many newer systems are much more energy-efficient, and a new system could reduce your current energy bills substantially, while also keeping you more comfortable throughout your home.
If your system is getting older and starting to need more repairs, doing a planned system replacement in the Spring when many HVAC contractors aren’t as busy can lead to substantial savings- especially compared to the inconvenience and expense of an emergency repair in the middle of Winter.
Good HVAC companies will also do a “load calculation” to make sure your new system is suited for your home, and they can even create zones of heating and cooling, which can save you lots of money on energy bills.
Even better, there are new tax credits coming in 2023 for people adopting high-efficiency heating and cooling systems, like ductless mini-split heat pump systems.
The new tax credits, along with rebate programs offeredyour local energy provider for upgrading to more energy-efficient systems can lead to substantial savings. That helps make the replacement of your current system more affordable than you may realize.
The Bottom Line
If your current system is older than 16 years, you should probably start planning for its eventual replacement. If you start to see an unexpected increase in your energy use, notice issues with your current system, or have had multiple repairs over the past few years, you may want to consider replacing your system sooner than later.
The good news is that newer furnaces and HVAC systems are more reliable, more efficient, and you could end up significantly reducing your monthly energy bills while increasing your comfort with a new system designed for your home.
Be sure to call your local trusted HVAC contractor for more information and how a planned furnace replacement might be just the thing to keep you warm, without throwing cold water on your budget.