To repair or replace is one of the top HVAC questions we hear. When it comes to your furnace, how do you know when you should repair your furnace and when you should replace it? All furnaces will need repairs at some point, but here are four factors to consider when deciding if you should repair or replace your furnace.
Does your furnace have any safety issues? Perhaps your furnace is at risk for overheating and starting a fire, or there is a risk of a carbon monoxide or natural gas leak into your home. Whatever the safety issue is, then don’t think twice about replacing the furnace. It is not worth risking the safety of your family.
When it comes to people, age is just a number, right? The saying goes, “You are as young as you feel.” However, when it comes to your furnace, that is not the case. A properly-maintained furnace can last for 15-20 years. If your furnace is still pretty new, then a repair is most likely. But as your furnace gets older and closer to the 15- to 20-year range, it becomes less efficient, and you are likely paying more for your older furnace’s energy usage than a newer, energy-efficient furnace. Also, as furnaces age, they require more repairs, and those repairs could be more expensive due to the age of the furnace.
Weigh the cost of a repair vs. the cost of a new furnace. There are a few ways to calculate if you should pay for a repair or a replacement:
- Consider replacement if your system is beyond three-quarters of its life expectancy and repairs will cost more than one-third of a replacement. For example, if your furnace is 16 years old and the repair will cost $1,000, consider replacement.
- Multiply the cost of the repair by the age of the furnace in years. If it is more than the cost of a new furnace, then consider getting a replacement. If it is less, then consider paying for the repair. For example, a $500 repair for a 15-year-old furnace equals $7,500 whereas a new furnace can cost anywhere between $2,500 to $6,000 installed, so a replacement is better in this scenario.
Other factors to consider if you get a furnace repair are how long will the repair last, how often will you need to have it repaired for this issue (and other issues) again and what will it cost in monthly energy bills. Additional factors to consider if you get a furnace replacement is what warranty is offered (what it covers and for how long) and how much it will save in monthly energy bills.
The AFUE rating (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) measures how efficiently a gas furnace converts fuel into energy. The more energy efficient a furnace is, the higher the AFUE rating will be, and the more you will save on your energy bill. For example, a furnace with an AFUE rating of 85 means 85 percent of its fuel will be turned into useable heat to heat your home, and about 15 percent of its fuel is wasted or lost through the exhaust, air leaks, etc. The yellow Energy Guide label on the furnace will tell you the AFUE rating.
Since 1992, furnaces have had a minimum AFUE rating of 78 percent as determined by the U.S. Department of Energy. For furnaces sold after September 2015, the new minimum AFUE rating is between 80-83 percent, depending on the type of furnace. If your furnace has a lower AFUE rating than this, you should consider a replacement for the money you’ll save on your energy bill alone.
For even more factors to consider when it may be time for a furnace replacement, check out ENERGY STAR’s list.
If the time has come to replace your furnace, take into account these three factors before investing in your new furnace.
Stiles Heating, Cooling, & Plumbing can inspect your furnace and give a professional assessment of whether a repair or replacement is your best next step. And when the time comes, we can also help you select and install the best furnace for your family’s needs. Contact Stiles Heating, Cooling, & Plumbing today with your questions or to schedule an HVAC maintenance appointment.