Fall has arrived. Days are getting shorter, leaves are changing, and soon the cold weather will be here. This is a great time to make certain your furnace can withstand the winter and keep your home nice and toasty. It is important to have your furnace cleaned and inspected on a regular basis for optimal performance. Although, sometimes despite our best efforts, a furnace system can and will need repairs and sometimes replacement. When a problem arises, it’s not always immediately evident which situation you’ve got on your hands. That’s why we’ve put together a list of ways to help you determine if you simply need repairs or a new furnace.
1.) You’ve had your furnace for over 15 years.
A furnace that is past its 15-year mark and starting to need more than regular maintenance, most likely needs replacing. Even though it is working, it is probably not functioning as well as it should be and as a result your utility bills are undoubtedly high. The older your furnace gets, the more maintenance it will require. The last few years of operation are usually the most expensive, in terms of repairs as well as energy costs. If yours is 15 to 20 years or older and your repair costs are more than 15 percent of a new furnace, you should replace it. Also take note, if your repair costs are 50 percent or more of the cost of a new furnace, replace it, regardless of the age.
If you are noticing higher utility bills, but your furnace seems to be operating well with little maintenance repairs, there are a few options for lowering your bill without purchasing a new furnace. Update your old thermostat to one that can be programmed. Have your duct system cleaned or updated. Portable heaters or electric fireplaces can add a significant amount of heat to your home at a low cost. Even the simple addition of extra blankets, throws, or quilts throughout the house; heating blankets are especially nice on cold winter nights.
Keep in mind that 15 years is used a general rule, a furnace’s lifespan is determined by many factors, and your furnace might still have some life left! A well cared-for, reliable furnaces can last up to 30 years. You can find out more about your particular furnace’s expected lifespan in your owner’s manual or by calling the manufacturer.
2.) Energy bills and repairs are continually growing.
An older furnace works much harder to deliver the same quality of heating it did as a new system. This results in higher utility bills and repeated repairs. A small increase in both the energy bills and repair costs is to be expected with an older unit. However, once these increases become significant, you may need to consider purchasing a new furnace. Ultimately, the money and time saved from a new, more efficient furnace will be worth it. Our HVAC experts will be able to determine if your furnace still has some life left or if it’s time to upgrade to a new one.
3.) Rooms in your home are noticeably different temperatures.
If you’ve experienced rooms in your home being colder or warmer than others, this is likely due to having an older furnace. An old furnace and duct system can easily lose its ability to circulate and evenly distribute heat throughout your home. If there is a noticeable difference in temperature from room to room, contact our HVAC professionals and we can discuss your options.
4.) Your registers have soot around them.
Older furnaces can begin to emit dirt, dust, or even small bits of rust. This can be frustrating when trying to keep your house clean, but it is also dangerous to your health. If you notice rust or soot around your furnace or registers, it’s an indication that your furnace has excessive amounts of CO2. This can create unnecessary dryness, which affects hardwood floors, walls, wood furniture, and indoor plants. Dry eyes, itchy throats, and headaches can result from dryness as well. If you or a family member start to experience these symptoms or if your indoor plants have begun to wilt, you most likely need to schedule an appointment with one of our HVAC professionals to discuss your options.
5.) Your furnace is noisier than usual.
It is normal for your furnace when turning on and off, to make some noise.If those noises are becoming increasingly louder, it may be time to for a new furnace. These sounds could be humming, rattling, squealing/screeching, or popping. The problem is, with noises, it’s a little more difficult for a homeowner to identify if the noise means it’s time for a new furnace or if there are simply parts that need replacing or tightening up. We’ve listed the most common sounds and their culprits below:
• Humming: Your furnace’s fan motor will create an electrical hum, but this should never be excessively noisy or disturbing. If you have the latter of the two, your blower fan motor or inducer motor is most likely starting to go out.
• Rattling: This can be the result of loose screws, duct work, or sheet metal. It could also be a sign that your furnace’s lower motor isn’t balanced properly.
• Squealing or Screeching:This noise is a sign that the inducer motor or blower motor has a problem, which could include a deteriorating belt, complications with the pulley that holds the belt, or a loose bearing.
• Popping:When the temperatures outside and in fluctuate, the parts in your furnace will respond by warming up and cooling off, which can cause a popping sound.
Before purchasing a new furnace, schedule an appointment with our HVAC professionals. We can determine what option is best for you. Whether it be a few repairs or a new furnace, our experts can help you make the right decision.