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5 things to keep in mind about furnace replacement

furnace-replacement

 

Our home furnaces keep us comfortable. Thanks to the furnace, we can feel warm and cozy, even when cold winter winds blow. However, if the furnace starts to break down or fail, we want to make sure we get it replaced as quickly as possible.

If you need to replace your furnace, we will walk you through some key points to keep in mind as you prepare for this investment.

 

When should you replace your furnace?

You depend on your furnace to keep your home comfortable in the winter. Therefore, this is not an appliance you want to have break unexpectedly. Learn to recognize key signs that the furnace might be approaching the end of its life span. This attention can help you anticipate a needed replacement and not get caught by surprise. 

Here are a few key signs and symptoms to watch for when caring for your furnace:

  • Furnace repairs increase in frequency. If you need to replace parts of your furnace more often, or if those repairs become more expensive, that is a good indicator that your furnace is starting to reach the end of its life span.
  • The furnace needs to work harder than usual. This issue can manifest itself in a few different ways. The furnace might start turning on and off more frequently. Or you might not be using it more often than before, but your energy and heating bills have begun to go through the roof.
  • The furnace does not seem to work properly. You will often notice problems with the furnace’s overall function when it gets closer to breaking down. The humidity in the home might seem higher than it did before, or the home might fail to stay consistently warm. Some rooms might feel very warm while others have a chill.
  • You see noticeable damage to the furnace. When you inspect your furnace, you might also see some visible damage, such as rust or corrosion around the appliance. The heat exchanger itself might also be cracked.
  • You hear strange sounds coming from the furnace. If you hear something rattling around as the furnace kicks on, new buzzing noises or other new symptoms, these can also be good clues that your furnace has started to develop some serious problems that you should examine.
  • You see dust and soot coming out of the furnace. This problem can become particularly prominent around the register. 

Making the final decision about whether to replace a furnace will often need to be decided on a case-by-case basis. An HVAC professional can fix some of these issues and temporarily extend the life of your furnace. However, you need to balance the increasing costs of owning an old furnace, including maintenance costs, with the new furnace replacement cost and the potential to take advantage of the improved energy efficiency of the new technology. You will also want to carefully consider the total life span of your furnace, which we will explore in more depth.

 

How long do home furnaces typically last?

The age of the HVAC system is one of the most important factors to keep in mind when evaluating whether to replace an aging furnace or just fix it. Once a furnace reaches the end of its life span, it is often better to simply replace the system.

The exact life span of a given furnace will vary depending on several factors. These factors include:

  • How well you have maintained the furnace over the years
  • How much you use the furnace
  • The furnace brand you have chosen

In most situations, assuming regular maintenance, the life span for a furnace is 15 to 20 years. Once a furnace reaches 15 years old, many homeowners will find that the cost associated with repairing the appliance will outpace the cost of replacing it. This point becomes particularly true when considering modern improvements in the technology that make newer furnaces more efficient and less costly to run.

If you decide to replace your furnace, keep a few things in mind to find the best solution for your home.

 

5 things to keep in mind when replacing your furnace

furnace-replacement-things-to-keep-in-mind

 

As you prepare to replace your furnace, we will explore some key questions to ask yourself. These questions can help you plan for your future investment to find the best furnace for your home and needs. 

Decide between professional and DIY furnace replacement

DIY furnace replacement can sound like a tempting way to save money, but it can cost you more in the long run. Poor furnace installation can significantly impact the life span of your furnace. 

For example, if the system is poorly connected and sealed, it can shorten the furnace’s life span. Improperly installed parts can even become dangerous for anyone living in the home. For example, you could have a buildup of carbon monoxide without proper venting. 

Therefore, unless you happen to be a qualified HVAC installation specialist, this type of job is typically handled best by professional contractors. 

Some people have the DIY skills needed to install the unit. If you want to install your furnace, keep in mind that doing so might impact your warranty. Many companies will void warranties for units installed by homeowners without any qualifications. Additionally, in some jurisdictions, it can be illegal.

Consider repairing simple components

If something goes wrong with your furnace, you want to ensure that your furnace needs a complete replacement. This concern is particularly important for homeowners with furnaces younger than 15 years old. Sometimes, the problem originates with a single part, such as a heat pump, and replacing that part can extend the furnace’s life span for many more years before it needs a complete replacement.

In this situation, speak with a qualified professional to help you weigh your options. They can help you understand the cost of replacing a single part versus the cost of an entirely new unit, the life span you can expect from your furnace once it is repaired, and the energy costs of your existing furnace versus what you would save with an updated version. Balancing all of these different factors can help you make the optimal decision. 

How much it costs to replace a furnace

Your cost to replace a furnace will vary depending on the type of furnace you buy and the size of the system. Most furnace installation costs run between $2,800 and $6,756, according to HomeAdvisor. The average cost falls right in the middle at $4,665, including the labor costs and materials.

However, these numbers will differ slightly depending on whether you go with a gas or an electric furnace. Electric furnaces can be somewhat less expensive to install, typically costing between $2,000 and $7,000. Meanwhile, natural gas furnace options tend to run a little higher, with average costs falling between $3,800 and $10,000. Installing an oil furnace will run an average installation cost of $6,750 and $10,000. Mini-split systems and geothermal systems tend to cost more to install. Working with an expert can help you evaluate your options and find the right one for you.

How to choose the right furnace size for your home

When installing a furnace, keep in mind the space you need to heat. Selecting the right -furnace size will help to maximize energy efficiency and keep your home warm. 

When looking at furnace options, you will see that each has its potential heat output measured in British thermal units or Btu. A Btu is the amount of energy needed to heat 1 pound of water by 1 degree Fahrenheit. The Btu you need for your home will depend on the size of your home. 

You want to make sure to find the right furnace size for a few reasons:

  • To make sure it works efficiently. A system that is too big isn’t designed to efficiently turn on and off in smaller spaces. A system that is too small will struggle to keep up with the demand of your home.
  • Your home will not be comfortable. Heaters that are too big will cause certain parts of the home to heat up too quickly, even becoming too warm before the farther part of the house reaches the target temperature. This issue results in hot and cold areas. A furnace that is too small will not be able to keep the entire home comfortable.
  • Your furnace will have a shorter life span. Because of the poor energy usage of systems that are too large or too small as described above, you will also find that poorly sized systems will result in high energy bills and a shorter life span for your unit.

The power of the furnace needed for your home will depend on several factors in addition to your square footage. These factors include:

  • The layout of the home and the number of floors
  • The placement of windows and where the sun hits
  • How many people live in the home
  • How well insulated the home is
  • The local climate

Each of these factors is subject to your precise situation, so we will provide you with the typical desired Btu range based on your home’s size.

  • Homes that are about 1,200 square feet want between 36,000 and 72,000 Btu.
  • Homes that are about 1,500 square feet want between 45,000 and 90,000 Btu.
  • Homes that are about 1,800 square feet want between 54,000 and 108,000 Btu.
  • Homes that are about 2,100 square feet want between 63,000 and 126,000 Btu.
  • Homes that are about 2,400 square feet want between 72,000 and 144,000 Btu.

How to choose an energy-efficient furnace

When selecting a furnace for your home, you also want to consider the importance of energy efficiency. As technology improves, the energy efficiency of furnaces improves as well. As you browse your furnace options, you will see a posted AFUE rating on the system. 

The annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) rating tells you about the system’s efficiency. For example, if a high-efficiency furnace boasts a rating of 95%, that means 95% of the energy produced by the system will go directly into heating the home while 5% will escape. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requires companies to post these ratings on the system so that you can easily compare different systems and understand how energy-efficient they will be. 

Generally speaking, if you live in an area with cold winters, you want to maximize your energy efficiency to keep your home comfortable. Therefore, look for a minimum AFUE of 90%. If you live in a milder climate, selecting one with a minimum AFUE of 80% is good.

As you survey furnaces, look at the higher-rated efficiency models, such as the Energy Star options. These can help you control the costs associated with running the machine. You might also be able to access rebates and other benefits.

 

Protect your heating system with Cinch

Once you get your home set up with a new furnace, you want to protect it for years to come. If you need regular maintenance or repair, consider a home warranty from Cinch Home Services. Cinch’s Built-in Systems plan will help you care for your furnace and other critical built-in home systems, like your air conditioning and HVAC system. 

With a Cinch home warranty, you can have a qualified, vetted HVAC service technician look at your furnace or air conditioner whenever you have a covered problem. Rest easier knowing that your Cinch home warranty can help protect your home and save you money. 

 

If your home will need a new furnace, make sure you keep these important points in mind. They will help you pick the best option to fit your home.