Winter isn’t the best time for your furnace to start having problems, but of course that’s when you’ll notice them. If you’ve been unfortunate enough to experience issues with your furnace, you know how frustrating it can be. As a homeowner, one of the many questions you’ll face at some point is whether you should repair your heater or invest in a brand new one. The simple answer: it depends. Let’s take a look at some things to think about.
Should You Repair Your Furnace?
When your heater breaks down or starts showing signs of age, it’s normal to start worrying about the cost of repairs and comparing those the the cost of a new heater. However, it’s not out of the realm of possibility to be able to repair a heater and keep it in working order for years to come.
Your Heater is Newer
The service life of the average furnace is around 15-20 years, with proper maintenance. Without, you’re looking at more like 12-18 years. If your heater is well under 15-years-old, it’s probably prudent to make whatever repair is needed (within reason) and stop worrying about purchasing a new one for now. Sometimes it can seem like everything is going wrong at once. Several small issues may pop up at one time. Professional HVAC technicians are used to this and will be able to recommend repairs.
Save Money on Repairs
You guessed it: repairs to a furnace are usually much more cost-effective (cheaper) than it is to replace the whole thing. The general rule in making a decision between repairs and replacement is the ⅓ rule. This means that if repairs would cost less than one third of what it would cost to replace the full unit, repairs are the most fiscally intelligent.
When to Replace Your Heater
Inevitably, you’re likely going to have to purchase a new furnace in your lifetime. It doesn’t have to be painful and it doesn’t have to be a negative experience. However, if any of the following ring true, it’s probably time to find your next heater.
The Furnace is Older
At Cyclone Contracting, we use the Rule of 5000. This means that if the repair cost x the age of the unit is more than $5,000, it’s time to replace the unit. For example, a 7-year-old furnace that needs a repair that would cost $600, you’d multiply $600 by 7, which comes to $4,200. At that price, we recommend a repair.
If your heater is past the typical lifespan of 12-18 years and has been breaking down, it’s probably time to start looking for a new machine. This is typically the time when you’ll start having more and more problems with the unit. While we like hearing from you and making sure your HVAC is operating properly, if our technicians are seeing you more than some of your close friends, it’s time to replace that furnace.
Higher Energy Bills and AFUE
With age comes a loss of efficiency and this leads to increased energy bills. It’s true that furnaces are getting up there in years aren’t as energy efficient as their newer counterparts. of furnaces is measured by the Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) ratio. This is the percentage of heat produced for each dollar of fuel actually consumed. For instance, if 85% of the energy in the fuel (in the case of a furnace, that’s natural gas) turns into heat for your home, the AFUE rating of the furnace would be 85%. With an older furnace, it wouldn’t be surprising to have an AFUE rating in the 50s range, whereas with a newer furnace, it could be in the upper 90s.
The Rule of 5000
Again, with the Rule of 5000, it’s easier to figure out your best move when it comes to repairing vs. replacing your furnace. If the unit is 10-years-old and calls for a $900 repair, that would come to $9,000, so a replacement would make more sense. Instead of shelling out more money to keep your heater limping along for a year or two, choosing the right replacement can end up saving you money in the end.
Consider Your Safety
It seems as though it goes without saying, but you never know. If your furnace is in such a state of disrepair that it’s now a potential safety and health hazard, it’s replacement time. Problems with your furnace you can’t ignore:
- Cracked heat exchange: Damage to the metal chamber between the flame and the air its heating can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. You may hear clicking sounds coming from your heater if this happens.
- Leaking furnace valve: This can cause carbon monoxide poisoning as well as a fire. Natural gas has a specific odor, but you may also notice a change in the color of your furnace flames if there’s a leak.
Contact Cyclone Contracting
Along with being more efficient, saving you money down the line in energy bills, and not breaking down constantly, a brand new furnace can come with rebates! If you’re still on the fence about whether it’s time to replace or repair your furnace, contact us today. We can help you determine the best course of action for your family and your budget.