Winter is getting downright chilly here in New Jersey! And the last thing you want to happen is that your furnace gives out in the middle of a snowstorm or even on one of those sunny but frigid winter days.
Nobody walks around thinking of their furnace on any given day, but if you’re wondering whether yours is going to last through the winter, take stock of its condition now so you don’t get left out in the cold at an inopportune time.
Here are some telltale signs that it’s a good time to replace your furnace – and some that may warrant a call to your HVAC contractor for a repair instead.
How Old Is Your Furnace?
You’re probably not hosting a birthday party for it each year, so dig out the receipt and check to see how old your furnace really is. A typical furnace has a lifespan of 15-20 years, so if yours is under 10 years old and something has gone wrong, it’s probably better and more cost-effective to look at repairing it.
A furnace that’s approaching 15 years is on the fence, and you may want to consider other factors. And one that’s nearing (or past, lucky you!) 20 years is likely going to need to be replaced. There are more reasons for that and other things to consider, and we’ll get to those in a moment. But first…
Are There Rebates Or Financing Options Available?
Depending on the time of year, you may be able to take advantage of some great rebates. They may be available from the manufacturer, or even from your local utility company. Rebates can substantially help offset the cost of a new furnace, so check to see what’s available to help you make a decision. If you’re on the fence, then consider how replacing a furnace with a rebate would save you money over waiting until you’re caught unaware and the deals may be off the table.
If you can get financing, even better. A program that offers you anywhere from 36-60 months interest-free can help you make payments easily over time and make the decision to replace that much easier.
How Much Will A Repair Cost?
Remember how we said there are more factors to consider than just age? This is one of them. As a rule of thumb, if the repair is going to cost less than one-third of the cost to replace your furnace, then go with a repair.
Do keep in mind the age of your furnace. If your furnace is entering its end-of-life years and a repair is going to be more than a third of replacing it, then those two factors combine to make a pretty strong argument for replacing it.
But if your system is younger (under 10 years), and a repair is less than a third of the replacement cost, then go with the repair. Even if a repair cost is slightly more, you may be better off doing it and getting the most out of your furnace’s lifespan.
If that sounds like a whole lot of “it depends”, well, you’re right. But there are other factors to consider, like…
How Frequently Are You Making Repairs?
This is a bit subjective, but if you suddenly find yourself repairing your furnace every year or even multiple times a year, then chances are your furnace is just going to become a money pit. You’ll keep putting a little bit here and a little bit there into repairs until one day you’ll realize you could just have replaced the darn thing.
If your furnace is approaching (or past) 15 years and you’re making more frequent repairs, then replacing it is probably your best option.
How Comfortable Are You?
An ailing furnace will start to heat inconsistently, perhaps shutting down, or failing to regulate the temperature properly. If you find yourself either too hot or too cold, and your furnace is aging, then replacing it could be good for your comfort and your budget.
Older furnaces can have an efficiency rating of 70% or less. With a new system you can get as much as a 95% efficiency rating, which can do wonders for lowering your energy usage and bills. The difference can mean a 25% savings in energy bills, which means your new furnace will pay for itself pretty quickly.
It’s important to consider your comfort in combination with the other factors we’ve mentioned. If you’re uncomfortable but your system is young, look into repairing it. If the repair cost is low, again, stick with the repair. While you’re at it, consider upgrading your thermostat, especially if you have one that isn’t programmable.
But if you’re tired of bundling up in your own living room and your furnace is either aging or starting to leak money like a sieve, then replacement is likely a better option.
Is Your Furnace The Wrong Size?
This one is pretty straightforward. If your furnace wasn’t sized properly for the space you live in – whether it’s designed for a space that’s bigger or smaller – then replacement is going to be your best option.
No amount of repairs are going to help you be more comfortable if your furnace is simply the wrong size. Improperly sized furnaces are inefficient and cost you more to run. So before you start having parts replaced, find out if your system is right for your home.
Is Your Air Conditioning On The Way Out?
That may seem like a strange question. After all, your air conditioning is probably the last thing on your mind right now. But it can help you make the decision whether to repair or replace your furnace.
Typically, it is more efficient and cost-effective to replace your furnace and air conditioner at the same time, especially if both are showing signs of age and are requiring more frequent repairs. Rather than trying to squeeze another year or two out of your furnace, consider how replacing both can help you save on energy bills, avoid further repairs and keep you more comfortable all year long.
Plus, a “matched set”, so to speak, is designed to work together effectively, will maximize efficiency, and will help you keep track of repairs and maintenance more easily.
So before you get stuck on a cold day, think about the condition of your furnace and whether a repair or replacement will serve you and your family best. Whether you’ve already made a decision or you’re on the fence and need guidance, get in touch and let us know. We’re happy to answer your questions and will always provide a free estimate for a replacement.