It's a question we hear a lot. A customer calls in the middle of a cold winter and their furnace has stopped working or is no longer heating as well as it used to. If the furnace is getting on in years, the cost of making another repair may not be worth the expense if the furnace can only be expected to run for another season or two, if you're lucky. Here are a few questions to consider when weighing the cost of repair versus replacement.
How long will my gas furnace last?
This can vary quite a lot, since there are many factors that determine the lifespan of a furnace, including the manufacturer, how well the unit has been maintained, and how well it was matched to the size of your home.
A recent study by the National Association of Home Builders found that a gas furnace will last an average of 15 to 20 years. So consider the age of your furnace when deciding whether to repair or replace. When a furnace is installed most technicians will write the date the equipment was installed on the unit. You can also check the manufacturer's identification plate, which is usually on the inside of the chamber door (be sure the unit is off and cool before checking inside). Record the model and serial number, then call the manufacturer’s customer service number to obtain the date of manufacture.
How much are the repair bills?
If the furnace is more than 10-12 years old and repairing it would cost a 1/3 or more of the cost of installing a new furnace, it's probably going to be more economical to replace the unit.
How much energy will a more energy efficient furnace save you over time?
With natural gas costs increasing, it's important to consider the efficiency of your old furnace versus a newer unit. A standard measure of fuel efficiency is the Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency number (AFUE). AFUE measures the percentage of the fuel that’s converted to heat rather than being lost through inefficiency.
If the furnace is 15 or more years old, its AFUE is likely around 70. Newer furnaces will have an AFUE of at least 80%, which means you’ll burn 10% less fuel, saving 10% annually on your heating bill. High efficiency furnaces go as high a 95% AFUE , which could save you 25% on your heating bill.
Have questions about your furnace? Call Rapid Response Plumbing and Heating. We can help evaluate your current furnace and discuss the pros and cons of repair versus replacement.