As the sun begins to fade and the warm evenings turn into dark, cool nights, it’s time to shut off the air conditioning and crank up the heat. Unfortunately, furnaces require maintenance to work optimally, and they need to be replaced at some point. If you’ve been keeping up with proper maintenance on your furnace, it should last between 15 and 20 years, but there are a number of factors that can affect its lifespan.
Keep reading to find out if your furnace needs to be replaced or if you can keep it going for another winter.
As previously mentioned, the most obvious sign that your furnace needs to be replaced is its age. Since furnaces usually last between 15 and 20 years, it’s a good idea to replace your furnace if it’s more than 15 years old. The US Department of Energy recommends replacing your furnace when it’s 20 years old, because at that point it’s only 78% as efficient as it was when you bought it.
Spike in Energy Bill
Since energy efficiency is the main thing your furnace loses over time, taking a look at your energy bills is a good way to determine if it’s time to replace your furnace yet. If your bill is normally right around $100, you may want to consider replacing your furnace if you see it’s $150 this month.
Of course, it’s important to use your best judgment to figure out whether it’s a natural uptick. For example, if your bill goes up $50 from August to September, it’s probably just because you’ve had to heat your home more due to the drop in temperature.
Problems Holding Temperature
Another sign of a bad furnace is inconsistencies in temperature in your home. Furnaces are set to a specific temperature using a thermostat with the idea that the temperature will be held. If the temperature begins to drop below that setting, your furnace should automatically kick on to warm the room up.
When your furnace isn’t heating the home to the temperature it should be, or if it’s heating correctly at some times but not at others, you may need to replace your furnace.
Your furnace will require maintenance from time to time, but you shouldn’t have to pay for repairs constantly. You should call a professional for maintenance each fall to prepare your heating system for the cold winter months.
However, if you find yourself calling a heating repair service multiple times throughout the winter, it’s a good sign that your furnace is probably on its last leg. A furnace that’s maintained properly and isn’t past its life expectancy should rarely require full-blown repairs.
Carbon Monoxide Problems
Your furnace may also have problems with carbon monoxide, which means you should replace it right away. Normally, the burner flame should be blue with a small yellow tip. If the burner flame is mostly yellow, your furnace may be producing carbon monoxide. You can also tell if your furnace is producing carbon monoxide by checking for soot near it, rust on the flue pipes or vent pipe, moisture in cold places, and water leaking from the chimney, flue pipe or vent pipe.
If you have any of these problems with your furnace, call a heating professional immediately.
The Final Verdict
So, is it time to replace your furnace? The answer depends on your financial situation and the warning signs your furnace is showing. Your best bet is calling a heating professional to take a look at your furnace; they can tell you if you’ll need to replace it soon or if you can let it go for another year or two.