Is Your Furnace Failing Or Just Poorly Maintained?

No furnace will last forever. Most people give up on their furnaces when the heat exchanger fails since this is a combustion furnace's most critical and expensive component. While many heat exchanger warranties are good for about ten years, a furnace might last much longer with the proper care and maintenance.

Still, repair costs and efficiency issues can become concerns on older models. If you have an older furnace that hasn't been performing up to par, you might wonder if it's time to start considering a replacement. Before spending money on a brand-new system, ask these three questions to determine if your existing unit might simply need more care and attention.

1. Is Your Heat Exchanger Cracked?

Heat exchanger cracks are the top safety issue for natural gas, oil, and propane furnaces. The combustion process produces deadly toxic gases, so your furnace can't pump warm combustion air directly into your home. Instead, all furnaces rely on one or more heat exchangers to extract energy from the exhaust stream while allowing combustion byproducts to escape your home safely.

Unfortunately, years of heating and cooling cycles can result in metal fatigue, causing heat exchangers to crack and allowing them to release carbon monoxide into your home. An inspection and combustion analysis can alert you to any potential cracks. If your heat exchanger is still in relatively good shape, maintaining your current furnace instead of replacing it may be a more cost-effective option.

2. Have You Been Spending Large Amounts of Money On Repairs?

Cracked heat exchangers are often the final nail in the coffin for older furnaces since replacing one can cost several thousand dollars. However, older furnaces may also require more frequent repairs. Replacing your furnace might make sense if you frequently spend money on smaller parts since these costs can add up.

However, installing a new furnace is also expensive, and it can take many years to recoup your installation costs through increased efficiency. If you aren't experiencing many failures with your furnace, a simple maintenance visit may be all you need. Getting your furnace back into prime condition can restore efficiency and help you save money in the long run.

3. Have You Neglected Maintenance?

A poorly maintained furnace will perform worse, run less efficiently, and suffer more failures. If you've gone several years without performing routine annual maintenance on your furnace, your issues may have more to do with your deferred maintenance than the age of your furnace. The good news is that you can probably restore most or all of your furnace's efficiency and performance.

Instead of condemning your old furnace, schedule a thorough maintenance visit, inspection, and check-up for your current unit. A trained HVAC tech can clean and test your system, potentially returning it to like-new performance. By keeping up with annual furnace maintenance visits in the future, you may be able to extend the life of your existing furnace for many more years.