This is a tricky question to answer because there are a number of factors to consider and everyone has a slightly different situation. The quality of the furnace can play a major role in the useful lifespan and well maintained equipment tends to last longer. The way you use your furnace and the age of the unit are key factors too. It would be impossible to give an answer that is applicable to your furnace. But, if you understand more about your furnace it’s much easier to make informed decisions about a replacement.
What is the Benchmark for a Furnace Lifespan?
The expected lifespan under ideal operating conditions will vary depending on the type of furnace you have. Let’s take a look at gas and electric furnaces in more detail:
- A gas furnace will have a typical lifespan in the 15-20 years range.
- An electric furnace will typically last for 20-30 years.
When you examine these expected lifespans, it would seem to appear that an electric furnace is the clear winner. But, there are other factors that you need to consider before you make a final decision to install an electric furnace. Although an electric furnace has a simple design with no combustion and cheaper installation costs, there is one major drawback. The operating costs of an electric furnace are far higher and this will eliminate any potential savings when compared to a gas furnace. It’s also important to note that you need to invest in regular maintenance to have any chance of extending the furnace lifespan.
How Can I Extend the LIfespan of My Furnace?
The single most important factor to extending the useful lifespan of your furnace is regular preventative maintenance. When heating and cooling equipment is neglected, it tends to lose performance and energy efficiency quickly. The best time to get your furnace serviced is before the start of the heating season. If you can’t remember the last time that the furnace was serviced, it’s time to go ahead and schedule some maintenance. If you have skipped one or more maintenance periods don’t despair because it is possible to restore some of that lost performance and efficiency. Many HVAC companies over a more in-depth service that bring your system back up to where it should be for the age of the equipment.
Regular maintenance will help your local HVAC specialist to identify potential problems earlier. A heating and cooling system is complex, it has electronic, electrical and mechanical parts that must work together in harmony. When components start to fail, they tend to affect other connected parts and the damage can be more extensive. Many major problems are expensive to fix and dealing with them earlier is kinder on your bank balance.
When your furnace is well maintained it will consume less energy with no loss in performance. This may seem trivial, but over a typical heating season, the energy savings can be substantial. Installing a modern high-efficiency furnace delivers further energy saving benefits and these offset the costs faster than you might imagine.
When Should I Replace My Furnace?
This is a hard question to answer, every furnace situation is a little different and it’s not always easy to make the right decision. If the furnace fails entirely and your local HVAC specialist assures you that it cannot be revived, the decision is simple. But, for most people, the warning signs are more subtle and often overlooked as idiosyncrasies. One of the worst scenarios is to be left without heat in the depths of winter. This is another case for regular annual maintenance because potential faults can be detected at an early stage. Let’s take a look at some typical behavior that you might see in an aging furnace that’s reaching the end of its life.
When the furnace is ready for replacement, you may notice that your heating bills continue to rise with no appreciable performance. The heating system simply cannot reach every part of the home any longer and this is often most noticeable between floors. You may notice that the upper floors are always colder than the lower floors. The furnace cannot push the treated air far enough into your home to make it feel warmer.
One of the more noticeable characteristics of an older furnace is more frequent or expensive repairs. A heating system has a finite lifespan of up to 20 years for a gas furnace and 30 years for an electric unit. If the furnace is not cared for, it can be lower than these ballpark estimates and the repairs may be more extensive. If you notice that you seem to be spending more each year on furnace repairs, it’s time to look at an alternative. Researching your options early is a smart move and you can prepare for the switch.
A Professional Furnace Installation
When you consider the expensive repair bills, higher energy costs and lack of performance a new furnace installation starts to look like a bargain. But, this is only the beginning of the journey, the HVAC industry moves quickly and innovations are consistent. In recent years, we have seen some massive improvements in the energy efficiency of both heating and cooling systems. A modern high-efficiency furnace made today is far more efficient than a unit built only a couple of years ago!
Investing in a new high-efficiency furnace is a smart decision, but those gains can be lost without a professional installation. There are many factors that decide the success of a new furnace, including airflow patterns, interfacing with existing equipment, and more. If the furnace is not matched carefully to the home and the ductwork is not in great shape, it’s a problem. Many people try to “save money” by hiring a handyman or they may attempt a DIY installation. Developing DIY skills is admirable, but there are some areas that require a professional approach and this is especially when it comes to a furnace installation. If a gas furnace installation goes wrong the results can be catastrophic and working with gas lines is dangerous without training.
If you need to schedule some essential furnace maintenance or you’re considering an upgrade, contact your local HVAC specialist today.