Your furnace is a big investment, one that’s crucial to your family’s health, comfort and safety. Whether repairing it or replacing it is the best option is a common question. The answer? That depends. Multiple factors determine which course is right for your particular situation. An HVAC professional can help you evaluate your specific needs and equipment in order to help you make the right choice. In the meantime, these guidelines can help you make an initial assessment.
When Repairing is Best
- Furnace is less than 10 years old.
- Furnace is still heating your home efficiently and evenly .
- Your heating bills haven’t been increasing over time.
A furnace that is under 10 years old most likely still has years of useful life. If your heating bills have remained steady, and you generally experience even heating throughout your home, then your furnace is still operating with efficiency. Some problems with uneven heating may be resolved with a furnace repair, or by addressing other issues such as duct leaks, insufficient insulation, or weatherproofing. A NATE-certified HVAC technician can help you find ways to improve the performance and efficiency of your system that will allow you delay replacing it for a few more years..
A general rule of thumb is, weighing the cost of the repair against the cost of a new furnace, if the repair is less than one-third the cost of a new heating system — and your current system meets the criteria above — then doing the repair makes good economic sense.
When Replacement is Best:
- Furnace is more than 15 years old.
- Your furnace was built before 1992.
- Frequency of repairs is increasing.
- Utility bills are increasing.
- Original furnace was improperly installed and not the correct size.
- You have a cracked heat exchanger and the warranty has expired.
A furnace that is more than 15 years old is nearing the end of its useful life (typically 15-20 years) and the money you would put into continued repairs is probably better spent investing in a new, more efficient heating system. If your furnace was built before 1992, this is definitely the case because, compared to today’s models, those much older furnaces are only 65% efficient. This means they also cost significantly more in energy costs each month.
If you are experiencing the need for more frequent repairs or if you’ve seen your utility bills increasing, replacement is most likely the better option. The cost of repairs that don’t keep your system running smoothly for any length of time can quickly add up, and then you still have have an old, inefficient furnace that is expensive to operate.
In some cases, age is not the issue. A heating system that was improperly sized or poorly installed can be costing you money while not providing adequate comfort. Many small fixes over time will cost more than a new system that is sized and installed correctly. If you’ve inherited a furnace that is under 10 years old, but was not properly maintained you may also find replacing it will be more cost effective than undoing existing damage.
A system that needs a major repair that is no longer covered by the warranty, such as a cracked heat exchanger, needs to be replaced. The heat exchanger itself cannot easily or effectively be replaced and cannot be repaired.
Have a highly trained and qualified technician give you an honest assessment of your equipment. Contact a Rheem Pro Partner in Denver today for a free consultation!
Owning and operating a home can be expensive, but one way to save money is to save energy. Saving energy doesn’t have to mean huge sacrifices in comfort or quality of life. Today, many savvy Colorado and Wyoming homeowners take these simple steps to keep their homes operating efficiently and economically. By giving a little attention to your HVAC system, including your air conditioner, furnace, water heater, and heat pump, as well as addressing other common energy guzzlers, you can save, too!
Here are 10 steps you can take today:
1. Turn down the temperature of your water heater to the warm setting (120 degrees).
Most water heaters come from the factory with a default setting of 140 degrees. Lowering the setting to 120 degrees not only saves energy, it also prevents scalding. This is especially important in homes with young children.
2. Make sure your water heater has an insulating blanket.
Installing an insulating blanket is a quick, inexpensive fix that will pay for itself within a year in energy cost savings.
3. Make sure your air conditioner, furnace or heat pump receive professional maintenance each year. Look for the ENERGYSTAR label when replacing your system.
Regular professional maintenance can save you thousands of dollars over the life of your HVAC system by preventing costly breakdowns, as well as by keeping your equipment operating at peak efficiency. When it is time to buy a new system, the ENERGYSTAR label will help you determine the models that are most energy efficient. This is an important consideration when making your buying decision because it directly impacts the overall cost. As a general rule, purchasing the most efficient system you can afford will give you the greatest savings over time.
4. Replace your incandescent lights with compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) or LEDs.
CFLs and LEDs are more expensive to purchase than the standard incandescent bulbs but can save three-quarters of the electricity used. Start by replacing incandescents that are 60-100W and are used several hours a day.
5. Turn off the lights in unoccupied rooms.
Consider installing timers, photo cells or occupancy sensors to make turning off lights in empty rooms and spaces effortless.
6. Turn off your computer when you are not using it.
Turn off the monitor if you aren’t using it for more than 20 minutes, and turn off both the CPU and the monitor if they won’t be used for more than 2 hours.
7. Unplug equipment that drains energy when not in use.
Many appliances use energy even when they are not turned on such as cell phone chargers, fans, televisions and coffee makers.
8. Install a programmable thermostat.
A programmable thermostat is an inexpensive device that makes your HVAC smart by only heating and cooling your home when you need it. While you are at work or school during the day or sleeping at night, the temperature setting adjusts so your home is comfortable, but you are not paying for energy that you don’t need.
9. Clean or replace filters in your furnace, air conditioner, and heat pump.
Replacing (or cleaning) your air filters every 30-60 days (depending on need) will keep your system clean and efficient, and help prevent unnecessary wear and tear.
10. Caulk leaky windows and doors.
Improve the comfort of your home and stop paying for wasted energy by sealing air leaks and adding sufficient insulation.