Should You Repair or Replace Your Furnace?

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It’s easy to take a furnace for granted until things start to either break down or run so inefficiently that it’s hard to ignore.

You might be thinking about whether it makes more sense at this point to keep on repairing your old furnace, or if it might be time to upgrade with a newer, more efficient model. Here are some things to keep in mind about whether you should repair or replace your furnace.

How old is your furnace?

The National Association of Home Builders estimates most furnaces have a lifespan somewhere between 15 and 20 years, on average. This can vary by brand and how much standard maintenance was performed during those years, but it’s a good gauge for when you’re thinking of a potential replacement.

Is your furnace somewhere in the last three-quarters of its life expectancy? You can find this out by looking up your individual make and model online or simply by finding the year the furnace was installed and using the average listed above.

If it’s a 17-year-old furnace, that’s one strike against it and one vote toward replacing it. But let’s look at the other factors.

Comparing the cost of furnace repair versus furnace replacement

How much are you spending on average to get your current furnace up and running again? Are you dealing with yearly standard maintenance expenses, or are you finding you have a date with the furnace technician for major repairs more than once in the past five years?

Beyond this, do you have a major repair you’re considering to keep your furnace in good working order? How much will this cost?

A good rule of thumb is that if repairs cost a third of what it might cost to replace an older furnace altogether, it’s another good sign that replacement might be in order.

Assess your furnace’s operating efficiency

While many furnaces operate at around 80 percent efficiency, newer models can be much more efficient. Energy Star certified models require at least 90 percent efficiency. Geothermal heating systems are even more efficient than even the latest gas furnace. More on that in a bit.

What are some ways to tell how efficient your current furnace is? You can start by looking up your furnace’s annual fuel utilization efficiency number (AFUE). This will give you a good idea of how efficient it is when it’s newly installed.

To figure out if your furnace has lost efficiency over the years, pay attention to whether it’s running almost nonstop. This is a good indicator that it’s not as efficient as it used to be. In order to maintain the temperature that you select on your thermostat, your furnace has to work a lot harder than it used to. This leads to constant effort and higher energy bills.

Another way to look at whether your furnace is lagging in efficiency is to compare your heating costs year over year. Your utility company will have these records if you don’t. If you see a significant upward trend, it’s likely that your furnace isn’t functioning at full throttle anymore.

Furnace safety, warranty, and repair history

Perhaps the biggest determining factor in whether you should repair or replace your furnace is if it’s leaking carbon monoxide. The danger that carbon monoxide poses to you and your family requires full replacement of a leaky unit.

As an odorless, tasteless, colorless gas, carbon monoxide claims the lives of hundreds of people each year. A repair might not be able to fix the problem, and it’s not worth gambling with the life of your family.

If your warranty has expired, this is another good reason to consider purchasing a new furnace altogether. Without a warranty, your repair costs could more than double as you’re responsible to pay for both parts and labor.

And lastly, if your repair history is adding up to a lot more than it used to, it might be time for an update before you wake up one morning in the cold.

Look into alternative ways to heat your home

Thankfully, you’re not stuck with the same old options anymore. There are new and more efficient ways to heat your home now. Geothermal is a solution that more and more people are embracing, especially as Dandelion Energy leads the way in making it more affordable and easier than ever.

While standard geothermal systems could cost anywhere between $50,000 and $100,000, Dandelion’s heat pump is between $18,000 and $25,000. The truly remarkable thing is that this single unit takes care of not just your heating, but also air conditioning.

You literally get two systems in one. What’s more, a geothermal system lasts way longer than any of the other various systems you’ll need to spend money on over the years. The major component of a geothermal system, the underground pipe look system, will last 50-plus years!

The heat pump itself will last about 20 years, and it will be about the cost of an AC unit to replace when the time comes. Compare that to buying a new furnace for thousands of dollars every 15 to 20 years.

Geothermal heating is also between about 50 and 75 percent more efficient than gas and oil furnaces, respectively. Those efficiency ratings make a potential 20 percent jump in efficiency with a new furnace seem marginal at best.

Lastly, installing a geothermal heating system means you’ll be using clean, renewable energy to heat and cool your home. That’s will help you breathe easier both at home and outside. You’ll be contributing to a cleaner world and your family will never have to worry about the toxic and potentially deadly fumes of gas and oil at home ever again.

Read more about how much you could save with geothermal here.

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