Should You Repair Your Older Furnace, Or Have It Replaced?

Construction & Contractors Articles

If you have an older furnace that is in need of repair, you have an important decision to make. It is worth your time and money to have the furnace repaired, or should you replace it entirely? The right choice will depend on your financial situation, how the furnace is used, and the overall state of your heating system and duct work. Here are a few questions to ask yourself. Your answers will help guide you towards the right decision.

How often is the furnace used?

Do you live in a cold climate where the furnace runs all winter long, or does it only kick on a few days a year when the temperature drops? If your furnace gets a lot of use and is your only source of heat in a cold climate, then you should consider replacing it rather than having it repaired. Once parts start breaking on an old furnace, repairs generally start becoming more frequent. You don't want to find yourself without a heat source when the thermometer falls below zero next winter. On the other hand, if you only use the furnace occasionally and your home won't be too cold if it quits on you, you might want to save money and take your chances with repairs.

Will replacing the furnace require you to make other modifications to the heating system?

Most older furnaces vent through chimneys, whereas newer, energy-efficient models tend to vent through small, PVC tubes. If you installation requires your contractor to install a new vent system and seal off the chimney, the cost of replacing a furnace might be higher than you'd expect. Installing a new furnace may also require that changes be made to your duct system, which can be pretty costly.

If you do suspect you may need changes to your ventilation system or duct work, get a few estimates before you decide whether or not to replace your furnace. Depending on the estimate and the cash you have on hand, you may decide it's better to have your furnace fixed. You can hope it lasts a little longer while you save up cash for a new one.

Will an energy-efficient furnace really save you as much money as is claimed?

Many homeowners have their older furnaces replaced with new energy-efficient models simply because they believe the money they save on their heating bills will eventually make up for the cost. Before you jump on this bandwagon, it's important to determine whether an energy-efficient furnace really will save you as much money as the Department of Energy advertises.

If your duct work is not designed in the right way, a high-efficiency furnace won't operate as efficiently as possible, leading to higher energy bills than you'd expect. The best way to know whether your duct work is set up for high efficiency is to have an HVAC contractor who specializes in energy-efficient systems come evaluate your home. If saving on your fuel bills will require an extensive duct renovation, then you probably can't count on recouping the costs of your new furnace through energy savings -- and you should take this into account when deciding whether replacing your furnace is really worth it.

Having your furnace break is never fun, and if this happens to you a few times, you might start seriously considering having it replaced simply out of convenience. For many homeowners, this is the right choice. Upgrading to a new furnace means you won't have to worry about repairs for a while, and you might even save on energy costs.

However, it's important not to jump the gun and assume that just because your furnace has broken a few times, it must be replaced. Older furnaces were built more simply than newer models, and are thus pretty simple to fix. You might find yourself calling your furnace repair quite often if you keep your older furnace, but you can usually count on the repairs being simple and pretty low in cost.

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9 March 2015

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