Home Furnace Replacement: Do You Need a New Unit?

As the weather starts to get chilly and winter slowly approaches, every home should start preparing their HVAC systems for another season of heavy use. Routine maintenance and service checks help identify possible problems with the system, and address them before they cause severe inconvenience later on.

If your HVAC system is working efficiently, you have peace of mind knowing that you will enjoy months of warmth inside your home. However, if you are thinking about getting a home furnace replacement, it is best to plan ahead so that you can have a new unit installed before the winter season begins.

Furnace repair or replacement? What you need to know

If you are experiencing problems with your existing heating system, a home furnace replacement may be an excellent idea. But before you shop around for a new furnace, you might want to consider first if repairing the problem will suffice. Your rule of thumb is the life expectancy of your furnace. Experts advise that if the furnace is less than ten years old, you have high chances of getting the issue fixed by a certified HVAC technician.

Another indication that repairing your furnace is still a good option depends on how the furnace efficiently heats your home. An HVAC technician can help assess whether or not the furnace is still heating your home efficiently. You will also know that the furnace is still efficient if your utility bills are not getting higher for no reason.

Another way to determine if repairing is better than a home furnace replacement is by asking for an estimate of the cost. If the cost of repairs is less than a third of the cost of replacement, consider repairs for the time being.
You should also have the HVAC technician check if the problems you are experiencing with heating could be due to other factors not related to the furnace. For example, filters may need replacement, fan blowers may need cleaning, ductwork may have tears, or your thermostat needs replacement.

A thorough evaluation of your HVAC system will help identify and isolate causes of issues and problems with heating efficiency. These preventive measures may still help prolong the life of your home furnace before you finally settle for a home furnace replacement.

When is the right time for a furnace replacement?

A home furnace replacement is a significant investment. You have to determine the right timing to ensure that you are maximizing the use of your existing unit. Here are tips on how to know that it is time to replace your home furnace:

• Compromised safety. There is no room for negotiation when your home’s safety is compromised. Since most home furnaces run on natural gas or propane, it can be a fire hazard if the furnace combustion system is not working properly. Another safety issue is when the by-products of combustion are not exiting through the system efficiently. Home furnace systems also include electrical parts that can get brittle or corrode over time. All of these issues should be identified by an HVAC technician through routine maintenance.

• Inefficient heating performance. A continuous increase in your utility bills is a prime indication for a home furnace replacement. Even if your system has not yet reached over 75% of its expected lifespan, a poor track record of efficiency is reason enough to think about getting a new unit. If you have done all possible preventive measures and maintenance, yet the unit continues to underperform, you should start looking around for a new home furnace.

• Home furnace age. If your home furnace is older than ten years, it is likely that the AFUE rating is still below what the US Department of Energy considers high-efficiency. The minimum efficiency rating for new furnaces is 80%, which equates to about 10% energy savings. Raise the AFUE rating to 95%, and your savings also increase to 25%. Although it is possible than an older furnace still performs well considering its age, you might still want to start thinking about how much money you can save by getting a new unit with higher efficiency.

• Frequent repairs within the last two years of use. They say that once you get your furnace fixed, you are likely going to need more repairs later on. This depends on how much you are actually spending to have your furnace fixed. Minor repairs are fine, but when the cost of replacement reaches to more than a third of the cost of a home furnace replacement, you should consider getting a new unit instead. Frequent repairs can also be quite inconvenient. When the winter season sets it, you wouldn’t want to worry about your furnace breaking down when you need it most.

These factors are your basic guidelines on whether or not it is the best time for a home furnace replacement. Nevertheless, seek the help of an HVAC technician and contractor with excellent track record because you’ll need to ensure that you are investing in quality equipment and installation.

Choosing the right furnace replacement

After identifying that it is the right time for a home furnace replacement, the next step is to ensure that you are getting the right unit suitable for the needs of your home. There are different types of home furnaces to choose from. Here is everything you need to know about choosing the right furnace replacement.

• Fuel type. This depends on the availability in your area. When choosing a home furnace replacement, you are likely going to buy a new unit with the same fuel-source as your existing furnace. Furnaces are commonly fuelled by either oil, gas, or electricity. Gas-fuelled furnaces are considered less expensive to operate and maintain than other fuel types. Gas also provides better heating capacity and preferable in regions with frigid winters.

• Efficiency. These days, the efficiency rating of a furnace is given utmost importance. With rising energy costs and continuing environmental degradation, it is not surprising that both government and private sectors encourage homeowners to use furnaces with higher efficiency rating. Higher efficiency means the furnace burns fuel with less waste; hence, you are also saving money on your utility bills.

• Size. Choosing the right furnace size can be a bit tricky. You can calculate your home’s heating requirements by getting the area and insulation level of each room in your house. Aside from this, air filtration should be factored into the calculation. You can ask an HVAC technician to calculate the numbers for you so that you can choose the right furnace size for the needs of your home.

• Furnace features. Home furnaces can also have additional features which help improve performance and extend life expectancy. You should look out for features such as corrosion resistant heat exchanger, pressure switches, insulated blower compartment, and direct drive blower units.

You might feel slightly overwhelmed while in the process of selecting a home furnace replacement. As such, don’t hesitate to ask for help from an HVAC expert. Let an expert explain the technicalities to you so that you can understand better how each detail or feature impacts your choice.

How much does a new furnace cost?

We come to one of the most important consideration a homeowner makes when planning for a home furnace replacement, the cost. Similar to choosing the right home furnace, the cost of a new unit including installation depends on several factors as well. Gas-fuelled home furnaces range from $2,000 to $5,000 where the higher efficiency models are likely to cost more. Electric type furnaces are a bit cheaper at a price range of $670 to $2,000.

You have to consider as well that installation cost will differ depending on the need for additional work. For example, the HVAC contractor may need to do any of the following:

• Replace and install new ductwork
• Inspection and permit requirements
• Old furnace removal
• Ventilation and ductwork inspection

All these additional work will add at least $100 to your installation cost. The installation cost itself can also vary depending on the HVAC contractor you hire. Contractors may charge a premium price for installation if they are installing a top-rated brand for example. There are contractors who exclusively work with certain brands only and thus align their prices according to the furnace brand. On the average, expect to pay anywhere from $50 to $75 per hour for a licensed HVAC technician with additional $50 per hour for each additional person in the team.

Home furnace costs also depend on the brand you choose. Top-rated brands cost more, but if you want to invest on the best you really have to pay premium. Some of the most popular brands of home furnaces include Trane, American Standard, Carrier, Rheem, and Amana.
If you are working with an expert HVAC contractor like Fischer Heating, they will assist you in finding the best home furnace replacement at your expected price point. Call them today to learn more about your options and to get an estimate cost of replacement.

Image Copyright: Grigorii Pisotckii / 123RF Stock Photo