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Should I Replace Or Repair My Furnace?

an old furnace sits in a basement awaiting repairs or a replacement.

Curious if you should replace your furnace or just repair your furnace? It’s a tough call for many homeowners facing a long winter in Kansas City. On one hand, you don’t want to replace furnaces when they could have many years of life left in them, but on the other hand you don’t want to risk a broken furnace in the middle of a harsh winter. So how do you know?

One big consideration is the age of the unit. Furnaces only have a number of on and off cycles in them. When the parts get some age to them, they tend to go out quicker and require far more maintenance to keep them running. Maintenance plans are designed to extend the life of furnaces, catching minor problems and minimizing wear and tear, but older furnaces may not be worth repairing. Older parts are also harder to come by, and harder to find equates to higher costs. After so many years, many vendors and dealers phase out certain parts or carry the bare minimum of inventory. Replacing a furnace is sometimes a necessity if your particular model is no longer manufactured, especially since furnace parts are brand specific. Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to install a cheaper part from a competing or generic brand.

Another key consideration is efficiency. Older furnaces require a lot more gas to deliver the same amount of heat. The amount of gas needed multiplies if the furnace isn’t properly maintained. Recently, laws went into effect that require 80% efficiency ratings for all new furnaces. 90% efficiency ratings were on the legislative table as well, so many are predicting that the higher efficiency will eventually replace 80% as the minimum. This new law has homeowners rethinking how much they’re willing to spend on utility costs. Replace your furnace or pay high utility bills? If you plan on living in your home for several years, you can recoup the cost of replacing a furnace via lower utility costs.

Most older furnaces have no warranty or an expired warranty as well. That puts homeowners on the hook for any repair costs when a breakdown occurs. Since older models can become unreliable (and usually on the coldest day of the year), you’ll need to plan for a service call. Not everyone has the luxury to wait at home or the flexibility to miss work for a service call. Plus, if the parts aren’t available or hard to find, you’ll be stuck in the cold or running space heaters until you can replace your furnace or get emergency repairs completed.

Some consideration should be given to safety also. Homes today are so well insulated that they’re virtually airtight. Older furnaces pull air from inside your home to heat and recirculate throughout. If your furnace is located in the basement (especially in an unfinished basement), it could circulate harmful fumes from any stored liquids or solvents. Furnaces like oxygen and newer, efficient furnaces don’t use your inside air. They pull it in from the outside, which is safer for tightly insulated homes. A pipe draws in outside air and then exhausts it back outside. This fact alone might make you consider a new furnace installation.

Have questions about just how much life your furnace has left? Need a new, efficient furnace installed before winter sets in? Give us a call anytime or schedule an appointment today, we’d be happy to field your questions and have a trained technician give you an in-home estimate for the service that’s right for you!