Should I Replace My 17 Year Old Furnace?

The age of a furnace is typically less important than the condition and maintenance it receives. However, if you own an older model, say 15-20 years old, you should probably start thinking about getting a new one before long (or even if your furnace is only ten years old). More recent models are more energy-efficient and save you money on your monthly utility bills. But don’t go out and spend thousands of dollars to replace your current unit just yet: first, take some time to learn about the various factors that may play into your replacement decision.

If we’re talking about a relatively recent installation — maybe five years or so — there’s no real reason to worry about replacing it just because it’s starting to near its lifespan. There are, however, some things you should look out for if it’s getting on in years.

What to Look For

General signs that your furnace may be near the end of its estimated lifespan include:

When any of these issues arise, or simply an urgent need to replace the unit, don’t wait until the last minute. Your HVAC contractor can provide you with guidance on furnace replacement options and help you choose one that will keep your home comfortable through the coldest days of winter. But before you call them in, consider the following factors which play into most replacement decisions…

1) Expected Useful Life & Maintenance Requirements

The expected useful life is typically factored into a manufacturer’s published specifications for the unit. For example, if you own a Carrier 38GS000-060 furnace, it is designed to last about 15 years. Some manufacturers will show their average “life point” within that expected lifespan (if provided), or they will indicate that annual/seasonal maintenance should be performed every X number of years.

What does this mean for you? It means that if certain types of repairs are needed on your current unit during its lifetime, those repairs won’t necessarily need to be done by a professional for the warranty to remain intact as long as yearly maintenance is completed as well. In other words, save money and do these repairs yourself!

2) Annual Operating Costs

Your current operating costs can help inform you how much money you spend each year on your furnace. It’s a good idea to keep track of the cost of operating your unit and any repairs that may need to be performed so you can use those figures to help guide you when making a replacement decision.

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