The days are getting shorter, leaves are changing colors, and Jack Frost is getting ready to visit. It’s a perfect time to make sure your furnace can get you through the winter. Below is a checklist below to help you determine if it may be time to replace a furnace or at least make some tune-ups to your existing furnace.
1.) Your equipment repair costs and energy bills are steadily increasing
Older furnaces work harder to provide the levels of heating they did when they were new. This means higher energy bills and more frequent repairs. A slight increase in both is OK for an older furnace but once you begin seeing significant bill increases and your furnace repairman knows you by name, it may be time to look into getting a new furnace. The amount of money you will save in the long run from a more efficient unit will be worth the short-term investment.
2.) Your furnace is more than 15 years old
If your furnace is past its 15-year mark and beginning to have maintenance issues, there is a very likely chance it will need to be replaced. It may be working, but it is likely not operating at maximum efficiency and your utility bills are probably at all time highs as a result.
Furnaces are like cars; the older they are, the more maintenance they need, usually incurring the most breakdowns in the last two years of their lives. If your furnace is roughly 15 to 20 years or older and you have a repair costing more than 15 percent of a new furnace, you should go ahead and replace it (because it is more likely to break down again soon).
If your furnace is operating with little to no maintenance issues but you’re noticing a higher utility rate and you’d like to get your bills down, there may be some lower cost solutions for you. Some alternative options may be updating your thermostat to a programmable one, cleaning or updating your duct system, purchasing an electric fireplace or portable heater, or just adding some extra blankets around the house. Call one of our HVAC experts to help you determine which option is best for you.
3.) The rooms throughout your home are different temperatures
An inefficient and old furnace can result in some rooms being colder or warmer than others. This is likely the result of an old furnace and outdated duct system losing its ability to distribute heat evenly throughout the house.
4.) Your home has soot around the registers
An older furnace may begin spewing out dust, dirt, or rust particles, which can be not only irritating for those who aim to keep a clean house, but dangerous to everyone’s health. When you spy soot or rust around the furnace or registers, this is a sign your furnace has too much CO2. It can also cause excessive dryness, affecting the walls, wood flooring, furniture, and plants in your house. If you notice plants starting to wilt, or family members are experiencing dry eyes and itchy throats, or headaches, it may be time to replace a furnace.
5.) Your furnace is noisy
Furnaces tend to make some noise when they turn on and off, but if those noises start to get progressively louder, it may be time to replace your unit. These sounds may come in the form of popping, banging, humming, or screeching. This could be a telltale sign that you may need to replace a furnace or some parts within the furnace. The reason for some of these sounds could be:
- Rattling: Unsecured ductwork, loose screws or sheet metal can be the cause of this sound. It may also mean the lower motor is not properly balanced.
- Popping: This sound can happen when parts within your furnace warm and cool in response to temperature changes within your system.
- Humming: Your fan motor may produce electrical humming sounds, but the fan should never be loud or disruptive. If it is, your inducer motor or blower fan motor could be starting to fail.
- Screeching or Squealing: These noises are a sign there is an overall issue with your blower motor or inducer motor. Possible issues could be a loose bearing, deteriorating belt, or an issue with the pulley that holds the belt.
Why Your Old Heating System Could be Costing You More Than Just Maintenance Costs
As technology advances, new and improved models are introduced to the market that offer many advantages above what their older counterparts produce. This is true with just about everything — including your heating system. While an older furnace or heater may still be functioning fine, chances are that it is more expensive to operate than a newer system.
Loss in Efficiency
As heating equipment ages, it loses efficiency. Plus, newer heating equipment has a much higher efficiency than your older system was in its prime, thanks to new regulations. Operating an older, less efficient system costs you far more in energy expenses than operating a new system — enough so in many cases that it can pay off the cost of installing the new unit in a short period of time.
Not as Effective System Control
Older heating systems don’t have the control options which are available on newer models. This lack of control can’t keep you as comfortable and can cost you more in energy use. It’s not just your old furnace or boiler that’s the problem; an outdated thermostat is a major control problem. If your system or thermostat has a simple “on/off” option, you should look into upgrading now. New technology, such as zoning, offers additional control over home comfort and energy use which older systems don’t.
Use of Expensive Fuels
The price of various heating fuels has fluctuated over the years. When your heating system was originally installed, the fuel source used may have been a cost-effective choice; now, it may be costing you much more than alternative energy sources. Upgrading to a new heating system that utilizes a cost-effective energy source will help you lower your heating bills throughout the colder months.
Natural energy is becoming a popular choice for heating equipment. Heat pumps extract energy from the outdoor air, the ground, or a water source to provide the heating your home needs. They keep your home comfortable for a fraction of the cost of an older, inefficient system and are considered to be an environmentally friendly option.