How Long Should a Furnace Last?

For many homeowners, the furnace is often installed in the basement. It is out of sight, out of mind. Unfortunately, this means most residential furnaces tend to receive less attention. They require maintenance, occasional repairs, cleaning, and replacement over time. As a homeowner, you should know when your furnace needs to be replaced. There are signs to watch for, which indicate when your home’s furnace is at the end of its lifespan. A brand-new furnace can increase efficiency and lead to monetary savings each month.

Average Furnace Lifespan

On average, a gas furnace will last between 15 and 30 years. While rare, some residential furnaces have endured for 40 years or more. With routine, annual maintenance and the occasional cleaning, your furnace can easily last for 15 years or more. Of course, there are factors to consider, too. For instance:

  • Make And Model – A new system will have a longer lifespan than an old model.
  • Maintenance – The frequency and quality of scheduled maintenance make a significant difference. To maintain your warranty and keep your furnace running as efficiently as possible, schedule maintenance during the fall. Be sure your appointment includes full cleaning, too.
  • Ventilation – Excess moisture in your home can cause the heater system to rust and prematurely break down. Moisture is especially harmful to the heat exchanger within the system.
  • Professional Installation – Always opt for professional installation. Unfortunately, nearly half of all furnaces are improperly installed. As such, efficiency levels are lowered by nearly 30% or more, leading to breakdowns, insufficient air, and other issues. Always schedule service with a professional.

Replacing a Furnace

There are numerous factors, as you have seen firsthand above, that affect when to replace a furnace. You always want to speak with a professional when it comes to replacing your furnace. For homeowners with an aging furnace that is perhaps more than 15 years old, you may find increased savings by replacing the furnace now rather than waiting. Furthermore, you’ll likely save money on repairs in the long run by replacing an aging furnace soon.

An old furnace is going to provide a slew of issues. You’ll endure reduced efficiency, spending hundreds on fuel and operating costs. You’ll spend more on repairs and maintenance. During the winter, you’ll likely find that your furnace cannot keep up with the demand. Your home will feel cold, or you’ll experience cold patches throughout the house.

Today’s high-efficiency furnaces have an annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) rating between 90% and 99%. Nearly all fuel is converted to successfully heat your home. An old model tends to have an AFUE rating under 80%. While still high in most regards, 80% also means that 20% is being wasted. You’re still spending money for that 20%. It only makes sense to enjoy as much efficiency as possible.

Other Signs You Need a New Furnace

In addition to the signs mentioned above, here are a few more to watch for:

● You hear loud banging or popping noises.

Although a furnace is never really silent, you don’t want to hear loud banging either. Your furnace should not keep everyone awake while running. If you hear strange noises coming from the furnace, you could have a cracked heat exchanger. That will require a furnace replacement.

● You smell gas or burning odors.

When you turn on your heating system, you should never smell gases in the air. If you detect any kind of natural gas odor near your furnace, immediately shut it off and open windows for ventilation. Contact your gas company and a certified technician.

● You find excessive dust or dirt around your furnace.

Your furnace should be clean, but if you start to see dirt accumulating in the area near your furnace, something is wrong. It means that the air pressure within your system is off-balance, leading to increased wear and tear on the unit.

● You detect the presence of carbon monoxide.

Your furnace can be leaking this gas, which is odorless and tasteless but deadly for humans. To ensure safety, install a carbon monoxide detector in your living area. If you hear the alarm going off, shut off your furnace and get out of the house immediately.

● Your furnace leaks water.

If you notice water leaking from your system, it could be due to a minor issue like a clogged condensate drain or a leak in the condensate line. It could also mean that the condensate drain or part of the heat exchanger is broken. This will cause your furnace’s internals to fill with moisture, leading to rust and a premature breakdown. Moisture and the heat exchanger do not get along well. 

● It’s increasingly difficult to start the unit and keep it running.

As your unit ages, it can become increasingly difficult to start the furnace and keep it running properly. When this happens, you’ll likely find yourself paying more in repair costs than necessary. It’s best to replace the unit before it becomes a major issue. You may also find yourself having to restart your furnace several times in one day. This is both time-consuming, inconvenient, and exhausting.

Your furnace gives off strange smells.

New furnaces generally give off a pungent smell. However, as you use them, this smell should go away. If you’re still detecting pungent or some other odors coming from your furnace, it could mean there’s a problem with the system. It is likely due to bad combustion or the accumulation of dust and dirt on the unit or within its ductwork.

The Bottom Line

Knowing how long a furnace should last can help you decide when it’s time to replace your current system. While it might be tempting to stretch out the life expectancy of an old system for as long as possible, it’s important to remember that an overworked system can be dangerous and cause serious problems in the future. When you start noticing any of the signs mentioned above, it’s best to consult a professional so you can make an informed decision. A reliable contractor can help determine whether your old furnace needs repair or requires a replacement.

Contact Robert B. Payne For All Your Furnace Issues

Your home’s furnace may require occasional repairs, professional installation, and routine maintenance to run at peak performance. For expert furnace repair, installation, and replacement services, call Robert B. Payne at 540-373-5876 today!