Deciding to Repair or Replace Furnace


For many homeowners the decision to repair or replace their furnace is a matter of economics. For others it could be a matter of necessity, especially if damage is detected that can cause a carbon monoxide leak. Should a leak in the combustion chamber be found for example, a reputable HVAC contractor will red tag your furnace, meaning it cannot be used due to its dangerous condition.

When this happens replacing your furnace will not be an option and the contractor will likely disable the unit to prevent you from using it with the risk of colorless, odorless gas causing potentially fatal results. However, when you are confronted with a red flagged furnace, there may be other reasons on which the decision to replace the unit is made.

Furnaces today are much more efficient than those designed even 15 or 20 years ago. With the average efficiency of gas furnaces at about 80 percent, for example, many older furnaces may only be using 60 to 70 percent of its efficiency. Some of the newer ones can even hit over 90 percent efficiency. With the price of natural gas continually increasing, replacing your old gas furnace with a newer high efficiency furnace can pay dividends in the way of a reduced gas bill.


Age is another factor that can be used to decide to replace your furnace. As they get older, over 15 years for example, many are nearing their life expectancy and replacing it can often result in a lower cost than if you wait until it quits functioning and have to have it replaced by emergency. Many companies offer reduced cost furnace installation during their slow periods that could shave several hundred dollars off the price of a new unit.

The cost of the repair is another consideration when making the decision. On a furnace that may be 10 years old and seems to be working fine up until it quit working could be back in service for anywhere from a few dollars to several hundred. Consider a repair estimate of $750 or more a bargain compared to a new one that could run to over $2,000. However, if you anticipate needing additional repairs in the future, upgrading to a newer, higher efficiency furnace may be your best option.

Talking with the heating contractor about your current furnace should shed some light on what the future could hold for your old unit. Provided you trust your contractor to be honest in their assessment, and not simply trying to sell you a new furnace, then you are probably better off financially to take their advice. If you question their judgment you can always contact another repair technician for a second opinion before going through the time and expense of a new furnace installation.

Another factor to consider is how long you plan to remain in the home and if you are planning to sell in the near future, would a new furnace significantly add to the home’s value? If you don’t see adding at least the cost of a new furnace to the selling price, you could be better off with a repair. If you plan to remain in the home for several more years, installing a new high efficiency furnace can pay off over the years.

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