While the furnace in the accompanying picture to this blog post is a bit older than 25 years, we want to use it to illustrate a point–if your furnace is 25 years old, then it is outdated! It’s not going to be able to work as efficiently as it once did, nor is it going to be as safe as it would be otherwise–particularly if it’s a gas-powered system.
The methods used by HVAC professionals to properly install and vent furnaces have even changed in the last couple of decades. So, if you’re asking yourself if you should replace your 25-year-old furnace, the answer is a resounding yes! But allow us to elaborate more, below:
What Is the Average Lifespan of a Furnace?
A well-maintained gas-powered furnace can last up to 15 years. When we say well-maintained, we mean a furnace that has received a professional tune-up at least once a year. Annual professional maintenance allows our technicians to thoroughly clean, inspect, and adjust components that need it within the system.
Over the years, natural wear and tear can lead to parts breaking down. Maintenance allows us to check for this wear and tear, ensuring that nothing is out of the ordinary. We may find small repair needs every couple of years or so–this is to be expected. We may also find issues that are manufacturer defects–your manufacturer’s warranty is only good if you invest in professional annual maintenance (and typically lasts about 10 years).
An electric furnace, when properly maintained, can typically last up to 20 years, so you do get a little more life out of that.
Factors that Shorten a Furnace Lifespan
The biggest factor that shortens a furnace’s lifespan is the lack of maintenance. This is because maintenance allows us to spot small problems before they become big emergencies. Take, for instance, worn-down motor bearings. This is one of those “typical” wear and tear issues we mentioned above. All this takes for us to fix is relubricating the bearings to reduce friction.
If, however, this isn’t caught, the bearings can continue to wear down, increasing friction, and eventually burning out the motor completely. Not only is this a very expensive problem to have worn motor bearings escalate to, but it will overall reduce your furnace’s lifespan.
Again, a well-maintained furnace can last about 10-15 years (20 if it’s an electric furnace) but without proper maintenance, that useful lifespan could be cut in half. We say useful lifespan because while your furnace might still be running after all these years, it’s likely doing so extremely inefficiently and possibly even dangerously.
“Should I Replace My Furnace During the Winter?”
Normally, we would recommend that customers replace their furnace before they need it the most, in the fall. However, given our relatively mild winter climate, you may find it beneficial to replace your furnace in the winter. If you are considering a furnace replacement this winter, it’s best to contact us right away to explore your options, as supply chain shortages due to the ongoing pandemic have made it a bit harder to obtain equipment.
Signs Your Furnace Is Near the End
Old age is the number one indicator that your furnace is just about ready to be upgraded. But here are some other signs your furnace is near the end:
- Frequent Repair Needs: If your furnace needs a repair every few months, then it’s probably more econimical to replace the system to a higher-efficiency unit anyway.
- Inefficient Operation: Take a look at your energy bills. Are they a lot higher than they were this same time last year? This means something in your home is working inefficiently, and it could very well be your furnace to blame.
- Strange Noises: In an older furnace, any strange noises can mean there is damage within. If there is damage to the gas lines or heat exchangers in a gas furnace, this can be especially harmful. Please give us a call right away so we can at least inspect your furnace for safe operation, if it’s getting increasingly noisier.