Typically, homeowners don’t get excited about having to replace their gas furnace. However, the idea of freezing in your home isn’t too exciting either. Despite efforts to prolong its life, there may come a time when it is better to replace your furnace rather than repair it. The replace decision often comes down to your current furnace’s age, condition, and/or performance.1
An aging furnace may start to show its age even with proper maintenance and the dedicated efforts of a highly skilled HVAC contractor. Calling your professional licensed HVAC contractor again and again for repair after repair is not convenient and may get expensive for a homeowner.
As discussed in "Should I Repair or Replace my Gas Furnace?" you should determine your repair spending cut off point. If your repair estimate is close to your predetermined budget threshold, it may be best to start researching a new gas furnace before you experience a breakdown.
How expensive does a furnace repair need to be before it’s not worth repairing it? A good reference point could be when the cost to repair a gas furnace is roughly 50% of the cost of a new gas furnace. However, it’s best to discuss repair vs. replacement options with your HVAC technician to get a clearer assessment of the price tag of repairs and the predicted longevity of your existing gas furnace.
Heating and Comfort
Your gas furnace system may have a complicated arrangement. However, if one or more parts involved in delivering heat is damaged or not working as intended, your heating system has the potential to become a hazard to your indoor comfort — probably one of your highest priorities for your home and family.2
Preventive maintenance and professional inspections are important aspects of the operation of your gas furnace and continued indoor comfort. While evaluating your gas furnace, an HVAC dealer may uncover small cracks, leaks, rust, rot, soot, frayed wires or corroded electrical contacts that can lead to furnace failure.
According to the Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute, older furnaces that do not comply with current standard codes may pose a higher risk due to their earlier technology. "Newer gas furnaces are equipped with many features that shut the furnace off when a problem is detected, but older furnaces may not have these devices."3
For most homeowners, heating your home costs you money. Energy.gov estimates that heating and cooling may account for up to half of a typical home’s total energy use. As a result, a homeowner should make every effort to increase the energy efficiency of their HVAC equipment.
To determine your home's annual energy use compared to similar homes in your area, Energystar provides a simple online assessment tool. The assessment reveals that a score below a five means that your home’s energy use “is above average and you're probably paying more than you need to on energy bills.”4
While there are a variety of reasons and potential fixes that can increase your energy efficiency, a licensed professional HVAC contractor may reveal that the AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) of your gas furnace may be the primary cause of these excessive costs. If this is the case in your home, a new, energy-efficient system may be able to help lower your energy bills.
For example, an older gas furnace with an AFUE rating of 70% would mean that only
70% of its fuel is used to heat your home. The remaining 30% may escape through the chimney or exhaust. That means that up to 30% of the energy used to run your furnace may be wasted. A high-efficiency model can offer higher AFUE ratings, potentially providing significant energy efficiency and savings on utilities.
While every homeowner’s HVAC situation and budget is unique, SmarterHouse.org, a project of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, states that replacing a furnace with a modern high-efficiency model may be a good investment.