Time For A New Furnace? How To Know For Sure


Are things getting a little heated between you and your furnace? If it's acting strange or your home seems to have lost its efficiency, it's time to do something—either invest in a new furnace installation or put time and money into the needed repairs. But how do you know when it's time for a new system? Since you don't want to spend any more than you have to, here are the top three signs that it's time to toss the tools aside and call in the pros for a new furnace installation.

Your spouse is getting jealous of the time you spend with the furnace.

There are always going to be easy, quick fixes for some furnaces that aren't working. And they run the gamut from a digital thermostat that needs new batteries to dirty air filters obstructing air flow. There could even be brush or debris is blocking the unit outside if your system happens to have one. But if you've spent more time working on the heating system than you've spent with your own family, and it still isn't working as it should, it may be time for a new unit. According to homeenergycenter.com, the most breakdowns usually happen the last two years of a furnace's life. 

Your furnace is old.

Do you know how old your heating system is? Hopefully you do, but if it came with the house when you bought it, you may not be sure of its age, and you'll have to slip into sleuth mode.

Check the furnace for a sticker with a manufacturer's date. If one isn't present, document the serial number and use that to determine the age. A good rule of thumb is that the first few numbers indicate the week or month it was made, and the last two the year. For example, a serial number of 0294 may indicate the unit was made the second week of 1994. You might find other clues like tags with different service dates that you can use as an overall guideline.

Most modern furnaces last anywhere from 15-25 years. But if your research uncovers evidence that your unit was installed before sliced bread was invented (or more than twenty years ago) it's probably time for an upgrade.

Your energy bills are draining your vacation fund.

Everyone's fuel bills will vary, depending on whether or not you have a gas or electric furnace, how many people you live with, and how well insulated the home is among other things. However, if you haven't been through any major household changes, and the furnace is working harder to heat your home, you're likely to see it reflected in a higher energy bill. Therefore, it's time to make some decisions.

The first thing to do is check your unit's AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency). The NRC (National Resources Canada) states that any furnace manufactured after December 23, 2009 must have an AFUE of at least 90%. What this means is that for every dollar you spend on your heating bill, only ten cents worth of energy can be lost through escaped heat—or 90% of what you spend must actually stay inside the home.

Your unit should come with an assigned AFUE rating. But this number can dwindle, especially if it needs to be serviced, cleaned, or replaced. If you're unsure whether or not the furnace is actually living up to its AFUE rating, it's time to call in a professional and have it tested, and here's the main reason why. Over time, heating and cooling leads to expansion and contracting of the heat exchanges, and at some point, they can crack. If the furnace has a cracked heat exchange, you'll have to get it replaced. There isn't any way around this. The crack can prevent the burner from lighting or it can make the flame blow out from a draft. And it most certainly will affect the overall heating efficiency of your home.

The best thing to do, when in doubt, is contact an HVAC contractor for a professional inspection and recommendation.


10 March 2015

Keeping up With Maintenance Between HVAC Inspections

Working with HVAC contractors is an important part of being a homeowner. Not only do your contractors ensure that a new system you buy is properly installed, but they also ensure optimal performance throughout the years through a series of regular inspections, maintenance services, and repairs. But there are lots of things you can do in between your contractor's visits to ensure that your HVAC investment is always in tip top condition, aside from cleaning out the air filters. After working with my dad for more than a decade in the HVAC business, I've put together a few methods homeowners can use to maintain a well working system, and I have published those tips and tricks right here on this blog. I hope some of the information you find here helps you on your journey as a homeowner!