When is the right time to replace home heating equipment?

Consult with a qualified HVAC company to help make your repair-or-replace decision. (Photo by Rick Miller)

Consult with a qualified HVAC company to help make your repair-or-replace decision. (Photo by Rick Miller)

During the icy winter months, a reliable heating system is a great source of comfort in the home. If you are having problems with your furnace or your energy bills seem astronomically high, it may be time to replace home heating equipment. How do you know whether you should replace or repair? These hot tips will help you decide what needs to be done.

Before rushing out to replace home heating equipment, there are some factors that should be considered. The first thing you should take into account is the age of your furnace. Energy Star recommends that furnaces be replaced every 15 years; however, a well-maintained system can last up to 25 years.

Older furnaces are far less efficient than recently developed ones. Investing in an Energy-Star-certified system is a good idea if you want to save on your energy consumption. Older furnaces generally have an annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) of 60 to 70 percent. These days, the minimum AFUE is 80 percent, with some systems capable of up to 93 percent. With an Energy-Star-certified heating system, it is possible to save up to 20 percent on your energy bill in the long run.

You may have a furnace that is not too old but still requires some TLC. Here are a few things you can investigate for yourself, and they may not cost too much to repair:

  • There may be some faulty or damaged wiring in your system. This can easily be repaired by an electrician.
  • A clogged filter can cause your system to operate inefficiently. This issue is relatively cheap and easily replaceable.
  • Your pilot light may need to be replaced.
  • If you find that some of the rooms in your home are not being heated sufficiently, there may need to be some repairs done to leaky or damaged duct work.

Before you decide to purchase a new furnace, it is highly advisable that you call a professional HVAC contractor to perform a heating load calculation of your existing furnace. He can tell you whether you will save more by replacing or repairing your system. Most heating contractors suggest that you only consider replacing your equipment if it is past three quarters of its life expectancy, and if the repairs will cost more than one third of the replacement cost.

If you are continually experiencing problems with your furnace, a replacement may be the answer. When installing your new heating system, you will need to make sure that it is the correct size. An incorrectly sized furnace is likely to operate less efficiently and effectively than it should. A professional HVAC service technician can tell you exactly what you will require and which areas of duct work may require attention.

Purchasing a new high-efficiency, Energy-Star-accredited model may be expensive, but you may see a handsome return on your investment in the future. It is also worthwhile to check whether your region is liable for federal or state tax incentives on your energy bills while operating EPA-approved equipment. There are also rebates available with some HVAC servicing companies, which help you maintain your heating system at its optimum performance level.

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