With winter approaching, the last thing Grand Rapids area homeowners want to encounter is a lack of heat. To avoid this cold weather crisis, there is one important question you should be asking – when should I replace my furnace? The heating professionals at A-1 Mechanical explain the expected service life of this equipment and how to determine when replacement is needed.

How Long Does a Furnace Last?

While no two furnaces are alike, this type of equipment does have an average expected service life. Knowing how many years you can anticipate using your current system is helpful.

  • Gas furnaces usually last between 15 to 20 years.
  • Electric furnaces typically last between 20 to 30 years.

The reason electric furnaces tend to run longer than gas units is that electric models are usually more durable, and they don’t require as much maintenance. When choosing a new efficient furnace or heating system to purchase and install at home, you want to consider expected service life as well as other important factors, such as utility costs.

When Should I Replace My Furnace?

Additionally, you don’t want to use average service life as the only factor in your decision to replace your electric or natural gas furnace. The actual lifespan of any furnace unit is greatly impacted by factors including:

  • Household heating habits
  • Indoor air quality
  • Furnace maintenance regularity
  • System sizing
  • Equipment quality
  • Installation quality

Depending on the factors above, your furnace’s service life could exceed the average range – or fail to come close to it. As you decide whether or not to replace your furnace, consider the following furnace attributes:

  • Did your furnace receive a professional tune up each year? Units that receive regular preventative maintenance are often found to last to the upper limit of the average service life range or even beyond it. Maintenance tune ups counteract wear and tear damage as well as other system issues that can take your furnace out of service sooner. If you have skipped routine maintenance, your furnace may not last as long as the average unit.
  • How do you use your furnace? If you like to keep your home at 73 degrees in the winter, the unit will run longer than a furnace in a home kept around 68 degrees for the season. It experiences more run time and more wear and tear which can lead to an earlier breakdown.
  • What’s your home’s air quality like? If your home has a high level of dust and other types of particle pollution, these contaminants can harm the furnace and cause it to break down sooner than a unit in a home with less indoor air pollution. 
  • What was your experience when you first had the furnace installed? Did you work with a licensed contractor who sized the new furnace correctly? A furnace that is too big or too small for the home will fail sooner than a unit that is the correct capacity. Installation quality can affect the longevity of a furnace, which is why it is so important to hire a licensed, qualified HVAC contractor to perform this work. Also, not all furnaces are created equal – some brands and models are more budget friendly, but they may not have the durability that a more expensive unit can offer, causing them to fail sooner than the alternatives.

Furnace Replacement Warning Signs

With the above information in mind, you should also be aware of the warning signs a furnace can give that tell you replacement is needed soon. Observe the system and see if you notice any of these symptoms:

  • Higher heating bills without explanation. Furnaces lose efficiency as the years go on, causing energy bills to rise. Also, older models likely don’t offer the initial efficiency ratings as available through current equipment, meaning it costs you more to keep using that old furnace than if you were using a new heating unit. If your heating costs have gone up each year without another explanation like increased use or higher fuel costs, an aging furnace is a likely culprit. Consider ongoing costs to heat the home when considering a replacement furnace.
  • It’s difficult to keep the home comfortable. Struggling furnaces are notorious for poor comfort control, causing symptoms such as uneven heating, not enough heat, and cold spots throughout the home. Sometimes the root of these issues can be repaired, but if poor comfort control isn’t your only symptom, it’s likely that you need to replace your furnace.
  • Frequent repairs. Furnaces typically need more repairs in their final two years of life. If you’ve called us for furnace repair more often over the last year or more, it’s time to figure out a replacement plan.
  • Costly repairs. If your furnace needs expensive repair work, sometimes repairs aren’t the best option. If the needed furnace repairs total around half the cost of a new system, or more, you may decide this money is better spent investing in a new unit. Due to the expense, weigh major repair needs before you decide whether to replace your furnace.

Furnace Replacement in Grand Rapids, MI

If you decided “now” or “soon” is your answer to “when should I replace my furnace?,” the heating pros at A-1 Mechanical are ready to help. Contact our team today to learn more about furnace options and request an estimate for furnace replacement in your home.