A good furnace is an absolute necessity during the cold winter months, but a busted furnace can leave you out in the cold when you need heat most. Luckily, there are usually some warning signs that will let you know when it’s time to have a professional check out your furnace.
A little bit of research and regular inspections of your furnace can prevent small problems from becoming major and keep your furnace pumping out heat during the harsh winter. However, there are some times when it may be better to replace your furnace.
Repairs vs. Replacement
Before you decide that your furnace needs repairs, you should consider whether repairing it is actually the right choice. Some furnace repairs are pretty costly, and it’s not worth repairing an old furnace that’s going to cost you a fortune to operate.
In general, furnaces are rated to last about 20 years. One rule of thumb is to opt for replacement over repairs when your furnace is more than three quarters through its expected lifespan. You may also want to replace your furnace if the repairs are going to cost more than one-third of the cost to replace it.
If your furnace is right on the cusp of these guidelines, consider its efficiency. If your old furnace isn’t very efficient and you think upgrading to a higher efficiency model may be worth it, you should probably go for an upgrade instead of having your old furnace repaired.
There are lots of different warning signs when your furnace is having problems, but the warning signs depend on the problem it’s having. Here are some ways you can tell if your furnace needs to be repaired.
The first and most obvious way to tell if your furnace may need repairs is simply based on how well you’ve maintained it. There are a handful of different maintenance tasks which you should regularly perform on your furnace. This furnace tune-up helps your furnace function at an optimal level, which prevents more serious problems from happening in the future. If you haven’t been regularly maintaining your furnace, there’s a good chance something needs to be repaired.
If there are loud noises that seem to be coming from your furnace, chances are something needs to be repaired. This could be a problem with the ductwork or the furnace itself. The only way to tell for sure is to have an HVAC professional inspect your furnace and ductwork for problems.
Sometimes the air coming from your vents will suddenly lose pressure. This can happen as a result of multiple problems, from the fan to the motor, but you’ll need a professional to inspect it regardless of the cause.
An unusually high utility bill can also be a signal of a failing furnace. There are a number of reasons why your furnace can run at suboptimal efficiency levels, including problems with the ductwork. This should be addressed right away regardless as it will continue to cost you money until you fix it.
A furnace that puts out cold air isn’t very satisfying at all. In fact, this is a sign that your furnace is failing and you need to get it fixed. Often times this is an issue with the pilot light or the thermocouple.
If you smell a gas leak from your furnace, the first thing you should do is shut your furnace off. A gas leak can be very dangerous if the gas comes in contact with an open flame in your home. Call an HVAC professional immediately to take a look at your furnace—this is one problem that you can’t “wait and see” with.