A malfunctioning furnace is a major emergency in most households, especially if the furnace stops working during the winter. Depending on the age and condition of your furnace, you may be left wondering whether you should call a repairman or bite the bullet and splurge for a new unit to prevent future breakdowns. Of course, furnaces don't come cheap, so the decision on whether to repair or replace can be a stressful one. Check out these five tips to help you determine whether you can have your furnace repaired to working condition, or whether investing in a new unit makes sense for your family and your budget.
Consider Its Age
Furnaces last an average of 15 to 20 years, so if you know your furnace was installed close to 20 years ago, it's generally better to replace it than to attempt a repair. If your furnace is on the new side, however, compare the repair cost to the cost of replacement to help you make your choice. Generally, a new furnace costs about $3,000. If your estimated repair bill is higher than one-third of this amount, or $1,000, spring for a new furnace and skip the repairs.
Check Its Condition
Just because the average furnace lasts 15 to 20 years, it doesn't mean your furnace will last this long. If your furnace can no longer keep your house warm enough for your family, it's time for a new unit. You should also consider a new furnace if the unit is extremely noisy, your family is suffering from excessively dry skin thanks to the dry air in the home, or you're simply tired of dealing with repair and maintenance issues.
Review Your Bills
If you're on the fence about repairing or replacing your furnace, pull out your last six months of energy bills and let them serve as a guide. Furnaces tend to get less efficient as they reach the end of their life, which means your bills keep going up, no matter how much you try to conserve energy. If you notice your bills keep climbing, it's time to ditch the furnace and spring for a new model.
If you have a standard 80 percent efficiency furnace, switching to one rated at 97 percent efficiency will cut your heating costs by 20 percent each month, according to This Old House. Use old bills to calculate how much you will save each month, then multiply this amount by 12 to realize annual savings. Once you know your annual savings, multiply by 15 to determine savings over the life of the furnace. If this amount if greater than the cost of a new unit, consider springing for a new unit to save money.
Look for Deals
You may be surprised to find out just how many organizations are willing to offer you money to convince you to upgrade to a more efficient furnace. Check for offers through the U.S. Department of Energy as well as national energy-efficiency databases to find offers. A generous tax credit, discount or cash rebate may help make up your mind about repairing or replacing your furnace. Contact a local company, like Wm Jean Electric Co, for any questions.