Furnaces typically last about 10 to 15 years before they require replacement. If your furnace is in this age range, you may wonder whether you can squeeze a few more years out of it or if the time has come to replace it. Ideally, you would have your furnace replaced before it fails completely and leaves you without heat mid-winter.
Here are five signs that your furnace, though still functional, is on its way out and should be replaced before next heating season.
Increasing Energy Bills
The furnaces made 10 to 15 years ago were not nearly as efficient as today’s high-efficiency models. However, as a furnace gets older, it becomes less and less efficient as parts begin failing and working less effectively. As a result, your fuel bills start to climb.
If your heating bills have been, for example, $100 a month in past years but are now holding steady around $150, it’s time to replace your furnace. Small measures like changing your air filter and having your ducts sealed may save you a little money, but nothing will bring fuel costs down like a new, high-efficiency furnace.
Have you started to notice that certain rooms in your home don’t seem to get as warm as others? As your furnace ages, its output may begin to decrease. There simply may not be enough heat to warm your whole home each heating cycle. You may notice less airflow coming from some vents than from others.
Check to make sure your chilly rooms are not chilly because of leaking windows or because the vents accidentally got closed. If there’s no other explanation, your aging furnace is probably at fault.
Rattling or Rumbling Noises
A loud rattling noise just before your furnace starts blowing out air may mean that your heat exchanger has cracked. The heat exchanger is the component that’s responsible for passing heat from the burner into the air.
A broken heat exchanger can put you at risk for a carbon monoxide leak, so you should have the furnace replaced for safety reasons. In the meantime, make sure you have a working carbon monoxide detector on every floor of your home. If a carbon monoxide alarm ever goes off, leave your home immediately and call for emergency heating repairs.
As long as the alarms do not ring, you can probably make it through the rest of this heating season with your old furnace; replace it before next heating season begins.
Water Around the Furnace
When you have a new, condensing furnace, water around the furnace usually means a condensate line is clogged. But chances are that your older furnace does not have a condensation line. Water pooling around it can be another sign of a cracked or faulty heat exchanger.
Keep the water cleaned up to prevent mold growth until you’re able to have the furnace replaced, and again, make sure your carbon monoxide alarms are working.
Failure to Achieve Temperature
Does your furnace only ever heat the home to 66 degrees, even when the thermostat is set at 68 degrees? Failure to achieve the set temperature may indicate that your furnace is overheating and shutting itself off before your home is warm enough. Your furnace may also be losing capacity due to various aging and malfunctioning parts.
As long as your home is not terribly cold, you may be able to suffer through another few months with this furnace, but it will certainly need to be replaced soon.
If you’re dealing with any of the problems above, contact HELP Plumbing, Heating, Cooling and Electric. We can come look over your furnace and give you an estimate for a replacement.