The P. Gagnon & Son Blog

Should I Repair or Replace My Gas Furnace?

Posted: November 8, 2017

Some people like to yearn for the “good old days,” when things were built to last. Take furnaces, example: an old fashioned “gravity furnace” in your grandmother’s house might have lasted 50 years or more back in the day.

The problem with most old-fashioned equipment (like gravity furnaces…or cars) was that they were really inefficient: sometimes more than half the heat an old-fashioned furnace produced would be lost in its quest to keep you warm.

That started to change back in the 1970s, when manufacturers improved furnace efficiency by adding fans to push air through the house and thinning heat exchanger walls, which pushed ratings into the 70 percent range. Then they replaced pilot lights with electronic ignitions, added exhaust fans, and made other adjustments to push efficiencies into the 90s. Finally, they added computer chips to their designs to push efficiencies close to 100 percent!

But all those improvements came at a cost – and that cost was durability: thinner heat exchangers cracked more easily, more motors meant more parts to break, and an electronic ignition needed regular service and eventual replacement.

Basically, with better technology, more can go wrong – and more needs to be done to make sure it doesn’t go wrong.

Preparing your heating system for a longer life

Today’s furnaces can last 15-20 years – but the length of that span depends on many factors, the most critical of which is routine maintenance. Changing filters regularly and getting a professional cleaning and tune-up will push your unit toward the higher end of that scale; right-sizing your furnace and making sure it is properly installed will, too.

Fail to do these things and your furnace could fail much sooner than it should, which means a costly repair or you – and higher heating bills, too.

The bottom line – to get more life from your furnace:

  1. Maintain your equipment. Maintenance will make your equipment last longer and prevent many costly repairs.
  2. Upgrade older equipment. If your system is more than 15 years old, it’s time to start thinking about a replacement. Today’s systems are much more efficient than they were 15 years ago – even if you’ve maintained them properly (and especially if you haven’t).
  3. Follow this rule of thumb. If a repair on a 10+ year old system is half the cost of a replacement or more, replace the unit; the efficiency improvements will offset the cost of an upgrade in just a couple of years.

Not sure whether to repair or replace your furnace? Contact us today and let’s talk about it. We’ll let you know about any rebates or incentives that could make an upgrade more affordable, and give you a FREE, no obligation estimate if a new, high-efficiency furnace is a more sensible choice. If it’s not, you’ll get the best service around – guaranteed!