Should I Repair or Replace My Furnace?
Picture this scenario:
It is a Sunday afternoon. It is 25 degrees outside and your furnace just isn’t delivering the kind of comfort that you are accustomed to. The thermostat is registering 64 degrees inside but it is set for 70. The furnace is working but it is struggling to maintain a comfortable temperature. And to top it off, there is an Eagles game on TV and you’ve got a bunch of people coming over to watch the game. What do you do?
This is a moment that you have dreaded coming. HVAC systems are complicated and as a homeowner, it’s hard to know if you are ready for a new system, or maybe it makes more economic sense to repair your system and try to get a few more years out of it. In any case, you need a reliable service technician with the expertise to accurately diagnose the problem and work with you to make the repair/replacement choice.
Before you have that conversation with your service technician, it is smart to have an idea of when it might make economic sense to replace your system or when a repair makes more sense. At John Cipollone, Inc., the heating specialists serving Ardmore, PA, we want you to know what is going on with your system. We have jotted down some tips on what can go wrong and what to consider when making this decision.
Repair or Replace?
From a service technician’s perspective, whether you should repair or replace your furnace depends on a few factors:
- The cost of the repair vs. the cost of a replacement
- The age of your system
- Your budget and comfort goals
- The availability of replacement parts
How Much Does It Cost to Repair a Furnace?
The cost of a furnace repair can change based on a few factors, including:
- The cost of the replacement part
- The amount of time it takes to secure the part and make the repair
When properly installed and maintained, a modern furnace can last 15-20 years or longer. But within your furnace’s lifespan, you may have to replace or repair some of its parts,
Replacement parts can be divided into two categories: minor furnace repairs and major furnace repairs. We’ll talk about the lifespan of each part and the time it takes to repair the issues below.
In some cases, a repair involves replacing a part. Sometimes, repairing a specific part isn’t cost-effective. While the final decision is up to you, your HVAC service technician should be able to provide recommendations based on your situation.
Minor furnace repairs are less intensive. These repairs typically take less time to repair and may be less expensive than some major repairs. You typically won’t replace your furnace due to a minor repair.
Minor furnace repairs include:
- Ignitor replacements
- Pressure switch replacements
- Sequencer replacements
- Transformer replacements
Major furnace repairs can require a lot of time, manual labor, and skill. These repairs address issues that severely limit or completely inhibit your system’s performance.
Major furnace repairs include:
- Gas valve replacements
- Circuit board replacements
- Inducer motor replacements
- Blower motor replacements
- Heat exchanger repairs and replacements
What Do These Parts Do and How Long Do They Last?
Furnace Ignitor Replacement
Your furnace’s ignitor provides the spark that heats your home. Modern ignitors can have a life expectancy between 5-15 years
Furnace Pressure Switch Replacement
Your furnace has multiple safety switches, but furnace pressure switches are more likely to fail than many switches. Even then, furnace pressure switches can have a life expectancy of at least 10 years.
Electric Furnace Sequencer Replacement
If your electric furnace isn’t heating your home, there could be an issue with its sequencers. Sequencers help power an electric furnace’s heat strips. (Heat strips rarely fail.) Sequencers can have a life expectancy of 12-15 years.
Furnace Transformer Replacement
Furnace transformers supply electricity to your furnace.
Furnace transformers rarely fail. When they do, it’s likely due to electrical stress on your furnace. (One culprit could be short cycling.) But furnace transformers can last as long as your furnace.
Gas Valve Replacements
Gas valves supply a furnace with fuel. Gas valves can last as long as your furnace.
The final cost of a gas valve replacement depends on the type of gas valve you need.
Your furnace’s staging affects the type of gas valve you need.
Gas valves generally have a low rate of failure. But when they do fail, the complexity of your furnace’s gas valve affects the cost of a replacement.
Furnace Circuit Board Replacement
Your furnace’s circuit board tells the rest of your furnace how to do its job. In other words, the circuit board keeps your furnace on track in the home heating cycle. The life expectancy of a circuit board depends on factors in your home.
Moisture is the number one cause of circuit board failure. The life expectancy of your furnace’s circuit board can significantly decrease if there’s a lot of moisture in the area where your system’s located. Installing a dehumidifier in damp basement areas can help extend the life of your circuit board.
Furnace Inducer Motor Replacement
Your furnace’s inducer motor moves air within your furnace.
The inducer motor has two roles:
- Moving the air through the heating process within your furnace
- Exhausting waste gases, including carbon monoxide, through flue pipes
Furnace inducer motors can have a life expectancy of 12-15 years.
Furnace Blower Motor Replacement
Your furnace’s blower motor circulates air throughout your home. Without your blower motor, your furnace can’t effectively distribute conditioned air to the rooms in your home.
The type of blower motor can change its life expectancy. Older furnaces typically have permanent-split compressor (PSC) blower motors, which are relatively simple and inexpensive to produce. PSC blower motors can have a life expectancy of 10-12 years.
Variable-speed blower motors, on the other hand, have a longer life expectancy. Variable-speed blower motors have a variety of speed settings that offer more control over your system. Variable-speed blower motors can have a life expectancy of 15-20 years.
When to Repair and When to Replace Your Furnace
Now that you know some of the factors, let’s discuss how these factors can affect your decision.
Of course, this decision is always up to you. Your HVAC contractor should present your options fairly so you can make the best decision for you, your family and your home.
If your furnace is under 10 years old and requires a major repair, that’s a sign that your system is under significant strain.
A few factors can create this strain:
- Manufacturer defect
- Improper installation
- Irregular (or lack of) maintenance
It’s natural for parts to fail in older systems. However, at a certain point, you may need to weigh your options. When you start getting into major repairs on a 10-year-old plus system, repair might not be the most cost-effective decision.
This is why it’s never a bad idea to know how much a replacement furnace will cost. When you know the cost of your ideal system, you can better evaluate whether you think it’s more cost-effective to repair or replace your furnace.
Furnace Replacement In Ardmore, PA
If you are looking at options to replace your furnace, give us a call at (610) 446-7877, or visit us online. We have been installing and repairing furnaces, heat pumps, and ductless systems for years, and want to make sure everyone in our community is warm and comfortable this winter!