A furnace is one of the most important appliances in our homes, and yet, they’re often overlooked—until a problem arises, of course. This article will help you understand what your furnace does that makes it so important and outline some common issues and signs that it’s time to replace it. At the very end, we’ll discuss some of the key ways you can increase the lifespan of your furnace.
By the time this article is finished, you’ll have a much better understanding of the economic sense behind a furnace purchase and why it’s such an essential investment for your home.
Table of Contents
Understanding the Furnace Itself
Before we cover the issues a furnace can face in its lifetime, let’s discuss what a furnace is and what it does.
Your furnace is the appliance that keeps your home warm, making it the opposite of your A/C unit. For some, your furnace is installed inside and may be more efficient as a result, while in some cases, your home may have the furnace installed outside—however, this type of setup may make it a bit less efficient.
When you set your thermostat to a temperature, it will constantly measure the room, and the moment it falls below that number, it will send a signal to the control system, which will then kick on the system that pushes warm air throughout our house. There are a few different types of furnaces your home may have, such as electric or high-efficiency natural gas/propane furnaces.
While they all perform the same function, their efficiency, cost, and specific maintenance requirements vary. While you don’t need to understand how each type works, knowing which one you have will make it easier for your HVAC technician to understand the possible issues they may need to fix.
Watching for Problems in Furnaces
There are quite a few problems your furnace could face. One problem is that it doesn’t activate when it should, or it doesn’t push warm air through the vents. Many people notice this issue early in winter when they need to use them, so if you have the same problem around this time, you may struggle to get a repair appointment.
Before winter hits, you should check your heat system by setting it to a temperature and turning it on. The best time to do this is on a cool fall day, which will not only allow you to make an early appointment should this be an issue but also allow your heating system to prepare for winter. Keep in mind that the first time you turn the heat on after it has been dormant for a while, you may notice a smell. It should dissipate after being used for a bit, but be prepared to make a repair appointment if the smell persists.
Another common issue is the furnace switching on and off frequently. The temperature outside could be causing this as it may be cooling the room down quickly; however, should this issue continue, contact a technician. This happening for a long period of time is unhealthy for the system and could indicate a few possible issues, such as a faulty thermostat.
The last issue we will discuss here is a noisy furnace. If your furnace is running loudly or it starts making a new sound, contact an HVAC technician as soon as possible. While the fix may be simple, it is a sign that a massive and expensive repair may be required soon—the sooner you can get it fixed, the better off your home and your wallet will be.
Knowing When to Replace Your Unit
All of the issues we’ve discussed so far can be repaired, but there will come a time when your furnace must be replaced.
As expected, age is the simplest reason why you may need a replacement. Furnaces can last anywhere between fifteen and thirty years, so while the replacement will be expensive, it isn’t a cost you’ll have to pay very often. While age may be one of the factors to consider, it isn’t the only one. Another reason is frequent repairs or higher electric bills.
HVAC repairs of any kind are rarely cheap, but they tend to be infrequent, which makes the bill a bit easier to deal with. They should be infrequent, at least. If you’re noticing your furnace requiring maintenance more frequently, it may be time to replace it. Its age and constant breakdowns can also have another negative effect on your pocketbook: decreased efficiency.
If your furnace isn’t working like it should anymore, it will require more energy to heat your house, which will increase your bills. A few of the other issues you need to watch for when considering a furnace replacement include poor air quality and uneven heating.
Increasing the Lifespan Of Your Unit
Whether your furnace has been in use for a few years already or you just had it replaced, there are a few steps you can take to increase its lifespan.
Consistent filter changes are a good place to start. You can do this yourself. Simply locate the filter, check to see what type it is, purchase a new one of that type and size, and replace the old one with the new one. While the specifics of when you need to change the filter vary based on its size and type, they generally need to be replaced every three months or so.
A yearly maintenance appointment from an HVAC technician will also improve its lifespan. Here, the technician will inspect and test your furnace to ensure it is working correctly, and they may also replace the filter if you haven’t already and may offer to clean it for you.
To do so, they’ll shut the system off and carefully check every piece and part for problems before carefully removing dirt and dust. Once complete, they may turn the system back on and check to make sure all is well and that everything is running properly before leaving.
Failing to replace your furnace when the time comes can not only increase your monthly bill but can also produce multiple expensive repair bills and doctor’s bills, as poor air quality flares up allergies and makes you and your family more susceptible to illness. Yes, the upfront cost of replacing a furnace can be quite high, but the long-term savings make it worth it.