Are you looking to buy a new furnace for your home, but aren’t sure which one to choose? The right furnace can help keep you warm in the winter, lower your energy bill, improve your indoor air quality, and improve your standard of living.
But, how do you choose the right furnace for your home? And, how can you be sure that your furnace needs to be replaced?
Check out this guide to new furnaces to learn everything you need to know about furnace replacement.
What is a Home Furnace?
A furnace is a type of heating system that blows heated air through air ducts that are located throughout your home’s air registers or grills. Furnaces can be powered by gas, electricity, or oil.
Many people confuse furnaces with heat pumps and boilers, however, they are not the same. A furnace is different than a boiler in that it uses air to create heat instead of using water.
A heat pump, on the other hand, does not generate heat. Rather, it transfers heat through the interior of your home. Heat pumps absorb heat through pressurized refrigerant lines and then release it through your home.
How Long Does a Furnace Last?
Most furnaces last between 15 and 20 years. To determine how old your furnace is and if you need to replace it soon, you can look at the serial number on the unit.
The serial number is typically located on the inside of the furnace cover. All you need to do is peek inside the cover to find the serial number and then call your local heating and cooling company to have them look up the manufacturing date.
If your furnace is over 15 years old, it may be time to start shopping for a replacement. However, it’s important to keep in mind that there’s a variety of different factors that affect the lifespan of a furnace. These include:
The Type of Furnace
Different types of furnaces last for different lengths of time. Forced air furnaces with cast iron heat exchanges last the longest, lasting between 30 to 40 years. However, forced-air furnaces aren’t manufactured anymore, so if you have one in your home, there’s a good chance that it’s already pretty old.
With proper maintenance, electric furnaces can last over 20 years, and gas furnaces typically last between 15 and 30 years.
How often you use your furnace can also have a huge effect on its lifespan. The more you use your furnace, the faster the internal components will wear down.
Typically, furnaces last for a shorter period in cold climates because they’re turned on more frequently. However, in some cases, the opposite can be true. If your furnace sits unused for a year or more, rebooting it can cause the internal components to malfunction.
So, even if it’s not particularly cold outside, you should still turn on your furnace once in a while so that the internal parts don’t go bad.
The size of the furnace can also play a role in its lifespan. If your furnace is too small, it’ll need to work overtime to keep your home heated. If your furnace is too large, it’ll run on shorter cycles that make it cycle on and off more frequently.
You should speak to an HVAC professional about finding the right-sized furnace for your home.
If you don’t keep a regular maintenance schedule, your furnace is going to die out much earlier. You should have your furnace inspected once or twice a year by an HVAC professional.
Here are some other maintenance tips you should follow to keep your furnace in good shape:
- Gently dust and vacuum the inner components
- Unscrew the flame sensor and clean with a cloth
- Change the filter every one to three months
- Inspect the wires to ensure they’re screwed on tight
- Clean the blower with a damp cloth
- Use a large brush to clean the vents
- Keep an eye out for unusual sounds and anything out of the ordinary
- Use compressed air and white vinegar to clean the drainage tube
- If you have an older furnace, check the pilot light to ensure it’s burning bright blue
- Don’t block outdoor exhaust pipes
You also want to make sure your air registers aren’t blocked off by furniture or any other items.
As we mentioned earlier, colder climates are harder on furnaces. Furnaces need to run harder and work more often to heat indoor spaces when it’s cold outside.
Additionally, heat dissipates more quickly in cold climates. Once the air is finally warm, the furnace needs to keep working and cycling on and off to ensure that the temperature is maintained. This can put a lot of stress on the internal components and shorten the overall lifespan of the furnace.
How to Choose New Furnaces
There are plenty of furnace options on the market, and narrowing down your choices can be tough. In addition to looking at this post that compared the best furnaces, here are some tips for choosing a new furnace for your home:
Consider the Climate
One of the biggest things you need to take into consideration when buying a new furnace is the climate. If you live in a mild climate (ie, in the South, Southwest, or Southeast regions of the US, then you should choose a furnace with an annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) of at least 80.
These furnaces are specifically designed for milder climates and are more efficient than standard furnaces. If you live in a colder climate, then you should select a furnace with an AFUE of at least 90.
Consider the Furnace Type
As we mentioned earlier, there are several different types of furnaces that you have to choose from. A gas furnace is the most popular type, and it’s available in three forms. These include:
Single-Stage Gas Furnace: This type of furnace comes with a gas valve that opens and closes and the gas-only flows at a high rate
Two-Stage Gas Furnace: With this type of furnace, you can adjust the gas flow from low to high, allowing for better efficiency
Modulating Gas Furnace: This type of gas furnace is the most precise at regulating heat and is ideal for colder climates
Gas furnaces are more energy-efficient than oil furnaces, and they also don’t require a storage tank. They’re also quieter than oil and electric furnaces.
You can also opt for an electric furnace, which moves the air over electric coils to distribute heat throughout your home. With electric furnaces, you never have to worry about carbon monoxide leaks, and there’s a smaller risk of a fire starting in your home. Electric furnaces are also cheaper to install than gas furnaces, and they come with a longer lifespan.
Oil furnaces are a great option for homeowners who don’t have access to other fuel types. Oil furnaces can heat your home faster than gas and electric furnaces, and they also don’t come with the risk of carbon monoxide exposure.
Furnaces are offered in two blower types: variable speed blowers and fixed-speed blowers. While variable speed blowers are more expensive, they’re great for those who want premium comfort in their home.
As the name suggests, these blowers vary the speed at which air is distributed through your home. This allows the air distributed through your home to be a more consistent temperature and the unit to operate more quietly.
While fixed-speed blowers always operate at the same speed, they are more affordable.
Before you purchase a furnace, it’s important to look at the warranty. Most furnace companies offer a 10-year limited long parts warranty. This means that if the unit requires a repair within the first 10 years, the cost of the parts will be covered.
However, this type of warranty doesn’t cover the cost of labor or the cost of refrigerant. Make sure to ask your contractor if they also offer a labor warranty if you’d like to round out your warranty coverage.
Just like you’d do when buying any other product, you should also look at the reviews of the furnace before you purchase. The best places to research furnace reviews are on the Better Business Bureau website and the Consumer Reports website.
If you have the furnace professionally installed by an HVAC contractor, you should check their company reviews as well.
Are You Ready to Buy a New Furnace?
Now that you’ve read this guide on buying new furnaces, it’s time to get started. Finding the perfect furnace for your home can take some time, so we recommend starting your research before your current one stops working.
Be sure to check back in with our blog for more home improvement tips and tricks.