Here’s what you need to know about replacing your furnace

Is your furnace ready for another long, cold winter? If your furnace is getting up there in age, it might not have many winters left in it—and that’s if it can get through this one without needing to be repaired or replaced. Depending on the age and condition of your furnace, it might make sense to replace it before it stops working entirely.

In this article, we’ll provide you with everything you need to know about replacing your furnace, from reviewing some of the signs it might be dying to going over what you need to look for in a new system. Your home relies on its furnace for winter heating. By being proactive and replacing your aging furnace ahead of its final breaking point, you can end up saving yourself time, frustration, and money.

How long do furnaces last?

Ultimately, the answer to this question comes down to a number of variables, including the type of system, its make and model, and—perhaps most importantly—just how well it has been maintained through the years. However, in general, you can expect your furnace to last for somewhere between 15-20 years.

Electric furnaces last longer than those that use natural gas—no combustion process means less overall wear-and-tear on the furnace. Again, this is why maintenance is so important: having an experienced HVAC technician inspect your furnace every fall can ensure that any small issues with the furnace don’t end up becoming big problems down the road.

Signs you need to replace your furnace

Here are four signs you need to replace your furnace:

Poor energy-efficiency

If you’ve noticed a spike in your monthly winter energy bills without a significant increase in how much heat you’re using in your home, it could be a sign that your furnace is becoming less energy-efficient with age. As a general rule, most furnaces begin to lose their efficiency as they pass a decade in age, and are considered inefficient by the 15-year mark.

Naturally, an annual furnace tune-up from the pros at Wagner can help you get the most out of your system, but even our expertise can’t turn back the clock completely.

Here’s another thing to consider: today’s furnaces are far more energy-efficient than their predecessors, which means upgrading to a new furnace could save you a decent chunk of money monthly this winter.

If your furnace has begun the downward spiral in energy-efficiency, consider calling Wagner and requesting your free in-home furnace estimate. Also, weigh the costs of a new furnace against what you might pay extra in energy.

Related: Why you should schedule a fall heating checkup

Declining performance

After all, the entire reason you own a furnace is to have a comfortable home during the winter. If your aging furnace isn’t getting the job done, it might be time to trade it out for a furnace that will.

Older furnaces can struggle to heat your home. The continued wear of heating your home for a decade or more worth of winters can result in your furnace working harder to create even less heating than it did when it was new.

If you’re experiencing hot and cold spots in your house, it could be a sign that your furnace is struggling to maintain the temperature throughout your entire home. Another symptom of an underperforming furnace is that it’s constantly running, but the temperature in your home only goes up very slowly.

Needless to say, a new furnace will perform better than an aging one: not only is it fresh out of the box, but it also is able to take advantage of years of HVAC innovation in the areas of energy efficiency, performance, and noise reduction.

Continual repair needs

Do you feel like your older furnace is becoming a bottomless money pit, and that you’ve constantly been pouring money into repairs? If so, you should consider the cumulative costs of all those repairs. After all, constant furnace repairs can really start to add up. Even if those costs don’t exceed the cost of a new furnace, it’s money that you wouldn’t have to spend otherwise with the new system that you eventually would need to upgrade to, anyway.

At some point, you’ll need to decide between furnace repair and replacement. Of course, nothing beats a professional coming to your house to give you advice about your specific situation. Give us a call to schedule a furnace inspection.

Strange noises

These problems are typically accompanied by performance and efficiency issues, but they’ll often be your first warning sign that something is wrong with your furnace. Just like your car, you’ll know when something sounds different.

When first installed, you may not be aware that your heating system is running. It should be relatively quiet. When your furnace is on its last legs, however, you’ll probably hear it. Any banging, humming, rattling, groaning, or buzzing is an unavoidable signal that something is wrong with your current heating system.

You may not notice those typical loud noises; instead, you may just hear it starting and stopping more often than it used to. That frequent on-and-off pattern, called “short-cycling,” is your furnace telling you that it’s working too hard to do its job.

Your furnace is aging

On its own, this might not seem like a good reason to replace your furnace. But, age is actually one of the most reliable predictors of future trouble with your heating system. If your furnace is more than 15 years old, you need to start preparing for the day it dies. It might not be tomorrow. It might not be five years from tomorrow. But, your furnace will eventually need to be replaced.

As you’ve no doubt heard, global supply chain problems have reduced inventory and presented challenges to manufacturers looking to keep up with demand. The same thing is true in the HVAC world. If you think your furnace is on its way out, now is the right time to act and replace your heater. If you wait until it stops working, there might be a delay in how fast it gets replaced.

Replacing your furnace

If you’ve determined that your current system is on its way out, be proactive and start your search for a new furnace. Otherwise, if and when your current furnace dies, you could be waiting through some cold nights before a replacement system can be installed.

If you live here in Albuquerque, call our team here at Wagner for a free in-home estimate. This is probably the best place to start your hunt for a new furnace: our expert technicians will meet with you, take measurements, and advise you on which system is right for your home.

Furnace Sizing

Buying a new furnace isn’t as easy as going to the store, grabbing one, and then plugging it into the wall. Your furnace needs to be professionally installed. Whether you have a gas furnace or an electric system, you’ll need to ensure you purchase a unit that’s appropriate for your home’s square footage.

If you buy a furnace that’s too small, it’ll struggle to keep up with your heating needs. However, if you buy one that’s too big, it’ll short-cycle and waste energy. You need a furnace that’s the right size for your home.

“Furnace size” doesn’t refer to the physical size of the system, although there is often a correlation between the two. Instead, it refers to how much heat your furnace can create in a certain period of time. Furnace size is measured in British Thermal Units, or BTUs. The higher the BTU output of the furnace, the more heating “horsepower” it can provide to your home.

Bigger homes need higher-BTU systems, but square footage isn’t the only variable. It’s why most online guides to furnace sizing give wide ranges—things like your home’s insulation, number of windows, and where you live also play a role in determining what size of furnace you need.

Furnace Energy-Efficiency

Just like air conditioners, furnaces continue to get more energy-efficient as the years go by. When you upgrade from your aging furnace to a new model, you’ll be benefiting from nearly two decades of energy-efficient design advancement. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by just how much you’ll start saving on your monthly utility bills with a new furnace.

The efficiency of both gas and electric furnaces is measured by their Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency, or AFUE. In layman’s terms, AFUE measures how good a furnace is at converting energy (natural gas or electricity) into heat. The higher the AFUE percentage, the more efficient that conversion process is, and the less you’ll end up paying in heating costs.

You can use AFUE to compare similar furnaces to one another and determine which ones are more efficient. Just be careful when comparing electric and gas furnaces. While electric furnaces almost always have a higher AFUE, that doesn’t exactly correlate to them being less expensive to run. Electricity is often pricier than natural gas, so—if your home already has a gas line—replacing your gas furnace with another gas furnace might make a good deal of sense.

Furnace Brand

Not all furnaces are built the same. You’ll want to make sure your new furnace comes from a trusted manufacturer with a positive reputation for designing and building high-quality cooling and heating systems. It’s probably no surprise that the quality of the initial manufacture plays a role in how effective, efficient, and long-lasting your furnace ultimately is.

At Wagner, we’re proud to be a Carrier Temperature Tough Gold Dealer. Carrier is one of the world’s largest and most-trusted names in HVAC. They’ve been around for decades—in fact, Carrier pioneered much of the technology we now take for granted in the cooling and heating space. We install Carrier furnaces because we know they’re built to last and are designed to provide more heating while using less energy.

Watch: Manufacturing Carrier Furnaces

This video from Carrier takes you behind-the-scenes of their manufacturing process in Indianapolis, showing you how their gas furnaces are produced, quality-tested, and then sent out for installation.

When should you replace your furnace?

If your furnace has stopped working, the best time to replace it is “as soon as possible.” However, if you’re planning and thinking ahead, you have more flexibility. If you can, try to avoid replacing your furnace in winter. Not only will this likely result in some “down time” for heating in your home during the coldest days of the year, but it’s also when our technicians are the busiest, which might make scheduling installation more difficult.

If you have control over your furnace replacement timing, it’s ideal to have us replace your furnace in the late spring or early fall. For the former, wait until it’s warmed up enough to the point where you no longer need to run your furnace. If you’re replacing your system in the fall, do so before the first truly cold nights arrive. Just like with winter, you’ll want to avoid replacing your furnace in the summer—our team will be busy repairing, maintaining, and replacing air conditioners, which may make scheduling tricky.

If you’re worried about getting on our schedule, give us a call and talk about it. We can work with you to book something in advance and reserve our team’s time to get your new furnace installed.

Call Wagner to get started

At Wagner, we’re furnace installation experts. Our NATE-certified technicians are true professionals with years of experience installing advanced heating systems in hundreds of homes right here in Albuquerque and Santa Fe.

We offer free in-home estimates on new HVAC systems, and we back all of our work with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. As a Carrier Temperature Tough Gold Dealer, we’re proud to install some of the most efficient and effective furnaces available today.

If you’ve decided to replace your furnace because you’ve been noticing tell-tale furnace replacement signs, give us a call at (505) 340-2669 or contact us.