If the existing furnace already was installed when you moved into your home, you may not have a clue about its age. On the inside of the furnace cover or the combustion chamber door is the manufacturer’s serial number plate. Write down the number, contact the manufacturer’s customer service online or by telephone, and get a manufacture date. If it’s more than 15 years old, you’re past the average life expectancy for most gas-fired furnaces; this doesn’t guarantee a 12-year-old unit won’t fail tomorrow, nor that every 17-year-old unit is ready for the scrap heap. However, it does let you know if your furnace now has more service behind it than ahead. Upgrading may be a case of sooner rather than later.
Components in a furnace tend to have similar design life. As a furnace approaches the end of its service expectancy, the failure of one component may foreshadow the failure of others in the very near future. A good rule of thumb is that if the parts and service expense of keeping an existing furnace working exceeds 40 percent of the cost of upgrading, you’re better off going for the replacement unit. Some expensive repairs are, by themselves, deal breakers: The cost of replacing a heat exchanger in an aging furnace that’s out of warranty makes the decision a slam dunk: Start shopping for a new furnace.
A furnace 15 years old or older may have an AFUE (annualized fuel utilization efficiency) of 76 percent or less. The AFUE represents the percentage of fuel utilized to actually produce heat versus the amount lost in the combustion process. Switching the old-school unit for a new, high-efficiency furnace buys you an AFUE of 90 percent or more. The upfront sticker price is high, but that 21st-century unit starts saving gas from day one, and may pay for itself in a reasonable length of time from lowered gas bills. However, this depends on your local climate, the length of a typical heating season, and the overall energy efficiency of your home. Homeowners in warmer climates may not run the furnace enough on a daily basis to realize the kind of cost savings that will pay for a new high-efficiency unit in a meaningful time frame.
Gas furnaces combine an open flame with high temperatures plus the potential to produce deadly carbon monoxide. If you’re nursing a questionable, outmoded unit through another season simply to buy more time before an upgrade that’s inevitable, reconsider for the safety of your family.
If you have any questions or concerns about your furnace feel free to call your friends at Green Apple Mechanical NJ toll free at 888-611-7191