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While the cool season in Georgia typically only lasts a couple of months, you still need a reliable furnace to keep you warm and cozy. If you live in an older home and still use the original furnace, it might be time to ask yourself: “Should I replace a 40-year-old furnace?”
At Georgia Air, we understand you might be reluctant to replace your furnace. Maybe it works just fine for the short time you need it, so you feel it’s not worth the money to replace it. However, aging furnaces have many issues you may not be aware of. As Richmond Hill’s furnace replacement and installation experts, we know what to look for when determining whether a new furnace is in your future. Below, we’ve compiled a list of ways to know that furnace replacement is something you should consider.
While your furnace may function just fine and meet your heating needs, it’s probably not working optimally. As a furnace ages, it loses efficiency, affecting your utility bill. It may slowly increase, so you don’t realize your bill is creeping up. Or it may hit all at once — either way, your furnance has probably seen better days. Whatever the reason, you should always consider energy efficiency when replacing your furnace.
The Lifespan of Your Furnace
When you’re wondering, “Should I replace a 40-year-old furnace?” the first thing to consider is the lifespan of your furnace. On average, most furnaces last between 15 and 30 years, so if your furnace is 40 years old, it’s well past that range. The following are the estimated lifespans of different furnaces:
- Natural gas: 10 to 20 years
- Propane: 15 to 30 years
- Electric: 20 to 30 years
- Oil: up to 25 years
The lifespan of a furnace varies depending on the type of furnace, how often you use it, and whether you keep it clean and well maintained. With proper care and annual maintenance, a furnace may last longer than 30 years and still do its job, but that doesn’t guarantee it’s working at optimal efficiency.
The Efficiency of Your Furnace
Furnace efficiency is measured by its annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE). AFUE compares the annual heat output of the furnace to the annual consumption of fossil fuel and measures how efficiently the furnace converts energy to heat over a year.
According to the Energy.gov website, if your older furnace has an AFUE rating of 56% to 70%, you only utilize that percentage of the fuel your furnace consumes. It also means you’re wasting the remaining 30% to 44%. Not only does this affect the environment and fuel costs, but it also hits you in the budget. Neither does the AFUE number reflect any other potential sources of heat loss, including poorly sealed ducts, drafts from doors and windows, or other things that affect the optimal heating of your home, so you may be heating your home at an even lower efficiency.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) breaks down the efficiency ratings of furnaces into low-efficiency (56%-70% AFUE), mid-efficiency (80%-83% AFUE), and high-efficiency (90%-98.5% AFUE) categories. The FTC requires that furnaces display their AFUE rating to inform homeowners purchasing new units of the heating efficiency of each model. The benefit of knowing the AFUE rating of your furnace is that it helps you understand and optimize your home’s energy consumption.
When your furnace works “just fine,” it might make you feel like you don’t need to spend the money on a new unit. However, as mentioned above, you may be paying more for energy usage than you need to. While a more energy-efficient replacement may seem like an expensive purchase up front, you’ll soon discover that it quickly pays for itself with reduced energy bills. Additionally, if you’re paying for frequent repairs, a new furnace lessens the cost of that line item in your budget.
Repair Frequency and Cost
It may not seem like a lot at the time, but if your HVAC maintenance technician makes numerous visits to your house during the cooler months, it won’t be long until you need a replacement. Like any mechanical system, furnaces need more TLC to keep them going as they age. While you can certainly remedy smaller issues like replacing the thermostat on your own, replacement is inevitable once you start having more serious problems, like a cracked heat exchanger.
An honest and reputable furnace technician is a good resource for advice on when to replace your furnace. Ask them which system might best fit your home and heating needs as well as your budget. Don’t wait until the height of the cold season to take action; think ahead and consider replacing your furnace before it becomes an emergency.
Increased Energy Bills
While you may expect an increase in your energy bills during the winter, a sudden jump often signifies an issue with your furnace. Once you’ve ruled out any other causes (colder temperatures than usual, you’re home more often and need consistent heat, etc.), there’s a good chance the cost increase comes from your old furnace, meaning you should consider a replacement.
Rebates and Financing
Again, if the upfront cost of a new furnace keeps you from taking the plunge, look for ways to make it fit your budget without stress. Many states and energy companies offer rebates or tax credits to encourage consumers to install high-efficiency furnaces. Additionally, ENERGY STAR offers a 30% tax credit (up to $600 of the total cost) to install an ENERGY STAR-rated furnace.
Many HVAC companies also offer to finance so that you don’t have to shell out a lot of money all at once. It pays to research your state’s rebate requirements and any associated with your energy company and furnace manufacturer.
Health and Safety Considerations
Everyone wants to keep their families warm and comfortable in cold weather, but even more importantly, you want to keep yours safe and healthy. Poor indoor air quality often causes or aggravates certain health conditions. As your furnace ages and begins to fail, several issues related to health and safety arise for the following reasons.
If your aging furnace is combustion-based (meaning it uses oil or gas for fuel), it’s giving off combustion byproducts every time it runs. Types of combustion byproducts include the following:
- Carbon dioxide
- Carbon monoxide
Most of the time, these combustion byproduct exhaust gases get expelled outdoors, but older furnace systems often allow these gases back into the air of your home through gaps or cracks in your vents or ductwork, leading to a health hazard where you should feel safest.
Airborne Allergens and Particulates
If you notice increased dust in your home, an old furnace may be the culprit. Dirt, debris, animal dander, and other particulates build up in your furnace unit, and instead of filtering them out, the furnace blows them back through your vents. In some cases, cleaning the ductwork or replacing the furnace filter may address the problem, but there comes a time when those fixes don’t give you the result you need.
Fluctuating Humidity Levels
A furnace heats your home and helps manage indoor humidity levels. An aging furnace begins to lose the ability to properly manage humidity levels, leaving your home too humid or dry. Air with too much humidity causes condensation in your vents and ducts, resulting in the growth of mold or mildew. When the furnace kicks on, it blows mold and mildew spores throughout your home. Inadequate humidity affects conditions like asthma and allergies, as dry air often triggers lung problems.
An older furnace system may begin to generate excess carbon monoxide by developing a leak or crack that allows the carbon monoxide to seep into your home. Carbon monoxide is potentially lethal, and since it’s odorless and colorless, you may not know there’s a problem until it affects your health.
If the gas line to your furnace begins to leak or sustains damage, it’s dangerous to your health. At a minimum, a faulty gas line affects your health, but leaving a gas leak unattended could cause your furnace to explode.
Georgia Air | Superior Quality Furnace Replacement in Richmond Hill
If you’re asking yourself, “Should I replace a 40-year-old furnace?” let the professionals at Georgia Air help. Even if repairing your furnace might help it limp along for another season, replacing the unit could be a better long-term solution. At Georgia Air, our experts help determine whether furnace replacement is your best option.
Looking to replace your furnace and AC at the same time? We’ll do that for you as well! Our team of trained and experienced technicians, combined with our commitment to top-quality customer service, makes replacing your HVAC systems easy. Call us today at 912-513-3724 to schedule a consultation with Richmond Hill’s top HVAC contractor.