When is it a good time to repair or totally replace your heater?

For most working families, the answer to replace your system is almost “never” when it comes to budget. Especially when interest rates are a 15-year high and the average wages still lag behind the growth of inflation.

Look…we get it! We work with customers every day to maximize the life of their existing systems. We are all part of the “working families” club and even our highly trained and experienced technicians strive to keep their own systems running properly and safely for as many years as possible.

Safely….that is the key word. Along with budget, you must consider the age, performance, and safety of your system. Here we will look at the signs your system is struggling and how that can impact the health of your home and family. There comes a time when replacing your system is the absolute best option.

But because we understand budgets, we’ll also share some DIY steps you can take today to check the status of your furnace yourself.

Before you consider repair versus replacement, there’s one situation where we recommend replacement because the alternative can be lethal if not addressed:

Your Furnace Is Emitting Carbon Monoxide

Any system that could potentially expose you and your family to carbon monoxide needs to be replaced — not repaired — as soon as possible. A furnace with a cracked combustion chamber allows carbon monoxide to leak into your home and should always be replaced immediately.

Known as the silent killer, carbon monoxide is an odorless, tasteless, colorless gas that causes death when inhaled over long periods of time. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 430 people die every year from carbon monoxide poisoning and another 50,000 visit the emergency room with symptoms.

Some signs that your furnace may be emitting carbon monoxide include:

  • Yellow furnace burner flame instead of blue
  • Excess moisture on windows, walls and other surfaces
  • Rusting on pipes
  • Streaks of soot around the furnace
  • Absence of upward draft in the chimney
  • Feelings of nausea, disorientation, headaches and other flu-like symptoms.

If you notice any of these symptoms, you need to evacuate your home immediately, call the fire department, notify your utility company to turn off your gas and seek medical attention as soon as possible. Afterward, contact your One Hour Heating and Air  professional to get your furnace replaced.

Here are 7 things to consider when it comes to repair or replace

1. Your furnace was installed over 15 years ago

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a furnace should last 15-30 years before you'll need a replacement. Of course, this varies by brand, furnace quality and various other factors.

Similar to a car with high mileage, an old furnace may run okay with minor repairs but won't be able to adequately keep up with your needs as efficiently as a replacement.

Overall, use the following to judge whether to replace your furnace due to age:

  • Repair: If the system is less than 15 years old, it's often best to have it serviced rather than install a new one.
  • Replace: Any system over 15 years old is prone to frequent and expensive repairs and may need to be replaced.

2. The cost of a repair is over 50% of that for a replacement

A new furnace typically costs between $2,000 and $6,500 depending on the type and its efficiency level. Final replacement prices can vary depending on type, home’s location, brand, warranties and other features. Use the following to judge the value of a replacement:

  • Repair: Repair a newer furnace if the repair would cost less than 50% of the replacement cost.
  • Replace: Replace your furnace if it's beyond three-quarters of its life expectancy and a repair approaches one-third the cost of a replacement.

3. You've noticed an increase in your heating bill

Heating costs fluctuate year to year due to changes in weather patterns and supply and demand. But while this can explain some variation in your heating bill, you should still be alert to unusual spikes from month to month that coincide with your furnace use.

When a heating system ages, internal parts begin to wear down and run inefficiently. These pieces start to fail and struggle to keep up with your home's heating needs and to perform the same functions they once did effortlessly. Use the following to determine whether to replace failing parts or install an entirely new system:

  • Repair: If your furnace is less than 15 years old and the cost of repairs is less than half the cost of a replacement, have the inefficient parts repaired.
  • Replace: A furnace at the end of its lifetime is likely to incur frequent repairs and steep heating costs. If you have an older system that would require costly repairs to maintain efficiency, consider having your furnace replaced.

4. Your furnace seems less effective than ever

Have you noticed that some rooms in your house are warmer than others? Do you feel like you need to run back and forth adjusting the thermostat to stay comfortable in any given area? Does the air feel muggy or humid? If so, these might be signs that your furnace is losing its effectiveness.

If the system has continued to worsen after two heating seasons with no apparent cause, it may be time for maintenance.

  • Repair: If the system is less than 15 years old and the cost of repairs doesn't exceed 50% of the cost of replacement, repair the issues that are causing lost productivity.
  • Replace: If your furnace is nearing the end of its expected lifetime, repairs may provide a temporary fix to a problem that will increase over time. Consider replacing ineffective older systems.

5. Your furnace makes strange noises

Nearly all furnaces make noise when turned on or off, but take note if you hear something out of the ordinary. Rattling, popping, screeching or humming can stem from various issues such as unsecured ductwork, an unbalanced motor, motor failure or deteriorating parts. Each problem ranges in severity, making some repairs more crucial than others.

In the case of a noisy furnace, consider the following:

  • Repair: A new system should be repaired if possible to preserve it for the remainder of its life expectancy.
  • Replace: If your system is already over 15 years old and requires maintenance for deteriorating parts, it'll likely be more cost effective to replace the entire furnace.

6. You're thinking about selling your home in the next few years

Homebuyers look for the best possible investment when considering their options and often make their decision based on a property's number of favorable features. Furnaces are the most common home heating option in the U.S., which makes a functioning, efficient furnace an indispensable asset.

An out-of-date heating system at the end of its life expectancy will likely need to be replaced during the inspection process. At best, failure to replace an old system could cause buyers to ask you for a reduced asking price, and at worst, it could keep potential buyers from being able to make an offer on your home altogether.

Consider these options when choosing to repair or replace your system before a move:

  • Repair: If real estate values are low in your region, it may be more economical to make simple repairs that allow your system to function and pass inspection for the remainder of your time in your current home.
  • Replace: An outdated system should be replaced to pass inspection and satisfy buyers.

7. You're interested in receiving energy tax credits and utility rebates

Installing a high-efficiency system can make you eligible for state and local tax credits.

Local utility companies also offer incentives with the purchase of a high-efficiency furnace. You'll be able to enjoy these one-time rebates while also benefiting from savings on your heating bill every month, which may help offset the cost of the initial installment.

Learn more about the tax credits and rebates available in your area by contacting your local utility company or checking the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency.

One Hour Heating and Air is standing by to address any issue with your system and keep your family comfortable, safe, and healthy all year round. If it’s time to replace an aging system, we can also provide financing options that will make heating and cooling your home more affordable. Our professionals are your go-to HVAC team in Charlotte and the surrounding area, including Indian Trail, Concord, and Mooresville.

Visit www.onehourac.com for our weekly and monthly specials.

Call our 24/7 customer service line today (704) 703-4220.