When to Replace a Furnace or Heater

High winter energy bills might be putting you in the market for a more energy-efficient furnace or heat pump—but a new heating system is a big investment. So, how do you know when to replace your heater?

Signs Your Furnace Needs to Be Replaced

Keeping your home cozy through the Cincinnati winter is challenging when your furnace keeps breaking down. If your current heater requires frequent repairs or simply isn’t keeping your home warm, that usually means it’s time for an upgrade.

If you’re not sure it’s time to change out your furnace for a new one, keep an eye out for these additional signs that your furnace is going bad:

  • Your furnace has reached the end of its lifespan. How long does a furnace last? Gas furnaces and heat pumps typically last 15 years, and electric furnaces usually have a service life of 20 years. If you’re having issues with your system and it’s 15 years or older, it may be time to replace it.
  • You’re hearing strange sounds. If your heater is buzzing or rattling, it’s likely broken. A malfunctioning heat exchanger is often the cause of buzzing or rattling, and this requires a full system replacement since this part cannot be repaired.
  • Soot, dust, and rust pile up around your furnace. On gas heaters, these indicate an issue with the combustion chamber. Either the chamber is damaged, or the soot and dust show that total combustion is not taking place.
  • The furnace is short cycling. When your heater kicks on and off frequently to maintain a consistent temperature, it’s called short cycling. This inefficient heating happens when the heat exchanger is overheating and indicates a critical issue with the system that’s easier to replace than repair.
  • Your energy bill increases. With age, furnaces lose efficiency and work harder to provide the same warmth. If you notice a winter energy bill spike—despite no increase in use—it could be time for a replacement. (Though keep in mind that natural gas, propane, and heating oil prices have also been on the rise.)
  • Your house heats unevenly. Are you noticing spotty heat in your home, with some rooms staying cool while others are unusually warm? It could be an issue with the blower or other integral parts of the heater. A professional can tell you whether the issue with your heater can be repaired or if it needs replacing.

What to Look for When Replacing a Furnace

Once you decide to replace your heater, you’ll need to weigh new systems against your home requirements and your family’s lifestyle.

  1. Types of heaters. Furnaces come in gas and electric models. Heat pumps are more energy efficient than furnaces and now come with substantial federal rebates and tax credits. If your home doesn’t have ductwork, a ductless mini split (a type of heat pump) makes an energy-efficient baseboard heater replacement.
  2. Efficiency. Technology has come a long way in the last couple of decades, and the new heaters on the market are significantly more efficient—especially those that are Energy Star-rated. Nothing, however, is more efficient than heat pumps, which are 300% - 400% efficient and double as your air conditioner, as well.
  3. Cost. On average, furnace replacement costs $5,500. However, the upper range could reach $10,000 (including installation) if you opt for a high-end electric or natural gas furnace. Residential air-source heat pumps usually cost $7,500 - $10,000 installed but now come with generous federal incentives: Lower-income residents, for example, may be eligible for an $8,000 rebate, which is essentially free of cost. If you’re interested in geothermal, you would be looking at closer to $30,000 or more with installation.

How Long Does It Take to Replace a Furnace?

A total furnace removal and installation can take 4 to 10 hours, depending on the size and type of system. Gas furnaces will take the longest to install. Electric furnaces and heat pumps will take the least amount of time.

Replacing a Heater in Cincinnati

If you’re ready for a new, more energy-efficient heater, the specialists at One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning of Cincinnati are ready to help. Request service online or call (513) 815-3460 today.