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Summer will be over before we you know it, and you may be thinking about getting a head start on preparing your home for fall and winter. One of the most important things you can do to prepare for the cooler seasons is inspecting your furnace for signs of wear and considering the repair or replacement of a broken system.

It can be difficult to know when you should have your furnace surfaced by a professional and repaired or whether you should have your system replaced in its entirety. As a homeowner in the Midwest, you probably understand the importance of having an operational furnace for the winter. A faulty heating system can turn even a mildly frigid day into an uncomfortable situation.

You can ensure your family’s comfort throughout the cold months by addressing your furnaces needs in the summer or early fall before the chilly weather sets in. Identifying issues early on allows time for you to have the necessary repairs done, or have the unit replaced by professionals. By planning ahead, you can research options and budget for the expense.

While situations vary, these tips will help you learn about the best time to service your furnace, problems you may encounter and whether to repair or replace your system in each scenario.

Scenario 1: Your furnace is emitting carbon monoxide- Any system that could expose you and your family to carbon monoxide needs to be replaced 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. Carbon monoxide is an odorless gas, which is why it can be a silent killer. Households with gas furnaces should always be equipped with carbon monoxide detectors. Between 2010 and 2015, 2000 people died from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning. The highest number of deaths occurred in the winter during the months of frequent furnace use.

Scenario 2: Your furnace is over 15 years old- Even the highest quality heating systems aren’t built to last forever. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a furnace should last 15-30 years before you’ll need a replacement. This varies by brand, quality, and other factors. But a heater will generally start to show increased signs of wear that will lead to more frequent and costly repairs during this timeframe. Instead of monitoring an old system for repairs, it may be a more economical choice to replace the furnace with a newer system. It will save money in the long-term.

Scenario 3: The cost of the repair is over half the cost of a replacement- When comparing the cost of a repair versus a replacement, experts recommend replacing your furnace when repair costs are estimated to exceed 50 percent of the cost of a replacement. For older heating systems that have exceeded 75 percent of their life expectancy, you should consider purchasing a new furnace once repair costs are estimated to exceed one-third of the replacement cost.

Scenario 4: Your furnace seems to be less effective than before- If you’ve noticed that certain rooms in your house are warmer than others, or you feel like you need to run back and forth adjusting the thermostat to stay comfortable in any given area, it might be a sign that your furnace is losing its effectiveness. Use the guidelines mentioned in scenario 2 to determine whether it should be repaired of replaced.

Scenario 5: Repairs are increasingly frequent and costly- Like an old car, you know when your old furnace just isn’t worth the cost of excessive maintenance. If you’ve had the same system for over 15 years with minimal repairs required, but you now find yourself calling a heating specialist once every few months, your furnace probably isn’t worth the cost of upkeep. Likewise, you may need to consider purchasing a new heating system if repair costs are increasing with each repair. You can expect future maintenance to be more severe and frequent once a furnace has reached its life expectancy, which puts an unnecessary strain on your household budget. It’s often more cost effective to install a new system than to constantly repair an existing one.

If you happen to notice frequent or serious breakdowns in a newer furnace that is well within its expected 15-year lifespan, this could indicate that the problem is being misdiagnosed or mistreated. Consider contacting a different heating specialist to get a second opinion.

Scenario 6: Your furnace is making strange noises- Nearly all furnaces make noise when turned on or off, but if yours is making strange noises that get increasingly louder or vary, this could be a sign that it’s time for a new system.

Pay attention to the type of noise you hear and where the sound is coming from so that you can describe it to a repair specialist. Noises could stem from various issues such as unsecured ductwork, an unbalanced motor, motor failure or failing parts.

Efficient Heating & Cooling are experts in high quality home comfort solutions to meet your needs. Contact us today to request an estimate or schedule service.