How long do gas furnaces last? Every appliance in your home has its own distinct lifespan. If your Easton, Maryland, furnace is 30 years old, you’re probably approaching the end of its lifespan and the period where you need to think ahead to its replacement. Discover what ages a furnace and ways to extend its life. Know how to tell your furnace is at the end of its life and what to look for in a replacement.
The Average Age for Gas Furnaces
Estimates for the average lifespan of a gas furnace vary widely. Some sources report the average lifespan of a gas furnace to be only 15 years. If you follow this reasoning, your 30-year-old appliance has already doubled its expected lifespan. Other sources estimate that the average lifespan for a modern furnace is between 15 to 30 years. Regardless of the logic you follow, the 30-year mark is at or close to the maximum lifespan you should expect from your furnace.
Even though furnaces can last 30 years or beyond, most experts recommend that you start shopping for a new furnace when your existing unit is 15 years old. You don’t have to make a purchase immediately if you feel that your current equipment is still working fine, but you want to start educating yourself about your options at that point.
Any repairs made beyond the 15-year mark may cost you more than what you could potentially save with a new furnace. Technology is constantly changing; know your options when you’re making the repair or replace decision with older equipment.
Factors That Age Your Furnace
Many factors come into play when you need to determine the lifespan of your gas furnace. If your current furnace is still going strong at 30 years old, you have a top-quality model, and you may want to consider something similar yet newer when you finally replace the unit. All furnaces are not created equal, and you usually get what you pay for. A model that’s more expensive typically features higher quality metal that can better withstand the stress of cycling on and off throughout the heating season.
The way you manage your home comfort will impact your furnace’s lifespan as well. If you keep your home cooler during the winter, particularly when the house is empty, you’ll ease the strain on the system. You’ll also want to use set temperatures for at least eight hours at a time. Using set temperatures will be easier on your system than changing the settings frequently throughout the day.
In addition, a furnace that is properly sized for a home will last longer as well. One that’s too large or too small will cycle more than necessary, shortening the unit’s lifespan.
Strategies for Extending a Furnace’s Lifespan
Homeowners want to get as much usefulness as possible out of their home appliances. Scheduling regular maintenance is the most important step you can take to extend the life of your system. You can schedule furnace maintenance once a year, ideally during the early fall before you begin using your heating system.
At Griffith Energy Services, we offer central air conditioning and heating service plans that include annual maintenance visits so that you won’t forget this important task. Signing up for a maintenance plan is a great way to care for your gas furnace. Bronze-level members get a 15 percent discount on parts and labor for repairs, and members of the Gold Plan receive most replacement parts free of charge.
During your annual fall maintenance visit, your gas furnace gets a complete tuneup:
- Fan and gas valve inspection
- Pilot and burner cleaning
- Heat exchanger inspection
- Thermocouple inspection
- Tightening of electrical and gas connections
- Lubrication for moving parts
- System testing
Systems that are carefully maintained enjoy a longer lifespan because the parts are clean, lubricated, and perfectly adjusted. Your HVAC technician can also catch developing problems early with a timely maintenance visit. These visits can prevent more significant damage from occurring if issues go unchecked and worsen.
Between professional maintenance visits, you can give your furnace a little extra care by changing the furnace filters every one to three months. A dirty filter causes your gas furnace to work harder to pull air through the filter. A clean air filter improves your home’s indoor air quality and eases strain on the system.
How Do You Know the End Is Near for Your Furnace?
You don’t want to discover your furnace is at the end of its lifespan after the unit become completely inoperable. Watching for warning signs can give you notice that you need to start shopping for a replacement. Heeding the warning signs will save you from having to make a fast decision when you’re shivering in the cold and dealing with an inoperable furnace.
You’ll want to pay attention to the following key signs that will let you know you’re nearing the end of your furnace’s lifespan:
- Rising energy bills: If you’re paying more for heating than you typically would in similar weather, your gas furnace’s efficiency is dropping.
- Uneven heating: Are certain rooms or areas of the house colder than others? These cold spots indicate uneven heating performance.
- Frequent cycling: Ideally, your furnace won’t need to cycle on and off often to maintain comfortable temperatures. If you notice significant cycling, you’ll want to heed this warning sign.
- Issues with air quality: Toward the end of its lifespan, your gas furnace may not be able to prevent humidity problems, excessive dust, and rust particles from entering the air inside your home.
Frequent repairs are another common indicator of a furnace at the end of its operating life. Talk to your HVAC technician about the nature of the repairs and the age of your system. You’ll get a better idea of whether you’ll pay more to keep an old system running than you will to replace it with a new one.
What Should You Look for in a Replacement Furnace?
While a new gas furnace requires an up-front investment, you’ll find many perks related to choosing a new unit. Every furnace manufactured today carries an AFUE (annual fuel utilization efficiency) rating that will give you an idea of the system’s operating efficiency. Standard gas furnaces have an AFUE rating of at least 80 percent. High-efficiency furnaces carry ratings of 90 percent or more. With a top-of-the-line unit, you can enjoy an AFUE rating of up to 97 percent.
Increasing your system’s efficiency will decrease your monthly utility expenses in cold weather. Although you’ll need to make the initial investment in a new unit, you can reap the savings from this investment for years to come. Many homeowners choose to replace their furnaces before they’ve reached the end of the unit’s lifespan because of the efficiency improvements that they can enjoy when upgrading to a newer model.
Help Your Furnace Work Better in Your Home
Whether your furnace is new or a 30-year installation, you can take several steps to help the unit operate better in your home. Many strategies don’t involve the furnace directly. Creating a well-sealed envelope around your home will keep warm air inside where it belongs during the winter. By creating a well-sealed envelope, your furnace doesn’t have to work as hard to keep you comfortable.
Improving your insulation in the walls, ceiling, and attic prevents heat from escaping. Insulating the attic is a fast fix with powerful results. Doors and windows are common problem areas that you can easily address with DIY projects. First, look for cracks around the frames and seal these areas with caulk to keep air from escaping or entering the home. Use weather-stripping around moving parts so that your doors and windows have a tighter seal.
If your furnace is 30 years old, you should start thinking about a replacement even if it’s not showing problem signs. Some foresight can help you make sure you have a unit identified and ready for installation when your old furnace no longer functions properly. For more advice on repairing or replacing your gas furnace, contact a member of our Griffith Energy Services team at 888-474-3391.
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