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Furnace Repair vs. Replace: How Do I Know?

A question we often hear late in the year is whether a furnace should be repaired or replaced. It’s an important question to ask, because being attentive to your heating system will factor into both your comfort and your safety in Oswego, Yorkville, Naperville, Aurora or Plainfield.

If you’ve ever realized it’s getting cold in your house, or a chill in your bedroom has woken you during the night, you understand how concerning and inconvenient malfunctioning heating can be.

As you prepare your home or office for the heating season, start by making note of any defects you recognize. If your unit is running erratically, making odd noises or heating rooms unevenly, or if your utility bills are suddenly soaring, it’s a good time to consult an HVAC professional. Scheduling a yearly furnace inspection is another great way to proactively plan for the cold.

These steps will get you started on knowing whether you should repair or replace an improperly functioning furnace. Now let’s look at a few other factors to consider.

Age of Furnace

If you have a standing pilot furnace that is 15 years old or more, it is now probably starting to lose some efficiency. This can require extra running time and energy to heat your spaces. In some cases, replacing the unit can pay for itself in what you would save on future repairs and utility bills.

If your furnace is still younger than 15 years, and it hasn’t saddled you with regular problems, you’ll often do better continuing have it serviced and repaired as needed instead of replacing it.

Type of Repair

The problematic part in your furnace will help you decide if you should repair or replace the unit. If an inspection reveals the issue is small to moderate, a repair will typically serve you better, especially if the unit is still within its life expectancy.

If on the other hand the furnace has a complication such as a cracked heat exchanger, fixing it would be like performing major surgery on a patient. Rather than spend a great deal on repair labor and parts, you will probably be better off replacing the unit.

Plus, with the wide range of models and prices these days, you may even get a better furnace for less than the cost of repairing it. It will also usually be more efficient and carry a warranty.

A Helpful Rule of Thumb

A common guideline for deciding to repair instead of replace a newer furnace (15 years or younger) is if the repair cost will be less than half of the replacement cost.

A common guideline for deciding to replace instead of repair an older furnace (beyond 75% of its life expectancy) is if the repair cost will be close to one-third of the replacement cost.

Any repair should contribute to helping your furnace serve you for years at a time. A good practice is to keep a record of furnace repairs to ensure they are at reasonable intervals.

Safety Alert: Carbon Monoxide

The danger of this odorless, colorless gas can’t be overstated. If it is allowed to leak in from a worn or damaged furnace, it can cause great harm, particularly during the cold seasons, when the furnace is on the most often.

Beyond having your unit inspected periodically by a professional, watch for signs of carbon monoxide such as a yellow burner flame (instead of a blue one); streaks of soot around the furnace; extra moisture on surfaces, windows and walls; and health symptoms such as headaches and nausea.

A furnace that is releasing carbon monoxide should be replaced – not repaired – immediately.

Contact Us Today

If you’re asking how to know if you should repair or replace a furnace that seems on the fritz, the Air Dynamics team is always ready to speak with you. We’re here to make sure you stay safe and warm! Call us at (630) 731-1550 whenever you would like helpful feedback about your furnace in Oswego, Yorkville, Naperville, Aurora or Plainfield.

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