How a Home Heating Technician Can Evaluate Your Old Heating System

[fa icon="calendar"] January 12, 2016 / by Home Services Expert

home_heating_technician_evaluationExperts In Your Home often likens a furnace to a car: take good care of it through regular maintenance and you can extend its lifespan. And when the end is near, neither piece of machinery usually keeps quiet about it, with loud or peculiar noises signaling the need for repairs, especially during the final two years.

This is often, but not always, why many Chico area homeowners are prepared for the inevitability of replacing their furnace – and the investment seldom comes as a shock.

But since most furnaces have an expected lifespan of between 15 and 20 years, there's still plenty of room for debate: Should I repair or replace my furnace? Only a cracked heat exchanger – a potentially deadly condition – will seal the debate.

Excluding this circumstance, you might be wondering if your furnace is operating on its “last wheel” if it's approaching the 15-year mark – the benchmark established by the U.S. Department of Energy. Here's the process by which the Chico home heating experts at Experts In Your Home will help you decide, in practical terms, whether it's more prudent to repair or replace your furnace.

Heat exchanger as workhorse

The heat exchanger is a set of tubes or coils through which air circulates and is warmed. It is the component of your furnace that actually heats the air. To extend the car analogy, the heat exchanger functions as your furnace's “engine.” Your furnace cannot function without it – and it must be in excellent shape to safely deal with the gas on which it depends to generate heat.

As a metal component, the heat exchanger expands and contracts as it heats up and cools down. Over time, the metal can crack and split, and this is precisely where the trouble begins.

A cracked heat exchanger is more than a fire hazard; it can cause dangerous and life-threatening levels of carbon monoxide to seep into your home. This is why the Chico home heating experts at Experts In Your Home will notify you that your furnace is no longer to safe to operate and will promptly shut it down until the heat exchanger is replaced or the entire furnace is replaced. Since heat exchangers are expensive, and cracked ones usually occur on old furnaces, the vast majority of customers choose to replace their furnace.

Answers point to remedy

For other people with old furnaces, the decision isn't always as cut and dry (though it's uncommon for anyone to profess affection for an old furnace, as they often do for an old car). The home heating experts at Experts In Your Home will inspect your furnace and pose a series of questions that usually point to the proper conclusion even before all of our questions are answered:

  • Exactly how old is your furnace? This question goes to the heart of efficiency. New Energy Star furnaces score efficiency ratings in the 90s – a huge improvement over minimum efficiency standards that were set at 78 percent in 1992. Greater efficiency results in lower gas bills, often to the tune of about $100 per year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
  • Have your gas bills been going up, even though you haven't raised your thermostat settings? This question, too, often uncovers doubts about a furnace's efficiency.
  • Are certain rooms in your home too cool, too warm or too humid? Duct problems and inadequate insulation might be the cause, but an old furnace often has difficulty warming a home properly.
  • How much money have you spent on furnace repairs during the last several years? Taking the long view, it might be time to cut your losses.
  • Have you been cleaning up more dust, dirt, soot or rust particles around your furnace? Rust, a precursor to corrosion, is a particular warning sign that a furnace is approaching the end of its lifespan.
  • Has your furnace developed some unusual rattles, hums, buzzing or clanking noises? Before you grow accustomed to hearing noises emanating from your furnace, remember that your furnace is exactly like your car in this regard: noises are a cry for help.

Call or contact the Chico home heating experts at Experts In Your Home to schedule an inspection of your furnace. Together, we will determine whether it makes more sense to repair or replace your furnace – before you put another “mile” on its engine.

For questions to ask when your heating system breaks, download this FREE eBook:

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