When your furnace isn’t working properly, you can feel it. A deteriorating furnace can simply stop producing heat at the rate you need. The financial toll that it takes on your monthly bills should also make you consider a change.
Depending on the type of furnace you have, your furnace can start deteriorating within 10 years.
If you know that yours has lost its touch and you need a furnace replacement, how do you know what to look for? Every furnace is unique, so you should know the features that work best for you and your home.
Signs That You Need Furnace Replacement
The most obvious sign that you need furnace replacement is inadequate heat from your current furnace.
When your furnace can’t produce adequate heat, this may lead you to increase the gauge until it sufficiently warms the space. Doing so unfortunately leads to higher energy bills every month.
Constant repairs also indicate that you might need a more permanent solution than a regular maintenance fix. If your furnace is irregularly loud or the furnace itself has a foul smell, these are issues that merit a new furnace.
As a general rule of thumb, you can ask yourself whether or not your furnace can last you through the next winter. If the answer is no, then here are a few pointers to consider in your search for the right furnace.
What Is Energy Efficiency?
Today, energy efficiency is one of the primary factors that distinguish a quality furnace. An energy-efficient furnace simply produces heat as designed, but performs the task without wasting energy.
Ratings are actually determined by the furnace’s ability to convert power to heat when it’s simply turned on. The rate of heat conversion allows you to measure how much energy is wasted in the process of operation.
Despite common misconceptions, efficiency ratings are not determined by how long it takes a furnace to effectively heat a space.
Ratings are measured by the annual fuel utilization efficiency or (AFUE). All new furnaces are required by the Federal Trade Commission to show these ratings to consumers.
What Is Heat Efficiency?
If you’re not sure what rating numbers to look for, a standard efficiency rating for new furnaces should read 80%. This means that 80% of the fuel’s energy converts to heat while the remaining 20% escapes to the exterior through windows, doors, or chimneys.
The type of furnace you have can also affect your furnace’s efficiency. For instance, electric furnaces tend to be more efficient than gas furnaces because they convert directly to heat energy. The heat conversion process for gas furnaces is not as direct.
Although heat converts faster with electric furnaces, gas furnaces can actually heat spaces faster than electric ones. Gas heat is naturally hotter than electric heat so it warms at a much higher rate.
However, if you want to improve your efficiency with a gas furnace, look for those that have special types of ignitions. Hot surface, intermittent, and direct spark ignition all have increased efficiency, but they can come at a higher price.
Furnaces have two main expenses that consumers should consider. The first is upfront costs such as equipment and installation. The second is operational costs, including maintenance or monthly bills for powering the furnace.
Typically, the upfront equipment and installation costs for electric furnaces are the cheapest. Gas is the next cheapest, and oil is the most expensive.
However, high-efficiency parts for any furnace will increase the upfront price, but they also increase efficiency and lower your monthly bills
Even with high-efficiency features, electric furnaces demand a lot of electricity at a time and tend to have high operational costs. Because of this, natural gas and oil furnaces tend to have comparatively lower operational costs.
Although you can find low-end electric furnaces under $1,000, installation costs usually start at $2,000. Gas furnaces usually start at the $1,000 range and their installation costs can exceed that range.
Oil furnaces rank around $2,000 and their installation costs exceed that range by thousands. Since oil is a highly commoditized resource, their furnaces can have exorbitant prices.
Maintenance and Service Life
Electric furnaces require the least maintenance than gas or oil. They don’t require constant cleaning or inspections because they don’t have burners.
By contrast, gas and oil furnaces can collect dirt or even soot in their filters, burners or ignition.
A dirty furnace filter can cause it to overheat or increase energy consumption over time. Filters also prevent carbon monoxide from leaking into your home so it must be professionally cleaned on a regular basis.
It’s also important to keep your burners and ignition clean to maintain efficient heating. If your burners aren’t clean, they won’t produce flames effectively, and a clogged ignition could prevent the furnace from even turning on.
Oil is the oldest type of fuel used for furnaces. They’re generally considered obsolete compared to the performance of gas or electric furnaces.
Not all furnaces start to deteriorate after 10 years. Electric ones generally have a long lifespan of 20 or even 30 years because of less maintenance. It’s gas and oil systems that show signs of inefficiency after ten years because their burners are worn out.
The furnaces with good warranty coverage policies also tend to indicate the best furnaces, according to FurnacePrices.ca.
Every furnace should have safety features to prevent any harmful disasters or overall damage to the system.
A limit switch is one of the most important features you should look for in your new furnace. It measures the temperature that surrounds the combustion chamber in your furnace. In other words, this is the failsafe system that shuts down the furnace to prevent overheating and fires.
Carbon monoxide detectors are also a must-have feature that you should invest in. Some furnace installation may include detectors that are installed separately from the furnace. However, consumers have to purchase and install detectors in addition to the furnace.
Flame sensors are more related to your furnace’s heat efficiency performance. However, they do monitor how high and hot the flames burn and prevent fires.
Newer models have different features than older ones, but be sure that your new furnace has some variation. You might find electronic ignitions in newer furnaces, whereas older furnaces use traditional standing pilot lights.
Find the Right Furnace Replacement
Replacing your furnace isn’t just about getting a new one. It’s about getting the right one that serves your home the best.
In your search for the right furnace replacement, be sure to identify the features you want most. You should also consider getting professional advice to help you make your choice.
To learn more about heating solutions for your home, scroll through our home improvement content!