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Should I Repair or Replace My Furnace?

When need to choose between replacing or repairing part or all of your heating and/or cooling system, count on Arendosh Heating & Cooling to help determine the you can afford, that keeps your family comfortable, and that works for you long-term. We don’t take a cookie-cutter approach to helping you make these decisions. We provide you with guidance based on an inspection, the identification of maintenance needs and costs, and a discussion with you regarding your specific heating, cooling and air quality priorities. All of the system brands we work with have been selected based upon the manufacturer’s dedication to quality and reliability, and our team repairs and installs with those same values in mind. We want to set you up with whole-home comfort, regardless of whether we are repairing or replacing your system.

The most effective approach to coming to your decision is to schedule a visit with one of our certified technicians. But in the meantime, here are the issues and concerns you should consider as you’re deciding whether you’ll repair your system or upgrade to a new one.

Consider Cost & Convenience

Naturally, the short-term cost of repairs is going to be lower than investing in a new system. However, it may cost you more in the long run. One criterion you can use is to compare the costs of your options. But consider the age of your current system and the relative cost of repairing it. If repairs will cost you more than one third of the cost of a new system, it’s likely wise to go with the new system. If repairs are in the neighborhood of 50% of the replacement cost, we’d highly recommend you upgrade to a new system to avoid the cost of additional repair – or to pay for repairs only to discover soon after that the system needs to be replaced, anyway. If the cost of repairs is more than a third of what a new system would cost, it may make more sense to replace it.

However, there are other factors to work into your calculations. Where the repairs are one third or less of the cost of replacement, but your system is less than 10 years old, it’s possible the system still has many productive years to work for you. As you might expect, an older system will likely need to be repaired again, so consider what it will cost you in terms of time, money, and inconvenience to keep up with repairs to an older system.

“According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the lifespan of a furnace is 15-30 years.”

Calculate Long-Term Energy and Cost Efficiency

Although the initial cost of the repairs or replacement definitely factor into your choice, we encourage you to look down the road and also consider what each option will cost you over time. If you invest in a new, more energy efficient systems, you’ll receive lower monthly utility bills, which will result in savings year after year.

Your furnace’s Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) is the measure of its efficiency, and it’s a calculation of the percentage of energy actually used to heat your home. If your current system has an AFUE less than 80%, you are likely to save a considerable amount on your monthly heating bill, as new systems have an AFUEs from 80% to over 98%, depending upon the model.

The efficiency of air conditioners and heat pumps are measured by the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER), where the higher the SEER rating, the higher the energy and money savings. Because of the differing needs in different regions of the country, the current minimum SEER is 13 for air conditioners in Northern markets, but our brands have models with SEERS up to 20.5. The upgrade to a higher SEER rating equates to energy savings over the life of the system. Look for a Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF) for heat pumps of over 10 for greater efficiencies.

An additional benefit of installing a more efficient system is that it qualify you for tax credits or local utility rebates. You can talk to us about more information on manufacturer bonuses and tax credits available.

Know Your Indoor Air Quality

In another blog post, we discussed the importance of indoor air quality for the health of your family – and particularly for young children. And your heating and cooling system plays a role in maintaining good indoor air quality, which is considered to be a top environmental health concern, according to the EPA.

We offer a simple, 30-minute analysis of the air in your home which will uncover any indoor air quality issues. You’ll be provided with a full report on the air in your home plus suggestions for potential products that would address any concerns specific to your home. Having the full details on the indoor air quality implications of your heating and cooling system will help you determine whether upgrading your system will include ways that help you breathe a little easier.

Think about Winter Being Upon Us

Living in Western Pennsylvania, you surely don’t need for us to clarify the importance of having a reliable, fully operating furnace for winter. If your furnace isn’t working or isn’t working properly, the frigid weather can create a crisis for your family. Now that winter is upon us, you have no time to waste if you believe your furnace requires repairs or replacement. Act now to come up with a solution that will carry your family comfortably through the winter. There are few household things worse than the discomfort of waking up in a freezing home, but the possibility that you’ll also need a plumber to help you deal with frozen or broken pipes means you should treat the situation with even more urgency. 

The best time to decide whether to repair or replace your furnace is during the summer or fall.  The second best time is NOW.

Look for Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Emissions

If there’s any chance your furnace is throwing of carbon monoxide, it needs to be replaced, not repaired, and replaced ASAP! Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas that leads to death when inhaled over time. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), this “silent killer” is responsible for an average of 400 deaths per year in the U.S., with most of them occurring during the winter when furnaces are running. Symptoms that your furnace may be emitting carbon monoxide include:

  • Rust on pipes
  • Smears of soot around the furnace
  • Excessive moisture on walls, windows, and other surfaces
  • The furnace burner flame is yellow instead of blue
  • Family members feeling disoriented and experiencing nausea, headaches, or other flu-like symptoms
  • No upward draft in your chimney

If these symptoms are present, get out of your house, have your utility provider turn off the gas, and call the fire department. You should also seek medical attention. Once the initial crisis is resolved, contact us to have your system replaced.

Assess Your Heating Costs

Making sure to factor in any heating cost rates that have gone up year over year, look for variations in your heating bills over the past few years. If there is a significant difference in your current bills over previous years that can’t be explained by rate hikes, the explanation is likely your system is consuming too much energy to keep your house warm and you need to call us for service.

As for any other systems or appliances, the operating parts of your system wear down over time, causing the furnace to run less efficiently as the parts have to work harder to perform the functions they use to do effectively. For older furnaces, this probably means it’s time for a replacement, but for newer models, repairs are likely in order. If you find that your heating bills are spiking, we can help you compare costs and make the best decision for your home.

Listen to Your Furnace

You likely hear your furnace kick on and off, and this is normal. However, if your system is making new or odd noises, it’s a warning to repair or replace your system, especially if the noises grow louder over time. Tune in to the type of sounds your hear and try to identify where on the furnace the sounds are coming from. Be able to describe to our technicians whether the sounds are rattling, humming, screeching, popping, and so on, as it will help us properly diagnose the problem. Some of these noises will indicate a more severe problem that requires a more costly repair, in which case, replacement might be the best decision. However, some sounds may require only minor interventions such as securing loose ductwork.

Weigh the Possibility that You Will Move Soon

 If there’s a possibility you will be moving within the next few years, having a new system will be more appealing to homebuyers. When we are shopping for a new home, we want to find the best possible investment. Homebuyers may pass on a home if they believe they will have to replace the furnace within a year or so of moving in. Having a working and efficient furnace is an essential asset for real estate in our market and climate. If your system is old or inefficient, buyers may ask you to reduce the price or your home, as they expect they will have to invest money in a new furnace within a year or so. Even worse, they may pass on your house completely because they don’t want to pay for or be bothered by the inconvenience of replacing the HVAC system.

Therefore, if your system is over 15 years old, consider replacing it. If it’s newer than that, get it repaired and be sure to keep up with its seasonal maintenance needs to ensure it remains in the best possible shape.

Put It All Together

Whether you decide to repair or replace, you can trust in the quality of the brands we offer and in the expertise of our technicians. Your HVAC system is among the most expensive, yet most important, elements of your home. Your family’s health and comfort relies on it. It can be a big decision to decide between repairing and replacing. But make the choice and get any issues addressed right away so that you don’t find yourself in the more urgent position of freezing when your furnace decides to fail on a bitter January or February day.

We want you to know you have a dependable partner in Arendosh. We can help you sort through the pros and cons of your options, including which system is best suited for your home, should you decide to replace it. Our team is committed to helping you make smart choices and to providing best-in-class service to our community.

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