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When should you repair or replace your furnace?

Count on Petro for guidance and help with furnace replacement services and repairs.

As one of the most important investments and pieces of equipment in your home, it pays to keep track of just how efficiently and effectively your warm air oil or natural gas furnace is running. You need to know when to replace it before it costs you more in repairs than a new purchase or if it becomes unsafe. A comfortable and healthy home environment requires an energy-efficient and safe heating system. One that heats the home without using large amounts of energy and that doesn't endanger the indoor air quality.

How do you know when it's time to consider getting a new furnace?

If your oil or natural gas furnace is 12 years old or younger, and has been properly maintained, you shouldn't need to worry about replacing your unit just yet. Instead, you should spend some time and money to improve the energy-efficiency in other areas of your home and ensure that you perform regular, proper maintenance of your furnace to keep it lasting longer.



"Warning signs" of a failing furnace.

It is important to be aware of some warning signs from your oil or natural gas furnace that indicate it may need replacing. It is especially important not to wait until it's too late. A cold, snowy winter night with a failing or faltering furnace is not the time to assess your heating system. It pays to be prepared and information is the key to making a wise decision. Below are some "warning signs" that it may be time to consider replacing your furnace. Of course, not all of them may apply to your particular equipment but you may use them as a general rule of thumb to gauge just how much life left you have in your furnace:*

Warning Signs: When you may need to replace your furnace

  • 16-20 years: The average life expectancy of a furnace
  • Energy bills going up
  • Furnace repairs: furnace incurs most breakdowns in last two years
  • Thermostat not keeping you comfortable
  • Strange noises

1. Your furnace is 16-20 years old:
A good place to start is to compare your oil or natural gas furnace age to the national average. The average life expectancy of furnaces in homes today is between 16 and 20 years. If your furnace is close to this age or older, you should begin shopping. Shopping for a replacement furnace in an emergency does not allow time for you to make your best decision. Most people prefer to replace their furnace as a planned home improvement rather than a panic replacement when your furnace is faltering or has already failed.The typical lifespan of a warm air furnace will vary based on its operating environment, that's why it's important to have the system serviced regularly by a qualified technician. They will be able to properly assess the condition of the furnace and make any recommendations.

Repair: If your furnace system is less than 15 years old

Replace: If your furnace system is over 15 years old

2. Your energy bills are going up
Rising energy costs are not the only reason for high bills. Furnaces often lose their efficiency as they age, especially if they have not been properly maintained. As a result your oil or natural gas furnace may run longer to provide the same amount of heat. This will cause your energy bills to go up. And, all of the money you pay your energy utility companies every month could be used to help you pay for a new, much more energy-efficient and energy saving furnace. Start to compare the cost of your recent heating bills with heating bills from the previous years. If there is a significant difference, then it’s time to replace your furnace.

Repair: If your furnace system is less than 15 years old and the cost of repair is less than half the cost of replacement.

Replace: If your furnace system is more than 15 years old and requires a costly repair to maintain efficiency.

3. You have had multiple furnace repairs in the past 2 years
Furnaces are like cars. As they age, you can replace one part only need another part replaced or repaired next year. It doesn't take long to spend $500 just to keep an old oil or natural gas furnace running. Furnaces incur the most breakdowns in the last 2 years of their lives. Another repair sign is whether you had to wait to get parts replaced. As a furnace ages, it gets harder to source replacement parts. Waiting that can be really cold on a below zero night.

4. The thermostat is making you feel uncomfortable in your home
Do you feel that some rooms are too cold while others are too hot? Or are you always trying to adjust your thermostat to make your home more comfortable? This is a sign that your furnace lacks the ability to properly distribute the air to keep you comfortable in your home.

5. Your natural gas furnace’s burner flame is yellow instead of blue
All heating systems run the risk of carbon monoxide emissions. However, owners of older chimney-vented oil-fired furnaces don't necessarily face the same safety concerns posed by natural gas and propane, since oil-fired boilers and forced-air furnaces tend to be much less likely to produce carbon monoxide. Because they were built like tanks and require regular annual maintenance and cleaning by a qualified service technician, many of these units hum along safely and reliably for decades. If you do have a natural gas or propane furnace, a yellow or flickering flame may be a sign that poisonous carbon monoxide could be created by your furnace. Other possible signs of carbon monoxide are:

  • Streaks of soot around furnace
  • Absence of an upward draft in your chimney
  • Excess moisture found on windows, walls, or other cold surfaces
  • Excessive rusting on flue pipes, other pipe connections, or appliance jacks
  • Small amounts of water leaking from the base of the chimney, vent, or flue pipe
  • Rust on the portion of the vent pipe visible from the outside

Always be mindful and monitor your furnace for any of the signs noted above and always make sure to have carbon monoxide detectors on every floor of your home, particularly close to your furnace room.

6. Your furnace is producing carbon monoxide
Furnaces as they age run the risk of developing cracks in the heat exchanger inside your furnace. Carbon monoxide, if present, could leak into your home undetected. Signs of this may be frequent headaches, a burning feeling in nose or eyes, nausea, disorientation, flu-like symptoms. Should you experience any of these, air out your house, open a window to the furnace room and immediately call a service technician. Cracks in the heat exchanger can occur undetected which is why no one advises waiting until they occur. If your family is potentially being exposed to carbon monoxide, the furnace needs to be replaced immediately.

7. Your furnace is making strange noises
Old furnaces often start to make some strange noises as they get toward the end of their life. Have you heard any banging, popping, rattling, or squealing noises coming from your furnace? Another noise is when you hear the furnace blower running excessively. These noises are caused by a variety of issues like unsecured ductwork, motor failure, an unbalanced motor or deteriorating parts. Does your blower turn on and off frequently or does it blow cold air sometimes? If so, this is a sign that your furnace may need to be replaced.

8. Your house is either dry or dusty
Old furnaces often lack the ability to moisturize and clean the air in your home. Your house air may feel stuffy or stale. Does anyone in your family suffer from allergies to airborne dust, mold, pollen, viruses or dander? Or does anyone suffer from dry nose, dry throat, or dry skin? Other signs may be frequent dust accumulation, static shocks, drooping plants, furniture cracking and musical instruments that do not stay in tune. These may seem like trivial and somewhat silly observations but all suggest that your old furnace is not capable of providing you with the comfort you and your family may want and need. Poor indoor air quality may also not be associated with on old furnace, poor ventilation and other reasons can cause it, too. Please contact us to have one of our service technicians assess your situation as we may have other air quality services and solutions for you.

If any of these "warning signs" apply to you, it might be time to consider the purchase of a new furnace.

Think you need a new furnace? Don't despair. It may end up helping you save!
It's a fact that a new furnace for your home is one of the more substantial costs involved in home ownership. But, it should also be seen as a long-term investment. All of the latest furnaces are much more energy-efficient than those installed even 20 years ago. So, while it may seem like a short-term larger expense, a new, more energy-efficient home heating system will more than likely save you money in the long-term by lowering your annual energy costs.

Should you convert from an oil burner to a gas burner?
When deciding whether to replace your old oil burner with a gas burner, it’s important to weigh the differences between oil and gas and how much it would be to replace an oil burner with a gas burner. Gas burner equipment is less costly than oil burner equipment. A furnace that uses a gas burner will be around $1500 to $3000 and a furnace that uses an oil burner will be around $2000 to $8000.

There is also a difference in terms of setting up an oil burner or gas burner. When using a gas burner, the connection process has to happen inside and outside of the house. In order to successfully implement this, the utility company will install an underground pipe from the gas storage to your house. This usually costs around $1000 to $1500. Additional costs to consider is that switching to a gas burner might also require you to line your chimney which costs around $750-$2000; and moving an oil tank above ground would be $750, while burying the oil tank would be $3000.

We've got the furnaces you need to help you save.
By installing a new home furnace or heating system from Petro you'll improve your home's value, enjoy fast installation and professional training on your new heating system and qualified customers can take advantage of some great financing options.

Count on Petro for all of your furnace maintenance and repair needs.
Whether you need to maintain the furnace you have or need to protect the investment in a new furnace purchase, the right service plan makes all the difference. Our multiple service contract and protection plan options provide the tune-up, repair and maintenance services required to protect your furnace investment. All backed by around the clock service and support - in any weather

Think you need a new furnace? Have one of our technicians assess your current furnace.
Call 800.645.4328 now.

Make sure your current furnace is operating efficiently by scheduling a tune-up.

Should you repair or replace your furnace? (infographic)

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*Source : homeenergycenter.com


Petro Home Services is proud to not only serve communities in DC, CT, MA, MD, NJ, NY, PA, and RI but we also proudly acknowledge the skills and experience of our expert team behind all resources. With insights on topics ranging from heating oil facts to common air conditioning questions, you can rely on Petro Home Services for facts and information to help you understand more about your heating, cooling and home comfort needs. This article and all articles on the Petro Home Services website have been approved by our team of home service experts.