When is furnace replacement necessary?

San Rafael

(415) 942-6565

Santa Rosa

(707) 452-3464

Even when an old furnace clearly is not providing enough heat or the same quality of comfort to your home, it can be difficult to decide when the right time to replace your furnace is. The cost of a new furnace replacement can be intimidating, and you might find yourself wondering if a full-blown replacement is really the best answer. In this article, we will help you go over the various indicators that you do need a furnace replacement, as well as how to prevent frequent repairs and replacements for furnaces. We will also give you some tips about the next steps in deciding what your replacement should be and the pros and cons of various heating system options to choose from.

When To Replace Furnace: Warning Signs

While some furnace shortcomings can be handled by at-home or professional furnace repair, there are certain scenarios when the best answer is to replace your furnace. This could be for many dangerous reasons, since some furnaces utilize very hazardous material that could become a danger to the household if not handled by an HVAC technician. Here are some of the major factors that could be telling you your furnace needs to be replaced:

1) Furnace has reached life expectancy

The average furnace life expectancy is between 15 and 30 years. If you know you have an old furnace that falls within this age range, it is a good idea to be on the alert for the possibility of a replacement. Then, once your older furnace begins to show signs of breaking down, you can be prepared to look for a new system. It is best to do this in the case of an emergency situation where you need a new furnace immediately rather than having time to get all the information possible to make the best choice for your home.

2) Unusual noises

There are many different noises that can happen when you run your furnace, but if they begin to be unusually loud and consistent, it probably means you have a broken furnace. Anything from rattling and screeching to popping and banging are possible sounds you could be hearing. The blower motor could be off balance, there could be loose ducts or damaged parts, something faulty with the flame sensor or ignition process, or it could be something as simple as an igniter being out. Some of these can be remedied by repair, but a lot of cases of strange furnace noises signify the need for a replacement.

3) Poor air quality/carbon monoxide

You could be experiencing poor air quality if you notice that the house is stuffy and filled with pollutants such as dust, mold, and pollen. If you have an old furnace, this can be a problem. Indoor air quality can be affected if a furnace isn’t getting proper ventilation from old furnace filters or ducts. Another potential danger is carbon monoxide leaks. You can check for carbon monoxide by checking the colors of the burner flames. If you see yellow flames instead of blue, that can be a sign of a carbon monoxide or gas leak. Ways to check your current furnace for an overabundance of carbon dioxide production include checking to see if there is soot around the furnace register, air duct cover, or furnace grille.

4) Unit frequently cycles

As a furnace grows older, it’s efficiency lessens, and therefore it will not be able to properly heat your entire house within a usual cycle. This could cause the furnace to cycle on and off constantly in an attempt to keep up with heating demands. But as a furnace system runs frequently in this way, it will create more stress on things like the blower motor and will wear the furnace down even more. You might notice sudden temperature changes throughout your home because the furnace blower motor is incapable of reaching a level of energy that can provide heat to the entire home, leaving you with uneven heating.

5) Cracked heat exchanger

A crack in the heat exchanger is an emergency situation that will usually require a replacement for the entire heating system, since repairs can be extremely expensive. A cracked heat exchanger can occur as a furnace ages and can be the reason for loud popping or banging noises you might hear in your furnace. It is also incredibly dangerous since it could release carbon monoxide. That is why it is advised to not wait until it comes to this point, so it is incredibly important to keep things like the age of your furnace in mind while also doing regular checks and watching out for unusual noises or furnace behavior.

6) Energy costs and repairs increasing

If you notice that your energy bills are unexpectedly increasing, it could be a sign that the furnace is not as energy efficient any more and is having to use a lot more power to attempt to provide warm air. This could be for reasons like leaks or improper ventilation in the heating system and could be remedied with basic repair and maintenance. But if you also notice that repair and maintenance are beginning to rise in frequency as well, this could be an indicator that it is time to replace your furnace. A furnace replacement could cost significantly less than the buildup of high energy bills and maintenance and repair costs over time.

How To Prevent Frequent Heating System Replacement

Though replacements are always necessary at some point, there are ways to ensure that you get the most out of your furnace installation and that you can enjoy the full benefits throughout the length of its expected lifespan. Routine maintenance is an important aspect of all heating and cooling systems and should be performed annually to be sure all parts are running correctly and there are no leaks, cracks, or other damages that could be hidden. You can perform some aspects of furnace maintenance yourself, but it is always a good idea to hire an HVAC professional to come out and provide a thorough inspection and tune-up for your heating and cooling system.

Regular maintenance includes things like:

  • Keeping up with replacing air filters
  • Clearing out buildup within the vents
  • Regular air duct cleaning
  • Checking on insulation
  • Inspecting the combustion chamber and blower
  • Scheduled professional service/tune-up

Another good way to preserve the life of your furnace is to set the thermostat lower when you are out of the house or sleeping and use a programmable thermostat that can help maintain a comfortable temperature in your house without overworking your system. Installing carbon monoxide detectors is also a good idea in the case of a dangerous leak.

Not only will these furnace care steps help give you superior heating in your home and save on utility bills, they can also lead to fewer breakdowns and costly repairs, as well as increased indoor air quality. It is best to try to perform a routine maintenance check on your furnace right before the heating season is about to start and after a long period of non-use so that you can clear away any dust and debris that has built up in places and make sure everything will run smoothly before you begin using your system frequently.

Replace your furnace with what?

When replacing your old furnace with a new heating system, it is good to know the available options and which choice might be best for your home. There are different benefits and downsides to each type of furnace, so it will depend on what is the most efficient furnace replacement for your heating goals.

A gas furnace will have lower heating bills and be able to heat your house more effectively. However, a gas furnace operates with natural gas, which poses a risk to the environment and your home by producing carbon monoxide that can build up to unsafe levels. Electric furnaces are generally a safe option, better for the environment, and more energy efficient than gas since they do not operate with natural gas. However, the cost of operating them will be a lot higher than for gas furnaces. Oil furnaces will have a slightly longer typical lifespan than the other two and have a higher heat output. But these furnaces also run the risk of oil spills and leaks.

Another option to replace a furnace is a heat pump. Air course heat pumps are known for their energy efficiency and cost-effectiveness in cooling and heating systems since they use the air from outside to provide warm or cold air to your home rather than creating it from the system itself. Most furnaces of this kind are ductless, and the mini split heating systems can deliver air to individual units within different house rooms; they can also better purify the air. However, heat pumps utilize the outside air for heat, so they can be less effective in extremely cold temperatures.

Keep Up With Furnace Replacement

The time to replace your furnace will eventually come, and it is important to know the signs when it does so that you can be sure that your house remains safe while getting the best heat and air quality you can. Now that you know the signs of needed replacement, there are regular maintenance steps you can take to avoid frequent need for repair and replacement, as well as the pros and cons of different furnace replacement options.

When the time comes to replace a furnace, John Owens Services offers quality furnace repairs and replacement services. From gas furnaces to heat pumps, we can provide you with a new furnace system that will provide your home with efficient heating you will always be able to rely on. We also offer furnace maintenance that can help extend the life of all furnaces and make certain that everything within older or newer furnaces is always operating at optimal performance with reduced energy.

Don’t wait if your furnace is experiencing any of the warning signs. Upgrade to a new and improved system to make sure you are getting all of the energy-efficient heat your home deserves.

Need a professional HVAC company?

When it is time to have your electric or gas furnace professionally repaired or replaced, look no further than John Owens Services, Inc. We have been in the Marin County and Sonoma County regions since 1986 and have been a trusted heating professional for all types, ducted and ductless, of heater repair and replacement. Whether you have a propane, natural gas, or electric system, we can take care of you.

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San Rafael
(415) 942-6565
Santa Rosa
(707) 452-3464



Regular maintenance keeps your home’s systems running well all year long. We’ll help you gain efficiency and save money.



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San Rafael
(415) 942-6565
Santa Rosa
(707) 452-3464