Most furnaces are usually built to last for years. A typical gas furnace may last 15 to 25 years and some oil furnaces can last even longer than that. But if you want to get the best performance out of your furnace, and avoid a premature furnace replacement, regular checkups and maintenance is the key.
You can’t assume your furnace will work like new for 15 years by ignoring it until it breaks down. Make sure you have it professionally inspected at least once a year. You should also check your furnace monthly to see if you notice any minor problems. Ask your technician about adding extra insulation to the outside of the system. This will help prevent leaks and stop heat from escaping, saving on your heating costs. A lot of heat can seep out of a house from minor leaks.
During your regular furnace maintenance checks, ask your technician what the Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) is. This will indicate how much of the energy used by the furnace is actually generating heat to be circulated through your home and how much heat is escaping through chimneys, windows, doorways, etc. If you are dipping below the 80% range, repairs or replacement might be in order. Sometimes replacing an older furnace can save you more money than it costs.
Other than simply looking at the number of years you have had your furnace, pay attention to its performance. If you find that it has difficulty maintaining a steady temperature or even reaching a certain temperature, there might be a problem. Noticing humidity problems inside your house, back-drafts or your carbon monoxide detectors going off could also be signs that repairs or possibly a new furnace might be in your future.
Some problems are normal and may not require replacing your furnace. Sometimes erratic operation on the part of your furnace could actually be the result of a problem with the thermostat. Whether it is not compatible with the model of furnace you have or it is defective, it can lead to erratic swings in temperature or suddenly turning on or off at the wrong times.
Other furnace problems usually are the result of a dirty or clogged filter. To fix this, simply remove the screws over the access panel with a screwdriver and slide the filter out. You can use a small flashlight to see how much light passes through the filter to gauge how clogged it really is. Foam filters can be cleaned or vacuumed, whereas filters made of paper or fiberglass will need to be replaced once clogged. Reinstall the cleaned filter to the furnace and secure the access panel when you are done. Be sure to keep your ducts clean as well.
Remember that no furnace has tried and true life span, but if you follow some basic guidelines in maintenance and inspection, your furnace should operate efficiently for many years. For furnace repairs in New Lenox, Orland Park, Joliet, Mokena, Oak Lawn or any of nearby towns call the Service II phone number near you.