Fall is the season when many of our customers’ minds quite naturally turn to thoughts of furnace inspections, maintenance and, if necessary, replacement.
We are all in favour of replacing your furnace when the time comes – newer models have a lot to offer, including enhanced energy efficiency and home safety features.
But we also hate to see our customers spend money needlessly when the furnace itself may not be the actual cause of poor performance!
This is why we always advise taking these five steps before you replace your furnace.
1. Check your furnace label
The average furnace has a useful life of up to 20 years – that is, if it has had annual preventative maintenance each year of its life, is appropriately sized for the size of the space, has had regular filter changes and the usage patterns have been fairly consistent from year to year.
However, this doesn’t necessarily mean it makes smart energy or financial sense to keep your old furnace right up until it actually conks out for good!
First, that can be really stressful for you, never knowing from one day to the next when the last day will arrive. Second, you can end up spending a lot more money on power bills by keeping an elderly furnace in use.
Statistics say that the average Canadian moves at least five or six times, which means it is quite likely your current furnace had at least one previous owner before you. So the best way to start planning toward furnace replacement is to do a quick check of the furnace label. By checking the label, you can find out the date the furnace was manufactured.
If your furnace has made it at least three quarters of the way to its useful life expiration date, pat yourself on the back. You’ve done a great job keeping it serviced!
Then, the next time it needs a major repair, as older furnaces often do, calculate whether the cost to do the repair is more than 30 percent of the cost to buy a new furnace. If it is, it is time to replace your furnace.
2. Check your ductwork
Sometimes your furnace seems to be performing less well from one winter to the next. In this case, it is easy to blame your furnace without digging deeper to see if it is even the real culprit!
In many cases, we find the furnace is performing just fine overall – nothing a simple annual preventative tune-up cannot fix. But the ductwork, well, that is another matter entirely.
Ductwork is vital to the entire temperature control system inside your space. Over time, ducts start to sag, leak and even disconnect from one another. Any existing exterior duct insulation degrades while the insides of the ducts begin to fill up with dust, debris and worse.
No wonder your heating bills are increasing as you keep having to crank the thermostat to stay warm!
By scheduling a professional air duct cleaning and servicing and doing some extra insulation and sealing maintenance, you can put your ductwork to rights again and go back to enjoying heat from the very same furnace you already have this winter.
3. Do the efficiency math
Today’s furnace technology is really pretty amazing. Every day it seems like there are new advances in our industry to boost energy efficiency, lower utility bills and improve overall performance.
Yet just because super high-efficiency furnaces now exist, this doesn’t always mean you need to run out and purchase one. Even the highest-efficiency furnace can only perform as well as the space itself permits.
For example, let’s say you do purchase and install a brand-new high-efficiency furnace and are looking forward to efficiency of up to 98.5 percent.
But every time you pass by certain windows and doors, you can literally feel the draft blowing in. Your ductwork has never been insulated and last winter, enterprising animals made their way inside and created a cozy nest, causing the ducts to sag and rip away at the seams.
Here, it makes a lot more sense to first send the rodents packing, seal and insulate the ducts, weather-strip against drafts and then decide if you really need to do a furnace upgrade to get the efficiency gains you are hoping for.
4. Seal, weather-strip and insulate
Even as you give your hard-working ducts some long-overdue attention, don’t forget about tending to traditionally uninsulated (or under-insulated) areas like attics, crawlspaces and basements.
Adding extra insulation for your attic floor, crawl space, basement, walls, sealant around power outlets, exhaust vents and registers, weather-stripping around doors and windows and similar small upgrades can make it feel like you have a whole new furnace heating your home this winter.
5. Schedule a fall furnace tune-up
Lastly, we have seen it time and again where a poorly maintained furnace delivers sub-par performance that turns around once it gets a little timely TLC.
Clogged air filters don’t offer good air conduction and pressure. Broken parts can’t do their jobs. A lack of lubrication or leaking refrigerant can put a furnace out of commission. This last also represents a significant home fire risk.
When you take an hour to have your furnace inspected and maintained, you receive peace of mind all winter. When you give your furnace what it needs to do its best work, it may just turn in its best performance yet!
Get in Touch
Right now when you schedule your fall preventative safety inspection and furnace maintenance tune-up, save up to 20 percent. Plus, the first 25 appointments get a FREE furnace filter!
If you are ready to replace your furnace, play our Golden Days Scratch & Win for a chance to win $1,000 off!