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How Long Can You Expect Your Furnace to Last?

basement-furnace-openA furnace is not designed to run forever—no mechanical device can do that. But modern furnaces are built to last for many years before they start to malfunction on a regular basis, cost too much to run, or simply breakdown so completely that the labor involved in getting it working again would be prohibitively expensive.

What you want to know is… how long before your furnaces reached one of these points?

The answer is, as with so many other home comfort decisions, “it depends.” We can make a few generalizations about furnace age as well as signs of a steep decline that will tell you when a furnace is near to the end.

Furnace Age

You may know how long you’ve had your current furnace because you arranged for its installation. If the furnace was in the house when you moved in, you may not know off the top of your head its age, but you can easily check for this information on the furnace itself. The plate on the furnace will list a manufacture date or contain a serial number with the information encoded in it. (You can do an internet search with the serial number to find the date.)

For a natural gas furnace, the average service life is around 15 years. For an electric furnace, you can expect a longer service life, usually around 20 years.

The Effect of Regular Maintenance

However, these estimates are only for furnaces that have received routine maintenance from professionals. Any type of furnace (or heating system) needs an annual inspection, cleaning, and adjustment from a licensed HVAC professional. If it doesn’t, the furnace will wear down faster and may end up lasting only half of its estimated service life. You could need to replace your gas furnace after only seven or eight years if you let maintenance slide—and the warranty won’t cover the replacement because skipping maintenance will void it.

How a Furnace Warns You It’s Too Old

A furnace can last longer than it’s estimated service life, but it will begin to experience multiple problems that will make it less effective and more expensive to keep around:

  • Repairs will become more frequent. If you schedule furnace repair in Cherry Hill, NJ once per year, that’s already too often. And you shouldn’t pay for any repair that’s more than 50% the cost of a new furnace.
  • The furnace will struggle to provide the same level of heat to the house as it once did. The earliest indication of this will be cold spots appearing in rooms. If you find yourself running the furnace for longer and longer and keep pushing the thermostat up higher, it’s better to get a new furnace.
  • The cost to run the furnace will rise, and not because of an increase in the price of natural gas or electricity.

Please don’t make an off-the-cuff choice about getting a new furnace, however. The best step is to call our technicians to inspect the furnace and see if we can make a cost-effective repair. If we can’t, we’ll help you find a new furnace.

Gibson Heating & Cooling serves the greater Cherry Hill, NJ area. Call us if you think your furnace may need to be replaced.

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