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A gas furnace is a major investment and homeowners can take several steps to ensure that their furnaces remain efficient and reliable for as long as possible. Past a certain point, however, many people wonder whether it makes more sense economically to replace or repair a furnace.
Experts say 15 years is about the time to start evaluating if paying for repairs is the right choice. While a furnace may continue working well beyond that — as long as 30 years or more — most furnaces start to show their age at about that time. In addition, technology is always improving the performance and efficiency of new furnaces, so replacing an old furnace with a more efficient model can save a substantial amount on energy costs. Understand your options when choosing between repairing and replacing older equipment.
These six important maintenance steps will keep your furnace running efficiently and extend its life while also preventing expensive repairs down the line.
This step is possibly the simplest, most economical and most important one you can take to keep your system in great working condition. The air filter keeps your equipment clean, ensures sufficient airflow and keeps your system working efficiently. A clogged filter, on the other hand, blocks airflow, allows dirt into the system (and ultimately back into your home) and makes the equipment work harder, leading to breakdowns and shorter system life. Changing the filter every 30-60 days, depending on use, keeps your energy bills low, saves money on repairs, improves indoor air quality and extends the life of your furnace.
In addition to changing the air filter regularly, getting a professional inspection and tune-up goes a long way toward protecting your investment. A professional HVAC technician can spot and fix small problems before they become big expensive ones, and can thoroughly clean your system so it remains efficient and reliable throughout the heating season. Many furnaces require annual maintenance to keep the warranty in effect, as well. A proper maintenance appointment should include:
Inevitably, some dirt will still get past the air filter. When replacing the filter, take a moment to clean the blower assembly, pulleys and belts as well. Access the area by carefully removing the panel that covers the filter or sliding out the fan unit. Locate the screws, remove them and then clean with a damp cloth. In addition, the area around the furnace should be free of clutter and debris. While it might be tempting, do not use the furnace room to store other items.
Some furnace problems may actually be caused by a faulty or improperly set thermostat. Settings can get changed inadvertently and batteries wear out. If the unit itself is no longer functional, replace it.
Regularly vacuum the vents to prevent dust and dirt from accumulating. Make sure the vents are not blocked by furniture or other items.
Dust and debris can also build up inside the furnace ducts. Have them cleaned to prevent dirt from recirculating through the furnace and back into your home.
These are all signs that your furnace is no longer working as efficiently as it should: