How Long Does A Furnace Last?

January 10, 2021

“Built to Last” is a common marketing slogan utilized by purveyors of all sorts of products. When advertising their heating equipment and promoting its longevity, several furnace manufacturers employ this phrase without qualifying it. In most cases, these manufacturers are quite reputable, and the vital heating units they sell are built very well. However, lasting a long time is not the same thing as working without problems indefinitely. No furnace will operate trouble-free forever. All heating equipment has a life expectancy, and any furnace will benefit from preventive maintenance.

Furnaces, like other machines, eventually suffer problems related to use and age. In time, a furnace will stop working, making a replacement unavoidable. It’s a horrible situation if a furnace breaks down permanently on a bitterly cold winter day. When the temperature drops drastically, a home’s pipes face the risk of freezing and bursting. People residing in the house face safety hazards and might need to evacuate. In situations like that, a homeowner’s insurance probably won’t cover all the costs.

Replacing a furnace before it reaches the critical failure point is a wise and proactive plan. Doing so could save time, money, and aggravation while keeping a home’s interior temperature routinely comfortable.

Fortunately, there are sensible recommendations about what to expect in terms of life expectancy for a furnace. Homeowners should perform the necessary research to determine how much useful life is probably left in their heating equipment. They should also take steps to maximize its lifespan.

The Number of Years to Expect From a Furnace

Few people looking for a definitive answer will want to hear the words “in general,” but accuracy requires it when discussing the life expectancy of furnaces. Although a standard estimate of 15 to 20 years seems reasonable, individual units will obviously fall into extremes on either side of this range. Some models might still function at 30 years of age, but it’s not very common. What’s more, an aging model simply won’t be as efficient as a newer one. On the other hand, a furnace could die long before reaching its expected lifespan. Sometimes, external factors contribute to the premature decline.

Homeowners need to consider some additional factors. Is the furnace gas or electric? An electric furnace often lasts much longer than a gas one. Who made the furnace? Quality varies among manufacturers, and a top furnace may come with a more durable design. Did the person installing the furnace perform the job appropriately? If not, things might go wrong, which is why hiring a top HVAC company is crucial. On top of all that, was the furnace the right size?

Sizing the Furnace

Sometimes, determining a furnace’s lifespan starts on installation day. Hopefully, a residence receives a furnace that’s appropriate for the property’s size. If the furnace ends up being too small for the home, you can’t expect it to last as long. Since it is undersized for the job, the smaller furnace would need to work much harder to heat the house. That means it would suffer excess strain that causes it to wear out faster. A struggling smaller furnace might find itself constantly overworking, which won’t bode well for its longevity.

Extending a Furnace’s Life Through Maintenance

How well a homeowner takes care of a furnace plays a major role in the system’s life expectancy. A neglectful property owner who ignores routine inspection, cleaning, and overall care for a heater should not feel surprised when malfunctions occur. That sort of neglect also shaves years off a furnace’s life expectancy.

Dirty components and worn parts drive down the effectiveness of a system’s performance. The equipment will end up working harder to heat the home. A possible ripple effect may even spread to other elements of the equipment. A dirty filter, for example, may contribute to stress throughout an HVAC system. As parts succumb to stress, the longevity of the system is compromised. Even though changing the filter is a minor step, some may not perform this simple replacement. Maybe they don’t realize how important it is.

Ultimately, the homeowner is responsible for a house’s furnace. Lack of care and any resultant loss of system life falls squarely on the homeowner’s shoulders. Reviewing materials produced by the manufacturer, such as the owner’s manual, will outline recommended maintenance steps to take. Of course, a homeowner in the Seattle area does have a place to turn for assistance. The experts at Brennan Heating & Air Conditioning are available to help. Enlisting qualified HVAC technicians for routine cleaning, repairs, and maintenance could give the equipment a new lease on life.

Unexpected Calamities and Furnace Troubles

Critical disasters might take place and ruin the furnace. People living in a flood zone may suffer the unexpected catastrophe of water rising into the house. Once the water enters the furnace, expect the system to suffer a total loss. Rusted parts and exposure to water could create dangerous hazards. Corrosion might lead to carbon monoxide leaks, fire threats, and other safety concerns.

Various unexpected problems may contribute to the furnace suffering crippling damage. Some issues start small and then grow. This is another reason why routine inspections are essential. A homeowner might not have any idea about a dangerous problem developing, yet an experienced technician could pick up on it and recommend a necessary fix.

Energy Efficiency and Reducing Strain on the Furnace

Sometimes, the homeowner causes all the added strain a furnace suffers. Doing so unintentionally might be forgivable, but that doesn’t change the result. Forcing a furnace to work a lot harder to heat a home puts added pressure on the system. Years and years of such added work could lead to a premature demise.

Because the furnace has to work a lot harder, weak energy efficiency could also drive monthly utility bills through the roof. Perhaps taking steps to address drafts, lack of insulation, and other concerns is long overdue. Allowing hot air to escape doesn’t help the furnace, the house, or the people residing inside.

Keeping the temperature higher than reasonably necessary also contributes to the furnace working harder. It takes more effort to bring a temperature to 70 degrees than it does to reach 60 degrees. If 60 degrees delivers enough comfort, why not stay within that range?

Taking advantage of modern innovations could also help the situation. Why not look into a smart thermostat or a zone control system to reduce the current furnace’s workload? Doing so could make sense if there is significant life left in it. If the furnace is reaching its expiration date, then such upgrades might not be economical. Instead, a homeowner may find it best to purchase and install an entirely new model. Even though a furnace still works at an advanced age, an outdated heater could drive up costs through inefficiency. Old furnaces lack the innovations found in newer ones. At some point, replacing a furnace becomes the right strategy.

Since 1987, Brennan Heating & Air Conditioning has provided a full range of heating and cooling installation, maintenance, and repairs throughout Seattle, Lynnwood, and the surrounding areas. Besides that, we can clean the air ducts connected to your furnace. You can also trust us to handle your water heater or electrical system. We’re involved in the local community, and we’ve received several Angie’s List Super Service Awards. Call us today to learn more or to schedule a service visit.

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