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Furnace Problems: Repair Or Replace?


Whenever a furnace problem arises, the first question is always, “Is this repairable, or do I need my furnace replaced?” Having provided high-quality furnace repair near Vancouver, WA for 35 years, Comfort 360 is well-qualified to help you answer this question. 

Safety Is Paramount

Here’s an easy way to decide whether to repair or replace your furnace: does the problem present a safety hazard? If your home is at risk of being contaminated by carbon monoxide because of a cracked heat exchanger, then replacement is 100% the right decision. However, if a valve is stuck or something is awry with your furnace’s electronics, you should consider repairing – unless your system is so old that even an inexpensive fix isn’t worth it in the long run.

How Old Is Your Furnace?

The average furnace for forced-air systems expires after 15 – 20 years. A boiler for hot-water radiators and baseboards can range in lifespan from 13 – 21 years. Bear in mind that these are just averages, which means a good portion are still working well despite being past this speculative end-date.

You can confirm the age of your furnace by checking the unit itself, since the installer may have written the date on it. If it isn’t there, wait until your furnace is off (and cool) and open the chamber door. On the inside is a metal ID plate with a model and serial number. Call the manufacturer, give them these numbers, and they’ll confirm your furnace’s age.

Weigh The Cost Of Repairing vs. Replacing

Depending on the furnace brand you choose and the size of your residence, a new furnace typically costs $1,500 – $4,000. And if you want a boiler for a hot-water system, your cost range is $4,000 – $8,000. Now let’s return to the average lifespan of a furnace, and use 20 years as a benchmark. The general rule of thumb regarding repair/replace is this: if your system has surpassed 75 percent of its lifespan (15 years) and repairs will cost more than 1/3 of a new unit, you should consider purchasing a new furnace. So for example, if your furnace is 16 years old and it will cost $900 to repair, you’re better off buying a new system for $2,200.

Efficiency Is Important

If you decide to invest in a new furnace, keep in mind that today’s systems are far more efficient than the furnace you grew up with. A furnace built 20 years ago operates at around 70 percent efficiency, while the most efficient of today’s systems runs at an incredible efficiency rate of 95 percent. The more efficient the furnace, the higher the cost – but keep in mind you’ll recoup your investment via lower monthly heating bills, and also qualify for local/federal tax incentives.

Schedule Furnace Maintenance

Our local HVAC company brings extensive expertise to all commercial and residential heating needs. From furnace repair and new furnace installation, to system automation and duct cleaning, we’re the right choice for Vancouver residents.