Let’s think this through: you can either replace a furnace when it’s convenient for you and for your favorite Columbus-area HVAC contractor (Pickerington Heating & Cooling), or you can wait until it goes out. When does it fail? Of course, when it’s under its heaviest load during the most frigid times.
We really don’t want to sell you a new system if it doesn’t make sense, but on the other hand, we certainly would like to help you avoid the absolute worst time to buy a replacement furnace, which is the middle of winter when you have no heat! This is a frequent scenario: the day before it quit working was just like today when it isn’t working.
One of our most frequent questions from homeowners around Columbus is: “So when is the right time to replace a furnace or even a whole HVAC system?” There’s no simple answer, but there are categories your situation might fit into. You have probably heard radio ads that proclaim, “Now is the time to buy!” but is that really true? Of course, most homeowners seem to just tune that message out. We believe you want to make a well informed decision which is a good fit for you.
The most common concerns or reasons homeowners suddenly have the urge to replace an aged heating system seem to be:
- age of the system
- high energy bills
- strange smells or weird noises coming from the furnace (or A/C)
“Unplanned” vs. “Planned”
Since we are publishing this article in October in Ohio, you’re not in the No-Heat-I’ll-freeze-tonight emergency (not yet) – obviously, that would not be the most opportune time to make a complex decision that you have to live with for 20 years. Nobody needs that kind of stress!
A good comparison might be deciding you need a new parachute on the way down. Okay, not quite that bad, but you hopefully get the point.
If your heating system fails in the middle of winter, you’ll be feeling pressed to make a quick decision (or freeze to death or ruin your home), and be tempted to just choose any contractor who could install a new unit the quickest. It’s also tempting to spend as little as possible on new equipment if you just want to get the heating back on. Unfortunately, that would be a missed opportunity.
Planning a Furnace Purchase in Central Ohio
When homeowners plan for replacement they have the opportunity to calmly evaluate solutions from multiple sources, more of a systematic approach. That gives you time time to research and evaluate newer technologies and other options and make a decision on the right package.
Every homeowner has different motivating factors that drive their decisions, but they typicall include:
- furnace is more than 10 years old
- utility bills are high (it’s just not that efficient any more)
- having peace of mind (the boy scout approach: “be prepared”)
- safety conscious (the dangers of Carbon Monoxide poisoning)
- concern for the environment (your furnace is belching black smoke?)
- energy-efficiency (see “high bills” above)
- not happy with the current comfort level
- concerned about clean indoor air and a safer environment for your family
- how long are you going to be in the home
- is there financing available
- what is the warranty?
Isn’t it a little easier to make a 20-year decision when there’s no pressure of frostbite (or frozen pipes, or having an upset wife)?
Before you make a decision, one of the best ways to help you evaluate is to have a member of our service team conduct a Furnace Tune-Up and Safety Check. Now, before the snow flies.
If possible, we’ll first determine how to extend the life of your current system. We’re happy to keep you operational, but you may see us more frequently. There are plenty of parts that can go bad or fail. You may find that spending the additional funds on frequent service calls may be better spent on a new system.
Cost vs. Age Guideline Chart
This chart represents the decision whether to repair or replace your furnace. As an example, let’s say your furnace is 13 years old and you need a blower motor replaced at a cost of about $375, it may be time to seriously consider replacing the unit. It boils down to personal preference.
Another way of saying it is, “when is a good time to buy a car?” Some people always want the newest, most advanced, newer smelling auto. (In HVAC terms that means, energy-efficient, environmental or social responsibility conscious, and having peace of mind.) Others think more cost effective and safety conscious. I’ll have regular maintenance until I start dumping money into major repairs. (I’ll have regular furnace or A/C tune-ups). The last is drive it ’till it breaks.
Another resource for helping with the decision is an EnergyStar rating.
Many homeowners think that buying an energy efficient furnace or air-conditioner will automatically reduce their energy bill. Not necessarily true. Even the highest efficiency-rated heaters and air conditioners can cost you more money to operate if they are improperly sized or installed. According to the Department of Energy, shoddy installation and improper sized equipment can waste as much as one-third of your energy consumption. This is true to some extent, but you won’t realize all the possible savings if the equipment is not sized or installed properly. Studies have shown that typical air conditioner and duct systems are improperly installed, wasting 1/3 or more of the energy used by the air conditioner. New and replacement equipment (and ducts) need to be properly designed and installed to realize all the possible savings.
At the very least, we recommend you schedule a $69 Furnace Tune-up & Safety Check. We’ll be able to tell if there is trouble brewing with your HVAC equipment and prevent it from going out when you need it the most – when it’s freezing outside.