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4 Signs Your Furnace Might Not Last Until Spring

Winter in Idaho can be long, cold, and brutal before springtime arrives. While you’re waiting for warmer weather, your furnace works around the clock to keep your family comfortable inside your home. 

Furnace maintenance can help ensure that this necessary appliance will warm your home for as long as possible. During intense winters where leaving your property becomes more difficult and dangerous, your furnace can provide refuge from the winter chill. 

With only a few short weeks until the weather warms up, will your furnace be able to continue? Here are four signs your furnace might not last until spring.

 

1. YOUR FURNACE IS OLD

Simply put: Many older homes have older furnaces. If the furnace has been successfully heating your living space for over a decade, it could be understandably easy to unintentionally forget about its maintenance needs. 

Not only are older furnaces less energy-efficient, but they are also more likely to quit working due to age. Though most furnaces last an average of 20 years, several factors can lengthen or shorten the lifespan:

Furnace Size 

An oversized furnace will fail more quickly than one appropriately sized to the needs of the home. Having a proportional furnace to your home can help it run more efficiently, generate less wear-and-tear, and offer a smoother repair process when the need arises. 

Scheduling Regular Maintenance 

Schedule regular service appointments can help lengthen your furnace’s lifespan. Generally, we advise that you schedule an appointment before the cold months to identify and correct any existing issues. We also recommend scheduling another one come springtime so that a professional can diagnose any problems that might have occurred while it was running during the winter. 

With less time between check-ins, problems are discovered in their infancy rather than having a chance to worsen over time. Instead, a professional can address them proactively and prolong the furnace’s lifespan. 

Proper Use 

Many homeowners will open their windows or doors if they feel the furnace is making their home feel “too hot.” In most cases, this is due to the thermostat being set too high for the needs of the house. By opening barriers to the outside, more heat is escaping and causing the furnace to work harder and overcompensate. This will result in both increased energy costs and a shortened lifespan. 

Environmental Effects

Weather conditions and outdoor air quality will impact the long-term health of your furnace. For example, colder weather will often result in a longer run-time and salty air can erode the unit’s metals. Properly insulating your home and protecting against harmful air conditions can ensure that it runs more efficiently for longer. 

Age and Expected Decline

When it comes to furnaces vs. time, Father Time remains undefeated. Most furnaces have a general lifespan of 15-20 years. Over time, consistent use results in the unit degrading. Though there are ways to slow this process, like those mentioned above, they cannot be staved off indefinitely. 

If you know that your furnace is approaching the end of its lifespan, consider investing in a new one before it stops working. Check the label on the unit to find out how old your furnace is. Sometimes the date of manufacture is displayed, or you can read the year and month within the serial number.

Furnaces can range from around $1,700 on the low end to a higher price point of around $6,900. On average, however, most furnaces will cost the typical homeowner between $3,000 and $4,000. If you know that your furnace is nearing the end of its run in the next few years, this can buy you enough time to start saving for its eventual replacement. 

 

2. YOUR BURN FLAME ISN’T BLUE

Most furnaces heat your home with natural gas. As the gas burns inside your unit, the flame should present as a steady blue. Blue flames indicate combustion occurs properly and at the right temperature. If it’s not, something could be wrong.

A flame that appears yellow, orange, or wavers as it burns indicates insufficient oxygen in the gas-to-oxygen ratio. If a yellow or orange flame burns unchecked, this can lead to more serious problems occurring over time.

Yellow, red, and orange flames are cooler in temperature. When your flame appears to be steady blue, several benefits occur:

More Efficient Burning 

A cool, steady blue flame indicates that your furnace is operating efficiently. This means less gas is wasted and should also result in lowered heating costs throughout the winter when gas bills are most often at their yearly high. 

Warmer Home 

Blue flames also indicate that your furnace is producing the maximum heat output possible. This means that your home is receiving more heat with less energy consumed. Enjoy a more comfortable home with a furnace that is circulating heat the way it was intended to. 

Savings on Your Gas Bill 

A healthy blue flame consumes less gas to generate heat to warm your home. This means that you can also save money on your gas bill. Gas is traditionally the most expensive utility for many homeowners in the winter, so why pay more when you can save potentially hundreds each month in heating costs? 

A Safer Living Space

A clean burn dramatically lessens the risk of carbon monoxide. Because this deadly gas is often difficult to detect without a device designed to do so, this can quickly create a dangerous living environment for you and your loved ones. 

3. YOUR FURNACE NEEDS INCREASINGLY FREQUENT REPAIRS

Even if your furnace is fewer than 10 years old, you should keep an eye on it if it recently seems to need frequent repairs. Sometimes different furnace components have shorter life spans or were poorly designed or installed. When this is the case, you end up replacing minor and major components such as:

  • Blower motor and assembly
  • Heat exchanger
  • Gas ignitors, valves, and regulator
  • Flame sensor
  • Thermocouple

4. YOUR FURNACE MAKES UNUSUAL SOUNDS

A furnace consists of many working components that make noises as they operate. You are probably aware of what is normal and what is new or unusual. If you notice different or strange noises, something might be going on with your furnace.

A loud rattling sound during operation can mean something is loose, such as a screw in sheet metal or ductwork. Your panel could be a bit loose too. Another possibility is a rattling lower motor that is off balance.

A sudden squeal is indicative of a loose, damaged, or missing belt on the belt-driven blower or inducer motor. Also, moving parts like a shaft bearing that lack lubricant and experience more friction can make a squealing noise.

Finally, an obvious metal-on-metal clank is not a good sound. The force of metal hitting metal can be caused by a loose blower fan striking the blower house casing.

Sometimes the best time of year to invest in a new furnace is toward the end of the winter season when demand is low. Many people instead prepare for spring and plan to let an older furnace wait until the next autumn. If you’re not sure your furnace will make it a few more weeks, visit Advanced Heating & Cooling and find out how a new furnace will make your home a better place until spring arrives.

better place until spring arrives.