6 Signs It’s Time to Replace Your Old Furnace

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  • We’ve talked about the advantages to ductless heat pump systems – the savings, the air filtration, the comfort – but if you already have a fuel oil furnace how can you tell if it’s time to replace it with a new heating system?  Don’t worry. We’ve got you covered.  Just ask yourself these six questions to figure out if it’s time to retire your old heating system or if it has years of life–and warmth–left in it.

    1. How old is your furnace?

    The average lifespan of a furnace is 16-2o years.  This will vary some, but even if your furnace has been professionally maintained, it may be approaching retirement age if it’s been heating your home for 15 years or more.  Keep in mind, the best time to replace your heating system is not when it fails suddenly, but when you have the chance to shop around before your heat gives out completely.

    But age is not the only factor…

    2. Are your heating bills going up?

    As furnaces age, they begin to lose efficiency.  Is your furnace cycling on more frequently to put out the same amount of heat?  Is it using more fuel to provide the same warmth?  When your heating bills begin to rise is a good indicator that your furnace may be approaching the end of its lifespan.

    3. Have you had expensive repairs lately?

    Furnaces, like cars, tend to need more repairs as they age.  Most furnaces will breakdown more regularly in the last two years of their lifespan, so if you’re beginning to need more and more parts replaced, be aware that your furnace may be on its last legs.  When looking at repair costs, be sure to consider the age of the furnace as well.  For example, it may still be best to replace a twenty year old furnace which is incurring reasonably minor repair costs because another repair is likely to be necessary very soon.

    4. Are you noticing that the rooms in your house are heating unevenly?

    This is another warning sign that your furnace is losing efficiency.  If some rooms are too cold while others are too hot, you may have problems with your duct systems or your furnace may be losing the ability to effectively distribute air throughout your home.

    5. Is your furnace beginning to make strange noises?

    Those clanks, rattles, squeals, hums, pops and bangs could all be your furnace’s way of telling you that it’s getting too old for this business.  As a furnace approaches the end of its lifespan, it can begin being much noisier–and just think how much more pleasant your house will be without those thuds and buzzes.

    6. Is your house dry or dusty?

    If you’re starting to have humidity problems, ventilation issues, or dust or soot accumulating in your home, these could all be furnace warning signs. Old furnaces may not be able to filter the air–and their ability to circulate it can suffer over time as well.

    Also, be aware that as furnaces age they run risk of developing cracks in the heat exchanger inside the furnace–which can allow carbon monoxide, if present, to leak into your home undetected.  So if you or your family are experiencing frequent headaches, nausea or burning eyes, let in some fresh air and get a technician in there asap to assess the problem.


    By themselves, the answers to each of these questions may not tell you whether it’s time to replace your heating system or not, but when considered as a whole they can give you a sense of when your furnace is on its last legs and let you know when it’s time to start shopping around.  And when you’re ready, if you decide to replace your old furnace with a ductless heat pump, we’re happy to help you find the heating system that’s right for you.