The Ultimate Dilemma: Furnace Repair vs. Furnace Replacement

thermostat set to heatSeptember is here. And while Maryland weather keeps surprising us with occasional heat waves, it’s not long until we’ll have to resort to the help of our HVAC system to stay warm. The heating season in Maryland starts around late September – early October and may last until early May. It’s at least 5 or 6 months, depending on your cold tolerance. Either way, that’s a huge workload for your furnace and it’s better be ready.

This in-between season (when the sun and open windows cover all your heating and cooling needs) is the perfect time to inspect your furnace and do necessary repairs or part replacements. Needless, you say, you can rely on Grove HVAC when it comes to Maryland furnace repair, inspection and maintenance. We service many areas from Annapolis and Bowie to Pasadena and College Park. And if your furnace has been nothing but a money drain lately, it might be better to replace it with a more reliable and efficient model.

What can go wrong with your furnace

While furnace doesn’t have that many moving parts, there’s still plenty of ways something can go wrong on each stage of air heating process. In case you are not familiar with the way a conventional gas furnace operates, here is a quick walk-through. A burner burns fuel to produce heat and warm the heat exchanger. A blower then starts drawing cool air from your home and forcing it through the heat exchanger where the air warms up. The warm air is distributed to the rooms through the air duct system.

As easy as it sounds, there are many parts in-between responsible for air intake, fuel supply, exhaust removal, etc. Here is the number one problem our Maryland furnace repair customers call us with: my furnace doesn’t produce (enough) heat. Now, there could be a few causes of this problem, and not all of them stem from your furnace:

-   Thermostat is not working or is poorly calibrated; therefore it fails to prompt the furnace when the temperature gets low.

-   Fuel supply line or valve have leaks or is blocked/closed preventing fuel intake

-   Ignition fails

-   Pilot light is out

-   The furnace air filter is dirty and restricts air supply

-   Blower motor failed

These are just some of the reasons why your home feels like a frozen wasteland, and many of them could be easily prevented with timely maintenance. However, as your furnace ages, parts wear out and there’s nothing you can do about that. Just like your car battery will need replacement at some point, your furnace components might have to suffer the same fate, no matter how well you care for them.

How long until I need to replace my furnace?

As you now know, a heat exchanger is one of the key furnace components. When it cracks or deteriorates with age, you have an option to replace it or replace the entire furnace. If your heat exchanger is under warranty and the manufacturer honors it, then part replacement is the cheapest way to go. However, consider all the innovation that has happened in the HVAC industry in the past 20 years.  Your old furnace may last way beyond its 16 to 20-year lifespan, but it will cost you more money in energy bills than a modern model. Sometimes,  the cost of replacement can be justified by the future savings.

Now let’s talk about furnace efficiency

Have you heard of AFUE? It’s the measurement of the efficiency of your furnace and it stands for Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency. In simple words, AFUE is a percentage of energy that is produced by burning 100% of fuel. So, the higher the AFUE, the more efficient the furnace.

AFUE will vary depending on where you are located and which fuel you use. Maryland is considered a southern state for the purpose of furnace efficiency ratings. So if you live in Maryland and own a gas furnace that’s 90% AFUE or higher, you’ve got yourself a high-efficiency furnace that most likely meets Energy Star standards.

Still unsure whether to repair or replace? Give Grove HVAC a call and we’ll help you calculate whether the cost of replacement is worth it in your particular situation.