Let’s be honest with ourselves for a moment, no one wants to shell out a few grand to have someone replace your furnace, let alone have to spend several to replace the entire system. Truth be told there are several parts that you can replace yourself easily─ as long as you exercise caution replacing those parts! So, when is it actually time to get a new furnace?
Here’s a quick list of signs to look for:
1. Your unit exceeds 20 years old.
If you have a standing pilot valve, it’s time to pony up. Besides spending a fortune on replacement parts, not to mention the strain the old unit is putting on your electricity usage─ think about all the safety regulations put into place for new furnaces. If you just can’t afford it, let’s move on to number two but think of saving up and replacing it soon!
2. After 10 years old, get a low level carbon monoxide detector.
Do your research, they aren’t expensive and it’s for your family’s well-being. A good low level carbon monoxide detector will read below 50ppm. And a really good one will read below 20ppm. Even light carbon monoxide levels can create headaches, nausea, and shortness of breath. You’ll start experiencing flu-like symptoms. This leads us to point number three.
3. Setting off carbon monoxide detectors.
This should be a no-brainer, but you would be surprised how many customers I’ve had tell me theirs have been going off and they thought that it was fine. No, it isn’t fine. What this means to you is to cut off your furnace and do not use the heat until you replace it. Cracks in the heat exchanger are not to be taken lightly, and if your carbon monoxide detector is going off, (which most start reading at 70-100 ppm for around 60 minutes before being set off) you have been breathing in low levels of carbon monoxide for quite some time.
4. Constantly tripping flame rollout switches, even if they are replaced.
Rollout switches are the ones that are located right by your burners. You will know when one of them trips because nothing will work until you manually reset them. This means that they are doing their job and you are getting flame rollout. Which goes back to point three, cracks in your heat exchanger and your furnace needs to be replaced.
One more possible reason that isn’t flame rollout is low air flow, causing your unit to overheat and tripping limits. I can’t tell you how many times I have asked homeowners when was the last time they cleaned their indoor evaporator coils and have gotten blank stares. I had a customer once bring in a blower housing that was caked with over an inch of 20 year old gunk. I was absolutely amazed that it hadn’t taken out more than half of their unit sooner than it did.
I’ve had several customers even argue with me that it couldn’t cause the problems they are having. Yes it can, and yes it did. If you see a large amount of dust and junk built up on your blower wheel, blower motor, or blower housing─ clean your freaking coils.
5. Extensive water damage.
If your unit is indoors and you notice a significant amount of rust, or white calcium deposits it means there is a leak. As long as you catch it early enough it shouldn’t be a big issue, you can get it all sealed up and make sure all of your wires and connections are clean and making good contact. Have you had a control board go out within 2-3 years after purchasing a new one? Check the board over to see if you can see signs of water damage. It might be the culprit.
While much of the time you can just make repairs to furnaces and it’s the one piece of equipment you may not need to replace right away when you’re putting in a new system, you need to be diligent with maintaining the unit and looking for these signs. The best thing that you can do as a homeowner to protect yourself is replace simple parts and add inexpensive safety measures─ that way you know when it is actually time to get a new furnace.