Furnace/Heat Pump: When to Repair or Replace

If you keep your home long enough, eventually you’ll be confronted with the decision to either repair or replace the furnace or heat pump. The combined expected service life of these units averages about 15 years, and many gas-fired furnaces are still on the job for up to 20 years. Nevertheless, like all mechanical devices, furnaces and heat pumps incur wear and tear over that time span. They are also steadily left behind as more energy-efficient units with higher performance specs are constantly coming on the market. How do you decide whether now’s the time to repair or replace the furnace or heat pump? Here are some suggestions for making the right call:

Major Repairs

At some point, fixing a malfunctioning furnace or heat pump isn’t worth it anymore. Certain big-ticket repairs are deal-breakers when it comes to hanging on to existing units. For example, the price of replacing a cracked heat exchanger in a gas-fired furnace is seldom a cost-effective choice once the unit is over ten years old. In the case of a heat pump, a failed compressor—the most expensive component in the system—in a ten-year old unit should be the signal to buy a new unit rather than repair the existing one.

Outdated Efficiency

A 20-year old furnace came new with an AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) rating of about 70 percent. A new unit today comes with a minimum 80 percent AFUE, and high-efficiency models with AFUE ratings above 90 percent are also available. Repairing and continuing to hang on to a furnace with 1990s efficiency in the year 2016 is a money-losing proposition. Upgrade now and start reaping lower monthly heating costs from day one.

Safety

Particularly with older gas-fired furnaces, safety issues may arise with defects involving the heat exchanger or combustion. Because furnaces produce toxic gases including carbon monoxide, it’s better to stay on the side of caution and not compromise safety by continuing to repair failing, outmoded units.

Ask the HVAC pros at Apollo Home for more advice on whether to repair or replace your furnace or heat pump.

"Ernie & Mike did a superb job on my new furnace and A/C installation. Despite having more than a day’s work to do, they came in and stayed until the job was done. They were organized, efficient, and protected the rest of the house well. Got both furnace and A/C installed the same day. Ernie was courteous, informative, and clearly knew his job better than anyone I’ve encountered before. The units look so good guests now get The Tour of our new system. Apollo is clearly not a fly-by-night company. I would recommend them to anyone in need of a new furnace and/or A/C."
- Jerry A.
"I called Apollo because of a water leak I thought I had in our upstairs shower going into the kitchen. Robbie came and assured me everything was fine & looked at all the other plumbing. He ended up changing a few pipes for our washer & clearing a drain. He was very nice & knowledgeable with all my questions. I ended up signing up for the care plan & was very happy with my service."
- Cassandra B.
"The team at Apollo exceeded my expectations. As a business owner, my attention to the details and commitment to providing excellent service is high. From the sales rep. to the installation team, everyone’s performance was outstanding. For example, the installation team went to great lengths to protect our floors, placing floor runners and across the wood floors and up the stairs. They even were spot washing walls upon their departure. I highly recommend this company."
- Randy B.
"We scheduled an estimate AND a tune-up. We knew something was wrong with our furnace, but hoped we could make it through the rest of the season. Upon telling Bill what our furnace was doing, he warned us immediately what the possible outcome was going to be; a cracked heat exchanger. He watched the flames roll backward, tested carbon monoxide levels, which were so high they meter’s last reading was 5,600 before saying “high”. He immediately shut it down, tagged it, and explained that with levels that high and children in our home he wanted off right away. He continued his inspection and showed us via a camera that not only was it cracked in multiple places, but had holes all over it. He gave us a few options for repairing it; his knowledge as well as genuine concern was beneficial and refreshing. Luckily we also scheduled an estimator, Micah, to come too and we were able to get costs between repairing and replacing (with several options). We decided to replace with a much higher efficiency furnace and one sized properly to our home. Hands down, not only did they both provide us great service and knowledge, but without sounding dramatic, they may have saved our lives. This was our first time calling Apollo, but it won’t be our last."
- Sarah B.
"Apollo is an excellent company. I always receive great service. Alex A. was professional and friendly. He kept me informed during the process of checking my furnace and heat pump to make sure they were working properly. The company makes sure you are notified who is coming and when they are on the way. All my interactions with the company have been wonderful."
- Beverly S.
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