With fall here and winter around the corner, now is the perfect time to upgrade an old, sluggish, or inefficient heating system. There are a number of signs that could indicate the need for a replacement system, including odd sounds, sights, and smells. If you are not sure if you need an upgrade, have your existing system professionally inspected. The typical life expectancy of heating equipment is 15 to 20 years. If your heating system has surpassed its lifespan or is displaying any of the following signs, consider an upgrade.
1. Frequent Repairs
If your heating system is constantly in need of repair, it is often more cost-effective to simply upgrade then to continue making costly repairs. When you combine the cost of materials with the cost of labor for a technician, you could end up spending more on repairs then you would on a brand new furnace. While the initial cost of a new heating system will be more upfront, you will be saving money in the long-term. Most new heating systems come with a guarantee to ensure that you will have many years of use without costly repairs.
It is best to replace your furnace at the 20-year mark, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. This is often when the energy efficiency drops to around 78 percent or lower annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE). An inefficient heating system can result in a noticeable rise in energy costs. You may not notice it at first, but most furnaces will gradually lose their efficiency as they age. This can lead to an increase in heating bills year after year. Upgrading your heating system can significantly reduce your energy costs starting the very first month.
2. Uneven Temperatures
If you are frequently turning the heat up but just cannot stay warm enough, your heating system may be to blame. Over time, heating systems lose their ability to distribute heat effectively creating an inconsistent temperature in your home. Sometimes the thermostat is not programmed correctly which can lead to uneven temperatures. However, if your thermostat has been checked for accuracy the next thing you will want to have inspected is your heating system. There are many reasons why a furnace could be causing some rooms to be too hot while other rooms remain cold. If you are tired of adjusting the thermostat, consider upgrading your heating system to a modern model.
Uneven temperatures in your home can have numerous causes. In some instances, the problem is as simple as a blocked register that prevents warm air from flowing through the vents and into areas of your home. Dirty air filters can also block airflow due to a buildup of dirt and dust in the filters. In some instances, the problem is not the heating system itself but the ductwork that it is connected to. Blockages within the ducts can prevent air from circulating properly and can lead to an airflow imbalance in your home.
3. Odd Noises and Smells
Your senses may alert you that something is amiss with your heating system. If you have had the same heating system for a few years, you are probably used to the noise the furnace makes when it pops on. The rest of the time, the heating system should remain fairly quiet. If the system starts to make unusual sounds, it may be time for an upgrade. Common sounds made by furnaces include rattling, banging, and squealing. The issue could be something simple like a loose bolt, or could mean that your heating system is on its last legs.
There are several smells made by a furnace that you should never ignore. A rotten egg smell is often the most serious and a cause for alarm. Utility companies put odor-causing substances in natural gas to alert people that there is a natural gas leak. If you fail to take immediate action, the leak could cause a fire or explosion in your home. A dusty or burning smell is also something to take notice of. While you may have this type of smell when your furnace first started for this season, it should quickly subside. If you continue to smell burning, contact an HVAC technician for assistance.
4. Long Running Time
You may have noticed in recent years that your heating system runs longer than it used to. During the coldest months of the year, it may seem like your furnace is constantly running to keep up with demands. As the performance of your heating system drops, it must work harder and longer to perform the same task. Sometimes you may notice a gradual change in the length of your heating cycles. Other times it could occur quickly, which usually means that your heating system needs to be replaced sooner than later.
Certain factors can influence how long your furnace runs. If you have a large house with spacious rooms, it may take longer for your home to reach and maintain your desired temperature. Sometimes, a smaller heating system may not be strong enough to heat a large house, no matter its age. If you suspect that your heating system is not keeping your home warm due to its size, you may want to consider upgrading to a larger unit. Over-sized furnaces will keep your home warm no matter what, but they do come with some drawbacks. Over-sized units are usually less efficient and cost more to run.
As the heating season approaches, make sure that your furnace or heat pump is in good working order. There should not be any odd sounds or noises and the system should quickly and effectively heat the home without having to turn off and on too frequently. If your home’s heating system is displaying any of the mentioned signs, or if it has reached its expected lifespan, consider upgrading to a more modern system. Do not wait until your existing heating system breaks down before you take action. Contact an experienced HVAC technician to inspect and install a new heating system.