As we move into the last weeks of summer we can’t help but to start thinking of the colder days and nights ahead. Many of us don’t think about our furnaces until we need them most and for some it might be a little too late. This weeks article will focus on key indicators that could determine if its time to look at replacing your furnace.

1. How old is your furnace?
A good place to start is to compare your furnaces age to the national average. The average life expectancy of furnaces in homes today is between 16 and 20 years. If your furnace is close to this age or older, you should begin shopping. Shopping for a replacement furnace in an emergency does not allow time to make your best decision. Most people prefer to replace their furnace as a planned home improvement rather than a panic replacement when your furnace is faltering or failed. For starters, look at your furnace to see if you have a pilot light. If you do, it is almost certain to be over 25 years old!

2. Gas & Electric Bills Going Up?
Rising gas and electric prices are not the only reason for high bills. Furnaces often lose their efficiency as they age especially if they have not been properly maintained. As a result your furnace may run longer to provide the same amount of heat. This will cause your gas & electric bills to go up. The money you pay the gas & electric company every month could be used to pay for new furnace.

3. Any Furnace Repairs in the last 2 years?
Furnaces are like cars. As they age, you can replace one part only to have to replace another part next year. It doesn’t take long to spend $500 just to keep the old furnace running. Furnaces incur the most breakdowns in the last 2 years of their lives. Another repair sign is whether you had to wait to get parts replaced. As a furnace ages, it gets harder to get replacement parts. This waiting can really be cold on a below zero night.

4. Does your thermostat keep you comfortable?
Do you feel that some rooms are too cold while others are too hot? Or are you always trying to adjust your thermostat to make your home more comfortable? This is a sign that your furnace lacks the ability to properly distribute the air to keep you comfortable in your home.

5. Is your burner flame yellow instead of blue?
A yellow or flickering flame may be a sign that poisonous carbon monoxide could be created by your furnace. Other possible signs of carbon monoxide are: Streaks of soot around furnace; Absence of an upward draft in your chimney; Excess moisture found on windows, walls, or other cold surfaces; Excessive rusting on flue pipes, other pipe connections, or appliance jacks; Small amount of water leaking from the base of the chimney, vent, or flue pipe; Rust on the portion of the vent pipe visible from the outside.

6. Is your furnace making strange noises?
Old furnaces often start to make some strange noises as they get toward the end of their life. Have you heard any banging, popping, rattling, or squealing noises coming from your furnace? Another noise is when you hear the furnace blower running excessively. Does your blower turn on & off frequently or does it blow cold air sometimes? If so, this is a sign that your furnace may need to be replaced.

7. How have you & your family been feeling?
Furnaces as they age run the risk of developing cracks in the heat exchanger inside your furnace. Carbon monoxide, if present, could leak into your home undetected. Signs of this may be frequent headaches, a burning feeling in nose or eyes, nausea, disorientation, flu-like symptoms. Should you experience any of these, air out your house, open a window to the furnace room and immediately call a gas service technician. Cracks in the heat exchanger can occur undetected which is why no one advises waiting until they occur.

8. Is your house dry or dusty?
Old furnaces often lack the ability to moisturize and clean the air in your home. Your house air may feel stuffy or stale. Does anyone in your family suffer from allergies to airborne dust, mold, pollen, viruses or dander? Or does anyone suffer from dry nose, dry throat, or dry skin? Other signs may be frequent dust accumulation, static shocks, drooping plants, furniture cracking and musical instruments that do not stay in tune. These signs all suggest that your old furnace is not capable of providing you with the comfort you and your family may want.

For more information on servicing or replacing your old furnace contact our office at 503-254-1274 and our home comfort advisors will be glad to help.

This report is based on research undertaken by the federal Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, Minnesota Department of Public Service and electric and gas utilities.