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How Often Does a Furnace Need to be Replaced
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How Often Does a Furnace Need to be Replaced

Furnace and heating systems should be replaced at the right time to maintain efficiency and safety. Find out when the right time is to replace your home furnace.

How Long Do Furnaces Last?

Most high-efficiency furnaces from quality manufacturers have a lifespan of 15 to 20 years. However, or if homeowners fail to complete a necessary furnace repair when broken, the system may break or need replacing before its lifetime.

Most manufacturer warranties last about 12 years, but with care and maintenance, homeowners can stay warm in the cold damp nights years after their warranties expire.

Furnace Maintenance

Bill Howe Heating and Air Conditioning experts have said this before, but the most important aspect of replacing your furnace is maintaining HVAC components, including furnaces and heating systems. Manufacturer warranties also remain in tact through routine maintenance and could end up saving homeowners on costly repairs.

At Bill Howe Heating and Air Conditioning, all homeowners receive one year of preventative maintenance with new heater installations, and our experts encourage them to sign up for the Energy Savings Agreements in 2-5-year plans to keep maintenance easy and hassle-free. By joining a comprehensive maintenance plan, customers will never have to worry about their furnace; Bill Howe will alert them when it is time to schedule a tune-up and safety inspection.

Furnace tune-ups and safety inspections should be performed annually by a licensed professional furnace specialist.

The best time to schedule a furnace  installation or inspection is in the fall before it gets cold. Heating companies often have more availability, offer specials and can ensure that homeowners will have an efficient and optimally working furnace for the winter months they need it the most. Be sure to follow our Furnace Maintenance Tips for more information.

Furnace Replacement

Furnace replacements never come at the best time and can be a financial drain on homeowners. By setting up annual maintenance visits, homeowners can anticipate when furnace problems may need major repairs or replacement and enable decisions to be made in advance and finances to be planned.

According to most manufacturers and heating professionals, as well as This Old House, the average furnace will need to be replaced every 15 to 20 years, as long as the system is properly maintained. If homeowners purchased the original furnace for their home, it is easy to keep track of the system and maintenance records, but what if it is an inherited furnace from a recent move? How will homeowners know the lifespan of the furnace or if it is time to it?

Signs it’s Time to Replace the Furnace

Like all appliances, older and inefficient systems will provide signs of wear and tear that show they need repairs or a replacement. Some furnace signs include old age, needing major repairs, yellow or uneven flames and high energy bills to name a few.  


Any furnace older than 10 years can significantly face more severe problems. If it has been properly maintained over the years, homeowners will likely have another 5 to 10 years of a working furnace. However, most warranties will expire by year 12 and with each new repair, the integrity of the system can also lessen. If the furnace is beyond 15 years or has not been maintained, homeowners should begin focusing on the Furnace Replacement Cost Estimator and planning for a new furnace.

Major Repairs

When any mechanical system, just like vehicles, continues to need repairs, it is time to think about replacing the system. While repairing one part of a furnace can keep the system running, it is likely to start the avalanche of other repairs. And, as the furnace ages, replacement parts may be harder to get or change out..

Yellow Flames

A proper natural gas furnace, as with any appliance, will have a clear and crisp blue flame. The crisp flame indicates a healthy and clean system with no gas leaks or possible safety issues. Homeowners can check the flame while the system is running by peeking through the furnace’s cover vents. If the flame is yellow, it could mean the systems heat exchanger or burner needs to be cleaned, and possibly lead to more serious problems such as carbon monoxide leaks or other natural gas leaks. Yellow flames can be addressed immediately and a safely by a licensed professional.

High Energy Bills

Just like air conditioning, furnaces that are old and inefficient will increase the energy costs associated with running it. If homeowners experience an increase in energy costs during the winter months while using the furnace, the likely cause could be a furnace in need of replacement.

All in all, furnaces should be replaced prior to breaking down in order to assist homeowners in deciding after careful research. This ensures choosing the right furnace, the right contractor, and getting the replacement at the right cost. The most common reason homeowners replace a furnace is when it completely fails, but many homeowners with an older functional furnace consider a new installation for higher efficiency.

During annual maintenance and safety inspections, homeowners learn about the efficiency of their current system as well as possible repairs. When the repairs come at a higher cost or only last temporarily, that is the best time to start thinking about replacing the furnace. Many heating repair companies, including Bill Howe Heating & Air, often have an extra stock of last season furnaces and want to fill schedules during the slower time, so they will offer incentives for replacing before the cold season hits. This way, homeowners can save a little money and  at the same time, heating repair companies can ensure they are able to help their customers without long waits in peak seasons.

There are many homeowners who proactively begin the replacement process. Homeowners who are concerned about energy efficiency and have an older inefficient system have time to do proper research on better high-efficiency furnaces, as well as choosing the right contractor. It is important to keep in mind that even if a system is still working 20-25 years later, it could be sucking up energy and costing more money to operate than is necessary. It could be more beneficial and energy efficient to replace a furnace than let it live past its intended lifespan. 

If a homeowner has the luxury of time to invest into the estimate process, spring is the best time to think of replacing their old outdated system. Most HVAC companies offer pre-season specials and usually have great deals on installation and air conditioning repair in addition to a heating system, so homeowners will also have the best system for all extreme weather conditions.


Since furnaces are a big investment, homeowners should consider financing their new system. Bill Howe Heating & Air offers several financing options including the HERO program. The HERO program helps homeowners upgrade their old and inefficient appliances, as well as windows and insulation, for their home. The HERO program allows upgrades with little money down and often attaches the loan to the home, rather than the homeowners themselves. It is easy to qualify and allows homeowners to upgrade their entire home to a space with energy efficiency.

At Bill Howe Heating & Air, furnace replacement estimates are always free. Our expert specialists tailor each new furnace estimate to the homeowner’s needs, family dynamics, and the homes’ configuration to ensure the most efficient furnace for each home and the Best Temperature for a Furnace in the Winter.

If you are considering replacing your old and inefficient system, or need A/C this summer, call the experts at 1-800 BILL HOWE (245-5469) today!


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1 Comment

  1. mike campbell

    Richard Trethewey states on This Old House that a well maintained furnace should last 25 years… you state 15… Who’s right?

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