How Long Will Your Furnace Last?

Heating and air conditioning maintenance companies always recommend regular maintenance of their customers’ furnace units. Many home and business owners often wonder how long their investment will last, and HVAC companies always ask in return, how well do they take care of their heating systems?

Furnace Lifespan

Major manufacturers of furnaces aren’t likely to give exact figures as far as the lifespan of their products are concerned. That’s because every product they sell is subjected to different dynamics that may shorten or extend its lifespan. How the product was made and the specific materials used also affects its longevity.

However, it’s safe to say that there are average lifespans for every type of furnace, as most experienced HVAC installation companies would agree. Older furnaces, for example, can last up to 40 years or longer thanks to their heavy cast-iron heat exchangers. More modern electric furnaces, meanwhile, can continue working for up to 20 years or more. The same is true for active solar furnaces. Gas furnaces and boilers can continue to heat a building for about 15 years, and sometimes even double that!

That being said, every furnace is different, and every user or owner has different experiences with their furnace, as well.

Factors That May Shorten Lifespan

In a perfect world, a furnace would keep going forever, or for at least for as long as the manufacturer or the heating and air conditioning maintenance companies who install them intended them to. In this world, however, there are plenty of factors that might lead to a shortened lifespan for any furnace. Here are some of them:

  • Furnace and building size mismatch. This is easier to understand when the furnace in question is too small for the building. If it’s undersized, it has to work twice as hard just to keep the place comfortable. This level of overworking can lead to damage and an early exit for any furnace. However, while many owners might think an oversized furnace is supposed to last longer, this couldn’t be more wrong. An oversized furnace will quickly heat up the building according to the thermostat setting, then turn off. To keep your place comfortable, the furnace will keep cycling on and off more frequently than a furnace that’s the correct size. This continuous cycling will result in more wear and tear on the furnace’s parts, shortening its lifespan.
  • Poor installation. The best HVAC installation companies take their work very seriously, and they have the skill, experience and training to make good on their promise of a flawless furnace installation. However, if you try to install your own furnace or hire an inexperienced handyman or fly-by-night contractor, you can’t expect the same degree of workmanship. Just because a contractor says they can install a furnace doesn’t mean they can do it well. Many things can go wrong, with the drain system, the vents or the fuel lines, among other things. One incorrectly installed component can damage the system and shorten its lifespan.
  • Incorrect thermostat settings. Setting your thermostat too low or too high can also shorten the life of a furnace. It’s advisable to ask your contractor about the proper minimum and maximum temperature you can set it to that won’t affect your furnace’s health. You can also refer to your user’s manual. Generally, however, a minimum of 60 degrees and a maximum of 80 should be fine for a furnace.
  • Neglecting maintenance. The best way to keep your furnace running for years is to keep it maintained. Homeowners can clean or replace an air filter, and though this is absolutely necessary, cleaning or replacing the filter isn’t enough to keep your furnace healthy. To make sure your furnace gets the maintenance it deserves, it’s best to sign up for regular, routine maintenance with a professional HVAC repair and maintenance company. A professional can perform a more thorough inspection and deeper cleaning to make sure every part of your furnace is in good working condition. Many furnaces prematurely break down due to the lack of routine maintenance, which can lead to expensive repairs or a full replacement. Even if your home insurance covers your HVAC system, the repair of damages or a replacement due to neglect definitely aren’t included in your policy.
  • Model. In a perfect world, all manufacturers would be the same in terms of product reliability. However, in reality, some manufacturers or brands are simply better than others. This is where budget plays a role. If you try to save money by buying a cheap furnace, you can’t expect it to last as long as another furnace by a better manufacturer. It makes more sense to save and invest in a good brand and keep it regularly maintained, and in several years it will pay for itself.
  • Age. A common problem when you buy a home with a furnace already installed is that if the home is old, chances are that the furnace is too. And an older furnace — especially one with possible problems already — isn’t likely to last much longer. If this is the case, it’s a good idea to start saving for a new furnace while the old one is still working.
  • Poor placement. Furnaces need clearance and proper ventilation. They do create moisture, and if they’re placed in cramped conditions, more moisture will form, which can damage the furnace. Without adequate ventilation, the furnace will produce inadequate airflow, as well. For HVAC units, the outdoor unit is just as important, if not more so,  and if it’s located adjacent to foliage or in a dirty area, this may affect its performance and prematurely damage your unit.To keep your furnace running longer, it’s important to do the opposite of most of the factors mentioned above. For example:
  • Hire only a reputable contractor to install, repair and maintain your furnace.
  • Keep the equipment maintained regularly. It may cost you money, but neglecting your unit can result in damage and failure, which are a lot more expensive to remedy.
  • Keep the area around your equipment clean and dry.
  • Invest in a model with a good reputation.
  • Ask your contractor to take measurements so they can recommend the correct size of furnace for your home or business.
  • Don’t go below or above the minimum and maximum recommended thermostat settings, respectively.
  • Keep the furnace clean.

Get in touch with Cafco Services to learn more ways to extend the life of your furnace. We’re one of the most trusted HVAC repair and installation companies in the area. Call us at (513) 242-3400 or use this form to contact us.