If your home's gas furnace is over fifteen years old, you might be thinking about replacing it shortly. While no furnace can last forever, age is ultimately just a number. Older furnaces typically require replacement due to heat exchanger failures, but anything short of this expensive issue is usually a fixable problem.
However, the cost of many small problems can add up, making it feel like throwing more good money after bad will never be a cost-effective solution. Although most furnaces may eventually reach this point, you can probably stave off this inevitability for longer than you think. The good news is that keeping your furnace going may only require some relatively inexpensive maintenance visits.
What Happens During An Annual Maintenance Visit?
Annual HVAC maintenance services can vary, but gas furnace maintenance typically involves closely inspecting mechanical and electrical components and doing some basic cleaning. These tasks serve a few critical purposes. First and foremost, a thorough inspection allows technicians to spot problems before they require expensive repairs or become safety hazards.
Routine cleaning of combustion components is also important. Parts such as your burners, flame sensor, and igniter are highly sensitive to contamination, and too much dust and debris can lead to these components operating inefficiently or failing prematurely. These failures can leave you without heat in your home and the prospect of an expensive and unnecessary repair bill.
Why Do Older Furnaces Require Routine Maintenance?
As your furnace ages, it will begin to operate more inefficiently. Under perfect conditions, a furnace that can achieve the correct air-to-fuel ratio will burn cleanly, producing only gaseous combustion byproducts that will escape through the exhaust flue. Unfortunately, even brand-new furnaces are not perfect, and inefficiencies create soot that can coat the interior surfaces of the furnace cabinet.
Older furnaces are more likely to operate inefficiently, producing more soot and ultimately increasing the likelihood of component failures. If you don't regularly maintain your furnace, you will likely find an ever-increasing number of failures. These costs can make your old furnace seem too expensive to keep, even if the heat exchanger still has plenty of life remaining.
How Often Should You Maintain Your Older Furnace?
A good rule of thumb is to schedule a professional maintenance visit annually for any HVAC equipment, new or old. If you haven't been maintaining your aging furnace, you might want to schedule an appointment with a heating service as soon as possible. This visit will help you address any problems and get your furnace running as efficiently as you can.
Even with an older furnace, you should only need to schedule maintenance visits about once per year. Keeping up with this schedule will allow you to catch problems early, keep your furnace operating as close to its original efficiency as possible, and even make better decisions about when to finally replace your heating system.
Contact a local heating service to learn more.