Deciding whether to repair or replace a heating oil furnace is something that you will most likely have to do at some point in your home-owning life.
Sometimes the choice is simple: if you have an older heating system that keeps breaking down, for example. But we’ve found that the repair/replace dilemma can often be a gray area that requires some careful consideration if we want to make a smart decision.
Here are some questions to ask when it comes time to decide whether to repair or replace your heating oil furnace.
- How old is it? Today’s heating systems can last 12-15 years or even longer if they’re properly maintained by a heating professional. But the older a furnace is, the less efficiently it will run, and the more unpredictably it will operate. If you’re having problems with a furnace that is more than 10 or 12 years old, replacing it could be the smart choice; at less than that age, you will have a tougher decision. Here’s a rule of thumb: if a furnace repair costs 50 percent or more of the replacement cost, it’s generally worth it to install a new furnace.
- How well has it been maintained? If you’ve maintained your furnace regularly since day 1, it will probably last longer and encounter fewer costly heating problems. However, while proper furnace maintenance may help you delay replacing your system for a few years longer, no amount of maintenance will make your equipment more efficient than it was when you bought it – or more efficient than a new heating system.
- What kind of space do I have? If you’re looking to replace your furnace, does your ductwork support the kind of system you’re thinking about? Do you have enough space to accommodate a larger furnace? Sometimes these limitations can dictate what’s possible without making significant changes to your home.
- Have my heating needs changed? If you’ve added space to your house without changing your furnace, the next breakdown you have could be caused by pushing your heating equipment beyond its comfort zone to meet the demands of a new heating load – a problem that is likely to recur if you keep your old, undersized system in place.
- Is my current system safe? A 10-year-old heating system carries a much higher risk of this problem than one that is newly installed. For example, older heat exchangers can crack or rust, causing carbon monoxide leaks in your home.
When you weight the costs and benefits of repairing or replacing older equipment with new, more efficient equipment, there are often significant advantages to replacing an older system. Is repair ever a viable option?
- Your system is less than 5 years old
- You’re planning to move
- You know that incentive options (a federal or state utility rebate program, for example) are planned but have not yet arrived
- You simply can’t afford a new system
The bottom line: A furnace is a long-term investment in your family’s comfort – and like any investment, you need to do your research to find the best way to spend your money.
When it comes time to make your choice, make it a smart one – call the pros at Burt’s Reliable.