Furnace Shelf Life and System Performance Expectancy
A furnace is a sizable investment, so budget-conscious homeowners often ask; Just how long can a furnace last? Given the selection of furnace brands and models available today other factors that can affect the lifespan of a furnace, an exact answer on just how long each unit will continue to provide safe and efficient heating performance is impossible to give. However, in general, average homeowners can expect to get 12 to 25 years worth of use out of a furnace. Installing quality equipment and keeping it in good shape can help ensure that your furnace achieves a lifespan towards the upper end of that range or beyond.
How Long Can a Furnace Last?
Equipment quality is a factor that can significantly influence the longevity of a furnace. For example, lower grade builders’ models typically last between 8 and 12 years, while well-built, high-end equipment can last 20 to 25 years. Purchasing a furnace is definitely one of those times in life when the old saying “you get what you pay for” holds true. Of particular importance is the quality of the heat exchanger. While most other parts and components are fairly easily repaired or replaced, a cracked or corroded heat exchanger is typically the end of the road for a furnace, making replacement a necessity.
Heat exchangers are subjected to a great deal of daily stress during the heating season, the constant cycle of heating and cooling causing the metal to expand and contract over and over again. That stress ensures that every heat exchanger will eventually fail. Just how long yours will hold out against metal fatigue depends largely on the quality of the metal used in its construction. In lower grade furnaces, heat exchangers anywhere from 13 to 20 years, with average being 15 years. Higher-end furnaces are often equipped with stainless or aluminized steel heat exchangers, which can last as long as 25 years.
Extending the Life of Your Furnace: Maintenance Matters
Now that we’ve discussed how long a furnace can last, it is important to know that just how well a furnace is cared for is a major factor in determining how long it will keep your home warm and comfortable. Even the best made equipment will have a shorter than average lifespan if it isn’t properly maintained. Among the most important elements to see to in caring for your furnace are:
- Annual professional maintenance – Having your furnace inspected, cleaned and tuned-up by a qualified HVAC technician every year before the heating season begins will not only extend its life, but will also minimize energy bills and repair costs.
- Checking those air filters – Air filter maintenance is crucial to getting the maximum use out of your furnace. A dirty air filter restricts air flow to your furnace, a problem that can lead to overheating of the heat exchanger and other vital components, causing them to fail sooner than they should. Filters should be inspected monthly and, if soiled changed or cleaned as per manufacturer’s instructions.
- Keep moisture in check – Corrosion is a very common cause of heat exchanger failure, so controlling humidity levels in your home is important to the longevity of your furnace, as is addressing any leaks or moisture problems near the furnace itself. Additionally, if your HVAC system is set up with an air conditioner coil on top of the furnace, keeping those condensate drains clean for proper flow is essential to avoid leaks that can promote corrosion in the heat exchanger and damage to other furnace components.
Last, but certainly not least, proper installation is a big factor when you ask how long can a furnace last, so if you’ll be replacing yours soon, get in touch with Bryans United Air Conditioning. Our factory-trained and certified HVAC professionals have been providing expert HVAC installations, maintenance, service and repairs to residential and commercial customers in Gretna, New Orleans, Luling, Metairie, Hahnville, Marrero, Harvey, St. Rose, and Laplace since 1982.
Written by Zach Mouton