Is your furnace running poorly or not working at all? With winter rapidly approaching, a faulty furnace can become a real liability. Unpredictable weather patterns can also mean that cold snaps may arrive earlier than expected, leaving you shivering when you should be warm and cozy inside. You might think repairing a fussy furnace is the more cost-effective option, but this isn't always the case.
In many instances, substantial furnace problems can be a sign that it's time to install a new one. While installing a new unit may cost more than repairing your old one, it can save you a ton of money in the long run. If your furnace is currently suffering from any of these three problems, you may want to consider a replacement before the cold weather rears its ugly head.
1. Bad Heat Exchanger
Your furnace's heat exchanger is its heart and soul, just like the compressor is the heart and soul of your air conditioning system. The heat exchanger contains deadly combustion gases and directs them away from your home, allowing your furnace to extract heat energy from them along the way. This component is expensive to purchase, expensive to install, and absolutely critical for your safety.
If you have a cracked heat exchanger, you won't be able to use your furnace at all. While it's technically possible to replace one, the cost will often approach the cost of an entirely new furnace. More importantly, a cracked heat exchanger usually means your furnace is old enough that more parts will likely fail soon. Installing an entirely new furnace is ultimately a safer and cheaper option.
2. Exhaust Venting Problems
Modern furnaces use draft inducer motors to create negative pressure ("draft") that pulls exhaust gases through the heat exchanger and out of your home. Older furnaces rely on a gravity design. Since these older units are less efficient, they pull less heat from the exhaust gases, allowing them to safely rise up and out of your home.
If you have an older furnace with an exhaust venting issue, it may be dangerous to continue to operate it. However, repairing your old exhaust vents may be costly, especially if there's an issue with the slope. Since modern condensing furnaces typically use PVC pipe instead of metal flues, repairing your old metal exhaust flues is typically less cost-effective than installing a new, higher-efficiency model.
3. Severe Corrosion
Can your furnace rust away? Surprisingly, the answer is "yes." While your furnace doesn't use water, combustion gases can create significant corrosion. Surface rust on the cabinet may not affect the operation of your furnace, but it's a good indication that something else is wrong. Unless you know the rust is from an external source, you'll want an HVAC technician to look into the problem.
Unfortunately, severe corrosion from combustion or condensate issues is a major red flag. Even if your heat exchanger is currently working correctly, substantial rust is a sign that it may be close to failure. Installing a new furnace will help ensure you can continue to heat your home safely without risking exposure to dangerous combustion fumes.
To learn more about furnace repairs, contact an HVAC contractor near you.