Furnaces available today are manufactured with greater efficiency and more sophisticated components than furnaces manufactured just a decade ago. With improved and more complex engineering, such as sidewall venting and two-stage heating, greater selection and installation options are available for homeowners. With these new options come new questions about system life span, efficiency and required maintenance.

If you are wondering what the life span of a furnace will be for your furnace, the answer depends upon quality installation and the quality of care the furnace receives through the years.

What Is the Life Span of a Furnace?

A furnace contains a multitude of components, each with a specific task for the processes involved in home heating. These are the basic operations of a gas furnace:

  • A thermostat sends a signal for heat to the furnace electronics system.
  • Combustion begins by electronic ignition or hot-surface ignition (standing pilot lights are history).
  • A gas valve (either single-stage or two-stage) begins the heating process.
  • A blower pulls air through the return ducts and across the heat exchanger.
  • The heat exchanger heats the airflow, which is then forced through the supply ducts to the living spaces.
  • Exhaust gases are vented from the home through a flue, chimney or sidewall venting.

Each of these furnace components has its own maintenance requirements and life span. So, to answer the question of what is the life span of a furnace, one must define what the furnace is. Typically, the heat exchanger is the component which defines a furnace. In older furnaces, the heat exchanger was good for about up to 15 years, with a high-end expectancy of 20 years if regular maintenance was performed.

New furnaces are designed to work smarter — not harder. Components like a two-stage gas valve, dual heat exchangers and variable-speed blowers deliver precise heating output to the home’s heating load. The result is a furnace that ultimately endures less stress and wear with more durably designed components, thereby lasts years longer than old furnaces.

The ABCs of Furnace Replacement and Performance

Some homeowners are surprised to learn that simply replacing an old furnace with a new one of the same size is not the best route to take for furnace replacement. These are the steps for installing a new furnace:

  • Energy audit: Whether your home is older or newer, a professional energy audit offers a plethora of benefits for leveraging energy savings through recommendations for air sealing and adequate insulation and good ideas for energy conservation.
  • Furnace sizing and installation: Once your home is buttoned up, your home’s heating load needs to be calculated to ensure accurate furnace sizing. Make sure your HVAC pro follows installation publications (Manual J, D and S) from the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) for the load calculation, new or retrofitted duct design and furnace selection.

Professional Annual Maintenance

One of the smartest choices a homeowner can make to promote a long life span of a furnace replacement or new install is working with a reputable HVAC contractor who offers a nice preventive maintenance plan.

A preventive maintenance plan assures you of prompt and preferred service during system emergencies, and you receive two service visits a year, which cover the new furnace and your cooling system. These are some of the tasks your HVAC pro performs during furnace preventive maintenance visits.

  • Electronics: Your HVAC pro performs diagnostics of thermostat function, onboard electronics and wiring, ensuring secure and clean contacts.
  • Ignition: Electronic or hot-surface ignition is tested, and flame characteristics and fuel input are checked.
  • Heating: The heat exchanger is inspected for cracks and corrosion. Even tiny cracks can leak dangerous carbon monoxide, or CO, into the home. A CO test should is performed, and CO detectors are tested.
  • Heat distribution: The airflow speed and temperature are measured. The blower assembly is adjusted, balanced and/or oiled as necessary.
  • Venting: The chimney, flue or sidewall venting is inspected. Sidewall venting requires adequate slope for condensate drainage to the trap. The intake and exhaust pipes outside the home should be free of obstructions, such as bird and insect nests.

You may also help promote the performance of your new furnace, and other installed forced-air systems, by checking the air filter for debris on a monthly basis. Also, check the furnace sidewall venting on occasion for airflow restrictions and snow and ice accumulation in inclement weather.

If you have any questions regarding the life span of a furnace replacement or new install in your Savannah area home, contact Byrd Heating and Air Conditioning, Inc.