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How to Replace a Furnace on your Own

During winter, learn how to replace a furnace once it breaks down to save time and money without suffering in the cold.

If you live somewhere cold, the warm summer heat is a welcome respite from the biting cold you constantly experience during the long, frigid winter months. Even if winter is still months away from now, it pays to learn how to replace a furnace on your own, so you don’t panic in case it happens in the middle of winter, and the last thing you want is to stay cocooned at home in the cold. As early as now, try to find out what’s involved in a furnace replacement and what your alternatives are if ever the need arises.

Why is a furnace replacement important?

Most of the time, furnace replacement is a necessity rather than optional. A furnace can only live so long. Once it reaches it maximum lifespan, it will eventually have to retire. Also, it costs more to operate an older system, not to mention the frequent and costly furnace repairs just to keep it going. The sad thing is that it may also be doing a poor job of heating your home.

Check out the following factors you need to consider when assessing your current furnace’s condition and performance to find out if a replacement is better than a repair.

  • Age – is probably the most important factor you need to consider when it comes to furnace replacement. Those units 15 years old and over will likely require replacement. But if you maintain your unit regularly, it may be able to work for several more years before finally retiring. Remember that age is not the only factor, if you maintain your unit regularly, it will take a while before it starts to show troublesome signs.
  • Deteriorating Reliability – frequent repairs are not a good sign for just about all furnaces. If this is the case, you better weigh your options whether the cost of constant repairs is still worth it than replacing it altogether. A furnace that is about to reach the end of its lifespan experiences frequent breakdowns. If your furnace experiences this, think about your options and consider whether the money you spend on repairs will be put to good use by buying a new furnace as an investment.
  • Inconsistent Heating – the purpose of a furnace is the provision of consistent and reliable heating during the cold winter months. If it can’t do its job, it will have a hard time coping with the temperature you set on your thermostat. If the quality and amount of heating vary from one room to another, it probably is your furnace’s fault.
  • Decreasing Heating Efficiency – it costs more to operate an inefficient furnace since you use more fuel just so your furnace can generate the same amount of heating you are used to or you need for an unusually cold day.
    If there’s a sudden increase in your monthly utility bill even though there is no change in your heating requirement, your current system may no longer be up for the challenge of heating your home. And worst of all, it might break down all of a sudden when you need heating the most. Your best bet, just get rid of your old one and buy a new furnace to enjoy more savings and energy efficiency.
  • Burner’s Flame Color Changes – only applicable to furnaces using fossil fuel like propane or natural gas. Its flame should be a color blue indicating safe and excellent fuel combustion. If the flame changes to a yellow color, it is probably due to a carbon monoxide leak. Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless and deadly gas that is likewise a by-product of fuel combustion. For suspected carbon monoxide leaks, contact your furnace technician and local utility company for expert assistance. If the leak is due to a cracked heat exchanger, replace your furnace right away.
  • Furnace Giving Off Strange Sounds – normally, a furnace should work without making much noise. Most of the noise generated comes from the air handler blowing the air from the furnace into your home. If you start hearing strange sounds, contact your heating technician immediately. More often than not, it does not really warrant a replacement, especially if a loose bearing caused the sound.

Furnace Efficiency

Aside from the factors mentioned above, furnace replacement can let you enjoy all the perks offered by a modern and energy efficient system. If you want to know how to replace a furnace, consider furnace efficiency in looking for one. The Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) rating can be seen on the accompanying EnergyGuide card or written in the owner’s manual. The AFUE rating measures a furnace’s efficiency, specifically the amount of energy or fuel it converts into heat that is then distributed to your home. For instance, gas furnaces with a 90% AFUE rating convert 90 cents into usable heat for every dollar spent on energy. The remaining 10% is lost through the ductwork.

Expect greater efficiency from furnaces with higher AFUE ratings. These furnaces can burn fuel better and cost less to operate as well. Even if the initial upfront cost is a bit higher than ordinary furnaces, the amount of money you can save on lower utility cost each month pretty much has it covered.

Furnace Types

  • Natural Gas – quite common and a popular choice, and also boasts of high-efficiency ratings. Apply for a gas connection to supply you with fuel from your local utility company.
  • Propane, Oil, or Other Fossil Fuel – provided in bulk by a local supplier, you have to spend a bigger one-time payment than be charged monthly by a utility company for your entire monthly consumption.
  • Electricity – very efficient and generates high-quality home heating.
  • Heat Pumps – used for both home heating and cooling, moves heat from one part of the house through a duct system that is full of refrigerant. It is capable of pulling the heat out of the cold outdoor air that is then circulated inside your house. A heat pump is highly efficient and excellent at regulating your home’s indoor temperature.

Replacement Furnace Sizing

Your new furnace should be the right size to supply the heat requirements of your home. Before choosing a particular unit, hire a heating contractor to do a load calculation. The expert will evaluate your home’s level of insulation, the number of doors and windows, and the number of household members, among others to be able to determine your home’s unique heating requirements.

After knowing your heating load, that’s when you can start choosing the type of furnace you want to have at home. Keep in mind that once you learn how to replace a furnace, the major considerations you need to bear in mind is efficiency without spending more money or using larger amounts of energy.