Perhaps you’re buying a new furnace or just noticed that the one you bought two or three years ago has stopped putting out heat. So, you’re wondering how much longer the furnace will last before you’re required to buy a replacement.
First off, there is no need for panic.
Although the most recent generation of furnaces is a lot more fragile compared to the ones of the 50s and earlier, any typical furnace will still last many years.
What’s more, if a relatively new furnace is damaged or stops giving out heat, it can be repaired or replaced by the manufacturer as long as the warranty period has not lapsed. And, even after the warranty period passes, you can still call in an HVAC professional to diagnose and fix the appliance.
That said, however, furnaces eventually wear out and at some point need to be replaced. There are two main factors that influence how soon you’ll be replacing the appliance:
Law of Averages
A furnace is designed to last a predetermined number of years when operated under optimal conditions. This average life expectancy typically lies between 10-30 years.
If you’ve used yours for 20 years, for instance, you might start to notice frequent breakdowns and should expect that the appliance could be nearing its end.
Just like our bones become weaker with age, the electrical, heating, and ventilation components of a furnace wear with age. By 20 years, some of the components might become so weak that they need repairs every few weeks. At that point, it might make more sense to just replace the appliance.
However, this doesn’t mean that you should buy a new furnace as soon as the old one hits 20 or 30 years. Simply be prepared. Some furnaces last well over 40 years…and some even 50!
Although some appliances may deteriorate quickly once they get past the 10th year.
Old vs New Generation Furnaces
The longevity of your furnace also depends on the type you use – specifically when it was built.
Older furnaces were built primarily for warming the house, with little regard given to efficiency. As long as the appliance was giving out enough heat to warm all the rooms, it was good enough.
Then, in the 70s, the government introduced regulations demanding that manufacturers prioritize efficiency. Consumers, becoming increasingly environmentally conscious, also began shifting to more energy efficient furnaces. This led to a range of design changes in the furnace, chief among them the thinning of the furnace walls that pushed efficiency from around 50 to 70%.
The same thinking, however, also made the furnace a lot weaker. Couple that with the introduction of multiple efficiency-boosting components such as fans and you have furnaces that are very prone to breakdowns.
In short, if yours is a new-generation furnace, don’t expect it to last as long as the older-generation furnaces. Most manufacturers actually say that their high-efficiency new-generation furnaces last between 12 and 15 years.
Good news – it’s easy to extend the life of your furnace!
You can stretch the life of your furnace beyond those 12 or 20 years with regular maintenance.
At least once a year, preferably before the onset of the cold season, bring in an HVAC pro to thoroughly inspect the appliance.
Among other things, the technician should test and service the electronics, ignition, heating, heat distribution, and venting components. Your furnace will last way longer!