To repair or replace? That is the question.
During a harsh Canadian winter, you don’t want to take too long to make your decision. Ensuring your home stays warm amidst the wind, snow and ice starts with choosing the right and most reliable heating solution.
This guide can help you figure out when to replace your furnace and where to go from there. Keep reading to find the answers to your questions with this homeowner’s guide to furnace replacement. You will be able to get the information you need to make an educated decision about your heating equipment this winter.
Is It Time To Replace My Furnace?
It might be difficult to decide whether or not to replace your furnace if it hasn’t broken down completely yet. But if you know your furnace is on the older side, there are some signs that will let you know any potential problems you can avoid by replacing your furnace now.
These are some warning signs that might indicate you need to replace your furnace this year:
- Your furnace system is more than 12 to 15 years old
- Your furnace needs repairs frequently
- Your furnace cannot sufficiently heat your home any longer
- Your heating unit cycles on and off irregularly
- You find that your energy bills are increasing
- Your furnace emits weird sounds and noises
- You are experiencing low indoor air quality, causing respiratory issues or foul smells
Different Type of Furnace Heating Systems
When you’re making the decision to replace your furnace, it’s best to do a bit of research beforehand. There are a few different types of furnaces out there that you can choose from. The three main types of furnaces are:
- Single Stage
- Modulating Furnaces
Single Stage Furnace
- One setting: On/Off
- Lowest cost
- Least efficient
Single stage furnaces are the simplest types of furnaces and most commonly installed. This type of furnace only has one setting. This furnace type is either on or off, there is no in-between. If it is not off, then it will operate at its maximum setting. This furnace is the cheapest option when it comes to up-front costs but keep in mind that it is not the most efficient option, which may drive up your heating bill in the long run.
- Off/Medium/High Setting
- Moderate Cost
- Moderate Efficiency
Two-stage furnaces have a wider range of options for operating. You will have options between high and medium when you need to heat your home. A two-stage furnace will give you more temperature control in your home. Two-stage furnaces are more expensive than single-stage furnaces because the energy efficiency and levels of heating are greater.
- Modulating Heating Options
- High Cost
- High Efficiency
Modulating furnaces give homeowners an advanced type of heating system that will deliver even heating throughout your home. A modular furnace’s flame will increase and decrease in increments to maintain your home’s preferred temperature. This means your temperature will fluctuate less and it will help keep your home comfortable. Modular heaters are the most expensive heating system up-front, but the tradeoff is that they will offer you consistent heating in an efficient manner.
Furnace Fueling Options
Depending on where you reside, you will have different fuel options available to you. Keep reading to review the advantages or disadvantages of different energy sources.
- Gas has high efficiency, most new furnaces using gas have efficiency ratings of 92% to 98% Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE).
- Gas is relatively inexpensive compared to oil or propane.
- Gas furnaces typically affordable to install.
- They come in a wide selection.
- They are smart home compatible.
Things to consider:
- Gas may not be available in your area if you live in a rural area.
- Gas furnaces require ductwork to circulate heat.
- Gas furnaces require regularly scheduled maintenance.
- Gas furnaces tend to be on the larger side.
- Readily available across Canada, including remote areas.
- High efficiency – 92% to 98% AFUE.
Things to consider:
- More expensive than gas but less expensive than electric.
- Propane tanks must only be refueled by licensed professionals.
- Propane tanks must be kept in government approved outdoor storage containers.
- Uses electricity and heat elements controlled by circuit breakers.
- Environmentally friendly, they contribute almost nothing to carbon emissions.
- Flue pipe or chimney not needed, easier to install.
- Great option for areas where electricity is inexpensive.
Things to consider:
- The most expensive option out of all fuel types in most regions.
Heat Pumps and Boilers
Based on your home, your budget and the level of efficiency that you desire, a furnace is not always the best option. There are other alternatives available that might suit you better. Here are a couple of examples:
Central Air-Source Heat Pumps
- Operates a lot like a traditional furnace.
- Uses an outdoor unit called a condenser and an indoor unit called an evaporator coil.
- Efficient and clean energy solution.
- Typically low cost of operation.
- Provides heat by using a fuel source to heat a fluid (e.g. water), which is then pumped through your hydronic heating system to radiators or in-floor heating.
- Does not require ductwork, often found in older homes.
- But are usually a higher upfront cost over traditional furnaces.
- Cannot be used to cool your home.
- Parts for replacement can be expensive.
Furnaces have changed as the years have gone by. New technology is constantly being added to heating units and the way we heat our homes. As a homeowner, you have to decide what you want to do when it’s time to replace your furnace. It is one of the major and most essential appliances of your home, after all.
Your heating system is a big investment, so you should be sure you gather all the information you need to make the right decision for your home.
Colin Hegarty is a content writer for BreezeMaxWeb that helps businesses showcase their brand through enticing copy. When he’s not working, you can find him playing net in a local beer league or biking around the city.