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How Long Does a Furnace Last in New England?

A man checking a thermostat.

When winter hits New England, it often comes with thick snow blankets and harsh temperatures. After skating or sledding in Boston Common, you’d love to enjoy a cozy evening at home with your family. The question is: Will your furnace cooperate and reliably provide you with the heating you need? How long does a furnace last?

In Massachusetts, more than 65% of residents use natural gas or oil for home heating. Each furnace’s life span can vary quite a bit, which means there is no definite answer to how long a furnace lasts. But how long does a furnace usually last? Depending on factors such as furnace maintenance and installation, a heating system can last around 15 years.

How Long Do Furnaces Last in the Northeast?

The average life span of a furnace in the Northeast is roughly 15 years. With professional preventive maintenance, it can last 20 years and maybe even longer. But keep in mind that the opposite is true; the lack of routine furnace maintenance can mean the furnace breaks down sooner or experiences problems more frequently.

Another factor that impacts how long your furnace lasts is the quality of your ductwork installation. Incorrect sizing and faulty sealing can affect your furnace life span. Choosing the right size helps maximize the furnace’s lifespan. An improperly sized furnace can put severe strain on the system.

6 Signs You Might Need a New Furnace

  1. Frequent service calls – If you notice you constantly need to call a technician to fix a problem, you may want to get a new furnace. This helps you avoid spending as much on repairs as you would on a new system.
  2. Spike in energy bills – Furnaces can become less energy efficient over time thanks to wear and tear on the most heavily used components. Just the same, a sudden problem can result in an unexpected increase in your monthly bill.
  3. Performance issues – If your furnace isn’t providing reliable or consistent heat, it can snowball into more significant problems. The sooner you check out performance issues, the better.
  4. Uneven temperatures – While some hot and cold spots in your home are a result of the layout itself, uneven temperatures can also be an uncomfortable sign that you might need a new furnace.
  5. Weird or more frequent noises – Broken furnaces often make weird noises. Watch out for banging, creaking or more frequent strange sounds.
  6. Higher or more consistent repair bills – As the number and costs of tricky repairs go up, you probably want to get a new furnace that requires fewer repairs.

Life Span of Key Components

Different models and maintenance schedules can affect the life span of your furnace’s key components. These are the commonly expected life spans:

  • Furnace flame sensors – 5 years
  • Heat exchangers – 10-20 years. Lack of maintenance, poor installation and manufacturing flaws can influence their longevity.
  • Ignitors – 7 years.
  • Filters – 90 days is the average, although this ultimately depends on the thickness of the filter.
  • Capacitors – 10-20 years, depending on how heavily it’s used.
  • Blower motors – 10-20 years. Blower motors are usually designed to match the life span of the overall furnace.

Things You Can Do to Help Improve the Life Span of Your Furnace

Quality installation of a furnace can help improve its life span. An experienced installer can help you find a unit with the right size and ductwork for your home’s square footage. You may also want to install a model with a higher annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) rating. The increased energy efficiency of newer models correlates with lower utility bills and better furnace performance.

Routine maintenance is an essential part of sustaining high performance. A certified HVAC technician should check up on your furnace at least once a year, including heating system tune-ups. If your furnace has hit the 10-year mark, it is vital to take extra care and call for more frequent maintenance. A decade is usually when furnaces start having serious problems.

What’s the Most Efficient Thermostat Setting for Your Furnace?

Finding the right settings for your thermostat can help your furnace operate more efficiently day to day. It is recommended to adjust your thermostat setting for winter to no higher than 80 degrees. For particularly high energy efficiency, 68 degrees is the norm. In fact, the U.S. Department Energy recommends leaving the thermostat at 68 degrees in the winter and lowering it when your asleep or out of the house.

How Often Should You Change Your Furnace Filter?

Typically, you should change your furnace filter every 90 days/every three months. However, thicker filters can be replaced less frequently because they have more dust and dirt capacity.

Seasonality also influences how often you should switch out the filter. In the Northeast, longer winters mean you should replace them more frequently. Meanwhile, if you live in the South and use your furnace less, you might not have to change the filter as often.

We can help you determine if you need new furnace installation and what make or model is best for you. Contact the expert technicians at Aspinwall Plumbing & Heating to get fair and honest furnace repair, maintenance and installation services.

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