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Dangers of an Old Furnace

Is your furnace too old? How can you tell how old it is and what are some of the issues and risks of owning an old furnace?

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Revised:

November 18th, 2022

So you’re wondering if there are any risks or dangers to having an old furnace?

In this video, we'll help you figure out how old your furnace is and how dangerous some common issues can really be.

Hi, I'm Roger from Fire & Ice!

Most furnaces, on average, last around 15-20 years. But what if you’ve recently purchased a home and suspect the HVAC system might be too old? Or, if you have an older system, are there some concerns or risks with keeping it?

By the end of this video you'll know; how to find the age of your system, the implications of lower system efficiencies, and the dangers of some common issues that can even impact your health.

How to Find the Manufacturing Date on Your Furnace.

There are a few different ways to tell the manufacturing date on your furnace. The easiest is to open or pull off the removable door on your furnace and look for a sticker with a series of four-digit numbers, this is the serial number. The first two numbers are typically a month, and the last two are a year. If that isn’t available, look for a sticker or a tag that shows when the unit was last serviced. It might also include the date that the furnace was installed. If none of these are available, call the furnace manufacturer.

Once you’ve figured out how old your furnace is, you can weigh the costs of repairing it vs. replacing it if you’re having issues. But even older systems that don’t have any issues can present inefficiency and safety concerns.

Furnace Efficiency

Gas Furnace efficiency is measured in Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency or AFUE for short. It’s measured in percentages and calculates how much heat a furnace generates directly toward heating your home.

Think of it this way: If you spend a dollar on heating your home and have an 80% efficiency furnace, 20 cents of that dollar will be vented from your home rather than heating it.

Most furnaces 15-20 years or older are no better than 80% efficient and some are much worse.

Electric furnaces are technically 100% efficient, but that’s only if they’re operating at manufacturer specifications. In practice, a lot of lost efficiency can happen due to poor workmanship or aging equipment.

Electric Furnace Contactor Issues

A very dangerous issue with older equipment is a cracked heat exchanger. A heat exchanger is a thin metal shield between the combustion chamber and the blower that transfers heat from the furnace to the air ducts and then through your home. If this becomes cracked it can cause gas and carbon monoxide to leak through your vents. This can cause carbon monoxide poisoning.

Noticeable cracks upon inspection, worn areas, strange smells, or water collecting around the furnace can all be signs of a cracked heat exchanger. If you have any of these, turn off your furnace and call a technician to prevent CO and gas from leaking into your home.

Stay Ahead of Problems

Less dangerous but still troublesome issues can occur in older equipment, like an inability to heat your entire home or loud noises at various points in the heating cycle. They all point toward a need for proactive maintenance.

Regardless of how old your current system is, scheduling regular maintenance and diagnostic checks are incredibly important in catching issues before they become dangerous for you and for those around you. At Fire & Ice, we currently recommend scheduling system tune-ups and diagnostics the season before you plan to use either system.

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