Here’s the grisly truth about furnace maintenance:
Avoiding it is going to cost you some serious money through the life of your furnace.
The benefits of maintenance aren’t always apparent in the short-term, which is why many homeowners don’t take it seriously. However, after looking at the numbers and doing the math, it will become apparent that maintenance is actually what keeps costs down.
I’ll explain further down below:
When it comes to caring for your furnace through its lifetime, you have two options:
- Spend money on maintenance and avoid most serious furnace issues.
- Wait until issues arise and then spend money on the repairs.
No matter what you choose, it sounds like a pretty even tradeoff, right? Well, not quite.
In truth, waiting for repairs will always end up costing more than scheduling preventive maintenance.
Repair Costs Are Unpredictable
If you wait until your furnace starts acting funny—or stops working altogether—you just can’t know what kind of issue you’ll be dealing with. This opens the door to a number of repair issues, none of which will be considerate to your budget or wallet. In the worst case, it can create problems far worse than a hefty repair cost.
- Cracked Heat Exchanger: A problem that often only arises late in the furnace’s life but can arise sooner without regular maintenance.
- Carbon Monoxide Issues: Gas furnaces can create the risk of carbon monoxide leaks when not maintained properly. CO leaks are deadly and should never be taken lightly.
- Fire Hazards: If there is an issue with the gas or with obstructions in the vents, it could lead to a house fire.
Efficiency is Reduced
Furnaces don’t typically just break down overnight. Often, a minor problem will develop and gradually take a toll on the system’s performance. This is going to lower your efficiency and start driving up the cost of your heating bill. A maintenance check will most likely find and fix this problem before it has a chance to develop into something serious.
For example, think of the limit switch. This component is necessary for normal furnace operation, signaling to the air handler when it’s time to deliver the heated air to your home. It also works as a safety device by shutting off the gas when the furnace overheats. A broken limit switch can cause your furnace to run much longer than necessary, thus lowering efficiency until you finally have it fixed.
After periods of lowered efficiency and an increase in furnace repair, the system is bound to have accumulated excess wear and tear. That’s going to end up influencing the lifespan of the system.
Furnaces are estimated to last between 10 and 15 years, sometimes even 20. Why such a large range? Well, the lower end of that estimate is for furnaces that haven’t received much proper care through their lives. That can include repairs from unqualified professionals, inefficient use of the furnace, and of course, a lack of regular maintenance.