With temperatures still muggy and warm, your home heating system is probably the furthest thing from your mind at the moment. However, now is the time to consider whether or not your furnace will get you through another winter.
Though Houston winters are blessedly mild, the mercury has been known to dip below freezing at least several days a year. It’ll be days like those that you’ll be glad that you have a reliable furnace.
Let’s assess the condition of your heating unit to determine if you should replace it before the weather takes a turn.
If your furnace as installed during the Bush administration, it’s likely reached its term limit. Your furnace’s lifespan tops out at 20 years with routine maintenance. If you don’t know how old your furnace is, you can determine its age by inspecting the serial number. Many of the major furnace brands bake the date of manufacture into the model number, which you can find on the rating plate on the furnace cabinet. Let’s say the serial number reads 1213CA5465. The first four digits can be interpreted to mean the unit was manufactured on the 12th week of 2013 — in which case, a seven-year-old furnace has some life left in it.
Did your heating bills seem higher than usual last winter? Your utility provider likely keeps online records of your monthly statement. Comb through them to compare last winter’s monthly energy costs with those of the year prior. Are they substantially higher? You likely have a sluggish furnace to blame.
Sometimes all it takes is a visual inspection of your furnace to determine that’s past its prime. Check for cracks and corrosion. Likewise, excess soot from the burners could suggest something is wrong with the venting. This is a real health hazard and should be inspected by an HVAC technician ASAP.
Any sounds other than the rush of forced air are usually cause for concern. Rattling, buzzing, and screeching indicate loose parts or other malfunctions. These noises will only become louder and more alarming without professional repair.
How many times has your furnace been repaired in the last two years? If you’ve paid steep repair bills, your furnace is likely going to breakdown again, if not permanently. If your next repair bill costs half the price of a new heating system, it would be more cost-effective to replace it.
Today’s furnaces have a significantly higher AFUE rating that those of just 10 years ago. The AFUE is the annual fuel utilization efficiency. A furnace with an 80 percent AFUE means that it converts 80 percent of fuel into heat — the rest is used during the heating process. Modern furnaces can achieve an AFUE of 95 percent for improved comfort and lower energy bills.
Bottom line: To ensure reliable comfort this winter, schedule a fall maintenance tune-up. In addition to making any needed repairs and adjustments, an HVAC technician will help determine how much longer your heating system has left before it’s due for replacement. To schedule your appointment, call Universal Home Experts at (713) 364-0226.