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Furnace Age: When And Why To Worry

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If you keep meticulous maintenance records, there's a good chance you already know the age of your home's furnace. However, you may have less reliable information if your furnace came with the house or if you aren't the kind of person to keep documentation around for a decade or longer. While knowing the age of your heating system might not seem important, this bit of trivia is more than just a number.

Not only are older furnaces more likely to fail, but they have more urgent maintenance requirements. Fortunately, you aren't out of luck just because you don't know your furnace's original install date. This guide will help you understand why furnace age matters, how you can determine yours, and what you should do if you're the owner of an aging heating system.

How Can You Determine Your Furnace's Age? 

A quick visual inspection might give a rough idea of whether your furnace is relatively new, but you'll still need more information. First, check the outside of the furnace unit and your air handler for a sticker left by the original installer. You may also have a clear plastic envelope containing this documentation or an original install order. If so, this paperwork will usually contain the information you need.

Luckily, you're not out of luck if you don't have paperwork from the installer. Most furnaces will have a plate with a serial number, model number, and similar information. While a serial number won't tell you your install date, it can tell you the manufacture date. By locating this information, you'll have a rough idea of how old your furnace may be.

Should You Worry About An Old Furnace?

Furnaces are robust appliances that can last for a long time, sometimes even several decades. If your furnace is old, you don't need to panic and replace it, especially if it's still working well. While an older furnace is likely less efficient than a newer model, a properly-sized unit will still be able to provide adequate heat for your home.

However, an older furnace may require more frequent repairs or more attentive maintenance. In general, it's important to pay attention if your furnace is more than 15-20 years old. Passing this mark may mean that you're beyond the manufacturer's expected life span, so you'll need to take extra care to keep your old unit functioning well.

What Can You Do to Extend an Old Furnace's Life Span?

There's no such thing as a furnace that's too old for routine maintenance visits. While good maintenance habits are most effective from the beginning, it's never too late to start. Cleaning your furnace's combustion cabinet, scheduling routine service visits, and staying on top of furnace filter changes can help extend your heating equipment's life.

Perhaps even more importantly, routine maintenance visits will allow technicians to catch problems before they become critical. By detecting these problems early, it may still be cost-effective to repair them instead of dealing with the expense of an entirely new furnace.

Contact a local HVAC service to learn more about preventative HVAC maintenance.