The Lifespan of a Heater

LifespanNothing is permanent in this world and that means that eventually, your loyal heater’s time will come to an end. As we come up on Thanksgiving, heating in Austin is becoming a daily thing we all are currently experiencing but most of the time we give little thought to the units that create this heat. But in some ways, this is surprising as we do rely quite a bit on our heaters in the fall and winter. Understandably, we like to imagine that our heaters will continue working with no problems and no breakdowns indefinitely. Unfortunately, that’s not the reality.

Like all things, heaters have a lifespan. Adding to that, new heaters almost always work better than old ones. They start to get wear and tear as they go through continuous usage day in and day out, year after year. All that air or water moving through the system, all the heating up and cooling down, the water and the freezing and gas and the liquid, it all moves through system and very slowly its parts start to wear down. This tip is all about how long you can expect your heater to last, how much you may be missing out by holding out on replacing your unit, and some factors that will help you make the decision of whether your heater needs a simple repair or a complete replacement.

How Long Does a Furnace Last?

This is the big question and there are multiple factors to consider, making the answer not exactly straightforward and easy, there are some basic rules of thumb that have been developed to help make it easier. Each component of a furnace has its own maintenance requirements and life span. So, to answer the question of what is the life span of a furnace, one must define what the furnace is. Typically, the heat exchanger is the component which defines a furnace. In older furnaces, the heat exchanger was good for about up to 15 years, with a high-end expectancy of 20 years if regular maintenance was performed.

So you’re looking at around 15 years of life, from first installment to its final dying breath. But what happens in between those years? Well, things are going to change a lot. The same heating unit isn’t going to work just the same when it’s fourteen and a half years old as when it’s three months old. You’re going to slowly loose energy efficiency, heating power, and it’s going to become harder and harder to maintain and more likely to need repairs.

How Long Does a Boiler Last?

Boilers tend to develop wear and tear a little more rapidly than furnaces which can be seen in the fact that they tend to not last quite as long on average. Of course, this is all going to depend on a number of factors, just like furnaces. Boiler life expectancy depends very much upon the type of boiler that you purchased. The average expectancy of a traditional gas boiler would be between 10 and 15 years, if you keep it well maintained and have it serviced annually. Other boilers, such as electrical devices, will last between 8 and 10 years. A superior quality boiler, that is the most expensive available, can be maintained so that it lasts for 20 years or more, although the chances are that you will have moved house, or need a more energy-efficient boiler before it needs replacing.

How Long Does a Heat Pump Last?

Heat pumps follow similar patterns and guidelines as furnaces when it comes to lifespan. This makes sense because essentially a heat pump is like an air conditioner and a heater rolled into one. The Department of Energy (DOE) estimates a 10 to 15 year life span for the average heat pump. While some units will last longer than this, you should begin to plan for heat pump replacement around the 10-year mark, so you have the funds to make the purchase when the time comes.

Additionally, experts agree that newer heat pumps will often last beyond the 15-year mark, while older systems manufactured before the '80s last for about 15 years. So the lifespan of your heat pump is going to greatly depend on when it was built. The only other big factor, as is the factor with all of these machines, in lifespan, is how well it is maintained.

Importance of Maintenance on Lifespan

Regardless of if your heater is a furnace, a boiler, or a heat pump, how many years you can expect to get out of it is going to vary a lot based on the brand and quality of the original purchase. But perhaps the main factor in how long your furnace lasts is how well it’s maintained. As long as you maintain the system well and have regular tune-ups and servicing, you’ll find your system lasts a very long time. This means doing things like changing the air filters regularly, every one to three months or so. This means clearing debris from around the outside unit on a regular basis to make sure nothing gets caught up back there. It means making sure to get regular tune-ups and preventative maintenance visits from a trusted Austin heater repair company. And it means being on the lookout for any signs of possible damage or malfunction such as strange odors or sounds or spikes in energy bills.

That sounds like a lot, we know, but if it means the difference between having a furnace that lasts you 20 years with a very slow and minimal decrease in energy efficiency or a furnace that lasts you 10 years and needs frequent costly repairs just to keep it afloat, the difference is worth the work. The cost of minor repairs begins to add up over time. If you find yourself calling the HVAC professional regularly for furnace, boiler, or heat pump issues, you may be better served by simply replacing it, especially if you’re nearing that decade mark.

In the end though, when talking about the life expectancy of your heating unit, you’re really talking about when the better judgment call switches from repairing to replacing. The end of a heating unit’s usefulness becomes when it makes more sense to buy a better, more energy-efficient and less prone to breakdown model over repairing your current one. Technically, you should be able to repair your current heater forever; parts can always be replaced after all but at a certain point that becomes no longer worth it. When that’s the case, replacing becomes the better option and your heater has reached the natural end of its life cycle.

What Newer Units Have Over Older Ones

Technology in the realm of heating has advanced a lot over the past ten to fifteen years. This fact alone places a lot of weight on the replace side of the repair or replace equation. In this section, we’ll go over some of the main areas of interest in which newer models indisputably beat out older ones.

New furnaces are designed to work smarter and not harder. Components like a two-stage gas valve, dual heat exchangers and variable-speed blowers deliver the precise heating output to the home’s heating load. You’ll see the results of this improved technology in your everyday use of the unit as well as in your energy bill. The result is a furnace that ultimately endures less stress and wears with more durably designed components, thereby lasts years longer than old furnaces

Energy efficiency is a big factor in what makes a newer furnace a good investment. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, an energy-efficient furnace will increase the annual fuel utilization efficiency, which measures how efficient the unit is at converting the energy in its fuel to heat over a typical year. A 95 percent AFUE means 95 percent of the energy in the fuel becomes heat, while the other 5 percent escapes. The higher the AFUE number, the more efficient the furnace.

The minimum AFUE number required by the federal government for most furnaces is 80 percent. However, for a gas furnace to meet Energy Star standards, the AFUE must be 95 percent or more in the northern United States and 90 percent or greater in the South. The Federal Trade Commission requires manufacturers to display the AFUE rating for new furnaces.

The same arguments can be made for boilers too. Older boilers were designed in the days of cheap and plentiful natural gas. Climate change caused by human gas usage was not an issue. Carbon dioxide is produced in larger quantities by older boilers purely because they are less fuel-efficient and burn more gas for a given amount of useful heat in the house than new boilers. A modern condensing boiler will extract in useful heat energy around 90% of the energy available in the gas it burns. A 30-year-old boiler will be closer to 60%. If you want to live greener and reduce the amount of gas you pay for by around one-third, then you might as well consider your old 60% efficient boiler to be obsolete.

Heater Lifespans and Heating Repair in Austin

All in all, the lifespan of a heater is long and complicated. These machines aren’t just inert and static things that do their job day in and day out indefinitely with no changes inside or out. Wear and tear happen, breakdowns happen, repairs are needed and efficiency decreases. All this adds up to say that while you could feasibly keep repairing and maintaining an old system indefinitely, at a certain point it no longer becomes cost-effective to do so. For most this usually happens between 10 and 15 years.

That being said, if your heater hasn’t quite gotten to that point yet but it’s in need of some kind of repair now, consider AC Express for your heater repair in Austin. We operate all around the metropolitan area from Cedar Park and Georgetown to Lago Vista and Leander. Whether you’re looking for immediate same-day heater repair or just a simple preventative maintenance check, you can count on AC Express. Call today!