A Guide to Replacing a Furnace

Replacing a furnace is a significant home investment. There are two approaches:

  • An emergency – your HVAC goes out during a heatwave or a cold spell, and you have no choice but to replace it. 
  • You plan for it – your HVAC equipment is approaching its end of life, and you’re proactively looking for replacement before it becomes an emergency.  

In either case, furnace replacement involves several steps, including choosing the right furnace, hiring a professional, and preparing your home for installation. Where do you begin?

Step 1: Choose the Right Furnace

Choosing the right furnace isn’t like shopping for groceries. Instead, you’ll need to consider several factors, including the size of your home, the type of fuel you want to use, and the furnace’s efficiency.

The size of your home is the most critical factor in determining the size of the furnace you need. Too small of a furnace will not provide sufficient heat to keep your home warm, while a too large furnace will waste energy and increase your energy bills. To determine the correct size of the furnace, you should consult with a professional HVAC contractor.

While most homeowners stick with the fuel type currently in use, you do have choices. Natural gas is the most common fuel for furnaces, but other options exist, such as propane, oil, and electricity. Each fuel type has advantages and disadvantages, so you should research each option and choose the one that best suits your needs. In some cases, moving to a new system might make sense. This is especially true if you’re remodeling or adding a new addition. 

You’ll also need to consider efficiency. Furnace efficiency is measured by the Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) rating, which indicates the percentage of fuel converted into heat. A higher AFUE rating means the furnace is more efficient and will save you money on energy bills. You should look for a furnace with an AFUE rating of at least 80 percent.

Step 2: Hire a Professional

Even if you’re leaning toward a specific HVAC system, it’s a good idea to call in a professional before you finalize your decision. A professional installation is essential to ensure your furnace operates safely and efficiently. They can often provide you with more information about integrating new equipment into your home than you could ever get through researching on your own. 

When hiring an HVAC contractor, you should look for a licensed and insured professional with experience installing furnaces. You can ask for references from friends and family, or check online reviews to find a reputable contractor.

Before hiring a contractor, you should ask for a written estimate of the cost of the installation. The estimate should include the cost of the furnace, labor, and any additional materials required for the installation. You should also ask about the furnace’s and installation’s warranty and whether the contractor offers any financing options.

Step 3: Prepare Your Home for Installation

Before installing your new furnace, there are a few things you should do to prepare your home.

First, you should clear the area around the furnace. Move any furniture or objects that may be in the way of moving the new equipment in. This will ensure the contractor has enough space to work and prevent damage to your belongings.

You won’t have heating while the new equipment is being installed. Make arrangements to be away, if necessary, or supplement with portable heaters or fans to stay comfortable during the process. 

Finally, you should cover any furniture or carpets in the area with plastic sheets to protect them from dust and debris during the installation.

Step 4: Installation

The installation process will vary depending on the type of furnace and the contractor you have hired. In general, the installation will involve the following steps:

  • Removal of the old furnace 
  • Installation of the new furnace 
  • Connection to the ductwork 
  • Installation of the thermostat

Once the new system is in place, the contractor will test the furnace to ensure it works properly and efficiently. They will also check for any leaks or other issues that must be addressed.

Step 5: Post-Installation Care

HVAC isn’t an “install it and ignore it” system. It requires occasional maintenance to keep it in good working condition and ensure a long life. 

First, you should change the furnace filter regularly. A dirty filter can restrict airflow and reduce the efficiency of the furnace. You should check the filter regularly and replace it if it is dirty. Manufacturers recommend seasonally at a minimum, or monthly in a busy household. Check with your HVAC manufacturer, or ask your HVAC technician. 

Second, be diligent about scheduling annual maintenance for your HVAC. Regular maintenance will help to prevent breakdowns and extend the life of your furnace, air conditioner, and ductwork. You should schedule a maintenance appointment with a professional HVAC contractor before the start of each season.

Replacing a furnace is a significant investment in your home, and choosing the right furnace and hiring a professional contractor for the installation are essential. Use this guide as your starting point to ensure that your new furnace operates safely and efficiently and provides you with reliable heat for many years to come. 

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