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All About Furnace Replacement: Cost & When To Do It


Replacing a furnace is a big task with a big price tag.
Living in Central Iowa, your heating system is one of the most important appliances in your home. It provides the basic warmth you and your family need to be comfortable and even safe throughout the winter. However, it’s usually a large and complicated piece of machinery, meaning that it is pricey to fix and even more expensive to replace entirely.

Furnaces are designed to last a long time, but they’ll still wear out over a decade or two.

Types of Furnaces

Not all furnaces are the same. They’re differentiated by the fuel they use to produce heat, and some are better suited for use in cold environments than others.

Natural Gas

Furnaces that burn natural gas are the most common type today, and they heat a house well even in the harshest of winters. They are fast, efficient, and run on inexpensive fuel. Unfortunately, they also have a high environmental impact and require ductwork throughout the home.

Oil Furnace

Because of the high price of oil, these furnaces are becoming obsolete. However, they can still be found in some homes in the northeast US. Though they’re more environmentally friendly than natural gas furnaces, they still release carbon monoxide into the atmosphere.

Electric Furnace

Electric furnaces tend to be the least expensive to purchase and install, but they are the most costly to run. Additionally, while they’re easier to maintain, they take a long time to heat up a space. You’ll typically find these furnaces in warmer climates where heating needs aren’t so intense.

Coal Furnace

Furnaces that burn wood or coal aren’t common, particularly in cities and suburbs, but they can still be found in some rural areas. They’re expensive to install but cheap to run, and they can be used completely off the grid. However, they require a good deal of maintenance, including regular ash cleaning and boiler feeding.

Propane Furnace

Propane is the gaseous byproduct of oil production, and it can be used to power a furnace, particularly in places where other fuels are scarce or overly expensive. Propane furnaces can also be small in size, making them ideal for some compact, rural homes. Natural gas furnaces can be converted to run-on propane with a low-cost conversion kit, if necessary.

Mini-Split System

A mini-split combines heating and cooling in one appliance. They can be bolted directly to walls and don’t require ductwork, meaning they’re good for smaller homes and building additions. These units can range in price substantially based on size and power.

Geothermal and Solar Furnaces

Unfortunately, the greenest options remain the most expensive upfront. Additionally, while they are inexpensive to run, you may not recoup your costs even over the life of the system. However, if your priority is making your home comfortable without harming the environment, renewable energy is your best bet.

How Long Does a Furnace Last?

Most furnaces have a lifespan of 20 to 30 years. However, this doesn’t mean you can wait that long to replace yours. After about 15 years or so, you may need to consider a furnace replacement if your unit has been experiencing significant problems and requires frequent repairs.

You can extend the lifespan of your furnace by performing regular maintenance, including changing the filters and cleaning the burners. Also consider hiring an HVAC contractor to perform annual inspections and a tune-up before the winter season.

How Do I Know When It’s Time to Replace My Furnace?

Ideally, you don’t want to wait until your furnace dies completely to replace it. This could easily happen in the middle of winter, leaving you without any way to heat your home. Instead, keep a close eye on your furnace’s operation, both in terms of efficiency and cost.

Here are some signs that it might be time to think about replacement.

  • The furnace needs to be repaired frequently, and repairs become more expensive.
  • The furnace is making unusual noises, such as buzzing or rattling.
  • The furnace is putting out dust, soot, or rust, especially around the register.
  • The furnace starts turning on and off more frequently.
  • The heat exchanger is cracked.
  • You’re not using it anymore frequently, but your heating bills are skyrocketing.
  • Your house is heated unevenly, with some rooms warmer than others.
  • You see rust, cracks, or corrosion around the furnace.
  • You notice the humidity in your home rising.

Some of these warning signs may only indicate that repair or maintenance is needed. However, as they begin to add up near the end of the appliance’s lifespan, they can be signs that it’s time to replace the furnace entirely. An HVAC professional like Service Legends will be able to tell you if a replacement is necessary, and you can always get a second opinion from another contractor to ease your mind.

How Much Does It Cost to Replace a Furnace?

When you consider furnace replacement costs, make sure you factor in the entire process: the new furnace itself, the installation costs, the removal and disposal of the old furnace, any building permits or fees, and any necessary changes to your existing HVAC system. Clearly, a new furnace is a substantial investment.

On average, the entire cost for replacing a furnace including materials, equipment and labor is $5,500. According to HomeAdvisor, the price range is typically between $2,572 and $6,221, depending on the type and size of the furnace.

Here’s a breakdown of furnace replacement costs by type:

Type of Furnace Cost of New Furnace Total Replacement Cost
Electric $500 – $1,100 $2,000 – $7,000
Natural gas $800 – $2,800 $3,800 – $10,000
Propane $900 – $5,000 $3,000 – $6,000
Oil $1,900 – $3,100 $6,750 – $10,000
Mini-split $2,000 – $14,500 $5,000 – $15,000
Coal $3,000 – $10,000 $4,800 – $11,500
Geothermal $2,000 – $20,000 $10,000 – $40,000+
Solar $15,000 – $30,000 $15,000 – $30,000+

What’s Right for You?

To be clear, the decision on what do always belongs to the homeowner. A good HVAC technician will educate you on the issues they’re seeing and, if appropriate, discuss option with you. But you should never feel pushed into a decision. Give Service Legends a call today and get a free, no-obligation estimate.

515-657-6634Request Appointment Online

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