How Long Should a Furnace Last? (2024)


The average furnace typically lasts between 15 to 20 years. However, the life span of your furnace depends on various factors, such as regular maintenance, the type of furnace (gas or electric), your local climate, and how well you address early warning signs of problems.

Your HVAC system, which includes your air conditioning and heating system, is one of the most valuable pieces of equipment in your home. So, it is obvious why someone would be curious about how long it should last and how to protect it with the most suitable HVAC home warranty.

To help you better understand this important home system, we’ll answer the following questions:

Highlights

  • How long does the average furnace last?
  • What can you do to extend the life of your furnace?
  • Which lasts longer, gas furnaces or electric furnaces?
  • When do you know your furnace needs a replacement?

How Long Does a Furnace Last on Average? 

The average furnace life span is around 15 to 20 years. However, the life span of your furnace depends on many factors.

Some of the things that impact the average life expectancy of your heating system include: 

  • Whether or not you have annual maintenance performed
  • Whether your furnace runs on natural gas or electricity
  • How often you change your air filters
  • Your indoor air quality
  • Whether or not you address early warning signs
  • If you have a good versus a poor installation
  • The make and model of your furnace
  • Your local climate

How Do You Extend the Average Furnace Life Span?

Purchasing a high-efficiency furnace and properly taking care of it is probably the best way for you to extend your furnace’s life, prevent repairs, and save money on your electric bills.

It costs between $1,850 and $6,400. The average furnace costs more than $3,100 to replace, and $296 to repair, or between $185 and $550 per repair, and the prices are even higher if you need emergency service. 

So, it is evident why you and thousands of other homeowners want to extend your HVAC systems’ lives. 

Luckily, there are some simple ways that you can keep your old furnace working efficiently, longer.

Tune-Ups and Regular Maintenance

Proper maintenance helps your unit work more efficiently. When your system is efficient, it does not have to work as hard to maintain a comfortable temperature. 

So, make sure you change your air filters every one to two months and routinely check for signs of problems like your furnace leaking water or low airflow. You should also schedule a checkup for your entire heating and cooling system bi-annually. 

Are you wondering why you should worry about having your furnace checked two times each year? Well, we suggest you have your air conditioner checked before summer and your heater checked before winter.

Your HVAC system contains nearly a dozen major components, including the: 

  • Blower
  • Thermostat
  • Heat exchanger
  • Heat pump
  • Compressor
  • Condenser
  • Ignitor
  • Evaporator coils
  • Blower motor
  • Air handler
  • Ductwork

If any of them are not working properly, your heater will not warm your house correctly. 

That means it will have to work harder to keep you safe and comfortable, and the harder your system works, the more likely it is to malfunction.

Address Furnace Repairs Promptly

You can compare furnace maintenance to a doctor’s appointment. The only difference is that if you get sick, you might get better on your own. 

The same is not true for your HVAC system. When there is a problem, it will continue to worsen and damage other components until you repair the entire system. 

In fact, that is how many homeowners allow their HVAC systems to fall into disrepair. When they notice that their energy bills are higher and their system is not as efficient as it used to be, they do not call an HVAC technician right away. 

That is a bad habit to get into because a quick fix for an experienced HVAC contractor can turn into a costly repair over time, especially for older furnaces.  

Get Proper Installation

One of the most critical factors in increasing the life span of your furnace having it installed correctly. A furnace that is not installed correctly can lead to a host of problems, including reduced efficiency, increased wear and tear, and even safety hazards.

Always hire a licensed and experienced HVAC technician for furnace installation to ensure it is done correctly and in compliance with local building codes.

Get a Good Make and Model

Investing in a high-quality furnace from a reputable manufacturer can go a long way in extending how long it lasts. Some of the top furnace brands known for their durability and reliability include:

  • Trane
  • Carrier
  • Lennox
  • Rheem
  • Goodman
  • York

While these brands may come with a higher price tag, they often offer better warranties and are built to last longer, saving you money in the long run.

Buy an Electric Furnace

Electric furnaces last longer than gas heating systems. On average, you can expect your gas furnace to have an average life span of 10 to 20 years and an electric furnace to last between 20 and 30 years. 

That means an electric furnace lasts for nearly twice as long. Electric furnaces also require less frequent repairs. 

In a gas furnace, the carbon monoxide and other chemicals created during the heating process in the heat exchanger are expelled through your furnace exhaust outdoors. Still, they also cause gas heaters to malfunction more often and ultimately stop working much sooner. 

While your electric furnace will not have the fuel utilization efficiency of a unit that runs on natural gas, you may not need repairs as often until the end of your furnace’s service, and it will probably last at least 10 to 20 years longer.

Pay Attention To The AFUE Rating

Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) is important if you will be purchasing a new furnace. The AFUE tells you how efficiently your heater turns fuel into heat. 

The better the AFUE rating, the more efficient the furnace. Mid-efficiency units typically have between an 80 and 89% AFUE rating. 

So, those units use 20% of the energy consumed during the heating process, and the other 80% is actually turned into heat. 

High-efficiency furnaces generally have between a 90 and 97% AFUE rating. So, they only “waste” 10 to 3% of the fuel they consume during the home heating process. 

If you want to learn more about AFUE and the way furnaces work, take a look at this video:

Keep Your Ductwork In Good Shape

After the furnace heats the air, your air vents deliver it to the various rooms in your home. If the ducts have damage, the heat escapes through them and never makes it into your living space. 

Therefore, the heater will turn on more often, and depending on the temperature in your home, it will likely stay on longer. So, while these two might seem unrelated, keeping your ducts in good condition should help your air conditioner and heater last longer. 

Final Note On How Long You Can Expect Your Furnace To Last

Maintenance is vital if you want to delay a furnace replacement. Typically, gas furnace life expectancy is about 15–20 years, while electric ones last 20–30 years. Depending on where you live, you also need your furnace in operating condition during the winter to stay safe and healthy. If you think your heater might be going out, you might be right. The less efficient your furnace gets, and the more frequently you have to call an HVAC company to repair your system, the closer it is. 

Need help finding a solid HVAC company? Get quotes from some of the most trusted brands in the industry below:

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some signs that my furnace needs to be replaced?

The common signs you need to replace your furnace include increased energy bills, uneven heating, strange noises, and frequent repairs.


Can a furnace last 30 years?

While it’s rare, a well-maintained electric furnace can last up to 30 years. Gas furnaces typically last 15-20 years.


Is it worth repairing a 15-year-old furnace?

It depends on the cost of the repair. If the repair costs more than 50% of a new furnace, it’s usually a better choice to replace it.


Article Update Log

Reviewed for accuracy, cost data, industry best practices, and expert advice by Jonathon Jachura.



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