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When Is a Furnace Repair for an Old Furnace Too Expensive?

home-basement-furnacePeople don’t usually have any sentimental attachment to the furnace that heats their homes: these are functional items, although they serve a vital function. But people still find it hard to make the choice to replace an aging furnace because of the costs involved. “Why not just keep repairing it?” they think. The problem is that repairs can turn out to be far more costly than investing in replacing the furnace. 

We’ll take a look at this common conundrum. If you have an old furnace, when is it too pricey to continue with furnace repair in Colorado Springs, CO?

The Rule of 5,000

There are several “rules of thumb” people can use to make rough calculations about the value of a specific repair for a furnace. One of the most popular is the “Rule of 5,000,” which states:

If the cost of a repair (in dollars) multiplied by the age of the furnace (in years) exceeds 5,000, than the repair is not worth the price and a replacement is a more cost-effective option.

We’ll examine this in action to give you an idea of how this measurement works.

Example 1: You have a gas furnace that’s 12 years old. This isn’t exceptionally old—gas furnaces often work for 15 years—but it’s probably past its warranty and is reaching the point where a replacement becomes more appealing. The furnace stops working, and one of our technicians gives you a repair estimate of $500. Multiply 12 by 500 and you get 6,000. That’s significantly more than 5,000 and enough to make a replacement the better choice.

Example 2: Let’s stick with the same 12-year-old furnace. It’s faulty but still manages to run. One of our technicians tells you it will cost about $300 to repair the furnace, and believes you’ll still get about three years of service from the system. Multiply 12 by 300 and you get 3,600. That’s enough lower than 5,000 for the repair to look like a cost-effective option.

The Rule of 50% 

This is a quicker rule of thumb that’s best used for a furnace that’s already at or around 15 years of service. It states:

If any single repair is more than 50% of the cost of installing a new furnace, the repair is too expensive.

The tricky part of this rule is determining the cost of the new furnace, since you have several options for types of furnaces with different price points, such as condensing furnaces with higher efficiencies. However, we think that regardless of the cost of the projected furnace replacement, a repair price that’s 50% of that is far too much to pay. 

The Rule of Ask of Professionals

We think this is the best way to make the choice: ask an honest and experienced HVAC pro for an opinion on whether a repair is worth it or not. Our technicians are concerned about your family’s comfort, budget, and safety. If we think a repair will keep your furnace going efficiently and safely for several years without breaking the bank, we’ll tell you. We’ll also tell you when we think a new system is better for your comfort, budget, and especially the safety of your family. Let us help you find the best furnace solution. 

Look to us for help when you’ve got an old furnace and you’re not sure if it’s ready for a replacement. Robbins Heating & Air Conditioning serves Colorado Springs and the surrounding area.

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