Depending on the climate where you live, your furnace might be the most important appliance 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.
A home warranty can help substantially when it comes to furnace repair and replacement. With coverage for your heating system, you won’t have to bear the full burden if your furnace breaks down due to wear and tear. For the cost of a monthly premium and a low service call fee, you can have the peace of mind of knowing you won’t need to pay full price to have a broken furnace replaced.
Here are our top three recommendations for home warranty companies, all of which offer coverage for heating systems regardless of age:
- American Home Shield: Best Overall
- Choice Home Warranty: Best Service
- Amazon Home Warranty: Best Add-Ons
Types of Furnaces
Not all furnaces are the same, as detailed by HVAC.com. They’re differentiated by the fuel they use to produce heat, and some are better suited for use in cold environments than others.
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.
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 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.
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 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.
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 up front. 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 requiring 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 any more 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 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|
|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+|
*Cost figures according to HomeAdvisor.
Will a Home Warranty Cover Furnace Replacement?
A home warranty is a contract that covers the cost of repairing or replacing covered home systems and appliances that break down due to wear and tear. Nearly all home warranty companies offer coverage for heating systems, which include furnaces. Although most of these warranties don’t cover pre-existing conditions, whether you knew about them before signing the contract or not, they do cover systems and appliances without regard to their age.
If your furnace is getting toward the end of its lifespan but still functioning normally, you may want to consider investing in a home warranty. With one of these in place, you can call your provider any time your furnace has an issue, and the company will send one of its contractors to make repairs. If the furnace can’t be repaired, the provider will often cover the cost of a replacement. You’ll want to check the terms and conditions of the contract carefully before signing, of course, but a home warranty can potentially save you hundreds on furnace repairs. Many companies even offer pre-season tuneups for your HVAC system.
Recommended Home Warranty Companies
If you’re considering purchasing a home warranty to get coverage for your furnace, we recommend getting quotes from the companies below.
American Home Shield
When it comes to home warranty companies, American Home Shield gets our top recommendation. We find that this provider offers the best combination of comprehensive coverage and overall customer experience. It’s unique in offering coverage for conditions excluded by most other home warranties, including rust, corrosion, insufficient maintenance, and even unknown pre-existing conditions.
Choice Home Warranty
If customer service is the most important aspect for you, we recommend Choice Home Warranty. Its monthly premium prices are lower than American Home Shield’s, and it guarantees its contractors’ work for 90 days, three times the industry average.
Amazon Home Warranty
Finally, Amazon Home Warranty gets our recommendation for the best add-on coverage options. If you have a larger home with extra systems or multiples of the same appliance, you can request coverage for them with any of Amazon Home Warranty’s plans. This company even offers coverage for many items that most providers don’t, like lawn sprinkler systems, water softeners, and roof leaks.
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