Should You Replace or Repair Your Furnace?

Has your furnace been acting up? When things start to go wrong with your furnace, you might be questioning whether you should keep pouring money into your existing unit or throw in the towel and get a new one. Since Cates Heating and Cooling knows that this can be a difficult decision, we have some advice for deciding between repairs and a full replacement.

Furnace Repair

When Should You Repair Your Furnace?

Most furnace problems can be fixed without too much fuss. The issue isn’t usually whether or not something can be repaired but whether it should be repaired. You need to consider a few different criteria during your decision-making process.

  • Age: The first thing you should consider is the age of the unit. If your furnace is less than ten years old, then you will probably want to stick to repairing the unit rather than replacing it, especially if it is still heating your home efficiently. If you aren’t seeing an increase in your heating bills and experiencing uneven heating, your furnace is efficient enough to warrant repairs.
  • Cost: The general rule of thumb for whether you should repair your furnace or not is that as long as the needed repairs are less than a third of the cost of a new heating system and the furnace is expected to go on for at least the same amount of time as you have already had it, then you should get repairs done instead of replacing the system.
  • Repair/Upgrade Opportunities: It is also important to remember not to base your decision solely on decreased heat efficiency. Decreased heat efficiency can often be resolved with a repair, which is more beneficial for you as the homeowner. For example, you may be able to upgrade your thermostat or clean out your ductwork to solve the problem.

To prevent future problems with your furnace, you should sign up for preventative maintenance. At Cates Heating and Cooling, preventative maintenance takes places once or twice a year to ensure that your system is running the way it should it.

Furnace Replacement

When Should You Replace Your Furnace?

When weighing your option to repair or replace your furnace, it is important to understand that furnaces are only expected to work properly for 15 to 20 years. After this point, it is likely that your unit is going to experience more frequent problems than before.

  • Age: Going back to the previously mentioned rule of thumb, if your furnace has already experienced more than half of its life and repairs are going to cost more than a third of the price of the system, then you should consider replacing your furnace.
  • Cost: Repairs sometimes seem like the easier option, but when you are constantly dumping a bunch of money into your furnace, it may be time to consider replacing it.
  • Energy Efficiency: If you have an old unit that isn’t energy efficient, you can actually save money by replacing your model with a newer, more efficient one. Some newer units can be up to 95 percent efficient, which will quickly save you enough money on your heating bill to make it a worthwhile purchase.
  • Warranties: One final factor in your decision should be any warranties that you have on your furnace or its parts. If something is under warranty, you should get just that part replaced before you decide to replace the entire furnace, as it won’t cost you anything.

Benefits of Replacing Your Furnace

Even though there are numerous instances when it would make more sense to get your furnace repaired instead of replaced, we want to make sure that you know the benefits of replacing your furnace.

The main benefit of getting a brand-new furnace is that you have a lot of options. You will be able to pick exactly what you want, which means that you can get a unit that has everything that you need. In most cases, a new furnace means a more energy efficient model. Energy efficient models scare a lot of people away, because they may be a little more expensive initially than less efficient models, but what most people don’t realize is that they will save you a lot more money long-term.

New furnaces also do a better job at keeping your home at the temperature that you choose. If you are battling cold spots or improper heating, an upgrade may be able to keep you more comfortable everywhere in your home. You may have also had a furnace that wasn’t well-suited to your home. Getting a new furnace ensures that you are getting a furnace that is the right size for your home.

When you get your furnace replaced, you can use this time as an opportunity to have your whole HVAC system checked over to make sure that everything is working just as it should be. This includes the ductwork, which is often overlooked in maintenance.

Furnace Repair Costs

When it comes time to make necessary repairs on your furnace, you want the best deal with outstanding service. Cates Heating and Cooling provides the service you are looking for, and we are transparent with our furnace repair costs. We want you to get the best deal on your HVAC repairs. Here are a few of the most common furnace repairs that we see, what it costs to fix the problem, and why.

Flame Sensor Cleaning

Furnace RepairAt Cates Heating and Cooling, the most common furnace problem we see is actually a maintenance problem. In gas furnaces, the flame sensor is an important piece of safety equipment. The flame sensor produces a current of electricity that is measured in microamps. Throughout the ignition sequence, gas is either ignited by a spark or hot surface igniter. At this point, the flame sensor produces the electricity that the control board needs to read. If the amps aren’t reading at the right level, the furnace cuts off the gas to avoid an explosion.

The flame sensor gets dirty over time due to oxidation or carbon buildup. This interferes with the sensor’s ability to function properly, and in turn, the system will shut down. Cleaning this sensor is very important, and one of our expert technicians can clean your flame sensor in just a few minutes. Generally, the cost for cleaning the flame sensor is just the service call fee, so at Cates Heating and Cooling, you are looking to pay $98. For most customers, it is easier to get started on a service plan where a Cates technician will come out to inspect and perform maintenance on your furnace annually.

Air Filter Cleaning

If your furnace shuts off for seemingly no reason, your air filter could be the culprit. Unfortunately, it is very easy to forget to replace your dirty air filter frequently. When air filters get dirty, there isn’t enough air getting through the filter, and the furnace will overheat. Since there are safety measures in place, when the furnace overheats, the unit will shut off. Many people don’t realize that their air filter is the problem and will call out a service technician.

Fortunately, replacing an air filter is relatively cheap. An air filter may be just a few dollars if you want a cheap one that you can replace monthly. There are more expensive options, however. When a Cates technician comes to your home and determines that the air filter is the problem, you will only be charged the $98 service fee unless you want to purchase an air filter from us at that time.

Air filters can cause a myriad of problems for furnaces, so before you call a technician out to your home, you should make sure that your air filter isn’t clogged. You can also use a calendar to remind yourself to replace your air filter once a month.

Pressure Switch

Furnace ReplacementThe pressure switch is a safety mechanism that ensures that all the exhaust gasses from your furnace aren’t pulled back into the furnace—a process called backdrafting. The pressure switch also protects your home from gas leaks, and it shuts down the furnace in the event of a mechanical failure. Without the pressure switch, your home could be at risk for carbon monoxide problems.

A pressure switch with labor generally costs between $50 and $150. Price will generally depend on the type of pressure switch you need.

Blower Motors

Blower motors turn the fan in your furnace to circulate the air out of the furnace and throughout your home. Eventually, your blower motor will go bad. These pieces of equipment push gas out of your home to prevent any problems with carbon monoxide in your home. If the blower motor in your furnace goes out, the furnace will not run.

The price of a new blower motor will depend on its style, age, and efficiency, but they generally cost between $350 and $900.


There are a few different kinds of igniters available, but the hot surface igniter is a silicon carbon element that heats up when voltage is applied to it. When you turn your furnace on, the furnace circuit board sends electricity to the igniter. Then, the main valve opens, and gas strikes the hot surface igniter element and ignites. Hot surface igniters light the gas to allow the furnace to heat your home. Eventually, igniters will need to be replaced.

These little pieces of equipment may seem expensive to some, but they last anywhere from five to 12 years depending on how well they are kept. Typically, with installation, hot surface igniters cost between $80 and $350.

If your furnace is experiencing any problems, contact us today at 913-888-4470.