Why Do Furnaces Break?
To understand the most common reasons a furnace breaks in Ottawa it is important to understand what your furnace is and how it works. Simply put, most homes in the Ottawa area are heated by a gas unit in the basement that is connected to a system of ductwork to deliver conditioned air throughout the envelope of the home. A furnace contains numerous moving parts that work in harmony to deliver perfectly heated air to the areas in the living space. Gas enters your home through piping attached to a meter. It is then burned within the furnace and passes through a heat exchanger. The products of combustion are then expelled from the home either through vent piping or a chimney. There is a large fan that pushes air over the heat exchanger to distribute this heat through the ductwork. This symphony of moving parts works on a delicate balance and just one part out of sync can cause your unit to stop working!
Common Furnace Symptoms
The most common symptoms that we come across are listed below:
- Furnace not blowing hot air (Generally relates to a gas valve issue)
- Furnace constantly turning on and off (Most likely a safety limit issue or dirty filter)
- Furnace not turning on at all (Can be many items including furnace switch, thermostat or ventor motor)
- Furnace making loud noises (Generally a fan issue either the motor or blower wheel)
- Not producing heat like it used to (Most commonly associated with plugged burners, heat exchanger or weak fan motor)
- Water on the floor (Drain issue or cracked venting)
Comparing the Repair vs Replace Decision
When should you repair your furnace versus looking into a replacement? This is a very common question that we hear in Ottawa. The answer to this question can vary greatly. The age of the equipment is most definitely the deciding factor. The majority of HVAC manufacturers warranty internal parts of 10 years. This means that if you have a repair in the first ten years of ownership it is generally only labour costs that you will have to cover. Outside of ten years, the cost of the part and labour fees can lead to some rather high bills.
We have always subscribed to the notion that each and every customer should be educated and well aware of all options before making any decisions. That being said, a common rule of thumb for furnaces in Ottawa is that if the furnace is 12 or more years old and the repair cost exceeds $500 it may be prudent to look into a replacement option. Many repairs do not require a part and may include a drain cleaning, flame sensor cleaning or even simply changing the filter, of course these types of repairs DO NOT require looking into a replacement unit. Along with the age of the furnace, the energy consumption of older units comes into play when debating whether to invest in a repair. Please see below some of the major advantages of a new unit.
Average Furnace Repair Cost (Ottawa 2020)
The average cost of a furnace repair in Ottawa is a number that can fluctuate due to many circumstances. After compiling decades of data we have concluded that most customers spend between $129-$950 on furnace repairs. The average costs over time has hovered somewhere in the $350 range for a standard furnace repair. Some items, such as heat exchanger replacements can cost upwards of $2000 and most definitely preclude customers to evaluate replacement options as well as the repair option.
Other Important Factors (Furnace Energy Consumption)
A final and very important note for those that are debating between repair and replacement is energy consumption. Often times we are faced with a situation where a customer is looking at a costly repair on a 15-25 year old piece of equipment. These older units often run at 80% gas efficiency and pull somewhere between 550-750 watts to operate. This is in stark contrast to the 96% efficiency and 90-250 watts the newer furnaces use. It is prudent to understand that cost savings that come with a new high efficiency unit and that an investment in a new piece of a equipment will balance itself off with major energy savings. When weighing the pros and cons of repair vs replacement, an Airzone HVAC Services advisor will always be honest, give you multiple options and allow you to make an educated decision on what is best for your furnace, your home and your family.