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To Repair Or Replace, An Owners Dilemma

While there are no set rules, deciding whether to repair your current furnace or boiler or upgrade to a more efficient model, is not an easy choice, and every situation is unique.

Here are a few scenarios to help you decide whether you should repair your system or replace it entirely:

1. Your furnace seems less effective

Have you noticed that some rooms in your house are warmer than others? Do you feel like you need to run back and forth adjusting the thermostat to stay comfortable in any given area? Does the air feel muggy or humid? If so, these might be signs that your furnace is losing its effectiveness.

2. Your furnace is over 15 years old

Unfortunately, even the highest quality heating systems don’t last forever. A furnace should last 15-30 years before you’ll need to replace it. Of course, this varies by brand, furnace quality and other factors.

A heater will generally start to show increased signs of wear that will lead to more frequent and costly repairs during this timeframe. If your furnace has been serviced recently and continues to need costly repairs, it’s a sign that your system is not functioning properly. Similar to a car with high mileage, an old furnace may run okay with minor repairs but won’t be able to adequately keep up with your needs as efficiently as a replacement.

For easy reference, use the following to judge whether to replace your furnace due to age:

  • Repair: If the system is less than 15 years old, it’s often best to have it serviced rather than install a new one.
  • Replace: Any system over 15 years old is prone to frequent and expensive repairs and may need to be replaced.

3. Your furnace is making strange noises

Nearly all furnaces make noise when turned on or off, but if yours is making unexpected noises such as rattling, popping, screeching or humming; you should schedule a service call. Noises could stem from various issues such as unsecured ductwork, an unbalanced motor, motor failure or deteriorating parts.

4. Your heating bill is increasing

Heating costs fluctuate year to year due to changes in weather patterns and supply and demand. But while this can explain some variation in your heating bill, you should still be alert to unusual spikes from month to month that coincide with your furnace use.

Compare the cost of heating bills from the most recent heating season with bills from previous years. If you notice a significant difference in recent heating statements, your furnace is likely consuming too much energy. And if you’re continuing to use your system economically and can’t account for this increase, it’s time to schedule a furnace/boiler tune-up.

5. Your furnace is emitting carbon monoxide

Any system that could potentially expose you and your family to carbon monoxide needs to be replaced – not repaired – as soon as possible. A furnace with a cracked combustion chamber allows carbon monoxide to leak into your home and should always be replaced immediately.

Some signs that your furnace may be emitting carbon monoxide include:

  • Yellow furnace burner flame instead of blue
  • Excess moisture on windows, walls and other surfaces
  • Rusting on pipes
  • Streaks of soot around the furnace
  • Absence of upward draft in the chimney
  • Feelings of nausea, disorientation, headaches and other flu-like symptoms.

If you notice any of these symptoms, evacuate your home immediately, call the fire department, notify your utility company to turn off your gas and seek medical attention as soon as possible. Afterward, contact your heating professional to get your furnace replaced.

6. The cost of a repair is over half the cost of a replacement

Experts recommend replacing your furnace when repair costs exceed 50% of the cost of a replacement as a general rule. And for older heating systems that have exceeded 75% of their life expectancy, you should consider installing a new furnace once repair costs exceed one-third of the replacement cost.

7. You’re thinking about selling your home

Homebuyers look for the best possible investment when considering their options and often make their decision based on a property’s number of favorable features. Furnaces are the most common space heating option in the U.S., which makes a functioning, efficient furnace an indispensable asset.

An out-of-date heating system that has reached the end of its life expectancy will likely need to be replaced during the inspection process. At best, failure to replace an old system could cause buyers to ask you for a reduced asking price, and at worst, it could keep potential buyers from being able to make an offer on your home altogether.

8. You are retiring soon

If you’re nearing retirement, a new furnace can be a beneficial investment. When you replace your old heating system as you approach retirement, you can enjoy the comfort, efficiency and cost savings of your new furnace for years to come without worrying about system failure, and you may never have to replace your system again.

Not only does an efficient furnace allow you to be more comfortable in your home, but a functioning heat source also becomes critical to your health as you age.

One of the hardest parts of repairing your furnace is finding an expert you can trust. If you own a home in Greater Grand Rapids, give us a call at Lake Michigan Heating, Cooling,  Plumbing, where integrity matters and trust is paramount.

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Our Neighbors Love Us

So we have to get a shout out to Lake Michigan Mechanical. They were the only ones who could come do the repair today, everyone else was like three days or more out. They were really cool and made the best out of what was a really stressful day for us!! They were really respectful of keeping our door shut when they went in/out (you would not believe how many animals of ours have gotten out due to home repair people) and they cleaned up after themselves!! So far the hot water seems to be working great!

Jessica G.

Daniel and the entire staff are very responsive. I have used Lake Michigan Mechanical throughout the years. They are professional and charge a fair rate. Both Nigel and Brandon did an outstanding job fixing my old A/C unit and installed the NEST thermostat. Well done gentlemen! Also, most recently installed a tank-less water heater. Once again did outstanding work by Daniel and Team!

Lauren M.

Very patient, great job educating us on the issue and explaining our different options

Amanda Z.

Very professional and efficient job done. I recommend this technician highly!

Regency A.

The phrase first impressions are lasting impressions rings true with Daniel VanderHyde. He rescued us one Saturday morning after we tried “fixing” our leaky shower faucet ourselves. Hoping he could not only undo what we’d done, but be able to fix it without it being a major project was our biggest concern. And he did just that! We were very impressed with the pride and care he put into his work; he was truly a professional.

Jamie & Christie H.

I highly recommend Daniel with Lake Michigan Mechanical. Not only is he super friendly but he very professional and knows his stuff. I bought a new house and of course the current water heater died within a months time of buying the house. Daniel and staff were in and within 24 hours of me noting the problem we had a new heater. Thank you so much for great work!

Theodore S.

These folks were very knowledge and we love the straightforward pricing.

Satisfied Customer

Daniel installed an Eternal Water Heater and we absolutely love it! He was quick and very knowledgeable about his products. The quality of his work is second to none!

Melissa K.

Daniel and Aiden did an amazingly quick job responding to and repairing my broken furnace over a weekend. Cheers Gents!

Robert D.

Daniel came right down to fix a pump that was broken on a machine and the timing… was critical, he had a very difficult task completed promptly and I was returned to productivity faster than expected. Thank you I’m very happy.

Mark G.

Professional and knowledge. They did a great job identifying the problems we were having with our boiler. While other HVAC companies were telling us to replace our unit completely, they knew exactly what to fix to get us up and running, saving us thousands of dollars. I will be calling on them for future repairs I might need. Thank you, Daniel and team!!

Eva S.

Dan and company were very prompt, efficient and fixed the problem at my Mothers’ house quickly. We were very happy with their service and how quickly they could come to fix the problem. I would highly recommend them.

Sarah Z.

We highly recommend Dan and Lake Michigan Mechanical. He provides our rental and personal properties with professional, dependable and knowledgeable service.

Duana & Bonnie W.

Allendale, MI