Although our winters here are very mild, you may have had to use your furnace already. If you have not had your furnace checked recently, it would be a good time to do so. At the very least, the filter should be cleaned or replaced, but other parts should be checked to make sure that all is operating correctly, and safely.
How old is your furnace? The average service life of a typical furnace is about 18 to 25 years. Some may last longer, but with today’s new high efficiency furnaces, it may not be advantageous to keep your old furnace working by spending money on repairs. New furnaces do not have pilot lights, and are more efficient than older models. So, a new furnace will not only lower your gas bill, but will come with a new warranty, and should be free of repairs for a long time.
There are many brands and models from which to choose. Furnaces are rated by how much gas they will use to heat your home. This rating is known as the AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) rating, and is listed as a percentage of efficiency. Furnaces basically range from 80% AFUE to 96%. Some models offer two-stage operation, others offer energy saving variable speed blower motors. Rebates may be available for models achieving more than 90% AFUE.
The amount of heat that any furnace will produce is rated in BTU’s (British Thermal Units). It is important to determine what capacity furnace is needed for your home. This is accomplished by a Manual J Load Calculation. Any contractor should provide you with this calculation, at no cost to you.
The key to getting a good furnace that will work properly for many years is:

  • Hire a reputable, licensed contractor, and check them out through the Contractors License Board
  • Make sure permits are obtained
  • Choose a quality brand
  • Get a complete and proper installation
  • Make sure that everything is in writing
  • Make progressive payments
  • Don’t pay with cash
  • Don’t make your final payment until all of the work has been completed

Jim Berry is a Sales Consultant for Kahn Air Conditioning, a member of the Home Improvement Networking Cluster, and was previously a heating and air conditioning service technician. Kahn hosts free monthly workshops to teach homeowners about their heating and cooling systems.

Any questions call (818) 886-2600, or e-mail;

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