We’re getting close to the holiday season and nobody wants to think about a new furnace, let alone a new air conditioning unit.

However, what if you don’t have a choice? What if your old furnace is beginning to groan, moan, and grumble? What if you turn up the thermostat one chilly evening and your furnace doesn’t function? The temperature around here does drop below 70° once in a great while.

What options will you have?

One option would be to call your heating and cooling service company and have a service technician sent to your home to determine the cause of the problem. If the furnace can be repaired and the technician has the correct part, they should be able to make the furnace work again. Spending between $200 and $600 for a typical furnace repair may be a good option if your furnace is not too old or if you are planning to move in the near future.

Another option would be to begin the task of getting estimates for a new furnace. This is a good choice if your furnace is more than 15 years old, and you’re not planning to move soon.

However, when it’s cold and your furnace isn’t working, and you’re trying to get estimates for a new furnace, and then have to wait several days or longer for a contractor to install a new furnace, how will you keep your family warm?

It is also time consuming to get estimates. Then you have to decide who is the right contractor to do the job, and which is the right furnace for your home. This is a difficult decision when your furnace is working. Imagine attempting to render a decision when you’re under pressure.

That’s why I recommend having your heating and cooling system checked before it starts to give you trouble or stops working. If your furnace is more than 15 years old, have it evaluated by a reliable heating and air conditioning contractor. Then you can make this determination on your time, without being forced into a decision based on how quickly a replacement furnace can be installed.

FUN FACT: Believe it or not, In Los Angeles, our furnaces are used more hours per year than our air conditioners.

I am often asked my opinion about home warranty plans. I personally don’t think that these policies are worth their cost. These insurance policies may be okay if your garbage disposal breaks, but when it comes to your heating and air conditioning system, they usually aren’t the best choice.

First, the typical “technician” that is sent to your home is usually not NATE Certified.

Second, their goal is to get your system working again, at the lowest possible cost, to them.

Third, they usually won’t recommend equipment replacement, and if they do replace any of the components, you can bet it will be with the cheapest, lowest efficiency product that they could buy. Their history has been that they will usually not replace the cooling coil when replacing a condenser, even though this is an industry-accepted procedure.

We will be discussing furnace options at our next Homeowners Workshop. There is no cost, so bring your friends, neighbors, and relatives. If you are interested in attending call Alex at (818) 886-2600 to make a reservation. Join us for a cup of coffee and a nosh, and some useful information.

Jim Berry was a heating and air conditioning service technician prior to becoming a Sales Consultant for Kahn Air Conditioning. Kahn hosts free monthly workshops to help homeowners learn more about heating and cooling systems. For questions regarding heating or air conditioning, send an e-mail to Jim at jberry@kahnair.com.

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