Should I Replace My Heat Exchanger or Buy a New Furnace?

February 22, 2018

Were you recently told that your furnace heat exchanger is cracked and needs to be replaced?

If so, here’s the thing: replacing a heat exchanger isn’t as simple or affordable as it sounds. In fact, replacing a furnace heat exchanger can take up to 8 hours and can cost anywhere from $2,000 to $3,500.

Yeah, we know that’s crazy expensive. But we also know that if your heat exchanger truly is cracked, you don’t have much time to sit around and wait—a cracked heat exchanger will leak potentially fatal carbon monoxide into your breathing air as it heats your home.

So, how can you quickly make the decision between replacing your furnace versus replacing the heat exchanger? Well, just ask yourself the following 2 questions:

  1. Is my furnace nearing the end of its life (10+ years or more)?

  2. Does my furnace have trouble heating my home (are there hot and cold spots)?

  • If you answered “no” to both, you should just replace the heat exchanger

  • If you answered “yes” to either question, you should consider completely replacing your furnace

Let’s take a closer look at why answering “yes” means you should get a new furnace.

Need a professional’s opinion? Just contact us—we’ll give you honest advice on repairing vs replacing your furnace.

You should consider getting a new furnace if…

1. Your furnace is 10 years old or older.

A furnace that’s 10+ years old is reaching the end of its lifespan, which means it wouldn’t be worth it to spend $2,000 on a dying unit.

Think about it—would you buy a new engine for a broken down car? Probably not.

Not sure how old your furnace is? Try looking for a serial number engraved/written on a paper or metal tag. Sometimes, this tag can be found on the cover panel of the furnace. Once you find the serial number, you can do a quick search on the manufacturer’s website to determine the age of the unit. Or you can choose the brand of your unit on this website to learn how to decipher the serial number and determine the furnace’s age yourself.

Otherwise, try contacting the company who installed your furnace. They should be able to tell you the date that the unit was manufactured and installed.

2. Your furnace isn’t meeting your heating needs.

If your furnace struggles to keep your home warm and comfortable, it’s likely that the unit is either:

  • Nearing the end of its lifetime

  • Incorrectly sized for your home

And in the event of either of the above situations, you’re most likely paying more than you should in monthly operational costs.

Not sure if your furnace is sized correctly for your home? Just check out our blog, “How to Choose the Right Furnace Size for Your Denver Home” for more information.

Another factor to consider: Is your furnace still under warranty?

Two types of furnace warranties come into play here:

  • Parts

  • Labor

The good news is that most furnace manufacturers offer an extended “parts” warranty for a heat exchanger that lasts anywhere from 10 years to a limited lifetime warranty.

The bad news is that the parts warranty only covers the cost of the actual heat exchanger—not the labor required to replace it. And because it can take up to 8 hours or longer to replace a heat exchanger, the labor itself is the bulk of the repair cost.

Most furnace installers offer a labor warranty that lasts anywhere from 1 to 5 years after they installed the unit. So, if your furnace is still under its labor warranty, we definitely recommend replacing just the heat exchanger since most of the repair cost will be covered under warranty. But if your furnace is no longer under the labor warranty and it’s over 10 years old, you might as well just replace the furnace completely.

Not sure if your furnace is under warranty or not? We suggest getting in touch with the contractor who initially installed your furnace. They should be able to let you know whether your furnace is still under the parts or labor warranty.

Think you might need a new furnace altogether?

If you’ve just discovered that it’d be more cost effective to completely replace your furnace versus just replacing the heat exchanger, you’re probably thinking, “Great. How much is this going to cost me?”

Well, the cost to install a gas furnace in the Denver area typically costs anywhere from $4,500 to $12,000.

Of course, the price of your replacement furnace depends on various factors such as:

Related reading: Heat Pump vs Furnace: Which Is Better For Your Denver Home?

Need help from a Denver tech?

Whether you’ve determined that you need a new heat exchanger or a new furnace (or heat pump), we can help.

Just contact us and we’ll send over an honest tech who will help restore your home’s heat.

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