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What’s the Lifespan of Residential Heating Equipment?

December 8, 2015

Lifespan of residential heating equipmentWhether you’re buying a new home, repairing equipment or replacing an existing unit, the concern in regards to HVAC is always “how long will it last?”. This is a tricky question to answer because just like every house is different, so is every HVAC system.  

Generally speaking:

  • the average lifespan for a gas or oil furnace is about 15 years, and
  • most heat pumps last 10-15 years.

Estimated lifespans let consumers know what to expect when purchasing new equipment or inspecting existing systems, but these are only estimates for the average scenario. Let’s put it this way—a new piece of equipment that isn’t properly installed or sized for the home may only get 6-7 years, while one that is installed and correctly sized may last up to 20 years.  

Although estimates give us an idea, it’s important to realize each piece of equipment works unique to the home, so the answer is rarely the same.  

Factors that play into the lifespan of a system include:

  • Capacity of the system–is it properly sized for the home?
  • Efficiency of equipment–high efficiency or standard efficiency?  
  • Type of equipment–furnace or heat pump?
  • System maintenance–is it regularly performed?
  • Age of the system–how old is each component?
  • System installation–what was the quality and method?

Getting the most out of your equipment

Unfortunately, many of these factors are beyond a homeowner’s control. Things like quality installation, sizing of the system and equipment specifications are mostly dictated by the service provider. If you’re buying a new home, don’t neglect to investigate HVAC equipment. Ask your realtor and inspector their opinions on the specs of the system. If you’re replacing equipment, choose a reputable, honest provider and consider several estimates before making a decision.  

Related:  How to choose an HVAC service provider

What many of our customers don’t know is they do have some power over the longevity and efficiency of their systems. There are a number of things you can do to extend equipment lifespan and increase indoor comfort.   

Tips for equipment performance and efficiency

Regularly change air filters: It’s very simple—properly filtered airflow results in extended system life. Clogged, dirty filters can overheat your equipment, shortening the service life and causing unnecessary repairs. Regularly check the filter, and clean or replace it. Remember, there is no such thing as a filter that’s too clean!   

Use a programmable thermostat: Take control over your system’s heating cycles. Programming the system according to your family’s preferences will provide comfortable temperature levels when you’re home and economical settings when you’re away. Temperature management also increases efficiency which extends service life.   

Ensure proper airflow: The common thought is to close off vents and doors in unused rooms, but that is actually not effective! Instead, you should leave all vents and doors open to make sure the home gets maximum airflow. Also check that all vents are unobstructed by furniture or other objects.  

Check humidity levels: The efficiency of heating and cooling systems depend on the right amount of indoor humidity. In the winter, levels drop drastically causing air that’s overly dry. On the other hand, too much moisture can corrode the heat exchanger, resulting in expensive repairs. Humidity and temperature monitors are inexpensive, or you can have levels checked by an HVAC service provider at your next scheduled maintenance visit.  

Invest in maintenance: Regular tune-ups at the start of both heating and cooling season should be part of your equipment lifespan strategy. We can’t stress enough how important preventative maintenance is to the comfort and efficiency of your home.

Related:  Tips for saving money on heating this winter

Extending the life of heating equipment is very simple and fairly inexpensive. Knowing what you can do at home combined with routine seasonal maintenance is the best strategy for a homeowner concerned about preserving equipment. Don’t wait until winter when the heat isn’t running properly to have your system checked–it will be inconvenient and expensive. Have your heating equipment tuned up now before its winter in Virginia!

For more tips for extending the life of your HVAC equipment, or to schedule seasonal maintenance, contact Dominion Service Company today or call us at 800-832-0758.  


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