Updated On

November 9, 2023

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    Are you wondering how long your new furnace will last? Or, are you wondering how much longer your older furnace will hang in there? If so, we can help. 

    Your HVAC system, which includes your air conditioning and heating system, is one of the most valuable pieces of equipment in your home. So, it is obvious why someone would be curious about how long it should last, and how to protect it with the most suitable HVAC home warranty.

    To help you better understand this important home system, we’ll answer the following questions:

    • How long does the average furnace last?
    • What can you do to extend the life of your furnace?
    • Which lasts longer, gas furnaces or electric furnaces?
    • When do you know your furnace needs a replacement?

    How Long Does a Furnace Last on Average? 

    The average furnace lifespan is around 15 to 20 years. However, the lifespan of your furnace depends on many factors.

    Some of the things that impact the average life expectancy of your heating system include: 

    • Whether or not you have annual maintenance performed
    • Whether your furnace runs on natural gas or electricity
    • How often you change your air filters
    • Your indoor air quality
    • Whether or not you address early warning signs

    How Do You Extend the Average Furnace Life Span?

    Purchasing a high-efficiency furnace and properly taking care of it is probably the best way for you to extend your furnace’s life, prevent repairs, and save money on your electric bills.

    It costs between $1,795 and $6,250. The average furnace costs more than $3,000 to replace and $296 to repair, or between $176 and $495 per repair, and the prices are even higher if you need emergency service. 

    So, it is evident why you and thousands of other homeowners want to extend your HVAC systems’ lives. 

    Luckily, there are some simple ways that you can keep your old furnace working efficiently, longer.

    Tune-Ups and Regular Maintenance

    Proper maintenance helps your unit work more efficiently. When your system is efficient, it does not have to work as hard to maintain a comfortable temperature. 

    So, make sure you change your air filters every one to two months and routinely check for signs of problems like your furnace leaking water. You should also schedule a checkup for your entire heating and cooling system bi-annually. 

    Are you wondering why you should worry about having your furnace checked two times each year? Well, we suggest you have your air conditioner checked before summer, and your heater checked before winter.

    Your HVAC system contains nearly a dozen major components, including the: 

    • Blower
    • Thermostat
    • Heat exchanger
    • Heat pump
    • Compressor
    • Condenser
    • Ignitor
    • Evaporator coils
    • Blower motor
    • Air handler
    • Ductwork

    If any of them are not working properly, your heater will not warm your house correctly. 

    That means it will have to work harder to keep you safe and comfortable, and the harder your system works, the more likely it is to malfunction.

    Address Furnace Repairs Promptly

    You can compare furnace maintenance to a doctor’s appointment. The only difference is, if you get sick, you might get better on your own. 

    The same is not true for your HVAC system. When there is a problem, it will continue to worsen and damage other components until you repair the entire system. 

    In fact, that is how many homeowners allow their HVAC systems to fall into disrepair. When they notice that their energy bills are higher and their system is not as efficient as it used to be, they do not call an HVAC technician right away. 

    That is a bad habit to get into because a quick fix for an experienced HVAC contractor can turn into a costly repair over time.  

    Buy an Electric Furnace

    Electric furnaces last longer than gas heating systems. On average, you can expect your gas furnace to have an average lifespan of 10 to 20 years and an electric furnace to last between 20 and 30 years. 

    That means an electric furnace lasts for nearly twice as long. Electric furnaces also require less frequent repairs. 

    The carbon monoxide and other chemicals created during the heating process stay in the heat exchanger. Still, they also cause gas heaters to malfunction more often and ultimately stop working much sooner. 

    While your electric furnace will not have the fuel utilization efficiency of a unit that runs on natural gas, you may not need repairs as often until the end of your furnace’s service, and it will probably last at least 10 to 20 years longer.

    Pay Attention To The AFUE Rating

    Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) is important if you will be purchasing a new furnace. The AFUE tells you how efficiently your heater turns fuel into heat. 

    The better the AFUE rating, the more efficient the furnace. Mid-efficiency units typically have between an 80 and 89 percent AFUE rating. 

    So, those units use 20 percent of the energy consumed during the heating process, and the other 80 percent is actually turned into heat. 

    High-efficiency furnaces generally have between a 90 and 97 percent AFUE rating. So, they only use 10 to 3 percent of the fuel they consume during the home heating process. 

    If you want to learn more about AFUE and the way furnaces work, take a look at this video:

    Keep Your Ductwork In Good Shape

    After the furnace heats the air, your air vents deliver it to the various rooms in your home. If the ducts have damage, the heat escapes through them and never makes it into your living space. 

    Therefore, the heater will turn on more often, and depending on the temperature in your home, it will likely stay on longer. So, while these two might seem unrelated, keeping your ducts in good condition should help your air conditioner and heater last longer. 

    Final Note On How Long You Can Expect Your Furnace To Last

    Maintenance is vital if you want to delay a furnace replacement. Depending on where you live, you also need your furnace in operating condition during the winter to stay safe and healthy. If you think your heater might be going out, you might be right. The less efficient your furnace gets, and the more frequently you have to call an HVAC company to repair your system, the closer it is. 

    Need help finding a solid HVAC company? Get quotes from some of the most trusted brands in the industry below:

    Editorial Contributors
    avatar for Alexis Bennett

    Alexis Bennett


    Alexis is a freelance writer with nearly a decade of experience covering the home services industry. She’s built considerable expertise in roofing, plumbing, and HVAC, as well as general construction and real estate matters. In her free time, Alexis enjoys coaching women’s golf. She lives in the Triad area of North Carolina.

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    photo of Andrew Dunn

    Andrew Dunn

    Senior Editor

    Andrew Dunn is a veteran journalist with more than 15 years of experience reporting and editing for local and national publications, including The Charlotte Observer and Business North Carolina magazine. His work has been recognized numerous times by the N.C. Press Association and the Society of American Business Editors and Writers. He is also a former general contractor with experience with cabinetry, finish carpentry and general home improvement and repair. Andrew earned a degree in journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, as well as a certificate in business journalism. He lives in Charlotte, N.C.

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