Having a red tag slapped on your furnace at the end of a service visit is no fun, especially when it's the middle of winter and you can't live without your main source of heat. However, red tagging is a necessary step by HVAC technicians to keep people from operating heating systems that have dangerous and potentially life-threatening problems.
After your furnace is red-tagged, it's up to you to decide whether to make repairs or replace the unit altogether. The following explains the merits and drawbacks behind each decision.
The Case for Replacement
A red-tagged furnace may be at the end of its working life. Most furnaces are designed to offer anywhere from 15 to 20 years of reliable service, with some units pushing past the 30-year mark and beyond. The older your furnace gets, the greater its chances of breaking down due to a catastrophic component failure. A cracked heat exchanger that puts your furnace out of commission, for instance, may be the last straw for your unit.
Age isn't the only factor to consider in your decision-making process. Cost also plays a role in whether to dump your red-tagged furnace or go forward with repairs. In some cases, the cost to repair a red-tagged furnace may come close to the cost of installing a brand-new furnace. A good rule of thumb is that if the repairs cost more than 25 percent of the cost to replace the unit entirely, you're better of with a complete replacement.
Then there's the failed component to consider. Heat exchangers aren't easy to replace and most HVAC technicians find replacing the entire furnace faster, more cost-effective and less labor-intensive. Damaged burners and broken gas lines are easier to repair, in comparison.
The Case for Repairs
Repairing a red-tagged furnace may be worthwhile if the repair costs are relatively low and your furnace is relatively new. If the cost of repairs is under the 25-percent threshold mentioned earlier, then you shouldn't hesitate to have the repairs made. If the part can be replaced under warranty, go for it. Just remember that the average warranty only pays for the actual part – you'll still need to pay for the labor out of your own pocket.
Another good rule of thumb is to consider repairs if the furnace is less than 10 years old. A furnace that's under a decade old has the technology and energy efficiency to make it worth repairing. Contact a company, like IMS Heating & Air Inc, for more help.