Should you replace or repair a faulty furnace?

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Sooner or later, it will happen to you--your furnace will start to fail or stop working altogether.

The average furnace lasts about 15 years.  If you live in a home for very long, you will have to make a choice to replace your furnace or repair it.  That decision may come up multiple times.

"Our furnace went out last winter.  We new it was on its last leg.  It was an electric furnace so we felt it was time for a change to something better and more efficient," said customer Jennifer Payton.

Payton's decision to repair or replace came down to what worked best for her family.  Most reputable HVAC companies say it's always a unique decision and you should always be provided options by a company looking for your business.

"Never let anybody pressure you into something saying that you have to do this.  You don't have to do anything.  It's your money, it's your system, it's your home," said Chad Peterman, owner of Peterman Heating, Cooling & Plumbing.

Peterman felt it was his responsibility to help educate the public, so he wrote a book.  It’s what you should look for when considering replacement versus repair, who to trust, and what to look for.  One of the main tips in the book is to ask for references and pictures.

"Show us some of your work!  What you're going to see should be nice and tidy.  Make sure the work looks good, because if it's sloppy, the actual installation may be poor as well.  Everything needs to be vented properly.  Your copper lines for your outdoor unit should be secured properly along with everything else," said Peterman.

The internet is also a great start to figure out who to hire for your furnace or AC work.  Look for reviews online to make sure they are a reputable company.  In addition to that, here are a few questions to ask during your initial call:

  • How long will the consultation take?
  • Does the company offer financing?
  • Will you send any notification as to who will be coming out to my home?
  • Who owns the company and how long have you been in business?
  • Are you licensed and do you handle all the permitting requirements?
  • And does your company carry the proper insurance?

"I chose Peterman because they're just really easy to relate to.  They explain everything in layman's terms so you don't feel ignorant asking questions and so you fully understand the product you're buying and how it's going to work," said Payton.

Her family now has a new high-efficiency gas furnace to replace their electric system.  Bills are much lower, heat levels can be set lower, and the built-in humidifier keeps the home from drying out

"It's nice for all of us so we don't wake up with dry skin and parched throats.  It also is good for our wood floors.  Our heating bills are lower and the temperature can now be set in the upper 60s and still feel like it's warmer than that because the system is so much better than our last one," said Payton.

Make sure any company you consider is licensed, bonded and guarantees their work.  Another tip in the HVAC guidebook is to ask the employees if they like working there.

"You should understand if this is a company the employee likes, this is probably a company you're going to like as well," Peterman said. "It also points to the fact, are they going to stand behind their work or are they just there to collect a paycheck?"

The HVAC guidebook is 70 pages and is free.   If you don't want to read the entire book, there's a simple summary in the back that's essentially a checklist.  If you have someone into your home as far as a consultation and are looking at a new unit, you can work right down the checklist and understand what you need to know to make an educated decision.

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