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How many years left on my 13 year old gas furnance/air handler?

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Old 02-01-2011, 10:11 PM   #1
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lifespan of gas furnace/air handler?

I have a Comfortmaker gas furnace/air handler/condenser unit in my basement. It's original from when the home was built in 1998. Can't find any other specs on it regarding size. I've had it serviced, and the pro said it was about average condition.

So it's roughly 13 years old. In looking at it visually, I'd say it was average to poorly maintained by the previous owner. It's got some rust, and water has dripped from the insulated coolant lines right onto the unit over time. Elsewhere I see signs of green buildup like when copper changes color.

Regardless - the unit is fully functioning well today. If I were to keep it - I'd maintain it regularly.

I need to decide now if it stays or is replaced (in whole or in part).

I'm finishing my basement soon and if I get a new unit - I'm moving its location. But if I keep my current unit - I'm framing it into a closet where it sits.

My first question is do these things completely die, or could I continue to maintain and repair it over perhaps the next many years on a smaller budget (or does that rarely make sense on old units which is why they are replaced completely)?

My second question - if you had to venture a wild guess and this was your house - do you think I'd have closer to:

1-3 years of unit life left?
4-6 yeras of unit life left?
7-9 yeras of unit life left?


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Old 02-02-2011, 01:25 AM   #2
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Its probably a bottom of the barrel builders grade single stage furnace. If it were me and a major repair had to be done ($600+) I would start thinking about replacing it so I could get a variable speed fan with a heat pump instead of AC. If not you could probably throw parts at it for another 5 years or so.


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Old 02-02-2011, 03:46 AM   #3
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Is it a 80% or 90% plus condensing furnace? If its an 80%, you will need to provide combustion air for it when you frame it in. In which case replacing with a direct vent condensing furnace now is a good idea.

As to how long it will last. No way to predict.
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Old 02-02-2011, 08:56 AM   #4
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Thanks - actually it does have an evaporator. The gas furnace is on the bottom, evap above that, and plenum on top. Outside, we have the AC unit (I think called a condenser or heat pump).

Yes - I planned to provide combustion air to my new boxed in room for this stuff.

My issue is it's sitting out in a large unfinished room I plan to finish. I can deal with boxing it in and losing that space. But it's old and might die tomorrow - or 5 years from now.

I have a ton of space 15 feet away in a hall we'll leave unfinished. But I'm not going to pay to have this old unit moved (I couldn't anyway because of exhaust venting angle code issues and the then new distance to my exhaust stack).

So instead, I'd have a brand new one installed in that hall and gain all that floorspace. Apparenly they have powered exhaust and can be somehow vented with PVC - so I dont have to worry about trying to reach my current exhaust stack.

But a new unit could be $4-$8K on top of the basement finishing. So if I knew I'd get 5 years out of my current unit - I could deal with boxing it where it stands.

But I hate to do that if in a year it dies and I'd need a new one anyway.
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Old 02-02-2011, 01:24 PM   #5
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I would go ahead and move the furnace and get a high efficiency one that vents thru the wall if I wuz you. Circuit boards on average last 10 yrs and you may need a new one of them soon and eventually a gas valve, pressure switch and ventor fan which wears out before 15 yrs. A money pit IMO. Otherwise you need to gaze into one of these to know what to do.
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