Does your furnace need to be replaced?

October 27 2009 by Ellen Roseman

You rely on your furnace to work well for about six months a year. You don’t want to it to get too old and turn into a safety hazard.

You try to prolong its life by buying a plan that includes furnace inspection or maintenance once a year, plus emergency calls and visits if there’s a breakdown. Direct Energy sells them as do others (such as AtlasCare, my contractor).

But can you rely on the technician who comes to your house for an annual furnace check? I wonder when I hear stories like this one, which I wrote about last Saturday.

I received many comments from readers and I’m helping those who need it. Meanwhile, I’m concerned about people being rushed into replacing furnaces without the proper checks, especially when told there’s a salesman in the area who can write up an order right away. Seems like a conflict of interest.

I also heard from someone hoping to get a $100 rebate from Enbridge Gas for installing a new furnace, only to be told the rebates were cut off early. I helped him get the rebate and also got a response from Enbridge about what happened (see below).

11 comments

  1. Miro

    Oct 31 2009

    Is it worth changing a 15-year old gas furnace for a new high efficiency one (supposedly 95% efficient)? When does one start to see the savings?

  2. lou

    Nov 8 2009

    This is not a new problem. We had this problem about 5 – 6 years ago in the dead of winter. There was a squeak in the furnace so we decide to use our service plan and call for a repair.

    The furnace was only about 12 years old but within seconds of arriving the technician said we had a cracked heat exchanger and red tagged the furnace. When we asked to see the crack, he quickly pulled out tin shears and cut into the sheet metal to show us the so called crack. When he couldn’t find it, he pointed a raised area on top of the heat exchanger that was in no way cracked nor would it have been visible from his original inspection.

    We had another company come in and check the exchanger and they could not find anything wrong with it but since the technician had cut into the metal, the furnace no longer met CSA standards and would have to be replaced.

    Not surprisingly we heard from Enbridge within a short time after the red tagging offering us a new furnace. Although it was the dead of winter, we made a few phone calls and found another supplier with the exact same replacement furnace but at many hundres of dollars less.

    I guess some things never change.

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