Signs It’s Time for a New Heater

Woman and daughter wrapped in a blanket

With winter right around the corner, it’s essential to know and recognize the signs of a failing heating system. Knowing these signs can help keep you, your family, and your home cozy all winter long.

Types of Heaters

Furnaces, water heaters, and boilers are important appliances in the home, and each serves different and vital purposes. What are the differences between these types of heaters?

Furnaces heat the air in your home and circulate it through air ducts. They tend to be powered by oil or propane, which are ignited traditionally by pilot lights. Hot air is sent throughout your home via air ducts. When hot air reaches your room, it sucks in the cold air. The cooler air is sent back to the furnace to be reheated and distributed. A furnace typically has a life expectancy of eighteen years but should be paid close attention to when it gets to be about fifteen.

Boilers heat your home’s water and use the heated water to heat your home. They are typically run on gas or electricity and use that to heat the water inside their tanks. They send the water and steam through pipes in the house; once the water is cool, it will be heated again. A boiler’s life expectancy is about ten to fifteen years.

Water heaters only heat your home’s water and do not heat your home. They do provide hot water for your showers, sinks, and other such things connected to your plumbing. A hot water heater tends to have a life expectancy of five or six years, but some more expensive models can last up to ten years.

Signs Your Furnace or Boiler Needs Replacing

While a furnace uses ducts to circulate heat in your home and a burner does not, the signals for when they need to be replaced are very similar. The signs may be as follows:

  • Your system is over 15 years old

  • It starts making strange noises (rattling, clanking, popping, etc.)

  • The machine has visible dust, cracks, or rust.

  • You notice your bill is higher than average over an extended period

  • Your rooms are each heated inconsistently - one is chilly, while the other is sweltering

  • If the flame under the machine is any color other than blue.*

*If this is the case with your furnace, it could be a sign of a gas or carbon monoxide leak. The flame under the machine will typically be yellow in this case. We recommend consulting a professional as soon as possible.

Sign Your Water Heater Needs Replacing

Even though water heaters can also show similar signs of needing repair; such as cracks, old age, and higher bills, there are some additional signs to watch out for:

  • If you are getting rusty or cloudy water from the tap

  • Your hot water is running out more quickly than before

  • You don’t have enough water in your house

  • There are puddles around your hot water heater

  • The water starts to give off a strange odor

Repair vs. Replacement

Even while knowing all of this, how do you know it’s time to replace the equipment fully versus getting more maintenance done. If your unit is less than ten years old, it may be good to call in a professional to see what they recommend. They may just suggest replacing a certain part instead of the overall heater. This will save you time, money, and future frustration.

Whether replacing or repairing, it is always important to get a professional’s opinion. We here at Wilbur's Air Conditioning, Heating & Plumbing have experience maintaining and installing all types of central and water heating systems. We are always happy to answer any questions you may have.

For all of your heating maintenance and installation needs contact Wilbur's Air Conditioning, Heating & Plumbing at (205) 509-2139! We take pride in making sure our community feels at the utmost comfort in their homes.

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