Is Your Furnace Not Working?

It might cost less than you think to fix your furnace.

I've had a lot of people ask me how much it costs to fix a furnace recently, which isn't surprising given these cold months. After all, it's rare that any homeowner realizes his or her furnace is broken during the warmer months when it's not in use. Sometimes a furnace breaks down suddenly, and other times it's a slow death, but the tell-tale signs of failure are often difficult for non-trained professionals to notice.

Regardless, nothing is worse that being stuck in a cold house with a furnace system that simply refuses to blow hot air. This is actually very dangerous, because if your home isn't heated for an extended period of time and the interior temperature drops below freezing, you actually risk a plethora of new problems, such as frozen pipes, cracked windows and peeling paint, not to mention health problems for anyone living inside.

Is It Expensive To Fix A Furnace?

That depends on several factors. The type of unit you have, coupled with the type of problem it's experiencing will dictate the total cost of a furnace repair. While I can't give you specifics about your individual situation, I can give you some general estimates that might help you out.

And before I get into that, I should also point out that this article, while factual, isn't a substitute for the expert opinion of a licensed HVAC specialist. A trained heating and air conditioning technician is ultimately your go-to source, and many of them are willing to come look at your problem and offer a free estimate. I can't stress enough how valuable a professional opinion is.

Here are just a few factors tha could play into the total cost of fixing your furnace.

The Age Of The Furnace.

Generally speaking (and I do emphasize the "generally" part), older appliances are more expensive to repair than newer ones. That's because parts aren't always readily available, and in many cases require a custom order. Kind of like fixing up an old car, your local parts shop will have anything you need for a late model Ford, but a vintage Ferrari is an entirely different story.

Is The Furnace Still Under Warranty?

If your unit is still new, there's a possibility it's still covered by a warranty. While this warranty won't cover every single possibility, there is a chance that your problem might get paid for by the manufacturer. This is especially true if your certified heating and air conditioning repair man determines that the problem is related to a manufacturing flaw. While these are fairly rare, it has been known to happen.

Do You Have A Gas Furnace Or Electric Furnace?

While not a set-in-stone rule, it usually costs more to fix a gas furnace than an electric one. That's because the interior parts are much more complicated and require additional skill on behalf of the technician. Those gas furnace replacement parts also cost a bit more, which will increase your total bill should you need new parts. Chances are, your furnace repair man will charge the same hourly or "by the task" rate regardless of if your unit is gas or electric, it's just the parts themselves that could make your bill higher if you need natural gas furnace repairs.

It's probably worth noting here that even gas furnaces uses electric parts, such as the entire fan and blower assembly, the switching mechanisms and, if your unit is new enough, the computer brain.

Is Your Furnace In An Easily Accessible Location?

This probably won't make a huge dent in your total repair costs, but if the technicians need to crawl and contort themselves just to access your appliance, there is a chance that they'll charge a bit of a surcharge for the inconvenience. It may sound unfair, but remember that this is very dangerous work they're doing, and putting their bodies in dangerous situations as they do it warrants a little extra money.

Also, if it comes down to replacing your broken furnace with a new one, moving the old one out and the new one it is both time consuming, extraordinary laborious and physically difficult. So expect a tad bit more here if it applies.

The Actual Problem Itself.

Some maladies simply cost more to fix than others. It's no different than going to a doctor: A stubbed toe is easier (and cheaper) to address than a severed arm. Granted that's a bit extreme, but hopefully you see my point.

Generally speaking, if your problem lies in the mechanical switching, it's usually a pretty cheap fix. If your issue lies deeper inside the actual elements (or burners), you could be looking at a much bigger furnace repair cost. And surprisingly, if it's the electronic "brain" of your unit, you could be looking at something as simple as a loose wire or bad seating prong, or something as major as an entire replacement, which isn't exactly cheap.

Believe it or not, many problems are very minor and require only simple fixes. Often times it's a matter of a fail-safe switch no longer functioning properly (and thus disabling the system, which is by design). Other times the problem actually lies in the thermostat itself, meaning you won't even need to fix your furnace - but you will need a new thermostat, which pales in cost comparison, trust me!

Should You Replace Your Furnace Rather Than Repair It?

This is a very common question, especially amongst home owners who have older homes and older appliances. In many instances it might actually cost less to completely replace your unit, rather than facing the bill associated with fixing a furnace. Granted this is pretty rare, but it does happen. What's more likely, though, is that it might be cheaper in the long run to buy a new furnace rather then keep patching up one that's on its last legs. That's kind of a value decision that you'll need to make as an owner, and your repairman should be able to walk you through all the facets of your individual situation.

Here's something else to consider: If you buy a newer, high efficiency furnace, you could actually save a decent chunk of change in your monthly utility bills. This savings will likely be larger the older your older unit is, as furnaces seem to get more and more energy efficient every year. In some instances the monthly savings alone in your heating bills could justify shelling out the extra dough to buy a furnace that's more modern and efficient.

So, How Much Will It Cost To Fix Your Furnace?

You've probably noticed that I haven't thrown any dollar amounts out, and that's not a mistake. It's just that it's very hard to even speculate each and every possible situation out there. Instead, I offered you a general "here's what to expect" given a wide variety of circumstances. But if you're absolutely dying to know how much does it cost to fix a furnace, I will say this: If the fix requires no parts, just the time of a furnace technician, expect a bill somewhere between $50 and $100; on the other end of the spectrum, replacing your furnace with a new unit - including the removal and install fees - could set you back $5,000 or more, depending on the machine itself and the area you live in.