An oil furnace heats by burning oil that’s stored in a tank located outside a home or building. An oil furnace is safe, efficient and long lasting. However, with any type of appliance, they don’t last forever.  With a warranty from a manufacturer, parts and service are covered for only a specific time frame, but an oil furnace often lasts much longer. Most warranties cover a 10-year period, but this doesn’t indicate the actual lifespan of the furnace. When properly maintained, it can last 15-20 years, or more. The key to efficient operation, is proper maintenance.

What is the expected longevity of an oil furnace? That depends on the steps taken to extend the years of use.  Home Energy LI has five steps to extend the life of an oil furnace.

To keep a furnace in the best shape possible, it is crucial to have it serviced each fall, in advance of the peak usage season. All manufacturers recommend you have the unit serviced annually.

There are various things that can go wrong with aging, or a furnace that isn’t working properly. Wear and tear on a unit each winter takes a toll, especially when dirt accumulates inside. As the unit ages, it is forced to work harder to perform basic functions.  When an oil furnace is older, the thermostat needs to be turned up to provide the same level of heat year after year.

Clean the air ducts every two years.
The air filter is not the only part of the furnace that can be hampered by the buildup of dirt and airborne particles.  Before the air even passes through the filter, it travels through the air ducts, which can also become dirty, albeit at a slower pace. Over a period of two to three years, dirt and dust can deposit along the lining of the air ducts and cause problems for the unit itself, as well as for the quality of air that passes through.

Seal any furnace air leaks.

One of the most damaging and wasteful problems that can hinder a furnace is an air leak. When an air leak forms along the furnace line, it drains the system of its ability to produce heat. Regardless of where the leak occurs, the furnace loses vast amounts of air before it completes the process of heat production. This forces the furnace to work harder just to keep up with heat production.

Adjust the thermostat.

Another way to extend furnace life is by making sensible adjustments to the thermostat, which is key to the conservation of your heating system. Most people spend about 10 hours per day away from home. Consequently, a lot of energy goes to waste in homes where the furnace runs at normal capacity throughout the day. With the right kind of thermostat, you can save on heating costs during the hours when your house is empty.

Purchase quality furnace fuel and additives.

A furnace is like an automobile: Both run best on quality fuel. Lower-grade fuels force a furnace to work harder to operate at full capacity. As low-grade fluids age inside a furnace, they form impurities that can have a detrimental effect on the internal components. The longer this continues, your furnace is liable to emit carbon monoxide into your living quarters.

With quality fuel in your home furnace, you can raise the unit’s energy efficiency and enjoy cleaner air and a longer furnace lifespan.

Maintain an annual maintenance schedule.

  • A clean furnace system— A furnace works much better when the components are clean, and the internal parts are freshly tuned. A service specialist can test the furnace to see if it leaks carbon monoxide or displays other problem symptoms.
  • Early detection of problem issues— If something is wrong with your furnace, your chances of rectifying the issue are best if you catch the problem before it wears down the unit as a whole. With annual maintenance, you can stay on top of these things.
  • Replacement or worn parts— If a part within your furnace needs to be changed out, the perfect time to get the job done is during your annual routine furnace inspection.

Following these five steps can extend the life of your oil furnace. If you have any questions, or believe your furnace needs attention, call Home Energy LI to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced service technicians.