Replace Blower Motor or Buy a New Furnace?
What does a new blower motor cost? What does a new furnace cost?
What are the advantages of buying a new furnace? Should I repair the furnace or replace it?
These are questions we answer here. A better way to say that is that we supply information you can use to make an informed decision.
A furnace is a big investment for most homeowners so you will want to be aware of all of the key factors before you decide what’s best.
What Does a Furnace Blower Motor Cost?
The cost to have a new blower motor installed by a furnace technician averages $500 to $700. But depending on the type of furnace you have, the range can be anywhere from $300 for a DIY installation to $2,000 or more for a high-end part with installation.
We recommend getting an estimate for both the blower and a furnace of comparable performance but better efficiency.
Pro pricing tip: Tell the contractors you are not in the market for a new furnace – or something you feel you can honestly say, like “I just want to price a blower motor right now.” That will keep them honest. Shady contractors will inflate the price of a blower replacement in an attempt to get you to “bite” on a new furnace quote.
What Does a New Furnace Cost?
But a new furnace is going to start around $3,500 and range to close to $10,000. For an 80,000 or 100,000 BTU 2-stage, 90% furnace, expect estimates in the $4,500 to $6,000 range. If significant sheet metal changes are made or the furnace is in the attic and tough to reach, cost could be a little higher.
Cost Comparison: New Blower Motor vs New Furnace
Once you have prices and can compare apples to apples, you can make your decision.
If you compare the cost of a new blower motor with the cost of a new furnace, along with all of the benefits of a new furnace like higher energy efficiency that produces lower running costs, a furnace will probably save money in the long run. A new furnace will be considerably more efficient and if you purchase an Energy Star unit, you may be entitled to incentives like rebates.
Before you decide to replace your old blower motor, the information below will provide you with issues to look for that will help you decide if your furnace has additional problems or just needs the blower motor replaced. If your furnace does have some of these issues, replacing the furnace is probably your best and most cost-effective choice.
Blower Motor Replacement vs Furnace Replacement
Here are issues to think through as you consider your choice.
In short, if the furnace is less than 12 years old and has served you well, plus you’ve kept up with maintenance, then blower replacement makes sense.
For an older furnace, one that’s already required costly repairs, consider upgrading to a new furnace – one that is more efficient. Of course, it will also have a fresh warranty. Here are the details.
How Old Is Your Furnace?
The older the furnace, the more likely replacing it will be the most cost-effective solution. As a furnace ages, it will require more repairs and replacement parts. If you’ve already dumped some money into it, then there’s likely more repairs on the horizon.
All furnaces carry a 5-year warranty on general parts, and most carry a 10-year warranty. Heat exchanger warranties are 20 years or “Lifetime.”
If your furnace is still under warranty, the blower motor should be covered. Even newer furnaces can exhibit signs of failure but that is usually defect related rather than caused by age. Review your warranty information and contact the installer or manufacturer for details on repairing the furnace.
Did you know? Sure, the blower might be under warranty – but the warranty covers the part only. You’ll pay for the labor! A few furnaces have a one-year labor warranty. The installer might offer a 1-year labor warranty too. But after that, the homeowner is responsible to pay the labor on warranty parts replacement.
In general, if your furnace is less than 12 years old, replacing your blower motor is probably the best choice, especially if you’ve kept your furnace on an annual inspection and maintenance schedule. Keeping your furnace well maintained will keep it performing well and help prevent component failures. In fact, most furnace warranties say that you must have the equipment maintained every year to keep the warranty in effect. This condition is not enforced most of the time, but it is right there in writing.
Furnaces have an average life expectancy of between 16 and 22 years. As a furnace ages, it is more likely to need repairs and replacement parts. If the furnace is showing performance issues in other areas, replacing the furnace is probably a more cost-effective solution once it gets to be 12 to 15 years old.
Has Your Furnace Needed Frequent Repairs?
If your furnace is under 15 years old and you’ve had annual maintenance, it should only need occasional repairs. If your furnace has been experiencing repeated repair issues over the last few years, or the cost of repairs are around half of the cost to buy a new furnace, you are better off replacing the furnace.
This is rare, but the furnace can sometimes be the cause of unexplained illness. And it is dangerous!
If you, or someone in your family has experienced frequent flu or cold-like symptoms, the cause could be carbon monoxide leaks from a cracked heat exchanger in the furnace. Small amounts of carbon monoxide can cause a variety of symptoms and large doses can be fatal. If your furnace is leaking carbon monoxide, you will need to replace it because a heat exchanger replacement is expensive and rarely worth it.
Would you Like to Cut Energy Costs?
Most new furnaces have higher efficiency ratings. Replacing a furnace that is 15 to 25 years old can save you between 15% and 30% on energy costs. Older furnaces have energy ratings of 60% to 80%, meaning they convert 60% to 80% of their energy source to heating your home. New furnaces score much higher, some even up to 99%, and furnaces in the 90s are common.
You can use our furnace savings calculator to compare different furnaces of different efficiency ratings.
Is Your Furnace Making Strange Noises?
Your furnace will make some normal noises like a little pop or click when it turns on and off and a dull hum when it’s running. Normal noises should not be annoying or disruptive to your household.
Loud and unusual noises, especially when the furnace starts, are a sign that the furnace is having problems and is headed for failure, or at least will need repairs. Some of these concerning noises include grinding, screeching, loud humming, loud pops and bangs, rumbling, or repeated clicking. These issues might be easily fixed, but some can indicate a dangerous situation. Any sudden and unusual noise should be investigated by an HVAC technician.
How is the Air Quality in Your Home?
All houses have dust, so it probably seems like a strange indicator that you might need a new furnace. But excessive dust or musty and stale air can mean that your furnace is not taking in enough outside air or circulating the air properly.
Look for dust around or coming from your heat registers. Your furnace takes in outside air, filters and heats it, then blows it through your home. As a furnace ages, it has a harder time filtering the air, so it just re-circulates the old air. If the dust is sooty or black it could mean there is a problem with the combustion chamber in your furnace or the air inside your home contains carbon monoxide.
Does Your Furnace Show Signs of Rust?
Is your furnace badly rusted or have you noticed rust in the air or in the dust on furniture or around your heat registers? Some rust on the outside of a furnace is usually not a problem and is common in areas with high humidity but excessive rust inside the furnace can mean internal components have begun to corrode.
Rust can eat away metal and cause all kinds of problems including a corroded or cracked heat exchanger, clogged burners, and damaged fuel supply lines. Significant amounts of rust usually indicate a furnace replacement is necessary.
Does Your Furnace Smell Bad?
Pay attention to how the area around your furnace smells. If you notice a strong smell of fuel or an odor like rotten eggs, you have a gas leak and you need to shut off the furnace and call the gas company.
Electrical or burning smells can indicate that your furnace may be overheating or drawing additional electricity. Both of these issues can cause wiring insulation to melt away creating sparks and the possibility of a fire. Both of these issues probably mean your furnace is at the end of its lifespan.
Would You Like to Add Central Air?
If your furnace is over 10 or 12 year old and you are planning to add central air, replacing your furnace at the same time is recommended for several reasons. Installing a new furnace and central air at the same time will save on labor costs. HVAC systems should be “matched”, meaning they are compatible so they can operate at the highest efficiency. Adding a new high efficiency central air system to an aging furnace will jeopardize the performance of both systems.
Are You Going to Sell Your Home Soon?
If the answer is “no,” and you’re there for the “long haul,” then buying a new furnace is a better long-term solution.
However, if you plan to sell in a couple years, repairs are more attractive unless the furnace is “ancient,” and then you should replace it. If you sell, the buyer will have the home inspected, and any inspector worth the money they charge will point out that the furnace is on its last legs. That could turn off a buyer already maxed out on the sale price. They won’t have money to put into a new furnace right away.
Reports show that buying a new furnace and then selling your home within a couple years will boost the home’s sale price by about 50% of the furnace cost. Spend $5,000 on a new furnace, and you’ll get about $2,500 back.
Bottom Line: Replace Blower Motor or Buy New Furnace?
Every situation needs to be evaluated on its own merits. If your furnace isn’t really old and is in good condition, especially if you’re planning a move, then fix the blower motor.
An older furnace or one that is already beginning to fail should be replaced. Skip the new blower, and put the money into an efficient furnace that will cut energy costs all winter.