Should I replace my furnace if I replace my air conditioner?

Find out how much furnaces and AC systems go hand-in-hand

In many cases, your original air conditioner and gas furnace were installed as a matched set.  When one needs to be replaced it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to replace both, but it’s a good time to start thinking about your options.   You might consider upgrading to a heat pump system or a dual fuel system which can reduce energy costs during the spring and fall heating seasons. If you call a contractor to come out and evaluate your options for repair or replacement it’s a good time to ask about long-term solutions in addition to the quick fix.  A qualified contractor should be able to tell you about the usable life remaining in your system and provide you with several recommendations for short, mid and long-term solutions based on your needs and preferences. It’s also a good idea to ask about scheduled maintenance solutions which can help keep your system running longer and in better condition.

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25 thoughts on “Should I replace my furnace if I replace my air conditioner?

  1. Had HVAC guy check out my system. He said the air-condition unit was shot and said I needed an entire new system because the new air-conditioning systems would no be compatible with my heat pump. Confused

  2. I have baseboard heat, so a boiler, an old air handler (over 15 years maybe more) and a relatively new A/C condenser (installed late 2012 uses R22 freon). Not that frequently, the air handler will go on but the outside unit will not. Sometimes the air handler will go on then shut off. Repair or replace? Would both units need replacing? Thanks!

  3. My air conditioner on my roof clearly needs replaced. The furnace is about ten years old. Should it be replaced as well?

    • If it’s a gas furnace it probably has another 5-8 years of life left so long as it’s been well maintained. The important thing is to have it inspected by your contractor and have them check for cracks or signs of excessive wear. If the inspection shows it to be in good shape, you are probably ok to just replace the AC and leave the furnace. If, however the inspection shows excessive wear then you will want to consider replacing it as well.

  4. My oil furnace is 16 -17 years old. I would like to add AC to my house but the furnace is too tall. My options are to go to gas and AC which is 10,000 or to put mitshubishi a/cs in for around 8. Would I be smarter to replace the whole furnace since it is already 16 years old?

    • Hi Sue – your decision might depend on where you live and the temperature and humidity variations you will experience throughout the year. On average, HVAC systems in the US typically last about 14-16 years before they are replaced but that number can vary based on run time – i.e. your furnace might last longer in the south but the life would be shorter in the north. We always recommend talking to few different contractors, not only to make sure you are getting a fair price but to also make sure you find a contractor who can help answer your questions and do a good job on the sizing and installation. There are a few other articles and posts on this site that get into the details of ductless versus central ducted systems so you might want to use the search tool to review that information.

  5. We have a Borg Warner Furnace a/c unit. A couple of days ago, we smelled something like something was cooking. The unit blower went out. Would it be better to replace or repair? The model # P3UGB10N04001A. and mentions something about 40,000 BTU. I was researching for a unit but not sure on 1.5, 2 or 2.5 ton. unit.

  6. Shelly, You wouldn’t need to replace the furnace twice if you left the existing AC in place but if you did that you’ll likely need to replace the AC in a few years anyway. Typically we see AC’s last anywhere from 10-18 years. The difference is usually based on where you live and how often you’ve run your system. If you’re in Florida, getting 10 years out of an AC is about all you should expect. If you’re in Idaho on the other hand, getting 17 years out of your AC is not unusual. It’s usually much cheaper to buy a furnace w/ an AC than to get them separately at different times because they’re at your house anyway. If you live in the east or southeast especially, getting a new AC w/ a new furnace probably makes sense. However if you’re in a dryer/cooler climate (such as the west), it might make sense to hold off on the new AC. Anywhere in between such as the Midwest, and it could go either way. Ultimately getting multiple bids and second opinions is going to be your best bet.

    • Shelly – depending on where you live you might also have them quote a heat pump or a dual fuel system which is a heat pump with a gas furnace to use in the coldest part of the season. I would also look into a system with a SEER rating of 16 or higher that has at least two steps/stage of capacity modulation to allow better energy savings and comfort benefits on humid days and nights.

  7. My 30+ year old furnace is shot and has to be replaced. I have been told that I need to replace my 11 year old working air unit at the same time, because it takes R2 fuelent & when it does go out I will have to replace it and the furnace. I don’t want to have to replace the furnace twice, but I also don’t want to get both if that’s not the case.

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