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How Much Is Furnace Repair & Maintenance?

Waking up in the midst of winter to see your breath in a freezing house is an unwelcomed surprise for any homeowner. What might be more unwelcoming is an unexpectedly high repair bill to have the furnace fixed. Knowing the average cost to maintain or repair a furnace can help you plan and prepare for the expense.

If you’re in need of immediate furnace repair, ImproveNet can connect you with a local HVAC pro for free.

National Repair a Furnace Costs

Cost data is based on actual project costs as reported by ImproveNet members.

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$262

Average reported cost

based on 12566 cost profiles

$53

Minimum cost

$800

Maximum cost

Most homeowners spent between:

$162

To

$265

National Repair a Furnace Costs
Average reported cost $262
Number of Cost Profiles 12566 cost profiles
Minimum reported cost $53
Maximum reported cost $800
Most homeowners spent between: $162 to $265

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Table of Contents

  1. Furnace Repair Cost
  2. Furnace Service Cost Factors
  3. Common Furnace Problems & Causes
  4. Average Cost of Furnace Maintenance
  5. Furnace Maintenance Tips
  6. Furnace Cleaning Tips
  7. Gas Furnace Troubleshooting
  8. Wood Furnace Troubleshooting
  9. Oil Furnace Troubleshooting
  10. Find A Pro

Furnace Repair Cost

The average price homeowners pay for a furnace repair is roughly $300. Most homeowners paid between $160 and $400 to have their furnaces fixed. At a minimum, homeowners spent $50 for the furnace repair, while at the high end, the maximum cost was $800.

Furnace Service Cost Factors

There are many variables that affect your overall furnace service cost. A furnace that is still under warranty may have parts covered, but you may have to pay the cost of a service visit and for labor. When a furnace is no longer under warranty, the cost will depend on what the problem is. A cracked heat exchanger or a problem with the motor, fan or wiring may cost more to fix due to the price of the replacement parts. The furnace's age, size and overall condition also factor into the repair cost.

Of course, as time goes one, you have to consider the cost of future repairs. If your furnace is more than 10 years old, you should consider replacing your furnace. Likewise, if you’re hit with a large repair bill, greater than $2,000, you should think about installing a new furnace.

Furnace Service Cost

Common Furnace Problems & Causes

The best way to alleviate furnace repairs is to eliminate the need in the first place. Sadly, according to HVAC pros around the country, a few common furnace problems and causes come up no matter how often or how little you use your heat.

Lack of Maintenance

You need to maintain and monitor your furnace. Basic maintenance includes changing the filter, monitoring its usage and checking for leaks every so often. We will discuss all furnace maintenance below, but these three tasks are a must for all furnace owners.

Dirty Filters

The harder your furnace has to work, the more expensive your utility bill will be. When you furnace filter is dirty, it has to work overtime to maintain your desired temperature, as dirty filters reduce airflow. Sadly, most homeowners do not replace their dirty filters as often as they should. In the winter, you should replace your filter every month. During warmer times of the year, every other month is more than acceptable.

Wear & Tear

Despite it’s tough exterior, your furnace will experience its fair share of wear and tear. All mechanical systems need repairs once in a while and your furnace is no exception. Sadly, other than regular maintenance, this is not a service you can eliminate.

Thermostat Problems

Your thermostat is not immune to repairs as well. Whether it’s faulty wiring, false readings or a blown fuse, your thermostat can greatly influence your furnace repair bill. If the issue is with the thermostat, just know the average thermostat repair price is approximately $250.

Loud Furnace

More often than not, the furnace will tell you when a repair is needed. When it’s making weird noises or is louder than normal, your furnace is screaming for repair or maintenance. Rumbling, squeaking and rattles are not normal. If you hear them, try the troubleshooting tips below or contact a local HVAC pro.

Furnace Repair Cost

Average Cost of Furnace Maintenance

Most heating and cooling companies recommend an annual fall tune-up to ensure the furnace is operating safely and efficiently. For a routine maintenance visit, homeowners should expect to pay around $100, plus any new filters.

Furnace Maintenance Tips

While many furnace activities are best left to experienced contractors, there are a few regular maintenance tasks you can do yourself between professional visits, which should occur once a year.

  1. Change Filter: Change your filter every month during the summer and every other month when the furnace is not in use every day.
  2. Clean Air Ducts & Vents: Once each heating season, take off the air vent covers and clean them with a damp cloth. Use the vacuum extension hose to suck out the dust from the vent opening. If you hire a pro to clean your ducts and vents, the average cost is $321.
  3. Check Ducts & Pipes: Gas leaks, while evident, are very dangerous. That’s why it’s best to check the ducts and pipes for any leaks. Small holes can be patched with foil tape, but corroded flues must be replaced.
  4. Check Thermostat: If you set your thermostat to a warm temperature, but do not feel the heat, your thermostat may need a new battery. Therefore, always consider changing the battery.

Conducting these maintenance items can help boost the furnace's efficiency and improve your home's air quality.

Furnace Maintenance

Furnace Cleaning Tips

As you read above, cleaning is a big portion of furnace maintenance. As such, we thought we’d expand on specific areas and tasks.

Before you begin, turn off your furnace. There should be a power valve and switch. If you’re not sure where either is, turn it off through your circuit breaker panel and make sure you ask your HVA pro where the power switch is the next time they visit.

Next, let’s work on the exterior. Wipe down the exterior with a wet cloth. Then, open it up and assess the dirt level inside. Vacuum inside the furnace and eliminate as much dust and grime as possible.

Then, move onto the blower. You may have to remove the blower with a screwdriver. Once removed, use a brush and vacuum to thoroughly clean. Some homeowners also remove the blades for easier cleaning.

Finally, clean the pilot light and igniter. This can be accomplished simply by blowing air around the light and igniter. Clearly, make sure no flames are lit while cleaning.

Bear in mind, furnace cleaning costs are usually included in an annual check-up. If they’re not, consider finding a different HVAC pro.

Gas Furnace Troubleshooting

With all the costs out of the way, we can jump into specific troubleshooting tips for each type of furnace. If you have a gas furnace, ponder the following steps to avoid an expensive furnace repair bill:

  1. Check that the thermostat is set higher than the actual room temperature. If you have a programmable thermostat, make sure it has fresh batteries.
  2. If equipped with central air, or the system is zoned, make sure the selector switch is on heat.
  3. Check the emergency switch (usually a red switch plate at the top of the cellar stairs or on the side of the furnace) to see that it’s on.
  4. If you’re familiar with the fuse or circuit breaker panel, see if the fuse is burned or the breaker tripped. Correct the problem once. If it repeats, call a serviceman.
  5. On standing pilot furnaces, the burner will not light if the pilot has gone out. If you are not familiar with the function of the gas valve or lighting the pilot, call for service. If the pilot light is flickering on and off, try tightening the thermocouple nut or otherwise, replace it.
  6. Furnaces with electronic ignition have a sequence of safety steps the burner takes to light. Information is usually attached to the inside of the burner or blower access door. Follow the procedure according to the manufacturer's guidelines to avoid the risk of fire or explosion.
  7. Do not disconnect any piping to check for gas supply. An instrument is used to check for pressure, and checking it should be done by a qualified furnace repair serviceman.
  8. If the furnace is vented through PVC (white plastic pipe) out the side of the building, examine the ends of the pipe or pipes outside. Blockage of any kind will cause a shutdown.
  9. If the furnace turns on and off repeatedly, it might be dirty from repeated use. It needs to be cleaned. Otherwise, the motor or blower needs to be lubricated with oil.
  10. If you’ve heard noises coming from the furnace lately, that could be a sign of loose access panels, worn bens or a dirty burner. In all but the last case, you can fix these by fastening the access panels or adjusting/replacing the belt. In the case of the burner, you’ll need to call a pro.

 Furnace Cleaning Cost

Wood Furnace Troubleshooting

Wood furnaces are not as popular as they once were, but believe it or not, you can repair it without calling in a pro:

  1. First, check that the thermostat is set higher than the actual room temperature. If you have a programmable thermostat, check that it has fresh batteries.
  2. If equipped with central air, or the system is zoned, make certain the selector switch is on heat.
  3. Check that the emergency switch (usually a red switch plate at the top of the cellar stairs or on the side of the furnace) is on.
  4. If you’re familiar with the fuse or circuit breaker panel, see if the fuse is burned or the breaker is tripped. Correct the problem once; if the fuse blows or breaker trips again, call a serviceman.
  5. If you can access the burner, check the red button on the protector relay. Older furnaces will have a stack limit switch mounted on the smoke pipe that connects the furnace to the chimney. Push the button one time only. Repeated attempts to fire the burner without ignition can create an explosive condition. If the burner fails to fire and continue running on its own, call for service.
  6. If the fire is going out when the damper is closed, it might not be reaching the right temperature. Make sure the chimney isn’t blocked by anything, and that the ash door is sealed.
  7. If you have smoke coming through the door when you’re loading, run it for a long time without wood. Crack the furnace door all the time when you first start the furnace so smoke will pull through the chimney.
  8. Make sure you aren’t running the furnace too hot, as it can damage it. Signs of this damage include warping on the side or top. There can also be white ash on colored furnaces. Check that the retainers aren’t burned away, or that the flu pipe doesn’t have a red glow.

Oil Furnace Troubleshooting

If you have an oil furnace, there are other steps you can take to avoid an expensive furnace repair bill.

  1. First, check that the thermostat is set higher than the actual room temperature. If you have a programmable thermostat, check that it has fresh batteries.
  2. If equipped with central air, or the system is zoned, make certain the selector switch is on heat.
  3. Check that the emergency switch (usually a red switch plate at the top of the cellar stairs or on the side of the furnace) is on.
  4. If you’re familiar with the fuse or circuit breaker panel, see if the fuse is burned or the breaker is tripped. Correct the problem once; if the fuse blows or breaker trips again, call a serviceman.
  5. If you can access the burner, check the red button on the protector relay. Older furnaces will have a stack limit switch mounted on the smoke pipe that connects the furnace to the chimney. Push the button one time only. Repeated attempts to fire the burner without ignition can create an explosive condition. If the burner fails to fire and continue running on its own, call for service.
  6. Check that the air and oil filters are clean. Cleaning them keeps the furnace from turning on and off too often. Also, try checking the motor and blower for clogs or the need for lubrication, as this might be another cause.
  7. Try resetting the thermostat from “on” to “auto” and then reset the limit switch to see if that keeps the blower from running all the time.
  8. If noises are coming from the furnace, check the access panel, belts, motor and burner. These might need to be tuned or fastened. The burner will need to be replaced if it’s not working correctly, which will mean calling for furnace repair services.
  9. Check the tank to make sure there’s enough fuel to run the burner. If not, refill the tank and press the reset button to reignite the spark.

If you’re trying to repair an electric furnace, please see Electric Furnace Troubleshooting.

Clean Ducts

Find A Pro

Regular maintenance is the key to decreasing or eliminating furnace repair cost. Following the recommended tips above will not only increase your furnace’s lifespan, but surely decrease its lifetime costs.

As always, if you need professional guidance, ImproveNet can connect you with up to four HVAC pros in your area for free!

Last updated on Nov 17, 2016

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