What does it cost to replace a furnace?

A high efficiency furnace installed by Lumberjack HVAC

One of the first questions that we are asked when a customer calls our office is, “What is the cost to replace a furnace?”  Skip to the end of this page to see our pricing, but read on to see what can impact the cost.  The answer depends on a few variables.  Some of the factors that can impact the cost are:

Where is your furnace located?

If your furnace is in a tight closet, it may require special fittings or take longer to replace.  If it is located in an attic, is the access large enough to fit the old furnace through the opening.  Most older furnaces are larger than the new ones so if the old one fits, the new one should be no problem.  Furnaces located in an attic are also required by building codes to have a walkway from the attic access to the furnace, an outlet for plugging in service tools, and at least one light fixture.  If any of these items are missing, they will have to be added to pass inspection from your local authority (all new heating and cooling equipment needs a permit and inspection).  Is your furnace located in a garage, bathroom, or bedroom?  If so, it may require a fire-rated door (like the one you have from your house into the garage), or other building changes to keep the homes inhabitants safe.  Most furnaces in West Michigan or around Grand Rapids are located in a basement.  If you are part of this majority, you will likely not have to worry about these issues.  As long as there is a few feet of open space around the furnace, replacing it should be fairly straightforward.

What kind of home do you have?

If you have a manufactured home, that is not set on a full basement foundation, you most likely need a furnace designed for this type of home.  Manufactured home furnaces push the heated air out the bottom of the furnace into ducts running under the floor.  The return air to be reheated is pulled into the furnace through the door on the front side.  They typically use an intake/exhaust vent that is made specifically for this type of equipment.  This may need to be replaced along with the furnace, as they sometimes rust out.  This goes from the top of the furnace and out through the roof.  If replaced, it will need new flashing that is sealed under the roof shingles.  Ask your contractor if they will glue and screw this on top of the shingles, or lift the shingles and place it under them to allow water to shed over and around the flashing.  If they want to just glue and screw it on top of the shingles, it will most likely leak after a year or two.  You should not use a contractor who does not properly install the flashing under the shingles.  The good news about manufactured homes is that since they are built in a factory, they are typically very straightforward to replace as the furnace is almost always installed the same way.  Then there are some uncommon home types like a mound house, homes made entirely of cement, and others that can present challenges not usually included in replacing a furnace.   Most homes in our service area are traditional “stick built” construction.  This means they are 2×4 walls set on a basement foundation.  Though there are a lot of differences between one house and another, the furnace configuration is usually very similar.

How old is your home?

In the downtown area of Grand Rapids, there are still many homes that were built over 100 years ago.  The areas outside of the city also have many older farmhouses which can be just as old.  A lot of these homes have what we call a “Michigan basement”.  This is a nickname given to a basement with fieldstone foundation walls, that is anywhere from four to six feet in height.  They commonly have a large wooden beam that sits atop the foundation walls that the house framing is built above.  This can be very hard to drill through for venting a high-efficiency furnace.  It also takes longer to get anything done due to the low ceiling height.  Many of these old homes were built with a coal furnace in the basement that would have been replaced by a natural gas or propane furnace at some point.  Homes built after World War II will not have any of these challenges.  If your house was built prior to the 1980’s, it may utilize a masonry chimney for the furnace and water heater exhausts.  Masonry chimneys that are still in use need to be lined with a new metal liner kit if any of the venting is altered or removed.  Newer homes will either have a metal chimney or PVC vent pipes for the furnace, with should require minimal changes.  The last thing we see a lot of in older homes is electrical modifications.  When a home gets to be 50-100 years old, it has likely had some work done.  If a previous homeowner decided to run some new basement lighting, it may have been spliced into the circuit for the furnace.  Building codes require the furnace to have its own “dedicated” circuit.  This means the power wire from the breaker panel to the furnace can’t have any other lights, fixtures, or outlets other than those for accessories to the furnace.  This could include a humidifier or condensate pump mounted on the furnace or ductwork.  Those items are allowed to be powered by the furnace.  Keep in mind that just because your home is older, does not guarantee you will have to worry about any of these conditions.

Do you need any other work done in addition to the furnace replacement?

Perhaps you are planning an addition to your home, or a upcoming remodel that requires ducts to be added or moved.  Maybe the thermostat is in your kitchen and you dislike that the rest of the house gets cold whenever you are cooking a big meal.  Maybe there is a duct that has always been in your way in the basement rec room.  If you want these items addressed at the time of your furnace replacement, it could add to the cost.  A big addition may require a larger furnace to heat the now increased living space when it gets very cold outside.  Custom work can vary greatly in scope and pricing, but we are always happy to answer your questions related to these things.

What kind of furnace do you want?

Cars are a great analogy for this question.  This is because just like a car, furnaces are made with many different feature sets.  You can get a “base model”, which would be like a builder’s grade furnace.  This is a no frills, bare bones piece of equipment that is will be just as dependable as more expensive options.  It may not be the quietest or most efficient option out there, but they are good, reliable heat.  You can also get the “Limited Edition Models”.  These have all the bells and whistles, the latest technology, and the best performance.  They will heat your home in the quietest and most energy-efficient way possible.  They can even balance out the temperatures in your home.  Is it always 10-15 degrees colder upstairs where your master bedroom is located than on the main floor?  Feel a chill as you walk up the stairs to go to bed at night?  Installing a top of the line furnace might bring the difference in temperature down to 2-5 degrees, or completely eliminate it.  Perhaps the fan in the furnace wakes you up when it turns on at night, or drowns out the sound on the TV?  Getting a good nights sleep, or not missing a line on your favorite show may be worth the extra investment in a premium furnace.  Most quality furnace manufacturers offer options from High-end, to base-model, and anything in between.  Some budget brands may only offer low end equipment to cut manufacturing costs.  These brands usually have lesser parts warranties as well.

How big is your home?

A larger home requires more heat output from the furnace than a smaller home.  It also requires a larger fan to push more air through the home.  Larger equipment is more costly than comparable smaller units.  The good news here is that cost is not directly proportional to size.  By this I mean that a furnace in a 2000 square foot home, is not twice the cost of one for a 1000 square foot home.  However, it may increase the cost a few hundred dollars or more depending on the features of the equipment.

So, what is the cost to replace a furnace?

The pricing on furnace replacement in our area of the country starts at $3000 and goes up to over $6000 depending on if you have any of the challenges outlined above.  Our average invoice for a standard furnace install is $4500 at the time of this writing.

Call Lumberjack HVAC, at 616-383-4625 for a quick phone consultation where we can give a firm price over 90% of the time.  We will ask you some simple questions about your needs, wants, budget, and your home.  Then we’ll give you some different options and their pricing.  If you decide you like one of these options, we will meet you at your home to verify the project.  Then we collect a signature and deposit, and schedule the day you want to do the work.  We look forward to making your home feel good!

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