Furnace installation is complicated. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. One of the biggest misconceptions we encounter is with those who think HVAC equipment is akin to a refrigerator or microwave: plug it in, and it’s good to go.
Each HVAC system requires specific design requirements to match it to the home it’s being installed into. This requires specialized training and tools to do the job right.
You don’t have to become a furnace installer to know the process behind it, though. That’s where we come in. This article is designed to get you up to speed on the process. It will get technical at times, but the goal is to give you a better understanding of how your furnace works and why good installation practices are so important.
It also helps to know what to expect, so that you can hold your HVAC contractor accountable. Unfortunately, many of the important steps we’re about to outline get skipped a lot in furnace installation. You deserve better.
Alright then. Ready to become an expert on furnace installation? Let’s get started.
Before the Furnace Installation
We’re going to start the day you meet with a sales representative. Why? Because a lot that matters for the installation should be happening on this day.
The Bad Way to Do Things:
- Take the square footage of your home and make a quick recommendation for a furnace.
The Good Way to Do Things:
- Do a proper load calculation of the home, taking into account things like insulation, number, size, and quality of the windows, and other factors that affect how powerful your furnace should be.
- Check to make sure the ductwork is properly sized to facilitate the airflow of a new system. This includes the supply from the furnace to air ducts and the return air supply that feeds back into the furnace’s blower motor.
- Measure the physical area that the new furnace will be installed, to make sure it can fit (not all furnaces are the same size).
- Check gas lines and electrical wiring to ensure that they’re set up properly for the installation. For example, if galvanized piping is there from a previous installation, it can be illegal to leave them, but most homeowners won’t know that.
- Depending on the furnace chosen, a new chimney flue liner or PVC drain line may need to be installed. Measurements will be taken to account for these possibilities.
- Depending on the air conditioner that’s already installed, it may necessitate a certain type of equipment so that the two are compatible. This is primarily because the blower motor in the furnace moves air for both heating and cooling, and needs to be calibrated for each.
All of these are important because they can all lead to huge problems if they’re not checked.
Say you have improperly sized air ducts. This happens more than you might expect, and the result will be 10-30% higher utility bills for the life of your system, and equipment that needs to work harder and will break down sooner as a result. That’s thousands of dollars in expenses, just because someone didn’t take the time to do the proper checks when they visited your home.
This information should be passed along to the installer, who will come prepared for any necessary alterations.
Many problems that homeowners experience with furnaces aren’t from inevitable wear & tear but are from improper installation practices. Starting off on the right foot is the best way to ensure that you avoid these long-term problems.
Day of the Installation
So it’s time to get out your hammer and wrench and get to work…
Ok, not really. It’s actually time to sit back and relax while a trusted HVAC partner installs your new furnace. But that doesn’t mean your involvement will be entirely passive.
On the day of the installation, several things should happen before the actual installing process begins:
- The lead installer should discuss the details of the equipment with you, to make sure you’re getting the correct furnace and (if applicable) correct accessories. If you’re ever in doubt, ask to see the model number of the furnace unit being installed.
- The install team should put floor coverings down where they’ll be traveling, to protect your home.
- The area around the furnace should be “prepared” to make sure it’s safe for both the home and the installers who will be working in the area.
Any install team worth its salt will have a series of safety checks that they run through both before and during installation.
Before an installation, this generally includes things like shutting off any electrical breakers that run to the furnace, shutting off gas or fuel lines, and checking the area for other hazardous materials or items that could fall during installation.
Lastly, it’s important to note that while a single person can install a furnace, it will both take longer and be less safe. It’s not that a single installer can’t go through the same safety checks, but there’s always at least a small chance of an accident. Sharp metals, heavy objects, and power tools are used throughout the process. Even well-trained installers should ideally have a partner to work with.
At Fire & Ice, we only use individual installers for simple jobs that carry far less risk. It also allows us to perform thorough installations without rushing.
Removing Old Equipment
By now, the electrical power and gas supply (if applicable) has been turned off.
In removing the old furnace, the first things that need to go are items that are connected to the main furnace unit.
So the install team will be disconnecting venting, any electrical wiring, gas lines, ductwork, and anything else that’s tied physically to the main unit.
It’s during this stage that preparation will also occur to the area to make it ready for the new furnace unit. What does this mean? It depends, but may include the following:
- Cleaning under the unit, which will often have dirt or dust.
- Cleaning the entry points to the ductwork. Often, dust and dirt have accumulated here over years or even decades. While it’s not a full ductwork cleaning, it can do a lot for the health of your system.
- The evaporator coil (for the air conditioning side) is often being maneuvered, and now is a great time to ensure that it is clean. This can be a quick but important step to keep the entire HVAC system running smoothly after installation.
Lastly, the area itself may need some alterations depending on the size and orientation of the new equipment. For example, if the dimensions of the new furnace are different from the old one, alterations to the ductwork may be necessary to ensure smooth airflow once it’s installed.
Another consideration is access. Depending on where things like the furnace’s filter are housed, the orientation of the furnace may need to be altered, or slight alterations to walls may need to be made.
None of this should be a surprise to you on the day of installation. If it is, the installing company didn’t do its job. Ideally, your sales representative prepped you days or weeks ahead of time to let you know what steps would be involved.
Installing a New Furnace
We’re blending the steps together a little bit here. The preparation of things like plenums, ductwork, gas lines, and wiring mentioned in the last section is very much part of the full installation process. However, when most people think of the installation, they’re thinking of the primary furnace unit.
Airflow is the key. If that isn’t properly managed in the installation, the entire project will be sub-par. So as the new unit comes in, adjustments to the plenum, the flue lining, electrical wiring, and other elements need to be structured in such a way that everything flows together.
You want a direct shot from into the plenum, and from there into the ductwork system. In some cases, a “transition” will need to be built that runs to the plenum, to ensure that you don’t have excessive air leakage.
It’s here that the installers will be working with electrical tools, potentially woodworking tools, and certainly sheet metal tools. They need to be able to cut, bend, or fold the metal properly to create the correct airflow. This can be a meticulous process.
Once the main unit is in place, it’s adjusted to make sure it’s plumb and level. There should also be something separating it from the floor. Often this is a rubber pad, but other solutions are just as common. The important part is that the metal of the furnace isn’t touching the ground. If it is, the metal will immediately suck the moisture out of the ground and begin to rust.
RELATED: How Much Does a Furnace Cost? A Comprehensive Breakdown
Reconnecting and Sealing
Once the main unit is in place, the process of sealing the unit and reconnecting all lines takes place.
A caulk gun is used, with specialized HVAC caulk that is designed to withstand pressures inherent in the furnace system.
Electrical and fuel lines are also reconnected at this time. Depending on the technological sophistication of the furnace, additional wiring may need to be run. This is rare but can be a consideration when upgrading to a modern system.
Even more rare is needing to install a new breaker. A licensed electrician will be needed for this. However, if this step isn’t needed, the HVAC technician can handle all electrical work. Usually, the furnace is on an isolated breaker, and the wiring remains identical or similar to the older system.
Once this is complete, it’s tempting to think the install process is “done.” We’re not quite there yet, but we’re getting close.
Commissioning HVAC Equipment - The Forgotten Step
Commissioning a furnace is a fancy way of saying that we test it. But the point isn’t just to test whether or not it turns on and runs. Thorough commissioning - the kind that will ensure that your system is running as efficiently as possible - can take up to an hour and involves dozens of calculations.
What is being calculated? Quite a bit. Static pressure, temperature rise rates at various stages of furnace power, CFM (cubic feet per minute) of airflow, and many other pressures and parameters.
We’ve written a longer article all about commissioning (linked below) so I won’t go into a ton of detail here. But I want to make two very important points about commissioning:
- All of the tests are to ensure the equipment is operating to manufacturer and safety codes.
- A lot of HVAC contractors don’t do this step at all.
Failing to make adjustments from commissioning can (and often will) result in hot and cold spots in your home, improper airflow, noisier equipment, higher utility bills, and lowered lifespan of your furnace.
Even more surprising, it can make things worse on the air conditioning side too. The reason for this is that the blower motor (which moves the air) is tied to both systems. If it’s improperly calibrated, you’ll have inefficient airflow for cooling as well as heating.
RELATED: The Importance of Commissioning in HVAC
Cleanup and Review
Once commissioning is completed, it’s time to review everything with the homeowner. Part of this will be rehashing what was installed, but it will also include a walkthrough of the new equipment.
Among other items, the installer should show you how to replace the furnace filter, so that you’re able to do this yourself as needed. They should also walk you through any new functionality that you might have in your thermostat and heat settings.
Lastly, you should be able to hear the new unit turned on and running, and be given a chance to ask any remaining questions of the installation team.
After Your Furnace Installation
The job is completed, and you’re enjoying your new furnace and comfortable, warm home!
While the installation itself is complete, there are some steps you should take to guarantee that you’re getting the most out of your investment:
- Based on the schedule for replacing your filter, set reminders so that the filter doesn’t become clogged (which can be very bad for the furnace).
- Schedule a reminder to speak with your HVAC company to schedule maintenance on the unit one year after installation.
- Even better is if they offer maintenance plans that will allow you to “set it and forget it” with maintenance for your entire HVAC system.
The difference between a well-maintained system and one that’s neglected can be 30-50% higher energy bills, and years off of the life of your equipment. These steps are necessary to avoid that pain.
The Importance of a Good Installation
If you’ve gotten anything out of this article, we hope it’s that thorough installation practices are vitally important for the health, safety, and comfort of your new furnace.
Even more important is that you choose an HVAC partner who will go out of their way to make sure they’re doing each step, and not cutting corners to save themselves time or money.
Want to know what questions to ask a company before you hire them, to make sure they’ll do a good job? Click the graphic below to download our questionnaire checklist.
And if you’re ready for your free in-home estimate to replace your existing furnace and upgrade to a modern system, we hope you’ll consider Fire & Ice. Check our service area below to get started!
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- Will A New Furnace Save Me Money?
- The Complete Guide to Home Furnaces
The good news is that as long as the existing ductwork in your home is in tip-top condition and doesn't require a repair or replacement, the furnace installation should be completed within a day. On average, it takes about four to 10 hours to wrap up a furnace install, depending on the type and size of the unit.How do I prepare my furnace for installation? ›
- Assess Your Heating Needs. ...
- Inspect Your Existing Heating System. ...
- Clean the Pathway to the Furnace. ...
- Ask for a Programmable Thermostat. ...
- Consider an In-Line Air Purification System. ...
- Invest in an In-Line Humidifier. ...
- Know What to Expect During the Installation.
Furnace installation in a residential home usually takes 4-8 hours, depending on the complexity of the job. Additional time may need to be added to account for ductwork, electrical, or gas line modifications to properly match the new equipment.How many people does it take to install a furnace? ›
To install a furnace, it is always advised to get at least two well-trained furnace installation technicians.Why is furnace installation so expensive? ›
1 – Long-Term Investment
The number one reason why your furnace installation costs so much is because you are paying for a long-term investment. Like we mentioned earlier in this article, your furnace will last up to 15 years or more.
If you're worried about not having heat while the installation is in progress, the good news is that most replacements won't take more than a day. On average, home heating companies can complete the installation in about four to eight hours, depending on the size of your house.What is the lifespan of a home furnace? ›
THE AVERAGE FURNACE LIFESPAN
A well-maintained furnace can last at least 15 to 20 years, but completing annual maintenance and being diligent with repairs can extend its life even longer.
Stages refer to the different heating modes of a gas furnace. A single-stage furnace only operates at one fixed heating mode (100% capacity). When the thermostat calls for heat, a single-stage furnace will always run at full blast until your home reaches the desired temperature.Do I have to do anything before turning on furnace? ›
Clean the vents.
Turn off your HVAC system, then use a duster, soft cloth or vacuum to clean them well. Just like a clean air filter, it will help with airflow and allow cleaner air to move throughout the house once you turn on the furnace.
There are 6 main steps in Jason's furnace sequence of operation training. The phrase, “Take It Slow, It's Gonna Blow!” should help you remember the sequence (Thermostat, Inducer motor, Safety switch, Igniter, Gas valve, Blower motor).
- Change Your Filters Regularly. If your furnace uses disposable filters, aim to change them every 1-3 months unless you have an annual filter. ...
- Ensure Your Intake Pipe is Clear. ...
- Use a Programmable Thermostat. ...
- Keep Up with Preventive Maintenance. ...
- Is Your Home Ready for Winter?
Replacing a furnace is a labour-intensive undertaking and is pretty difficult. There are a large variety of factors that need to be considered and accounted for. It is never recommended to replace a furnace yourself as the appliance is a major investment and should be handled by professionals.Should you install a furnace yourself? ›
Both electric and gas furnaces need safe installation only by a qualified professional. Even faulty installation can cause injury, disease, or death if you don't think about it. If you still think that installing your own furnace is some big hassle, just look at gas line explosions online.How much do you save with a new furnace? ›
Average Furnace Cost for High-Efficiency Furnace
Cost: $3,000 to $5,000 installed (no A/C) AFUE: 90 to 97 percent. Savings: 25 to 30 percent of current heating costs (when replacing a 65 percent efficient unit).
Assuming your furnace is replaced after 15 years of use (what we recommend) you would get a total fuel savings of $1,318.05. A 90% furnace would save you $927.45 in fuel, compared to an 80% furnace. You can see how a high-efficiency furnace may end up being worth the extra money it costs you at the time of purchase.Is it worth replacing furnace before selling? ›
According to the National Association of Realtors' 2019 Remodeling Impact Report, homeowners who replace their HVAC system before selling their home can expect to recoup about 85% of the cost. Other upgrades – such as refinished wood floors or remodeled kitchens – tend to have a higher return-on-investment.How much does it cost to install a furnace labor only? ›
Furnace Installation Cost Breakdown
Here's what you can expect to pay: New furnace: $2,300–$7,200. Installation labor: $150–$500 per hour. Old furnace removal: $60–$500.
Most furnaces have a lifespan of 20 to 30 years. However, this doesn't mean you can wait that long to replace yours. After about 15 years or so, you may need to consider a furnace replacement if your unit has been experiencing significant problems and requiring frequent repairs.What is the most expensive part on a furnace? ›
The three most expensive parts on a furnace are the blower motor, the circuit board and the draft inducer motor.What is the best month to buy a furnace? ›
Spring or the end of summer/fall is the ideal time to shop around for a new model. Most people will be concentrating on their heating and cooling systems in summer and winter. Thanks to the milder temperatures that spring and fall bring, you'll find discounted prices, and better weather for installation.
Labor can be the most expensive part of hiring an HVAC technician, as customers are hiring you for your expertise and knowledge. HVAC repair and HVAC installation is skilled labor, and your wages should reflect that.How much does new furnace cost? ›
Depending on the fuel type, a new furnace ranges from $600 - $6,200. The most common types of furnace repair can cost anywhere from $30 - $3,500. The type of furnace can affect the installation price, ranging from $1,000 - $6,000.How often should a home furnace be serviced? ›
We usually advise that you schedule furnace maintenance every 1-2 years (ideally once a year) and duct cleaning at intervals of 3 to 5 years for a smooth-running system and excellent indoor air quality.Should a 25 year old furnace be replaced? ›
Replace your furnace as it approaches the end of its life expectancy. Furnace life expectancy ranges from 15-30 years on average. Check your maintenance manual; if your system is approaching the end of that life expectancy, you'll want to start planning on an upgrade.What type of furnace lasts the longest? ›
In general, oil-fueled furnaces have the longest life expectancy, and gas-fired furnaces have the shortest.Can furnaces last 30 years? ›
Regardless of the logic you follow, the 30-year mark is at or close to the maximum lifespan you should expect from your furnace. Even though furnaces can last 30 years or beyond, most experts recommend that you start shopping for a new furnace when your existing unit is 15 years old.What is a 3 stage furnace? ›
Two-stage furnaces have low and high options, while three-stage furnaces have low, medium, and high settings. If you want a true multi-stage furnace, you will enjoy more than just two or three efficiency levels.Is it worth getting a 2 stage furnace? ›
Should I Buy a Two-Stage Furnace? You are most likely to benefit from owning a two-stage furnace if you own a two or multi-story home in which you intend to spend the next several years or more. Otherwise, you won't get to reap the long-term benefits of lower energy bills.What is Stage 1 and Stage 2 heating? ›
A two-stage gas furnace has two levels of heating output: high fire and low fire. The first stage (low fire) is the primary one that runs about 75% of the time or more. The second stage (high fire) will typically activate when it's icy cold outside.Do I have to bleed my furnace? ›
Bleeding the fuel line isn't necessary unless the furnace doesn't restart once you've put more oil inside. Typically, the reason for bleeding the furnace has to do with fuel levels: If you let the oil completely run out, that's when the furnace may need extra help starting up again.
Clear the area around the furnace
The area around the furnace should be free of any items or trash that could be fire hazards. Be sure to clear the vents of debris as well. As you check the area around the furnace as well as the vents inside your home, don't forget the air ducts.
You save energy between the time that the temperature stops at the lower level and the next time the heat is turned up. Therefore, the longer your house remains at the lower temperature, the more energy you save.What are 2 stages of furnace? ›
Two-stage heating means the furnace has two levels of heat output: high for cold winter days and low for milder days. Since the low setting is adequate to meet household heating demands 80% of the time, a two-stage unit runs for longer periods and provides more even heat distribution.What is the process of HVAC system? ›
Air Conditioning Systems
Filled with refrigerant, these coils draw heat from the air, cooling it. Next, the air moves into the air handler, where a blower sends it into the ducts. As the cool air moves through the ducts, any noxious gasses produced during the process are expelled through the flue.
For this reason, all air conditioners use the same cycle of compression, condensation, expansion, and evaporation in a closed circuit. The same refrigerant is used to move the heat from one area, to cool this area, and to expel this heat in another area.What is best temp for furnace in winter? ›
The ideal thermostat temperature in the winter is 68 degrees Fahrenheit when you're at home. Energy.gov suggests that 68 degrees is a good room temperature while you're awake at home but recommends lowering it while you're asleep or away.How many hours a day should furnace run in winter? ›
When your furnace is trying to regulate the temperature in your home it will have to turn on and off regularly. On average this cycling should occur anywhere from three to eight times an hour. There are many factors at play that determine how often your furnace will cycle in the winter.Should I run the fan on my furnace in the winter? ›
During the winter, setting your furnace's fan on can result in circulating more unwarmed air, so it is not usually recommended.Can one person install a furnace? ›
In many jurisdictions, it is illegal for anyone except a licensed professional to work on any appliance connected to the gas main. Most furnace manufacturers also require that only professionals handle the installation job. Don't take any risks of fires or exposing your family to carbon monoxide.How often do gas furnaces explode? ›
Although it is possible for a gas furnace to either catch fire or explode, it's highly unlikely. If there is a danger of this happening, the furnace will usually simply shut off—as it's designed to. Regular maintenance will further reduce this already unlikely event.
Today's furnaces heat homes more evenly and efficiently than older models. To make this happen, new units blow more air over the heat exchanger. Older furnaces sometimes use expensive sources of fuel to heat a house. Gas is the least expensive energy source, and it's also the most efficient option.How many hours does it take to install a furnace? ›
On average, it takes about four to 10 hours to wrap up a furnace install, depending on the type and size of the unit. As expected, a larger, more complex model will take more time and effort than a standard unit. A brand-new furnace is an important investment for any homeowner.What does furnace installation include? ›
But the average cost per unit can range anywhere from $2,672 - $6,575. The national average is $4,820 - $9,350 for a full furnace installation. This includes the furnace itself, labor fees, ductwork, removal, and disposal of the old furnace, as well as other installation costs or upgrades included.How long does it take to put in a furnace? ›
4-8 hours. Furnace installation in a residential home usually takes 4-8 hours, depending on the complexity of the job. Additional time may need to be added to account for ductwork, electrical, or gas line modifications to properly match the new equipment.Can I install a furnace myself? ›
Both electric and gas furnaces need safe installation only by a qualified professional. Even faulty installation can cause injury, disease, or death if you don't think about it. If you still think that installing your own furnace is some big hassle, just look at gas line explosions online.Can you replace just the furnace? ›
A lone replacement furnace can cost between $3,000 - $7,600. (Both of these ranges include the cost of the equipment, labor and other fees.) But you can save on labor expenses and fees when you replace both systems. Some HVAC contractors also offer incentives if you replace both your air conditioner and furnace.How much does it cost to replace a furnace in Massachusetts? ›
What Is The Cost To Install A Furnace? Installing a furnace in New England has an average cost that ranges from $7,500 to $9,000 for an oil furnace. A gas furnace installation ranges from $6,500 to $8,500.Can I install furnace and AC myself? ›
While you can do this, it is not recommended. HVAC systems are more complicated than you might think. There are many things that can go wrong during the installation if you aren't a professional. You're almost always better off contacting an HVAC professional to handle the job.Can I sleep in the same room as a furnace? ›
Sleeping in a poorly ventilated room with a working furnace can mean carbon monoxide poisoning. You risk respiratory issues like asthma, difficulties breathing, organ irritation and other serious health complications.Do you need a new thermostat with a new furnace? ›
When your HVAC professionals install a new furnace or AC unit, have your thermostat upgraded too. In some cases, you'll need a fresh, updated thermostat to handle a more energy-efficient HVAC unit. There are three different types of thermostats in use in most of the US.
Average Furnace Lifespan
Precision Temperature replaced one from the 80s about a month ago. The average life expectancy for a gas furnace, though, is around 15-30 years. If you keep up with your preventative maintenance and take good care of your furnace, there's no reason it shouldn't easily last to the 15 year mark.
In general, it will cost $2,000 to $3,000 for a 40,000 to 60,000 BTU furnace for a 700 to 1,500 square foot home. For very large homes up to 5,000 square feet, you're looking at a cost closer to $6,500.Does a new furnace increase home value? ›
Does New HVAC Increase Home Value? We often receive the query, 'does new HVAC add value to home', and though there are a few factors to consider, the answer is that yes, generally it does. It can increase your home's value by up to 10%.Will getting a new furnace save me money? ›
Assuming your furnace is replaced after 15 years of use (what we recommend) you would get a total fuel savings of $1,318.05. A 90% furnace would save you $927.45 in fuel, compared to an 80% furnace. You can see how a high-efficiency furnace may end up being worth the extra money it costs you at the time of purchase.Is it cheaper to install furnace and AC at same time? ›
If you decide it's worthwhile for you to replace both the furnace and AC, you will save money replacing both at once. You will likely get a prorated price on the combined unit when you purchase it.How long does it take to install a furnace and AC unit? ›
Between 4 and 8 Hours
If you are replacing both your furnace and air conditioning unit at the same time, then the job will take between 8 to 14 hours. The length of time will vary depending on the size of the unit and your home, the location it's installed, and the company you hire.
Do you want to add air conditioning to your home, but it doesn't have any air ducts? You can either choose to: Install new ductwork and a central AC system (which can cost anywhere from $6,000 to $17,000+ combined) Install a ductless AC system (which can cost from $4,000 to $20,000+)