I consider the heating system to be the forgotten stepchild of a home. Many gas-fired, forced-air furnaces suffer from minimal or no maintenance, and as a result, perform poorly or even unsafely. In this age of higher energy costs and increased environmental concerns, regular maintenance of a furnace is paramount. Furnaces are apparently designed to last about 20 years. Few, if any in our area are replaced at that time. Most furnaces that I run into are as old as the home itself, many are twice as old as their expected design life. I will periodically run across a furnace that is 60 or 70 years old. While often happily chugging away, these appliances are certainly not efficient and potentially unsafe. A surprisingly common defect that I find is loose, disconnected and damaged ductwork, which will significantly affect the cost of heating/cooling. It is relatively easy to seal connections in ductwork, but replacement of damaged or inefficient ducting should be entrusted to a licensed heating contractor.Another consideration is that older ducting may be wrapped with an insulation that contains asbestos, which should be addressed by licensed and qualified professionals.
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