Keeping Your Furnace Working, One Part at a Time

January 31, 2012

Just like your car and every other hardworking machine that you rely on, a furnace has parts that are going to wear out. It’s just the nature of machinery. And, much like being left on the side of the road for a major problem that could have been avoided with a minor repair, you want to make sure that these wear-and-tear parts won’t leave you cold this winter. A modern furnace has so many parts that it takes a qualified repairman to recognize when some of those parts are nearing the end of their lifespan. That’s one reason you should have your furnace inspected and tuned up annually. It is significantly less expensive, not to mention inconvenient, to have any worn-out parts fixed as part of a tune-up than to have to call for emergency service on a Saturday night when the temperature is well below freezing. So which parts can be expected to wear out?

  • Fan Belt. The fan belt connects to the blower and when it wears out, it lowers your unit’s efficiency and raises your heating bills. It should be changed regularly; ask your technician for the guidelines for your furnace.
  • Ignitor. In modern furnaces, the ignitor replaces hand-lit burners to light the gas flames when your furnace turns on. Expect an ignitor to last about three to five years before needing to be replaced.
  • Burner. The burner produces the heat you need. Check it frequently to ensure the flame it’s producing is blue. If it’s yellowish-red, it’s dirty—and may be producing carbon monoxide.  Of course, these are only a few of the parts that can wear out or malfunction on a modern furnace, and every furnace is different. A qualified furnace technician can give you an idea of the parts that may need to be replaced soon.

When it’s time to replace these parts, remember that you almost always get what you pay for. Even if you’ll save a few dollars, wear-and-tear parts should not be purchased from a wholesaler or off the internet.


  • Many parts are complicated to remove and install. You may damage other parts of the furnace.
  • It’s difficult to diagnose a furnace’s problem. You run the risk of replacing the wrong part.
  • It’s even more difficult to order the specific part for your specific furnace. Yes, you purchased a blower online for less than your technician quoted, but are you sure it’s the right one? If not, you didn’t save any money.

And, most importantly:

  • If you try to fix your furnace yourself, it’s likely to void any manufacturer’s warranties.

Furnaces, like all other machines, break when it’s most inconvenient. It’s best to avoid the chance of a very chilly night by being aware of the parts of your furnace that may leave you cold, and discussing wear-and-tear part replacement with your furnace technician.


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Last Updated: June 09, 2023