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Most and least reliable gas furnaces

Today’s higher-efficiency models are more reliable and can save you money

Consumer Reports magazine: December 2012

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Dreading a furnace replacement? Today’s more-efficient gas furnaces can save you around $17 for every $100 you spend on fuel compared with older models. They are also, on average, less likely to need repairs, according to our survey of subscribers, who told us about 32,251 furnaces they bought between 2007 and early 2012.

Reliability is especially important because when a furnace failed, 75 percent needed significant work. A majority of those broke down completely, with nearly a third producing no heat for more than a day. For 38 percent, the repair cost $150 or more.

If your furnace is on the fritz, try the following before you call a contractor or start shopping:

Check the filter. If you’re getting low airflow, check the air filter on the furnace. A clogged filter could cut airflow down to a trickle. Check it monthly, and replace when dirty.

Inspect electrical parts. Loose wires or a thermostat malfunction could also cause heat problems. If your thermostat runs on batteries, try changing them. And make sure that burned-out fuses or tripped breakers haven’t shut power to the fan or circuit board.

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