Most and Least Reliable Gas Furnaces

There are certain brands you can rely on

detail of gas furnace in basement of home Photo: Getty Images

At least half of American homes are heated by natural gas, and when a gas furnace breaks the families in them can be left without heat for a day or often longer.

That’s what our members who rely on gas furnaces told us when Consumer Reports asked them about their experiences with the furnaces in their homes. Their responses underscore the fact that when you need a new gas furnace, you surely want to buy one from a brand with a good track record for reliability.

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In our recent central heating surveys, our members told us about their experiences with more than 36,000 gas furnaces that were installed new between 2005 and 2021. Typically, these furnaces were used to heat their homes for a median of six months a year.

Based on our analysis, we determined that, on average, about a quarter of gas furnaces are likely to experience a break by the end of the 10th year of ownership, which is the midpoint of the expected life of the system. Our members said they expect their furnaces to last a median of 20 years.

To Repair or Replace

When you compare the cost of repairing a faulty furnace with the cost of replacing one, it’s clear why you’d lean toward repair. In our 2021 survey, we found that almost 90 percent of members who owned a furnace that broke reported that they attempted to have it repaired. The median cost for those who paid completely out of pocket—meaning the furnace wasn’t on a service plan—was $308. Compare that with the median cost of $6,870 that our members spent to buy and install a new gas furnace over the past five years.

Repairing or replacing a furnace is a matter of great expediency, as we saw in our 2021 survey. Of those furnaces that were repaired, 44 percent resulted in a loss of heat for at least a day, and for at least two days in 20 percent of the furnaces.

For more information on gas furnaces, including what size you need and how to determine their energy efficiency, see our gas furnace buying guide.

Most and Least Reliable Gas Furnaces

We analyzed data from our members on 24 furnace brands from such well-known manufacturers as Lennox, Trane, and Carrier, as well as lesser-known players like Day & Night, Comfortmaker, and Tempstar.

Here’s a breakdown of the winners and losers among gas furnace brands. Eighteen brands earned passable scores for predicted reliability, but only two brands got our highest rating.

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We investigate, research, and test so you can choose with confidence.