Most and Least Reliable Gas Furnaces

There are certain brands you can rely on

gas furnace in basement of home GettyImages-187569310

At least half of American homes are heated by natural gas, and when a gas furnace breaks they can be left without heat for a day or often even 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 definitely 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 48,318 gas furnaces that were installed new between 2003 and 2019. Typically, they 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 2018 survey, we found that nearly all members (96 percent) who owned a furnace that broke reported having it repaired. The median cost for those who paid completely out of pocket—meaning the furnace wasn’t on a service plan—was $208. Compare that with the median cost of $5,801 that our members spent to buy and install a new gas furnace.

Repairing or replacing a furnace is a matter of great expediency, as we saw in our 2019 survey. Over half of all breakages (57 percent) resulted in a loss of heat for at least a day, and for at least two days in 23 percent of all breakages.

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 different furnace brands from such well-known manufacturers as Lennox, Trane, and Carrier and lesser-known players like Day & Night, Comfortmaker, and Tempstar.

Here’s a breakdown of the winners and losers among gas furnace brands. Eighteen brands earn passable scores for predicted reliability, but only one brand gets our highest rating.

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