Most and Least Reliable Gas Furnaces

There are certain brands you can rely on

A gas furnace

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.

More on Heating and Cooling

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.

In our survey, Payne stands out as the most reliable brand of gas furnace. It's the only brand to earn an Excellent rating for predicted reliability, which estimates how likely a furnace is to experience problems by the 10th year of ownership. Six other brands get a Very Good rating for predicted reliability: American Standard, Bryant, Carrier, Rheem, Rudd, and Trane.

Of the seven brands that rate well for reliability, two—American Standard and Trane—receive a top rating of Excellent for owner satisfaction, which reflects how likely members are to recommend the brand to friends or family. Four of the top brands earn a Very Good rating for owner satisfaction: Bryant, Carrier, Rheem, and Rudd. But even though Payne stands out for its predicted reliability, it earns only a Good rating for owner satisfaction.

Six brands receive Poor marks for reliability in our survey: Coleman, Luxaire, York, Frigidaire, Maytag, and White-Westinghouse. Because of their poor showing, Consumer Reports can't recommend any of these gas furnace brands at this time. Of these six brands, three earn Fair ratings for owner satisfaction—Frigidaire, Maytag, and White-Westinghouse—and three earn a slightly better rating of Good: Coleman, Luxaire, and York.

The remaining 11 brands all receive a reliability rating of Good, and 10 of them also earn a Good rating for owner satisfaction. Of the brands in the middle of the pack for reliability, only Lennox earns an Excellent rating for owner satisfaction.