How Long Does It Take to Replace a Furnace?

May 21, 2024

Whether your furnace is on the blink and you need a new one or you simply want to upgrade to a newer, higher-efficiency furnace to save on energy bills, replacing a furnace is no small task. 

It’s essential to get it right because a lot can go wrong. A fully functional furnace is a major investment but it is a non-negotiable for Calgary homeowners who need to keep the family cozy and warm during the long, cold months.

If you’re replacing a furnace, it helps to know how long it takes, what’s involved, what factors can complicate the furnace installation process, and what to look out for on the day the work is done.

This can help you plan so that your family can work around the furnace downtime you’re likely to experience.…

Table of Contents

How long does it take to replace a furnace?

A furnace replacement will usually take around 4-10 hours. This timespan is affected mainly by the type and size of the home/unit, ease of access to the old furnace, whether any home modifications are required, and whether unforeseen complications arise during the installation process.

Generally speaking, a larger, more complex furnace designed to heat large spaces will take longer than the installation of a furnace for a small home.

As the homeowner, you’ll be hoping that the installation is completed as soon as possible—closer to four hours than 10—especially if the installation is in mid-winter. The good news is that in the majority of cases, the replacement furnace will be operational within half a day. 

Our installation professionals are cognizant of the need to work quickly but safely and thoroughly so that downtime is kept to a minimum—but also that we’re not called back to fix up installation issues.

What factors influence the furnace installation timeline?

With such a wide potential timespan for replacing a furnace, let’s consider the main factors that affect the 4-10-hour range:

The size of the furnace/home

The main factor involved in the size and type of furnace you require is the size of your home. Most people know that larger homes require larger, more powerful furnaces to heat them, all else being equal.

Sizing your furnace accurately is essential as a furnace that is too small will become overworked and a furnace that is too large can keep starting up and shutting off too quickly. Neither scenario is good for your furnace’s efficiency or your family.

A greater square footage can mean more work with ducting and/or insulation and extra preparation and modifications may be required, especially if the previous furnace was installed 20 or 30 years ago.

The complexity of the installation

Additional installation time is required for complex furnace replacements. If extra ductwork must be installed, ducting needs to be replaced or cleaned, vents need work or gas lines need modification, this will add to the complexity of the replacement and extend the time it will take.

Though newer furnaces tend to be smaller than their older counterparts, older homes may need modifications when replacing a very old furnace with a new high-efficiency model.

The installation company you hire

Professional furnace installation companies ask plenty of questions and prepare meticulously for installation day so that there are no surprises—or delays. The initial evaluation/assessment will cover most of what they need to know.

The company you approach to replace your furnace, therefore, matters. Don’t try to cut corners or take the risk of hiring unlicensed professionals to do the work. It can come back to bite you.

All of the furnace professionals at Alberta Mountain Air are SAIT-certified and trained to install all models of furnace in Calgary.

Why replace a furnace?

If you’re lucky and look after your heating system, you shouldn’t have to replace a furnace more than a few times in your lifetime.

Well-maintained furnaces that are cleaned regularly can run reliably for 15-20 years, even in Calgary’s harsh climate. 

Occasional furnace repairs may be required for parts that become worn with time and work but, other than that, modern furnaces are very hardy if maintained well.

Most Calgary homeowners consider replacing a furnace for one of the following reasons:

  1. An old and worn-out furnace needs replacing: aging furnaces can run into serious problems like a cracked heat exchanger or corrosion and simply stop working (usually in the dead of winter when you need it most).
  2. To reduce maintenance and repair costs: there comes a time when the high furnace maintenance and repair bills can no longer be justified and replacement becomes the most economical option.

To upgrade to a higher efficiency model: if your furnace is older than 10 years, higher-efficiency models are almost certainly available to reduce energy wastage and monthly gas bills.

What can you expect on the day of installation?

On the day that your furnace is replaced, one of our licensed furnace installation technicians will perform an initial walkthrough of your home, focusing on the designated installation area.

In Calgary, most furnaces are installed in basement areas. To limit the amount of ducting required, it’s generally best to locate the furnace as centrally as possible in the home. Importantly, the area will require big enough clearance to accommodate the unit without limiting access.

You should be advised at this stage if any extra modifications are required to accommodate the new furnace and any extra costs involved.

When the furnace replacement work begins, you should have a fair estimate of how long the replacement work will take. 

While work is ongoing, the heating supply will be turned off so, depending on the time of year, you may need to make alternative plans for you and your family, especially if you have small children or elderly occupants in your home.

Someone from the household should arrange to be on-site during the installation to answer any queries or make any necessary decisions on installation day.

Professionals never cut corners with installation work. The number one priority is safety with furnaces. With every installation, our technicians won’t leave until all the safety checks have been performed, they’ve ticked every item off their post-installation checklist, and your new furnace is operating at optimal efficiency.

You can ask questions or seek tips for maintaining your furnace from our professionals before they leave—and of course, if any problems arise, you can call us back.

Who disposes of my old furnace?

Our furnace installation team will remove your old furnace, clear the area ready for the new furnace, and responsibly dispose of the old device after the replacement has been installed.

Then you can sit back and enjoy a warm, cozy home for the next 15-20 years!

How can Calgary homeowners prepare for a furnace installation?

Most of the preparation work for your furnace replacement will be done by your HVAC professionals. And despite the variety of different furnace makes and models, the preparation process for furnace installation is fairly standard. 

During the initial evaluation/assessment, a technician will visit your home to help determine the size and type of furnace you need based on square footage, insulation, number of occupants of the household, etc. Any access issues or additional modifications required for ductwork, vents, gas lines or other factors can also be assessed then.

You may even be advised to address insulation problems like leaky windows, which affect the heating/energy efficiency of your home.

If the ductwork is adequate but needs cleaning, this will need to be arranged either through your HVAC company or with a separate duct cleaning service. 

Homeowners can also make life a little easier for the HVAC professionals on the day of installation. Ensuring that the area around the old furnace is clean and accessible for the professionals will save time and delays, for starters. They will need to deliver the new furnace and carry tools and equipment through the home so try to create a clear and accessible path to the installation location.

It’s worth noting that all furnace installations and replacements require a permit in Calgary. The following are the City of Calgary regulations:

  • A gas permit is issued to a qualified gas fitter and includes the appliance, venting, and gas line serving the appliance. 
  • A furnace replacement permit is issued to a qualified HVAC contractor and will include the appliance and venting only. 
  • A mechanical permit is issued to a qualified HVAC contractor and includes any major additions or alterations to the related ductwork. 

So, although permits are required, our licensed technicians look after that side of things for Calgary homeowners.

Your new furnace might take up less space than the old one, exposing areas of wall and flooring that may be marked or blemished. After installation, therefore, a little touch-up paint can restore walls, in most cases.

How do you choose the right furnace for your home?

The process of comparing furnaces is a lot easier than it used to be. Homeowners can educate themselves online about the best furnace types and only enter a physical store when they want a demo of a particular model.

Alternatively, they can start a conversation with furnace specialists and be guided toward the right furnace model for their needs.

Over 80 percent of households in Alberta rely on forced air furnaces to heat their homes—and the vast majority of these are natural gas-powered rather than electric or oil-based furnaces. A gas furnace is the logical choice for Calgary homeowners because of the abundance and relative affordability of natural gas in Alberta.

Beyond this basic consideration, your choice of furnace will mainly be affected by the size of your home and the BTU rating required, your budget, and whether you want a single-stage, two-stage or modulating/variable furnace.

Most modern furnaces are highly efficient compared to older models. In Alberta, the minimum Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) requirement for new furnaces is 92 percent but you can easily find furnaces with a 97 percent rating.

Generally, the cost of a fully installed new furnace in Calgary homes ranges from $4,500 to $8,500. Be mindful that running costs are also a major contributor to monthly energy bills and that higher-efficiency furnaces can save you money every month to pay back the higher installation costs.

Because of the wide variation of installation and running costs, it’s important to make an informed decision when comparing furnaces.

Professional furnace replacements in Calgary

For a safe and efficient furnace replacement that keeps your family comfortable for years ahead, talk to the team at Alberta Mountain Air. Call us at 403-236-4366 or contact us online to start a conversation.

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Still have questions about your next air conditioner? Let us help you choose an air conditioner you’ll be excited for.

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