Should I repair or replace my outdated heating equipment?

Your heating and cooling equipment in DE, PA, and MD is one of the most important investments and pieces of equipment in your home. We have brutally cold winters and scorching hot summers. So, it’s financially wise to keep good records of the overall performance of your heating equipment. This will help you know when to repair or replace your boiler, furnace, or heat pump before safety issues arise, or repair costs are more than buying a new unit. So, when should I replace my heating system? Let our heating expert explain.

When is it time to replace a furnace in DE, PA, or MD?

Concerned you may need a new furnace? How to know when it is time.

Be sure to sign up for our annual heating maintenance plan to extend the life of your oil or natural gas furnace.

We get asked in emails, on the phone, and in-home repair service calls, “Is it time to replace my furnace?” Customers fear the financial costs associated with replacing a furnace. We understand their concern, but there comes a time when the pain of repair costs and skyrocketing heating bills is greater than purchasing a brand-new energy-efficient furnace. So when is the best time to repair, and when is the best time to replace?

Pay attention to this oil or natural gas furnace in warning signs before you experience a no-heat emergency on a cold night. This is the worst time to call a DE, PA, or MD heating tech to assess your failing or faulty heating system. It’s better to be prepared. Here are some “warning signs” to consider replacing your aging and faulty furnace.

“Warning signs” of a failing furnace.

Don’t wait until your furnace fails before you consider replacing it. Here are signs you’ll want to review before your system breaks down:

  • Room Temperature Differences: Do you have some rooms that are too cold while others are too hot? Are you tired of adjusting your thermostat, yet some rooms can’t always stay at the right temperature? This is a sign that your furnace may be unable to distribute the air properly … or there could be other issues.
  • Energy Expenditures: Rising energy costs are not the only reason for high bills. Furnaces often lose their efficiency as they age, especially if not properly maintained. As a result, your oil or natural gas furnace may run longer to provide the same amount of heat. This will cause your energy bills to go up. And, all the money you pay your energy utility companies every month could be used to help you pay for a new, much more energy-efficient and energy-saving furnace.
  • Increased frequency of failures: Repair costs increase as your furnace ages. It’s very similar to your car. When one part is fixed, another must be repaired or replaced the following year. Spending upwards of $500 in repair costs is not abnormal. Most furnace breakdowns occur during the last two years of their lives. Another problem you may face is when a furnace ages, finding its replacement part(s) can be very difficult. You don’t want to wait for us to source the very old part on a cold night.
  • Your furnace making strange noises: Remember Ralphie’s dad fighting with the furnace in A Christmas Story? That happens because furnaces may make strange noises (banging, popping, rattling, or squealing) as they get past 12 years old. Pay attention to the furnace blower running excessively, too. If your blower turns on and off frequently or blows out cold air, your furnace may need to be replaced.
  • Poor Air Quality: Older furnaces were built to heat your home and not indoor air quality, which may make your house feel stuffy or odd. Your indoor air may be causing allergies, dry noses, dry throats, or dry skin from airborne dust, mold, pollen, viruses, or dander. Pay attention to see if your house has been extra dusty. That older furnace may be causing your poor air quality. It could also be poor ventilation or a variety of reasons. If you notice any of the symptoms above, schedule our service technicians to come out so they can assess your air and heating system and offer solutions for you.
  • Discoloration: Every heating system can cause carbon monoxide emissions. Oil-fired furnaces produce less carbon monoxide and have fewer safety concerns than natural gas and propane. If you have a natural gas or propane furnace, pay attention to the color of the flame. You want a blue robust flame. If you notice flickering yellow flames or black soot around your furnace, carbon monoxide is likely, and you should call Hillside to avoid health issues.

Do you have some or all of these warning signs and need a furnace?
A newer furnace has significant upfront costs but is a long-term investment. Today’s furnaces are significantly safer and more energy-efficient than models from 20 years ago. You can enjoy an energy-efficient home heating system and potentially save money in the long run by lowering your annual energy costs.

When to Repair Your Furnace:

  1. Age of the Furnace: Furnaces typically have a 15-20 year lifespan. If your furnace is relatively new and the repair cost is reasonable, it may make sense to repair it.
  2. Minor Issues: Small, fixable problems such as a malfunctioning thermostat, a clogged filter, or a broken blower motor can often be resolved with repairs, saving you money.
  3. Regular Maintenance: If you’ve been diligent about annual maintenance and your furnace has been running smoothly, it might be worth repairing rather than replacing.
  4. Energy Efficiency: If your furnace has a good energy efficiency rating and can still provide adequate heating after repairs, it can be cost-effective to keep it.

When to Replace Your Furnace:

  1. Age and Frequent Repairs: If your furnace is over 15-20 years old and frequently requires costly repairs, replacing it with a newer, more efficient model is often more cost-effective.
  2. Energy Bills: If your energy bills have steadily risen, even after repairs and proper maintenance, it may indicate that your furnace is no longer efficient. Newer models are often more energy-efficient, which can lead to significant savings.
  3. Uneven Heating: If your furnace struggles to heat your home evenly or consistently, it may be time for an upgrade to ensure consistent comfort.
  4. Safety Concerns: Any safety-related issues, such as carbon monoxide leaks or cracked heat exchangers, warrant immediate replacement for the safety of your household.
  5. Outdated Technology: Older furnaces lack modern units’ advanced features and smart technology. Upgrading can enhance comfort, control, and energy efficiency.
  6. Lack of Availability: If replacement parts for your furnace are no longer readily available due to their age, it can make repairs difficult and expensive.
  7. Environmental Considerations: Newer furnaces are more eco-friendly, with reduced emissions and better environmental compliance.

Making the Decision:

When deciding to repair or replace your furnace, it’s essential to consider factors such as age, repair history, energy efficiency, safety, and your budget. Consult a qualified HVAC technician who can assess your situation and provide recommendations tailored to your home’s needs.

Investing in a more efficient furnace may cost more upfront but can lead to long-term savings and improved comfort. Ultimately, the right choice depends on your unique circumstances and priorities.

We’ve got the furnaces you need to help you save. 
By installing a new home furnace or heating system from Hillside, you’ll improve your home’s value, enjoy the fast installation and professional training on your new heating system, and qualified customers can take advantage of some great financing options.

Count on us for all of your furnace maintenance and repair needs. 
At Hillside, our annual heating maintenance plan will maintain your current furnace while protecting any new purchase. We provide tune-up, repair, and maintenance services to protect your furnace investment.

when should I replace my furnace, boiler, heat pump, heating system in DE, PA, MD

When is it time to replace a boiler in DE, PA or MD?

Hopefully, you are not reading this while seeing your own breath because your boiler’s broken down. We get asked, “Is it time for us to replace our boiler?” And, we say, “It all depends.” If you have a newer boiler that came with your home purchase and replacing it is unlikely. This is especially true if you are on the Hillside Heating Maintenance Plan.  A well-serviced newer boiler normally provides exceptional heating for a quite some time. On the flipside, if your boiler is older and/or is performing poorly or breaking down a lot, it may be time to replace your heating unit. We have assembled a list of a few warning signs that you may need replacement:

Your DE, PA, or MD boiler is over 15 years old.

First, let’s define which type of boiler you may own because they’re a few different types of residential boilers with each having a different lifespan. According to, you should start considering replacing your boiler if it’s more than 15 years old.

Cast iron boilers are reliable with a 20-30 year lifetime and can last even longer with proper care and maintenance. If your boiler is over this age limit and not functioning properly or needing repairs constantly, it may be time to upgrade your equipment. There have been cases where cast iron boilers lasted 50 years or longer with repairs and annual maintenance. The downside is they’re not as efficient as today’s cast iron boilers.

Condensing boilers are relatively new to the market, therefore, it is hard to predict their longevity. With proper boiler maintenance, we think you should get at least 15 years out of your condensing boiler heating system.

Warning Signs: Don’t want to wait until your boiler fails before you consider replacing it. Here are signs you’ll want to review before your system breaks down:

  • Equipment Damage: Your boilers has damaged seals, high pressure, cracks in the body (usually from corrosion or stress fractures in the metal) or other damaged components.
  • Inadequate Heating: Your boilers should have no issue getting and staying warm.
  • Energy Expenditures: You notice an unusual spike in your energy bills. As your residential boiler ages, it becomes less efficient and has to work harder to produce the same heat output. This is a sign it may have reached the end of its life.
  • Increased frequency of failures: If your boiler is constantly breaking down and is getting repaired frequently, this is an indicator your unit is ready for replacement. I may not be worth pouring money and time into a dying heating system.
  • Discoloration: If you notice yellow flames (instead of blue) on your gas burners or black soot on oil boilers, this means that the fuel is improperly burning and creating carbon monoxide and should be replaced ASAP. Even at lower levels, carbon monoxide can cause headaches, dizziness, upset stomach and chest pain. Always be sure to have carbon monoxide detectors on every floor of your home, particularly close to your furnace room. Call Hillside to replace your boiler heating unit and avoid health issues.
  • Leaks: A boiler that leaks water or requires additional make-up water could be nearing the end of its lifecycle. Small leaks develop into bigger leaks and can cause costly water damage. Replace your boiler heating unit to avoid costly floods and property damage.

If repairing and operating your boiler is getting too expensive, call Hillside Oil Heating & Cooling and we’ll send a professional heating technician out to assess your current system and provide a fair quote.

big hvac company that can serve de, pa, md customersWhen is it time to replace my heat pump in DE, PA, or MD?

If your heat pump is older than 10 years and is frequently being repaired, purchasing a new HVAC system is more than likely your best investment option. According to, if your heat pump or air conditioner is more than 10 years old, you should consider replacing your unit with an HVAC unit with an ENERGY STAR label. Installed correctly by an HVAC company in DE, PA or MD, these high-efficiency units can save up to 20 percent on heating and cooling costs – as heat pump ages, it can lose its efficiency or stop operating.

“Warning signs” of a failing heat pump: Don’t want to wait until your HVAC heat pump fails before you consider replacing it. Here are signs you’ll want to review before your system breaks down:

Have you maintained the system? A well-maintained pump can perform as much as 25 percent better than a neglected system. Faithfully scheduling annual service for the heat pump means that it’s still energy efficient, so investing in a repair may pay off.

  •  The HVAC unit is blowing inconsistent with your temperature settings: A common problem with older heat pump units is uneven heating (or cooling) your home, even after a few repairs. For cooling, it may mean low refrigerant levels. If your air is cool when its set to heat (and vice versa) this indicates a serious problem. Inconsistent temperatures signal trouble too. If you our heat pump is not providing consistent air temperatures at the setting you’ve chosen, be prepared.
  • Energy Expenditures: If your utility bills spike in the winter or summer under normal conditions, perhaps your heat pump system is overworking. Inefficient units will raise energy costs because it struggles to maintain the desired temperature effectively. You can try cleaning your air vents, replacing the filters and also check for any lumps or knots in the condensing coil. If your unit has reached the end of its working life, your bills will still be high even after an energy audit
  • It’s emitting strange noises or strange smells: Mechanical systems are designed to run quietly with little friction and internal resistance. If you know your unit, you should be familiar with its sounds as it goes through a cycle. If you hear abnormal noises from the HVAC unit, it may be a sign that its components and moving parts are wearing down. Minor noise changes may indicate minor repairs needed. Screeching, grinding, grating, rattling, buzzing or other strange noises may indicate a more serious problem. Unusual odors can be more than just a nuisance and may indicate a problem. Your heat pump’s insulation can be damaged or you have moldy ductwork. Any dirt, mold or mildew inside your unit can recycle contaminated air through your home and cause health issues for your family. Don’t ignore any unusual or bad odors. You may only need to clean your filter, schedule an HVAC tune-up, or it may be time to replace it.
  • Your unit is leaking or producing excess moisture: If you notice a small amount of condensation or water dripping outside of your unit, that is perfectly normal. Your HVAC unit should be dry regardless if it is operating. Any moisture inside the house or sudden increase in water outside may indicate a serious issue. Hillside has heat pump technicians in DE, MD, and PA that can inspect your unit. As an HVAC  heat pump specialist, we uncover the problem and help you with the most cost-effective course of action.

Replace My Heat  Pump in DE, PA, and MD.

You may love your old reliable heat pump and may be able to nurse that old champ along with costly repairs for a couple of years or more.  Eventually, he’ll retire himself. You may be a financial whiz and want the highest return on your heat pump investment by stretching our its lifespan. Beware of diminishing returns. Although a well-maintained heat pump can be operational after 20 years, most do not last that long. Repairing an old heat pump may not be a wise investment. Let her go because she has done her job.

Purchase a new heat pump with a professional HVAC company with a 5-star ratings and recommendations for service and installation expertise. Our experts will work together with you in your home to select the best you can afford. We’ll evaluate both your heating season performance factor (HSPF) and the (cooling) seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER). At Hillside, we’re small enough to know you and big enough to serve you.

Hire a Heating and Cooling HVAC Professional for New Heating System

Our professional staff is fully trained to install, maintain, and repair oil, natural gas, propane gas, and electric heating systems. This includes hot air, hot water, boiler, heat pump, and water heaters (both traditional tank and modern tankless on-demand water heaters).

Hillside is capable of removal and replacement of fuel oil tanks, both steel as well as modern Roth double-wall tanks.

We carry and service most name brand equipment including but not limited to: Armstrong Air, Thermo Pride, Peerless Boiler, Mitsubishi and other ductless systems, Rinnai Tankless Water Heaters, Honeywell, Aprilaire, and Roth fuel oil tanks.

Our services extend to all types of indoor air quality, humidifiers, humidification, air cleaners, dehumidifiers. No matter your budget, Hillside has options ranging from economy to high efficiency.

Hillside is proud to sell and install all lines of new, modern, and remotely accessible thermostats made by Honeywell—controlling your thermostat from anywhere! Connect from smartphones or computers to manage temperatures according to your schedule.

Hillside Oil Heating & Cooling has been in business for over 65 years, received an A+ Rating with the Better Business Bureau, won its prestigious Torch Awards for Ethics for demonstrating the highest ethical standards of trust and behavior toward customers, business partners, shareholders, employees, and the communities in which they do business. We’re family-owned and locally operated. We have hundreds of verified reviews on our website and on FacebookWe offer maintenance plans and repair services for all our new installations. We also help with budget billing to spread high winter costs throughout the year. Hillside is here to help—from selection and purchase to delivery, installation, and service, we’ll make sure your paws are comfy all year long.

If you need a new furnace, boiler, heat pump, electric heating system, natural gas heating system, propane heating system, or HVAC unit, you can feel confident that Hillside will take care of your home heating needs. 🙂

Hillside Heating + Cooling earned the Torch Awards by BBB
Hilliside has been awarded an A+ BBB rated for Oil Delivery, HVAC, and A/C services in New Castle County, DE, Cecil County, MD & Chester County, PA
Hillside HVAC serving DE, MD, PA for 65 yeara