My furnace died (ugh) I have a few questions about what lies ahead.

It had to happen one day – the furnace is almost 25 years old. Better now then in the middle of winter, I say.

Last night when I was working in the basement I noticed a strange humming sound coming from the furnace. I investigated and found that the fan switch on the thermostat was set to ON. I turned it off and verified that the hum went away, but my curiosity was aroused: why wasn’t the blower running when it was on?

I took off the front panel and reached in – the squirrel-cage fan made a horrid screaching noise when I attempted to rotate it by hand. The blower is most definitely shot.

Now for your help:

What would you do in this situation?

Is it feasible to replace just the blower motor and fan assembly? On such an old furnace? If so, where does one go to find a new one?

Now for the more realistic questions:

I looked “heat” up in the phone book and had a serious surprise: there are dozens of small heating/air-conditioning businesses in the area. How can I avoid getting taken for a ride?

Does anyone have even the vaguest idea of what a new gas furnace costs these days? Do they give lowball estimates for the unit alone and then insist on replacing all of the ductwork (like when you buy a new muffler)?

Granted, there are many factors that will affect this, but I’m interested in a very general ballpark for a gas furnace in a typical 3br, 1.5bath home of the '60’s.

Just kind of want to prepare myself for sticker shock, and hopefully have an idea of what’s reasonable prior to throwing myself to the wolves.


I had installed a new high efficiency gas furnace (furnace itself was free from the gas company as my home previously had an oil furnace and we did a conversion) replaced all of the ductwork because it was the wrong size for the house (too small - not a gimmick the home inspector told us the same thing as did some independant research) And installed a central air conditioning unit too.

Total price tag $6,000. Unfortunately I can’t find the paperwork that has the breakdown.

Our house is a 3 BR 1 Bath ranch built just after the Korean War.

I would call the gas company and see if they have any contractors they recommend and have multiple estimates done. Make sure they give you the estimate in writing and that it is broken down by parts/labor.

Having just replaced an air conditioner, I can sympathize.

First and foremost, get at least three estimates. There’s also a website which can act as an intermediary for finding reputable companies, I don’t have the url at the moment though.

I don’t know about them insisting on duct replacement but they may need to reroute the gas connection a bit. Depends on where the connections are on the new furnace.

Found that url! “ServiceMagic has prescreened over 40,000 home improvement contractors & real estate agents for all your home improvement & move-related needs. Free Service - No obligation on all your service requests.”

I’ve lived…and paid, through the nose. Or some orifice. Pain and time have blurred the experience.
First: check Consumer Reports. Knowledge is power. The info will give you the best baseline for costs, efficiency and projected working span.
Second: armed with that, call around. Get least three quotes.
Third: be prepared to dicker w/ all of ‘em. Manufacturers’ glitz is only good as local installation.
Fourth: go for backing, but don’t pay for extended warranties. Make them stand behind basic installation and equipment.
Fifth: stand RIGHT over them during installation. You aren’t being a pest, just a paying consumer. If they aren’t cutting corners they have nothing to worry about.
Sixth: If possible, have the local inspector swing by during installation. He/she’s an expert, and on your side.


I replaced my own fan motor. Really.

Not that I’m that skilled, but it was not that hard. They sell them at Home Despot, providing it is a standard configuration. I had to journey into the dark depths of the industrial parks looking for the one that would fit my furnace.

This is a feasible alternative, providing your furnace isn’t ancient junk and should be replaced with a more efficient model. If you go for a ‘high efficiency’ number, expect extra costs for ducting and air intakes.

Have a glorious adventure with this one.

Get multiple quotes. We have an old farmhouse (turn-of-the-century) and had just a furnace and one big register on the floor in the living room. We had to get a new furnace and all the ductwork. It was 15 years ago, so I’m sure the price isn’t pertinent to today’s prices, but we went with a reputable name who, incidentally, came in very low.

It will depend somewhat on the BTU rating of the thing. Generally, a boiler replacement will run about $3,000-$5,000.

There’s another site, called “Angie’s List,” that may be in your area and has local consumer ratings for service issues such as this. However, you’ll have to register and subscribe (something like $30 USD a year) to see the ratings. It started here in Minneapolis (I think) and has since branched out to other cities. It seems worthwhile - I’m thinking of joining.

Google for Angie’s List - you’ll then be able to see if one’s in your area and if it’s worth it for you.

Good luck!