Gas Furnace Replacement -- Advice Requested
Hello everyone. I recently purchased a home in the Seattle area and have received the fun surprise of the furnace needing replacement. The goofballs before me replaced a failed 3-speed blower with a 2-speed, the electronic air filter is busted, and I've had to bypass a limit switch due to a failure there (don't worry, there are 2). All told to get this fixed, it's approaching $$$$. No thanks - a new unit sounds more reasonable.
My house is about 3700 sq feet with 20 registers. The existing system is a 15 yr old single stage Lennox rated at 120,000 BTU (if i read the label right of aga/cga=120000) with a programmable single stage Honeywell thermostat. I don't know what the efficiency rating is.
The foyer and living room on the entrance are two story, but everything else is 9' ceilings. We do have warm/cold spots in the house, but nothing unbearable. We moved here from OH, so it's not really cold here and we only ran the air conditioner 2 days last summer. I plan on selling the home in 8 years when the kids leave for college to go somewhere warm and sunny.
I've never bought a furnace before, so let the journey begin..
I've had two pretty well-known local installers come and provide bids -- the 1st recommended a York Affinity Modulating 80% Variable unit, rated at 120,000 btu's. He indicated the modulating feature would help better balance the heat in the house, while saving on gas and electric (lower voltage fan). This guy was a salesman to the core.
The 2nd company recommended a Bryant 2 stage 80% variable unit rated at 110,000 btu. This guy was a tech and not a sales guy (he's done some minor repair work on my existing furnace). He felt the current unit is oversized based on his calculations (sq feet and # of registers). I asked him about modulating furnaces, especially the York. His feedback was that modulating really isn't that much better than 2 stage and while he could quote me one, advised against it due to higher reliability issues. He shared he works on Yorks way more than Bryants.
Neither of these gentlemen conducted a "J load test" (I've been reading prior posts), but rather based their recommendations on area and registers. They both said a duct test would be done to determine if any leaks existed in the duct work, as part of the installation. I'm not sure if that's what is recommended or not. I will say both of them indicated they charge the same price for the furnace, regardless of BTU sizing.
So where I'm at now is a crossroads -- I really have no idea about this stuff, but want to get moving on the project. Our goal isn't to have the warmest home on the street, we would just like to have a tad lower bills and be a bit more comfortable than we are today. We can't afford the super system, but don't want to get the cheapest thing either. Looking to strike a good balance.
With that long story, it comes down to a few questions -- do I need to push these guys to come do a j load test then update the bids? And what about this modulating furnace stuff? Is it just marketing or is there some value there? For reference, contractor 1 is about $$$ under contractor 2 (or 10%). Any other advice (or suggestions on solid installers around Seattle)?
Thanks everyone for reading and if you're able to provide some feedback. I really appreciate your time and help in advance!