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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Hiram, Ohio
    Posts
    217

    another estimate, more confusion

    It's hard to tell who to believe and who not to believe. I've had 5 HVAC guys out so far. Actual BTU's for heating are all over the place. I know no one can give me sizing over cyberspace, but I'll ask for thoughts.. 2100 sqft dime a dozen colonial built in 1990. Currently I have a 90k input LP 90% forced air system. Let me ask this question... On a cloudy calm day in NE Ohio where the night temps drop to 25 and the day temps reach 35, how many hours of run time would I expect for a properly sized system? I am asking this way because this is a number that I can actually grasp and even keep notes.. For instance, if the dang furnace is running 12 hours a day, then it isn't going to keep up on a day when it drops to zero. If it runs only 3 hours, maybe it is too big. There's got to be a rule of thumb that a homeowner can use to weed out the bad advice. Thanks in advance, Mike

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    PA
    Posts
    98
    Quote Originally Posted by troyport View Post
    It's hard to tell who to believe and who not to believe. I've had 5 HVAC guys out so far. Actual BTU's for heating are all over the place. I know no one can give me sizing over cyberspace, but I'll ask for thoughts.. 2100 sqft dime a dozen colonial built in 1990. Currently I have a 90k input LP 90% forced air system. Let me ask this question... On a cloudy calm day in NE Ohio where the night temps drop to 25 and the day temps reach 35, how many hours of run time would I expect for a properly sized system? I am asking this way because this is a number that I can actually grasp and even keep notes.. For instance, if the dang furnace is running 12 hours a day, then it isn't going to keep up on a day when it drops to zero. If it runs only 3 hours, maybe it is too big. There's got to be a rule of thumb that a homeowner can use to weed out the bad advice. Thanks in advance, Mike
    Based on location and home you call for around 81,900BTU output (based this on a similar install in Erie, PA). You state you have a 90% 90,000BTU input so it is outputting 81,000BTU. On a colder day, as we know we definately get in this region, you will not be able to keep up.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Location
    Indianapolis, IN, USA
    Posts
    34,189
    Here in Indy, typical 2100 sq ft like that built in 1990 we'd go a 75K-80K input 95%. 60-70K would be cutting a bit close in the rare -10 morning. Prefer 2 staqe or modulating for long run times (with appropriate control).

    For $50ish you can download and register the HO version of HVAC-Calc (on the menu bar above) and crunch your own numbers.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Hiram, Ohio
    Posts
    217
    I've never had an issue with my current furnace, but I've got 2 guys saying I need a 70K btu input 95%, and one guy saying I need 100K BTU input. Sounds like, in general, the 70 would be too small and the 100 would be too big. I think I'll figure the 2 guys who say I am sized correctly now as best I can, are probably more correct... I'll replace with another 90K. Does this sound reasonable? Mike

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Location
    Indianapolis, IN, USA
    Posts
    34,189
    The RIGHT way is do a load calc. If 2 people who have seen the house think 70K, they are probably right. Lots oversize, but dealers don't undersize, they don't want you pissed if you are cold.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    North East Ohio
    Posts
    774
    Get an actual load calc done and find out exactly what you need for our design temps 0 to 5 degrees is a good way to go. 70K to 80K at 95% would be my sight unseen guess. Dont guess, have a load calc done. I also like the 2 stage furnace. They are really paying off this m ild winter so far. Good luck

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Hiram, Ohio
    Posts
    217
    Currently, I have a 81K output furnace. The bigger new furnace would be a 85K output, the smaller would be a 65K output. If I went with the smaller furnace and it was too small, would I struggle on only the coldest of days, like the 1 day in 5 years... or could I often struggle on cold days? I guess what I am asking is could this be disastrous? FWIW, yesterday was drizzly and cold.. 37 degrees... the t-stat called for heat 3hrs and 38 minutes total for the 24 hour period, if that is any indication of whether my current furnace is appropriate. Thanks, Mike.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Lancaster PA
    Posts
    68,120
    It would only struggle on the coldest days. And often, just adding a little insulation, or doing a little sealing will reduce your heat loss so that a smaller furnace is able to handle the heat loss on those days too.
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  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    6,837
    Things you cannot control: Codes issues, system sizing requirements, specific features and benefits included on any piece of equipment.

    Things you can control; features and benefits you select, overall total cost of the system, environmental issues for outdoor and/or indoor equipment, approximately how much you pay for the system, who does the work for you.

    All companies providing you with a proposal should comply with the things you or they cannot control. In our state, a full ACCA Manual 'J' load calculation is required, though many companies do not do one. That's a red flag immediately, as they're already cutting corners to try and get the job, even though they're displaying their lack of ability at the outset. The proposing company should know the features and benefits of all models of the equipment they are proposing to you. The actual size of the equipment should not be a topic of discussion as any company doing a comparable load analysis should come up with the same answer. Whether you select and 80% AFUE or a 90+% AFUE furnace is your choice, provided other influences are not in play (common venting with another condo unit, chimney below standards, etc.). Whether you select multi-staging or modulating or single stage. Whether you include electronic or media air filtering/cleaning, ultra-violet lighting or humidification are all options for you. And finding the right company that you trust to do the work will ultimately be your greatest comfort.

    If you've got one or two companies with whom you're impressed but who are offering different size furnaces, then sit them down individually and dig out the answers to the differences. Who actually measured the house room-by-room? Who used one design temperature over a different one. Which one is plausible? Who estimated the insulation factors in your home more accurately? These are all things that can change the sizing result on a furnace. Nobody is saying it's necessarily easy but I'd recommend the work be done now and you can then rest easy for many years.
    If YOU want change, YOU have to first change.

    If you are waiting for the 'other guy' to change first, just remember, you're the 'other guy's' other guy. To continue to expect real change when you keep acting the same way as always, is folly. Won't happen. Real change will only happen when a majority of the people change the way they vote!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Hiram, Ohio
    Posts
    217
    I found a fill-in-the-blanks chart load calculator on line, where I input details on wall size and r value, ceiling, windows, design temp, etc.. Took a few hours to fill out. funny thing, the initial answer was 68K, then I adjusted the design temp a few degrees either way and got 63K and 85K, then I played with the R value of my attic, jumped the load again back and forth. Makes it sound like if there is a wall someplace in this house that the builder got lazy on and missed a few bats of insulation, I'm screwed... Or if my daughter leaves the bathroom fan on I'm screwed... My Dad says I am WAY overthinking it, and I am starting to agree with him... If I undersize, one day out of every year I can plug in the electric heater and call it a day...

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Arnold mo
    Posts
    3,967
    Quote Originally Posted by troyport View Post
    I found a fill-in-the-blanks chart load calculator on line, where I input details on wall size and r value, ceiling, windows, design temp, etc.. Took a few hours to fill out. funny thing, the initial answer was 68K, then I adjusted the design temp a few degrees either way and got 63K and 85K, then I played with the R value of my attic, jumped the load again back and forth. Makes it sound like if there is a wall someplace in this house that the builder got lazy on and missed a few bats of insulation, I'm screwed... Or if my daughter leaves the bathroom fan on I'm screwed... My Dad says I am WAY overthinking it, and I am starting to agree with him... If I undersize, one day out of every year I can plug in the electric heater and call it a day...
    I think it's a good thing you played with the numbers and saw how they can affect the results. The best thing to do is to have a full scale energy audit performed on your home by someone certified by either BPI or RESNET. They will do a blower door test to determine how much air leakage your home has. That number can vary significantly from home to home, and anyone doing a manual J calc w/o this test is just guessing at what could account for 30% of the load. They will also use infrared imaging to better determine where those leaks are, and to better determine if you have any hidden insulation issues. Having insulation in your walls that is marked R-15, but is improperly installed and/or is in a wall with air leaks is more like R-5 or worse. Making sure your duct system is sized properly and air sealed (especially if it is in an unconditioned area) is very important also.
    An answer without a question is meaningless.
    Information without understanding is useless.
    You can lead a horse to water............
    http://www.mohomeenergyaudits.com

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    chicago suburbs
    Posts
    4,422
    spend the $50 and do the load calc at the top. that will give you an idea of what you need. that will be sized for the coldest day...and it should run most of the day. get a staged furnace for longer run times...a Rheem Mod would be perfect for a guy like you.
    FILL OUT YOUR PROFILE!!

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Hiram, Ohio
    Posts
    217
    When we bought this house, I did a lot to it. it had real lousy single pane basement windows, now they are glass block. I added insulation where the foundation meets the walls, adjusted doors and added seals, better bathroom exhaust fans that closed when not running, replaced seals on the windows and now I put plastic on the windows for the winter. I love that stuff, can't even tell it is there. Added insulation to the attic. Installed seals on all outside-walled switches and outlets, sealed my air ducts in the basement. This was after the first winter, dropped my propane consumption by 20%.

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