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  1. #1

    Exclamation HVAC Newbie.. Need some advice

    All,

    First off thanks for taking the time to read this post, I've found this forum very educational thus far but decided I needed to post my current situation to get some feed back. I bought my first place 5 years ago and now it's time to replace the furnace and central air until. I've had my furnace/compressor cleaned/checked every year since I moved in and unfortunately this year the repairman told me it looked like the flames on my furnace were flowing to a right a bit and it looked like there may be a crack in my heat exchanger. He told me to start saving for a furnace(and may as well replace the a/c at the same) because this would be the last winter for the furnace. The furnace is a bryant unit from 1986 and the central air until is a carrier also from 1986, the year the house was built.

    My home is a two story duplex with a shared common wall, about 1400 square feet on a concrete slab. The furnace sits in a utility closet with the hot water heater and a stack able washer/dryer on the first floor. I put in a 12yr Richmond water heater and new washer/dryer in 2009. During the winter the downstairs stays cooler than the upstairs(presumably because of the concrete slab) and in the summer the upstairs is very warm. In fact, it's so warm that I have to close the vents downstairs during the night when it's 90+ to get the upstairs cool. Of course this doesn't satisfy the temperature downstairs so sometimes the until will run for 8-10 hours before it finally gets right. Last year I put in all new energy efficient windows/doors with argon low e glass and that seemed to help big team heating the house but cooling is still a pain. I live in the western suburbs of chicago. My home value has taken a beating in price since i bought in 2008 so i'm planning on holding for probably 8-10 years, either living here or renting out until I can sell it to get my money back.

    I've done a ton of research and have gotten about 10 different quotes from different companies in the area. Here are my questions:

    1). Should I go 90-95 percent energy efficient with a 1400 square feet home? Some only want to quote me 90%+ but a couple, that i feel are the most honest have told me not to even look at them as I'll only recoup the cost in 12-14 years since my house is so small. Since i only plan on holding it 8-10 years they say it shouldn't be an option and just go 80%. I'm also looking 13seer compressor or 14seer if I go with the goodman since the 14seer has a lifetime warranty on the compressor.

    2). It seems like all the big players in the area absolutely despise goodman. Right off the bat they started bad mouthing goodman and saying why their brand(carrier, trane, lennox, etc) are so much better than goodman. I've had quotes ranging from $ to $. The $ quotes are lennox or rhem 80% units with a 13 seer compressor. These units come with a 10yr warranty on the furnace and compressor. The $ quotes are trane 90% furnace with a 13 seer compressor with a 20yr on the furnace and I believe it was 20 on the compressor, I don't care to remember because $ is just way more than i'm willing to spend. My uncle told me to consider Goodman because they have come a very long way. I looked into the goodman units and i'm considering the following models, Goodman GMH80603AN furnace with a LIFETIME warranty on the heat exchanger and Goodman SSX140241 compressor with a LIFETIME warranty on the compressor. I found small mom and pop shop that many of my friends and family have used and he said the goodman units have come a long way and the two stage furnaces are pretty darn good for the cost. He thinks that i'm getting the best bang for my buck by going this route. He told me that the american standard is a better unit, but if i'm not planning on living here the rest of my life or holding onto it for 20 years then this is the most cost effective way to go. What do you guys think about this? Is that goodman combo worth it, or spending $ more on a lennox or rheme unit with a lower warranty a better option? I just don't see how goodman can be so crappy but yet they have the best warranty out there.

    I don't want to get into a brand war, I'm fairly new to all of this. I believe each brand has it's pros/cons, and since this isn't the house i'm going to retire in I want to do the most cost effective solution. Do I believe that in the long run are trane/american standard a better unit, absolutely, but will the goodman be the most cost effective solution that will give me 10-15 year headache free time frame.

    Thanks for the time to read this and the replies.
    Last edited by beenthere; 12-15-2012 at 10:35 PM. Reason: Prices

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    SouthEast NC ICW & Piedmont Foothills
    Posts
    7,635
    you didn't bother reading the rules did you; NO $$$$ ALLOWED
    It`s better to be silent and thought the fool; than speak and remove all doubt.

  3. #3
    Sorry about that, can't figure out how to edit the post so i guess i'll just wait for admin to delete it!

    I can edit this post, but it won't let me edit the original!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Anderson, South Carolina, United States
    Posts
    6,793
    You only have 20-30 minute window to edit post. As most guys on this forum will tell you, brand doesn't much matter it's all about the installation. Pick the contractor you feel will use the best practices during installation and wil be there to stand behind his work if something does go wrong. Goodman gets a bad rap bc they're equipment is sold to anyone look on the Internet, you could buy one. Nothing wrong with their equipment, its the hacks that install it that gives it a bad name. You may want to invest in some type of zoning system to more evenly heat/cool your downstairs/upstairs problem. Cheapest option would be manual dampers that you change each season. Installing a larger system will most times make the problem worse.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Western Nebraska
    Posts
    246
    Alex,

    Here is a fun spin for you. Is this house a "keeper" for most in your area, or is it a "starter" home? When you go to sell this house in 12-14 years will the buyers be a young family looking for value, or an established family looking for neighborhood and retirement?

    If it's a "starter" home, you may be ahead by installing the less expensive equipment now as it will not return as fast on investment. If this is a "keeper" home, those buyers may appreciate and pay for a high eff unit in the future.

    Also. Renters usually pay the gas bill. If you plan to rent it out then efficiency may not be as important to you.

    Or that's how it goes in our part of the county.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    SW FL
    Posts
    6,273
    Quote Originally Posted by alex225595 View Post
    All,

    First off thanks for taking the time to read this post, I've found this forum very educational thus far but decided I needed to post my current situation to get some feed back. I bought my first place 5 years ago and now it's time to replace the furnace and central air until. I've had my furnace/compressor cleaned/checked every year since I moved in and unfortunately this year the repairman told me it looked like the flames on my furnace were flowing to a right a bit and it looked like there may be a crack in my heat exchanger. He told me to start saving for a furnace(and may as well replace the a/c at the same) because this would be the last winter for the furnace. The furnace is a bryant unit from 1986 and the central air until is a carrier also from 1986, the year the house was built.

    My home is a two story duplex with a shared common wall, about 1400 square feet on a concrete slab. The furnace sits in a utility closet with the hot water heater and a stack able washer/dryer on the first floor. I put in a 12yr Richmond water heater and new washer/dryer in 2009. During the winter the downstairs stays cooler than the upstairs(presumably because of the concrete slab) and in the summer the upstairs is very warm. In fact, it's so warm that I have to close the vents downstairs during the night when it's 90+ to get the upstairs cool. Of course this doesn't satisfy the temperature downstairs so sometimes the until will run for 8-10 hours before it finally gets right. Last year I put in all new energy efficient windows/doors with argon low e glass and that seemed to help big team heating the house but cooling is still a pain. I live in the western suburbs of chicago. My home value has taken a beating in price since i bought in 2008 so i'm planning on holding for probably 8-10 years, either living here or renting out until I can sell it to get my money back.

    I've done a ton of research and have gotten about 10 different quotes from different companies in the area. Here are my questions:

    1). Should I go 90-95 percent energy efficient with a 1400 square feet home?
    Some only want to quote me 90%+ but a couple, that i feel are the most honest have told me not to even look at them
    as I'll only recoup the cost in 12-14 years since my house is so small.

    Since i only plan on holding it 8-10 years they say it shouldn't be an option and just go 80%.
    I'm also looking 13 seer compressor or 14 seer if I go with the goodman since the 14 seer has a lifetime warranty on the compressor.

    Do I believe that in the long run are trane/american standard a better unit, absolutely, but will the goodman be the
    most cost effective solution that will give me 10-15 year headache free time frame.

    Thanks for the time to read this and the replies.
    - THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX-
    alternative(s)
    Start with determining requirements: i.e.
    ~ 24,000 BTU/hr at -10'F, 300 BTU/Hr/'F

    Delta T = 80'F = 70' to -10'F

    Typical _1986_
    Ceiling 700 sq feet, R-30
    Walls 1100 Sq feet, R-10
    Glass 140 Sq Feet, U 0.30 [new]
    Infiltration 0.4 A.C.H.

    Fuel cost ~ $550/yr, 80% efficient, $1.00/therm
    _______ ~ $490/yr, 90%

    BRYANT
    Model 225BNA024 heat Pump, switch over at 26'F [ ~ 15,000 BTU/Hr]
    Maybe close to both heating and economic balance points

    $0.08 .... $/kW Chicago area
    _ 2.7 ..... C.O.P. at 25'F for Bryant unit mentioned.
    $0.0296.. $/kw

    100,000 BTU/Therm
    3413 BTU/kW
    29.300 KW/ Therm
    $0.87 /Therm electric effective

    You won't have to cycle the furnace for lower heat requirements.
    + It's very likely cheaper to run heat pump.
    + Since natural gas usage is low, 80% would be justified, if available.

    THERE ARE ALWAYS AT LEAST HALF A DOZEN ALTERNATIVES,
    I provided just one.

    What's REALLY NEEDED: FIX the Duct Work.!..!!
    Last edited by dan sw fl; 12-16-2012 at 08:59 AM.
    Designer Dan
    It's Not Rocket Science, But It is SCIENCE with "Some Art". ___ ___ K EEP I T S IMPLE & S INCERE

    Define the Building Envelope and Perform a Detailed Load Calc: It's ALL About Windows and Make-up Air Requirements. Know Your Equipment Capabilities

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2001
    Location
    Moore, Oklahoma, United States
    Posts
    4,213
    Have you considered splitting up the system? 45k, 80% Gas furnace serving downstairs only, no A/C. Upstairs would have 2 ton A/C or heat pump with 5KW electric heat strips. Downstairs furnace would do 80% of the heating, and the 5KW heat strips would kick on for the upstairs unit on extremely cold days. On the Cooling side Chicago doesn't get that hot, if the upstairs is cool the downstairs wouldn't get very warm. The cold air from the upstairs would fall, keeping the downstairs cool.

    Of course the practically of this design would need to be determined by a load calculation/ductwork placement.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Anderson, South Carolina, United States
    Posts
    6,793
    Quote Originally Posted by 54regcab View Post
    Have you considered splitting up the system? 45k, 80% Gas furnace serving downstairs only, no A/C. Upstairs would have 2 ton A/C or heat pump with 5KW electric heat strips. Downstairs furnace would do 80% of the heating, and the 5KW heat strips would kick on for the upstairs unit on extremely cold days. On the Cooling side Chicago doesn't get that hot, if the upstairs is cool the downstairs wouldn't get very warm. The cold air from the upstairs would fall, keeping the downstairs cool.

    Of course the practically of this design would need to be determined by a load calculation/ductwork placement.
    2systems for 1400sqft, I don't think so. That would be a waste.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2001
    Location
    Moore, Oklahoma, United States
    Posts
    4,213
    Quote Originally Posted by jtrammel View Post
    2systems for 1400sqft, I don't think so. That would be a waste.
    It is a small area, just trying to figure out a way to balance the temps for up/downstairs.. Maybe a conventional heat for downstairs and a mini split for upstairs? Or dampers for a manual zone system?

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