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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Omaha, NE
    Posts
    309

    Furnace Brand vs "frequently" Breakdown components

    Hi all,

    I am looking for replacement furnaces and have read all kinds of info on Carrier, Lennox, Goodman etc and etc.

    The way I see a a typical 80% eff. furnace it that it is like a "sophisticated kitchen gas oven": gas burners, heat exchanger, electronic control etc.
    I just want to list the major components that can break down and maybe the pros here can advise which brand (let's say ??? American Standard) and which part (let's say circuitboard) are most prone to breakdown.

    "Low-tech" components:
    The following parts, because of their "low-tech" nature, are supposed to last 10-15+ years or more, so we should not have problems with these parts for the first 10-15 years, is this correct?
    - Gas Burners
    - Gas Valve
    - Heat Exchanger
    - Electric Blower

    "High-tech" components:
    - Electronic Circuit Board
    - HSI
    - High-Limit switch
    - Electric Motor capacitor
    - Transformer

    Of course the 90% eff furnace is a bit more complex (2nd heat exchanger, induction motor etc, and etc.), but I just want to lerarn the basic common problems so I can stay away from a particular brand (I know installation is important, but I got a good local HVAC Co....so I am OK).

    Assuming the installation is well-done, So when people say their "newly installed" furnace breaks down in the first 1-5 years (which is not fun to deal with), exactly what part(s) in the furnace are the usual culprits???

    TIA

    cn
    Omaha NE
    2-story home built 1991
    Tempstar Furnaces x 2

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Northern VA 38 degrees N by 76 degrees W
    Posts
    5,062
    The installer!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Omaha, NE
    Posts
    309
    Could you give some examples which part the installers do something wrong to keep an eye on?

    This is a replacement so all existing wiring, gas pipe, ductwork is already in place.

    Thanks again.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Posts
    232
    If you have a good local installer then you're all set and shouldn't have any problems. Once in awhile something does fail on a new furnace even with a good installation, but I wouldn't shy away from any of the brands you mentioned.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    MN
    Posts
    2,680
    anything with a 10yr parts and labor warranty, everything is expensive and everything breaks, don't care who makes it, its mechanical it will fail, may be 1 month may be 25 yrs, stuff happens things break, get a good warranty, and have the unit serviced every yr, spring and fall for the respective equipment, and sleep easy knowing any major breakdown is not coming out of your pocket. Unless you get flooded, lightning strikes, rodents chew wiring, or get stuck in your venting or plug your drain, everything is covered.the extended warranties on HVAC equipment aren't like a vehicle warranty that costs you$x,xxx most are $xxx but if you haggle well and go top of the line, you may get it thrown in on the cost of equipment, don't expect that from a midrange system though. Trane for example if you replace the entire system with say a XV95, and XL16I it comes with 10 yr parts, so the extended portion is just the labor. whereas a XL90, and XB condenser, doesn't have the 10 yr parts, so to upgrade the p&L to 10 yrs it costs more. But if I was replacing mine, I would go for the XV system. 2 stage both heating and cooling, very nice. Others have the same type of system, with comparable warranties.
    You can't fix stupid

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    MN
    Posts
    2,680
    Quote Originally Posted by cn View Post
    Could you give some examples which part the installers do something wrong to keep an eye on?

    This is a replacement so all existing wiring, gas pipe, ductwork is already in place.

    Thanks again.
    The thing to watch is if you get 3 bids, 2 are within$$ and 1 is $$$ cheaper, beware.
    You can't fix stupid

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Round Rock
    Posts
    3,664
    Furnaces are furnaces. They come in different shapes and colors but pretty much all utilize the same components from the same manufacturers. Most parts are for the most part interchangeable, except for circuit boards. Use a good high quality filter, change it once a month and you'll keep the electronic components cleaner and they'll last longer. Stay away from the cheapo filters. Most (not all) the failures I see on motors and circuit boards are dusty, sometimes very dirty. Its a mechanical object, kinda like your car and will break down. If it didn't, I wouldn't have a job.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Indianapolis, IN
    Posts
    241
    Don't be rediculous. Most of those components made in china.

    They all will eventually fail.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    atlanta
    Posts
    31
    installation is the most important part. i have change a lot of igniters and blowers in different brands, it is hard to say what fails anyhing can brake any moment probably in a day when you must need it.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Sherman, TX
    Posts
    9,441
    Going back to the original question. The most common part replacement I do on "modern" furnaces is the HSI, the control board, or certain "smart" gas valves, not limited to Honeywell. The 80 series Trane gas valves can be especially quirky, the one with the plug on top.

    Control boards are, in particular, prone to failure after big lightning storms. After a nasty storm, I head for the shop and load up on a good variety of boards (Goodman, ICP, Rheem), because I'm sure to use 5 or 6 in the next 24 hours.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    So. NH
    Posts
    797
    Quote Originally Posted by John Markl View Post
    Going back to the original question. The most common part replacement I do on "modern" furnaces is the HSI, the control board, or certain "smart" gas valves, not limited to Honeywell. The 80 series Trane gas valves can be especially quirky, the one with the plug on top.

    Control boards are, in particular, prone to failure after big lightning storms. After a nasty storm, I head for the shop and load up on a good variety of boards (Goodman, ICP, Rheem), because I'm sure to use 5 or 6 in the next 24 hours.
    Just out of curiosity, would this typically be a failure that occured when the furnace was in operation, or heating season. In other words if the unit was idle is it just as prone to this failure? I know you weren't there when it happened but what do the circumstances suggest.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Omaha, NE
    Posts
    309
    Quote Originally Posted by herrerao View Post
    installation is the most important part. i have change a lot of igniters and blowers in different brands, it is hard to say what fails anyhing can brake any moment probably in a day when you must need it.
    Just curious how an installer can "screw up" installation of the igniters and blowers.
    I thought these parts are part of the furnace that is shipped from the manufacturer.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Sherman, TX
    Posts
    9,441
    Board failures after storms happen during either cooling or heating season, can't really answer whether they were running at the time or not.

    HSI failures usually occur during heating season, as opposed to being a "seasonal startup" failure. Just the opposite of thermocouples.

    Gas valves go either way........but one thing I have noticed, is that two out of three electronic gas valve failures could be attributed to water leaking either down the vent pipe or from an evaporator drain failure. If water gets anywhere near one of these valves, it's game over.

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