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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Dallas & Longview, TX
    Posts
    629

    Advice on replacement HVAC order---

    Let me start by thanking the techs that support this site. I've learned alot.

    I purchased a lake house in East TX and it has 4 AC units. 2 are split units and 2 are package units. The house was built in the 50's w/o AC. I don't have the money to replace all 4 at once. Which would you recommend or better stated what order. I have them listed below in the order I feel they should be replaced.

    1.The main part of the house upstairs (all bedrooms) has a split unit with a gas furnace. It smells like gas out of the difusers everytime the furnace fires regardless of the fan being on "on" or on "auto". Two AC guys said heat exchanger's ok and their meters picked up no gas or CO. The ductwork was a disaster and now after some work by me, just really bad. Unit is about 25 yrs old. Area is about 1500 sq. '. Tons of windows and no insulation in walls.

    2. The main part of the house downstairs living and kitchen area has a package unit w/ electric heat- no heat pump just the meter spinning kind. The unit was installed 15 +/- yrs ago so it's the newest. This part of the house around 1700 sq. '. Tons of windows and no insulation in walls.

    3. Attached but self contained guest quarters with split unit with gas furnace 25 yrs. old. Pilot keeps going out every day or three, and smell of gas odor in this unit but not as destinct as upstairs main house. Part of house is seldom used and also lots of windows and un insulated walls etc. 1200 sq. '

    4. Downstairs in main house includes study, laundry area and storage room. Less windows and very shaded on one side so unit seldom runs on heat or cool. 25 yr old package unit with elect. heat. 900 sq. '.

    Last electric bill around 400 so I know bang for the buck is the main downstairs unit but the health risk of the upstairs gas unit has me leaning that way. No one I've talked to "recommends" doing a manual J. They "know the area and this type of construction". So I'll be doing it I guess using the HVAC-Calc. The guy I'll probably use is the only one more concerned about ductwork upstairs than the unit I chose which makes me happy. Just have to go over the manual D with him I guess. Considering the size of the project and the fact I only live here 3 days a week- what do I look for in a unit? He's a Carrier dealer and told me Comfortmaker is good stuff. What type of equipment is the best bang for the buck. For example is a VS furnace worth it considering the area is just bedrooms? 2 Stage? A scroll compressor better than piston? Stainless steel heat exchanger vs. aluminized steel? Sooo many choices. When buying a car you know what it drives like before you buy but not with a new ac system. Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Philadelphia, PA
    Posts
    1,398
    If it were me I would look at the logistics of insulating as much as possible. After this is done then have load calcs performed to size new units.

    Just considering the equipment itself, top priority would be the gas fired furnaces you feel are leaking gas. Find another contractor and have these inspected thoroughly. There could be health and safety hazards that need to be identified.
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Dallas & Longview, TX
    Posts
    629
    Quote Originally Posted by comfortdoc View Post
    If it were me I would look at the logistics of insulating as much as possible. After this is done then have load calcs performed to size new units.

    Just considering the equipment itself, top priority would be the gas fired furnaces you feel are leaking gas. Find another contractor and have these inspected thoroughly. There could be health and safety hazards that need to be identified.

    Insulating the walls would require either blowing in loose fill which would settle and get contaminated w/ moisture since there is no vapor barrier or using foam which would cost thousands.

    I can't find a contractor who will do a load test. As I stated, my best bet will probably be to use the HVAC-Calculator myself and pass the info to the contractor.

    Figuring I may spring for the foam one day, would a VS blower be the better choice since it'll tone down the excess capacity of a unit that was sized as the load sits now?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Tn.
    Posts
    1,344
    hey man if you smell gas be it burnt or unburt you need to not run that thing and keep calling others till this is fixed.
    good luck
    where you located?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Western NC
    Posts
    2,504
    The best advice I would say to you is to get a local trustworthy contractor. That is first and foremost.

    Next, sit down and speak with the contractor about financing options and talk with them. I can't speak for every company out there but at least with my company, if you replace multiple systems at once, you actually save money in the long run. So I would talk to them about savings when you replace multiple systems.

    As far as smelling gas.....you should not be smelling gas out of your registers. Turn the system off and get someone to come check it out.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Dallas & Longview, TX
    Posts
    629
    Outside of Longview, TX.

    Regarding the smell, the techs that looked at it both said it was the smell of the heat exchanger heating up. My other house has 3 units and I've never smelled what this smells like. There detector didn't pick up anything and I've sprayed soapy water over all the conections and the valve and no bubbles. I just feel uncomfortable with it. Gas is run though copper to the side of the air handler then flex to the valve which is inside the housing. I know you're suppose to use solid pipe into the housing. The whole thing is rigged but has been this way for decades. Still want it out ASAP.

    I'll take it that you agree to replace that unit 1st. What features (other than a leak free furnace) do I look for?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Western NC
    Posts
    2,504
    Quote Originally Posted by Daltex View Post
    Outside of Longview, TX.

    Regarding the smell, the techs that looked at it both said it was the smell of the heat exchanger heating up. My other house has 3 units and I've never smelled what this smells like. There detector didn't pick up anything and I've sprayed soapy water over all the conections and the valve and no bubbles. I just feel uncomfortable with it. Gas is run though copper to the side of the air handler then flex to the valve which is inside the housing. I know you're suppose to use solid pipe into the housing. The whole thing is rigged but has been this way for decades. Still want it out ASAP.

    I'll take it that you agree to replace that unit 1st. What features (other than a leak free furnace) do I look for?
    Look for 90+% efficiency and a variable speed blower motor. One other option is to possibly look into zoning. It may be possible to have 1 large unit zoned taking the place of 2 smaller units. Thats something that a local would have to come look at to determine whether or not its possible.

    Above all else....its gotta be installed properly. Its gotta be sized properly. The ductwork gotta be designed properly. And thats gotta be done by the local. We can't tell you that kind of stuff here when we can't see the job.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Dallas & Longview, TX
    Posts
    629
    Quote Originally Posted by iraqveteran View Post
    The best advice I would say to you is to get a local trustworthy contractor. That is first and foremost.

    Next, sit down and speak with the contractor about financing options and talk with them. I can't speak for every company out there but at least with my company, if you replace multiple systems at once, you actually save money in the long run. So I would talk to them about savings when you replace multiple systems.

    As far as smelling gas.....you should not be smelling gas out of your registers. Turn the system off and get someone to come check it out.
    How do you find a trustworthy contractor? The one's I've called are the one's my neighbors use. Phone book? Because of this forum I know to much to just let someone say "this is the system for you". I want the right system but more importantly I want it installed correctly. They know from my questions when I call that I know enough to cause trouble for them so they don't show up or they show up and spend 20 minutes looking at the old system and popping there head in the attic then leave. Since I have a 4 ton unit that is what every quote has been. Please. I just want someone to do it right. I still think my best bet is to do the load and duct calcs. myself and then pay a pro to install it my way. If they don't do any load calcs. do they seal the ducts tight? Is it going to be balanced by how it feels to there hand at each diffuser? Sorry for the rant.

    Replacing all isn't an option. Cash flow of owning 2 homes.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    PA
    Posts
    68,752
    Both Gas furnaces first.

    VS blowers will help if you insulate down the road.
    Contractor locator map

    How-to-apply-for-Professional

    How many times must one fix something before it is fixed?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Fort Worth, TX
    Posts
    11,376
    Wow. 5,300 square feet for a lake house. That's a big spread.

    I once spent a weekend in an A frame cabin at Lake Cypress Springs in east Texas. It was about 800 square feet and had a loft. Cozy. It was surrounded by much larger houses, some that probably rivaled yours for size. Always made me wonder if folks lived there all the time or just on weekends and getaways?

    I think your top priority is to find the source of the gas odor. You may come out to your lake house someday to find it level with the ground, otherwise. Gas leaks are nothing to take lightly. If you live in Dallas, it seems like every year there's a story on the local news about a house with natural gas service exploding into bits and burning to the ground. I don't say this to scare you needlessly, just enough to continue your effort to resolve the odor. You should not smell it at all if everything is working properly.

    For that reason and others I'll vote along with beenthere...replace the gas furnaces first.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    SW Ohio
    Posts
    233
    I know in my area of SW Oh. that Duke Energy will come out ASAP, at no cost, if a customer calls and complains of any type of gas odder. Of course they will red tag the equipment if they find a leak, but that is better than finding your house missing one day.
    Might be worth a call to your utility's provider.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    18951
    Posts
    1,593
    Quote Originally Posted by cjett View Post
    better than finding your house missing one day
    And way way better than waking up one morning and finding the rest of the family not moving.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Dallas & Longview, TX
    Posts
    629
    Thanks for the suggestions. I'm glad there is no debate on which to replace 1st. Now how to find a good contractor.....

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