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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Maryland
    Posts
    4

    New Homeowner - Furnace Help!

    Hello! Im new here and desperate for some help. Let me give some back ground info and apoligize now for how long this will be.

    I purchased my first home, 3 level townhouse, brand new - except the builders were using this home as their sales office. I have a propane furnace on my bottom level located in the garage. My first winter last year, my propane bills ranged from 400-600 a month! Keeping thermostat never above 70(on 3rd Level) And always very cold in house. Especially master bedroom on 3rd floor. I only had two neighbors at the time to compare to, and theirs were not as high as mine. Called the builder and they sent the HVAC company out that installed my furnance. Problem located! The garage was a former office and they forgot to block the return! They patched it up. Next month, bills were higher! Came back out. They didnt see anything wrong with furnace! I told them to re-locate my thermostat because it was on the 3rd floor in my bedroom! Made no sense! Which by the way was always extremely cold. They moved thermostat to middle level of home. Told me to keep the fan ON and not on AUTO. Tried that, no help! By the time these items were completed, it was March, end of winter here in MD. Wasn't sure if my problems were fixed or not.

    Fast forward to December 2010. First bill was $400 but this time I was on the Budget plan and locked in my propane at 2.59/gallon. Keep thermostat at 67-68. Sometimes lower. We are always FREEZING in my home. As i type this, my nose and hands are ice cold!! Now I have more neighbors and have talked to them, and find out their bills are about 150 for the average, and they pay more per gallon then I do, and keep their thermostats around 70-71. I am out of my one year home warranty. I've been checking my propane meter and to my calculations will have a bill thats over $500 this coming month, 2.59/gallon. My home is only about 1700 - 1800 sq ft not couting garage. I have a HoneyWell VisonProTH8000 Thermostat and Trane XB80 furnance. Im a female, I own this home alone, I am having a very hard time getting someone from the builder to decide this is a real problem. The HVAC people were out 3 times and didnt find an issue other then what I listed above. I've read other posts and I am wondering if I should try to change the setting for my furnace to cycle less? Any suggestions guys? What is normal cycles per hour?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Posts
    382
    a faulty propane meater?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Maryland
    Posts
    4
    Ive had the propane company out twice, meter works fine. In non winter months, my propane bills are about 30-40 dollars!

  4. #4
    If your 3rd floor is very cold, you could have an area missing insulation or have a missing vapor barrier/air infiltration area. Watched enough Holmes on Homes to see this is a common problem with many homes that have cold areas and consume large amounts of energy to heat. $400 to $600 a month for a 3 level townhouse seems excessive .... 1st item is if you are using the garage to park your car in and the furnace is there - that is a huge no-no if it has any way of drawing in air from the garage (a danger of carbon monoxide poisoning) especially if there was a return vent there ....

    I would hire a very good house inspector (probably will cost you a couple of hundred dollars) and have them write you a report on what they find with respect to insulation, furnace and the way the garage was converted back from being an office .... I would then demand the builder come back and fix what the home inspector finds (will save you much money in the long-run.

    You need a good independent inspector that is willing to provide you with an accurate report - be careful with who you hire as an inspector .... don't hire someone that is trying to sell you something .... again watch a couple of Holmes Inspection episodes and you will begin to see what may be your problem ....

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Athens GA
    Posts
    1,234
    I watch Holmes and it is a good show.Holmes himself is good with masonary and caulking and insulation and carpentry,but he knows nothing about heating or a/c.
    To be honest I'm not real impressed with his HVAC subs.
    I agree that it would be a very good idea to have someone that isn't trying to sell you something look at it,perhaps a mechanical engineer.
    Three floor units are always a hard space to condition so if you could get someone to do a manuel J and a manuel D you could discover the real problem.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Western, MO
    Posts
    871
    Would this be a good house for a home energy audit?

    jim
    Common sense isn't very common anymore.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Maryland
    Posts
    4
    I have scheduled an energy audit in two weeks.

    I think hiring a good home inspector would be a good idea. I guess it will be worth the money. Im already thousands out in propane bills.

    Any idea on how often my furnace should cycle on and off in an hour?

    The return in the garage has been covered up. Do you think there is any other danger with the furnace being in the garage? It is in an enclosed closet.

    Thanks for the help!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Phoenix
    Posts
    10
    I would recommend having a reputable hvac contractor coming out. Not one from the builder and not one that charges $30 for a diagnostic. I suspect that a energy audit will help greatly. I think every home should have one regardless of bills or comfort level. Please remember you get what you pay for. research your contractors alwsays check there credentials. in Arizona its "trust but verify"

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Maryland
    Posts
    4
    I called around and found a few places that wanted to charge 100 dollars for a diagnostic service. Does that sound ok?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    The Quad-Cities area (midwest).
    Posts
    2,482
    Quote Originally Posted by michellef View Post
    I have scheduled an energy audit in two weeks.

    I think hiring a good home inspector would be a good idea. I guess it will be worth the money. Im already thousands out in propane bills.

    Any idea on how often my furnace should cycle on and off in an hour?

    The return in the garage has been covered up. Do you think there is any other danger with the furnace being in the garage? It is in an enclosed closet.

    Thanks for the help!
    If the furnace was installed to code, it's okay (safe) in the garage.

    I'm concerned about the garage return air that was omited. Did they install another one to replace the one they removed?

    The fact that you're always cold (regardless of proper insulation) tells me that the furnace isn't running efficiently from a ductwork point of view.

    My home has lousy insulation (built in 1946) and poor windows, I'm very comfortable with (I think) low bills.

    The inspector will be able to access the insulation, but won't have a clue regarding the (supply or return) ductwork.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Cabarrus county, NC
    Posts
    8
    just FYI only, but HVAC companies are alot like other companies, there are good and bad in every company. Some really care and take pride in their work and some just want a paycheck. If you think you have need for an HVAC contractor to come out, first make sure they are NATE certified techs.(North American Technical Excellence) research their reputation, and like others have said, most of the time you get what you pay for. Or at least hope to anyway. Then I would ask about the experience level of the tech they plan to send out. Acompany I used to work for before they sold out used to send out an email to the customer with every call with info about the tech, his experience level, his likes, hobbies etc. which may tell you what kind of person is comming out. example.. if someone likes to stay up to date on technical data in their field then chances are that person takes pride in their work and would most likely be one that would help the most.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Phoenix
    Posts
    10
    Quote Originally Posted by newtech06 View Post
    just FYI only, but HVAC companies are alot like other companies, there are good and bad in every company. Some really care and take pride in their work and some just want a paycheck. If you think you have need for an HVAC contractor to come out, first make sure they are NATE certified techs.(North American Technical Excellence) research their reputation, and like others have said, most of the time you get what you pay for. Or at least hope to anyway. Then I would ask about the experience level of the tech they plan to send out. Acompany I used to work for before they sold out used to send out an email to the customer with every call with info about the tech, his experience level, his likes, hobbies etc. which may tell you what kind of person is comming out. example.. if someone likes to stay up to date on technical data in their field then chances are that person takes pride in their work and would most likely be one that would help the most.
    Being NATE certified is a big plus it means a tech took the time to go to classes and take tests

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Chapel Hill, NC
    Posts
    1,067
    Quote Originally Posted by michellef View Post
    My first winter last year, my propane bills ranged from 400-600 a month! Keeping thermostat never above 70(on 3rd Level) And always very cold in house. Especially master bedroom on 3rd floor. I only had two neighbors at the time to compare to, and theirs were not as high as mine. Called the builder and they sent the HVAC company out that installed my furnance. Problem located! The garage was a former office and they forgot to block the return! They patched it up. Next month, bills were higher! Came back out. They didnt see anything wrong with furnace! I told them to re-locate my thermostat because it was on the 3rd floor in my bedroom! Made no sense! Which by the way was always extremely cold. They moved thermostat to middle level of home. Told me to keep the fan ON and not on AUTO. Tried that, no help! By the time these items were completed, it was March, end of winter here in MD. Wasn't sure if my problems were fixed or not.

    I am out of my one year home warranty.
    I don't think you are. You reported this problem during the warranty period and it was never fixed. Warranty laws are quite clear on this although builders will tell you anything to get you to go away. Remind the builder of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty act of 1975.

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