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  1. #1

    Confused

    We are looking at completely replacing our HVAC system including replacing all the ducts. We recently discovered termites at our house when they swarmed. The pest control company that treated it said that the condensation off the ducts in the crawl space was really bad and contributing to the termite problem. The moisture problem in the crawl space is pretty bad overall. We did have them install a vapor barrier (plastic) on the ground, too, but that was it for that. Any ideas on that? Anyway, since our winter heating bills are pretty bad ($300+), our system is old and I have asthma and allergies, we thought it may be best to replace the whole kit and caboodle.

    Currently we have the original 30+ yo GE Electric Air Handler (model BGLE051D1A00) and an AC only outside unit at least 15 yo (can't tell make or model) - all electric system. I have been reading a lot of posts to get ideas, etc. Problem is finding a good installer. I know no one who has done their system in the last 10 years or at all with the exception of one NON-recommendation. I went through the BBB list and a local home remodeling association's list and called several people, but most can't do an estimate for at least a few weeks.

    So far I have only gotten one person to do one. Can't say I'm completely ease with him. He didn't evaluate the energy load to determine size although he said he would come back and do one if I wanted. They work with most brands, but his recommendation was a 14 SEER Trane XL16i heat pump (or the 16 SEER 2-speed one but he discouraged us on this one since it is frequently backordered), with matching variable speed handler, their programmable thermostater, all new insulated ducts and an electronic air cleaner. He said we don't need a dehumidifier with that system - it will completely take care of it. Are heat pumps really comfortable? I know in the past people told me their houses were colder in the winter with heat pumps.

    Any suggestions of what to do or what is best? Also, what are the differences between a 14 or 16 SEER system other than energy savings? It's about a $450 difference after rebates. Is that worth it? Thanks for any help you can give me. I appreciate it! (Posted this in the wrong place the first time!)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Posts
    23
    As I am in a similar situation I will tell you what I've learned. First, I too am considering a rehaul of the 1st floor hvac as we have had rats in the flex ducts and would like to upgrade the heat pump. What I've been told by two salesmen is that I will get the most out of my money buying a 12 seer system. As some posts have already shown here, the more expensive the initial cost, the longer it takes to recoup the money from energy savings. Example, if we apply the same principle to hybrid cars, statistics have shown that it will take 7-12 years to make up the gas savings from the initial $4000-6000 extra cost of the car. The heat pump itself is more energy efficient than a standard air conditioner but living in north florida, cold is really not much of an issue.

    It has also been suggested to me to have rigid metals ducts replace the flex but I have yet to determine the extra cost.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    burlington county n.j.
    Posts
    9,706
    i would do the heat pump instead of straight electric.
    i would not put an EAC in a crawl space unless you like going down there 2 times every 4-6 weeks to remove,clean and reinstall cells. look at spaceguard or air bear type filter, most houses we only need to change once a year.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    emerald city, sc
    Posts
    1,469
    basket, first let me thank you for filling out your profile so we can know where you are located. location does matter.
    follow the link below, there is a lot of reading there, it will explain why your ducts are condensating.
    http://www.advancedenergy.org/buildi.../crawl_spaces/
    i wanted to put a picture here

  5. #5
    The EAC goes in the crawl space??? I assumed it was in the handler which is in a closet on the first floor. Sure aren't going in the crawl space! EVER! lol.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    emerald city, sc
    Posts
    1,469
    the eac will go in the closet with the air handler.
    since you are looking at replaceing everything, why not look into a package unit. that will free your closet space up, and ask the contractors about duel fuel heat pumps, if natural gas is available.
    i wanted to put a picture here

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    VA
    Posts
    296

    Wait until September

    basket chick; Owing to the unseasonably high temperatures Virginia has just experienced you've chosen the absolute least desirable time to upgrade your system. That said, let me try to help…

    First, if you’re looking to maximize your initial investment then obtain a window AC unit and limp through the summer until September when HVAC shops on your region are extremely hungry for work. Bottom line savings, up to 40% during that slack period (honest). Why is this so? Supply verses demand. I know HVAC mechanics that work only May through August and have another vocation for the interim.

    Next, since you’re in sales, you know that sales reps simply parrot the vendors marketing hype (I was forced into Sales for a prolonged period, thus I’m keenly aware of methodologies). Select a small shop that send a senior Tech on the sales calls, that way you’ll get more appropriate answers. In your area of VA humidity is an issue, therefore a variable speed air-handler may be worth the extra expense.

    While the department of energy would like to have everyone pay hardware cost rather than fuel cost talk to an accountant about the “real value” of money and how it effects the total equation over the design life (15-years). Yes, the higher the SEER the lower the operating expense, however the margin does not justify the significantly greater price of the higher SEER equipment (not even close). And don’t shoot me; I’m only the messenger.

    If it were my unit I would replace it with Trane’s Residential/Retail grade equipment (not their Leadership brand). But then again, Trane wouldn’t be happy about hearing that noise so listen to at least three Tech’s (not sales persons) honest take on your particular situation and then make a decision. I hope you can hold out until September when it’s a Win-Win for everyone involved, understood?

    Now as to comparing HVAC to Automotive equipment, don’t go there… There isn’t common ground, period. You have to compare apples to apples in order to arrive at a meaningful answer. BTW: there are indeed areas of the United State where the cost of electrical power justifies the top end SEER models, however Virginia isn’t one of them, understood?

    Another factor, if a rep tries to sell you on a refrigerant (R22 verses R410a) show them to the door and say please review this material before you make your next sales pitch…

    http://www.epa.gov/ozone/title6/phas...2phaseout.html

    Good luck and God Bless…

  8. #8
    Tl, what is a package unit? Where would it go if not the closet? I probably should have said earlier that we have a twin home, which is similar to a duplex but individually owed. It actually looks like a large colonial house with a porch and garage, but we own the side with the porch and garage and another woman owns the other side which enters from the side (she rents it to a family). Although our home is over 1700 square feet, it is small and there's not a lot of free space and only a postage stamp for a yard. As it is, we have to move the outside unit because my brilliant husband built a deck over the AC unit that barely cleared it. He put a grate over it, so it has plenty of airflow above and around and he assured me it could be easily replaced/repaired. NOT! The HVAC guy laughed when he saw it and said no way. All decent new pumps are tall, so there goes that one. DH does build a pretty deck though!

    We do not have gas here. I don't even think it's on our street, but it's definitely not run to the house. Why duel fuel heat pump? Advantages/disadvantages?

  9. #9
    Faith, thanks for the advice! I think we will seriously consider waiting until September. Our AC works okay (75-78 most of the time), it's just creating a lot of moisture under the house drawing the termites. And it doesn't remove enough humidity when the temps/humidity soar in summer here. Still, I'll continue my homework now so that I understand it all and know which way to go then.

    What drew me to the 16 SEER Trane unit was not so much the fuel savings over 14 SEER unit as the fact that it was 2-stage. What is Trane’s Residential/Retail grade equipment? Is the one I listed their Leadership brand?

    As to refrigerant, we were pretty much leaning towards 410a for the environmental reasons. Are there any drawbacks to this? The sales guy seemed not to care which we choose - expressed no opinion on which was better.

    Thanks everyone for all your help!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    emerald city, sc
    Posts
    1,469
    a package unit is a self contained unit that sits outside against the house. the duct work connects to the package unit. although the unit has a bigger footprint than a standard condenser, it doesn't stick out any further from the wall. package units come in both r22 and 410 versions. they also can be purchased with variable speed motors.
    try this link for tranes explaination of a package unit. http://www.trane.com/Residential/Pro...agedUnits.aspx
    year is a link to their package heatpumps. http://www.trane.com/Residential/Pro...HP_XL1400.aspx
    i wanted to put a picture here

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