Me again....I posted earlier in the month about my decision to get quotes on replacing my furnace before winter. Thread is here:
I appreciate the comments and help offered then....helped me ask some questions now that I wouldn't have otherwise.
I see by the Rules of the forum, I'm not allowed to share bid prices, but price is important to me, so I hope I can post it instead in a different way as I did below...if the site moderators don't feel it's OK, I accept the judgement of them.
Overall, I had a 'fair' experience as a consumer. Aside from my run-in with Mr. "5 minute visit" Tappan dealer (outlined in that other thread), I had three no-call-backs, and one quote given over the phone without looking at a thing in my house, with nothing in writing to back it up. I've disregarded all of those.
Basic situation in the house is:
We bought our 1600 sq ft house in 1996. The house was built in 1969 with forced hot air system. I _believe_ that the furnace is the original (Bryant SL-D series). At some point in the mid-1970s (judging by the inspection tags), the homeowner added a Sears humidifier to the ductwork above the furnace, but it's never worked as long as we've owned the house. As best I can tell, right around the same time, central air was put in.
After several years of bad luck with the AC after we bought the house, we had the central air condenser replaced with a Rheem RAPA030 in 1999. 10 SEER model, and a new coil was NOT put in at the time.
I've narrowed it down to four contractors. I told them all I was getting 4-5 bids. I think I've settled on a 80% efficiency, one-stage fan furnace....not one contractor told me they thought the higher efficiency or the two-stage fan was worth it for my setup. Several included it as an option in their bid. All told me that all the houses in the neighborhood had adequate-sized ducts for heating, but not for AC, which many have since added since 1969.
CONTRACTOR A was picked out the Yellow Pages. He had to reschedule his first appointment, and showed up 45 minutes late to the second, with no phone call. Got his bid to me promptly. Spent about 30 minutes with me. He's recommending a 100,000 BTU Heil or American Standard, 80% efficiency, compatible box coil for the AC, and an Auto-Flo Humidifier. His bid we're going to call X.
CONTRACTOR B is a town company voted 'Best Heating / AC' in our local paper. He was recommended by a neighbor. Showed up a little late, and took about a week to get a bid to me. Spent about 30 minutes with me. He's given me a bid on a 75,000 BTU Heil, new coil, digital thermostat (I already have one, and no one else had a problem with mine), condesate pump, Aprilaire #600 humidifier. His bid is X + 28%.
CONTRACTOR C is a big, heavily advertised company in town, which did a good, professional job fixing the water leak problem in the coil drain pan when it overflowed. They showed up on time, wrote up a bid at my kitchen table, and followed up the next day with more information. Spent an hour with me. They're recommending a 90,000 BTU Lennox with Lennox #WB2.17 humidifier, Lennox 2.5 ton coil, and one year of 24 hour emergency service. He was the only contractor to suggest that even if he ducted the furnace to my existing chimney (interior walls, used only by my furnace and hot water heater), I would need a new liner put in, at a possible additional $1,000. He said he wouldn't know the condition of my chimney liner until he looked at it that day. _Without_ the additional liner cost, their bid was X + 73%.
CONTRACTOR D is a big, commercial company that came recommended by people I know in the construction business as very good. I had to call him two times to get a call back, but he met me at an odd time that worked well for me without any problems. He spent about 30 minutes with me. He took a week to get the bid to me. He told me while he was here that he mostly does restaurants, nursing homes, etc., but has about 1,000 residential customers also. His bid was for a Trane TUD080C936, with a Trane TXA030 2 1/2 ton coil, new return air drop, and AutoFlo #250 humidifier. His bid was also X + 73%.
Thoughts on brands, considerations, etc.? I have a 'lean' right now towards two of them, but wanted to hear what others in the business and in the know thought.
Thanks for all your help in advance.
We have some problems here buddy...you have a few bids that are like 25,000 btu's difference.
You also have one person saying you need a chimney liner.
I don't know who I'd pick.
What am I missing here? You live in Conneticut and not one contractor has recommended a condensing furnace over an 80% efficient furnace? What is your "set up" that keeps these contractors from wanting to install a condensing furnace? Your house over top of a hot spring or something?
I'm sorry, but I cannot make any recomendations to someone who would consider putting an 80% efficient furnace in a home in Conneticut.
...seek, and ye shall find;..
So always seek the Truth, not just what you want to believe to be true
Ecclesiastes 10:2 NIV
Did any of them do a heat loss on your home?
If you are going to go with an 80%, I would still consider 2 stage VS.
The quotes are all over the place for sizing, I would make sure a proper load calc was done for your home.
The chimney liner issue concerns me, with only one telling you that you need it.
There is a lot to consider, and I don't think that we have the information to help you. There will be people that come in and tell you to buy this brand, because that brand sucks. But that is not going to assure that you get a properly installed heating system.
Go with who you feel most comfortable with. And if you still have questions ask for references, call the people up and ask if they are happy.
As far as my setup....nothing special that I know of. None did a heat loss study, none asked to see my heating bills, etc. The general consensus opinion when I flat-out asked them whether I should look at a variable speed fan was that it will be more money, and 'it's up to me as to whether it would be worth it.' There sure was no one pushing for it, or going out of their way to suggest it.
As far as the BTUs....plate on the furnace I have now says it is 100,000 BTU Input with 80,000 Bonnet Capacity. I was surprised there wasn't a general consensus on size also. Contractor D told me that I didn't need to match new BTU with old because the new furnaces are going to be so much more efficient.
As for the chimney liner, after Contractor C told me that it was a possibility, I called the ones who had come out prior and asked them....in each case, they said that they didn't see the need for one, UNLESS I opted to exhaust the furnace out via PVC pipe to the back or side yard (i.e. not use the chimney for exhausting the furnace, as we're doing now, and only have the gas hot water heater using the chimney). I called a chimney sweep and he told me that a new lining wouldn't be a bad idea in any case....but _to me_, it's not an insignificant cost, and maybe not a necessary one? When I mentioned the liner issue to Contractor D, he told me that the town zoning didn't require a new liner for our situation, and he wouldn't recommend a new one if the furnace was exausting out into the chimney.
UPDATE: As for brands, all told me that theirs was good, obviously. Several mentioned that a warehouse / distributor / etc. was nearby for parts. No one really bashed any other brand. I knew from reading here a little that brand name doesn't seem to be as important as the quality of the installation.
[Edited by jclancy on 09-29-2005 at 10:31 PM]
I too wonder what the deal is with not offering or even suggesing a 90+ over an 80. Something is missing here. Your body language or comments may have led each of them to suspect you are all about the lowest cost installation and they clearly took the hint. At least one contractor had the jewels and integrity to suggest the possiblility of a chimney liner. Your chimney repairs are going to be alot more than the cost of lining it now if one is needed.
Yes, it is a huge investment, in fact after your home and your car, its probably the third largest investment you will make. Problem is a furnace has no curb apeal, a furnace doesnt have sleek smooth lines or have the beauty of a solid granet countertop. For that reason, it is difficult sometimes to overcome some additional spending.
Do yourself a favor, borrow a few bucks and see if maybe putting in the better system is not worth it in comfort and gas bills. There is a good chance you may have a 25% increase in your winter heating bills, you might just consider being proactive and protecting your monthly budget.
Well, I hope not. I wasn't purposely doing that...in fact, I'm not especially under any financial pressure to go cheap this time. That doesn't mean I want to throw away money left and right, but I'm not simply considering only price here. If I were, I'd be going right with Contractor A and forgetting the rest, to be honest.
Originally posted by docholiday
I too wonder what the deal is with not offering or even suggesing a 90+ over an 80. Something is missing here. Your body language or comments may have led each of them to suspect you are all about the lowest cost installation and they clearly took the hint.
One contractor, I forget which one (I think B), told me that in his opinion, the more things you're adding to the furnace, like the variable speed, the more things you're asking for to break.....i.e. simple is better, and that if I'm happy with the general temperature of the house now (and I am, even with the age of the furnace), why pay more money for a feature that isn't going to address any concern of mine? Three of the four told me that I likely wouldn't see any advantage to variable speed in a house like this with the ductwork it has, but they said if I were building new, had a multiple-zoned house, etc., they'd recommend going up.
I don't mind paying for it if I need it, but I guess that's the thing.....is it needed? My chimney is completely surrounded by interior space, and would be used by only this new furnace and a gas water heater. There's a liner in it already from when it was built. I can understand the need for one if I went with a furnace that exhausted out by its own PVC tubes, and left only the hot water heater blowing up and out the chimney.....but do modern furnaces really exhaust so much less (or different) from the furnace in my house now?
At least one contractor had the jewels and integrity to suggest the possiblility of a chimney liner. Your chimney repairs are going to be alot more than the cost of lining it now if one is needed.
Also, forgot to add....contractor C is recommending a two-inch filter for the furnace that I buy from him (i.e. not the type of thing I can get from the shelves at Home Depot). Good idea?
[Edited by jclancy on 09-30-2005 at 07:15 AM]
I also think you should be looking 90+ with the price of natural gas going through the roof. Also think you should be getting a Rheem TXV coil regardless of brand of furnace you choose. Remember that your 14 SEER A/C won't get 14 SEER without VS blower. If you put it on someone elses piston coil, you may not even hit 12 SEER. I noticed the Trane dealer just bid their lowest SEER coil.
My Rheem condenser actually says 10 SEER at the top....it's a model RAKA-030JAZ according to the tag on the back of it. Not sure why the receipt was different (RAPA-030)??????
By the time you install an 80% and a chimney liner you've already paid for a 90% furnace. I'd go with a 90, the coil, humidifier, and a programmable stat. All of these options are going to pay you back, gas is going up. Go with the contractor you feel most comfortable with, ask for referances and pictures of similar jobs.
I would be concerned because you said that your new 80% furnace would be vented with your water heater. Is the water heater a natural draft appliance? if so I would never vent the two together. If the chimney gets a birds nest in it then you have CO coming out of the water heater. I would go with the 90% which will save you money every day you operate it and vent it seperately with pvc.
Of course if you orphan a water heater in a chimney, you darn well better be lining the chimney for the water heater to vent and not condense!!!
By the time you install an 80% and a chimney liner you've already paid for a 90% furnace.
An 80% furnace is induced draft, not positive pressure flue. You would have the same spill issue with a natural draft furnace & WH if the chimney plugs as with the 80. Actually risk is greater because the pressure switch could shut down the 80 where the natural draft furnace, unless it has as spill switch, will keep pouring fumes out its own draft hood.
I would be concerned because you said that your new 80% furnace would be vented with your water heater. Is the water heater a natural draft appliance? if so I would never vent the two together. If the chimney gets a birds nest in it then you have CO coming out of the water heater.
I agree Bald I don't like to see two of anything vented together. I have seen some pressure switches that didn't shut off just because the chimney was blocked either. It is just a good idea not to do it. thanks