Time for a new furnace?
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Posts
    4
    First of all let me say this is a great forum providing much information and detail to those of us that are not professionals or educated in the HVAC field.

    Ok - I appreciate responses/opinions on trying to make a decision as to repair or look into replacing my current furnace.

    We've been in the house for 7.5 yrs now and from what I've been able to determine, the furnace appears to be a Goodman-Janitrol 150k BTU manufactured in early 1996 making it about 9 years old. The model is GMP 150-5, serial # 9603807006. (There is also central AC and that unit is of unknown origin and age although it appears to maybe be the original unit installed for the house - 1979)

    We are now experiencing our 2nd problem in the past 2 years. Last year, we had a circuit board/card and the ignitor replaced. At the time, the Tech suggested to us that we think about replacement as the unit 'was not high quality' and he estimated it at somewhere around 70-75% efficient. We decided to just go with the repair and when/if we encountered another problem, think about replacement then. Also, the April Aire Model 560 humidifier stopped working at the end of the last heating season as well.

    Well, now we have another problem...and it appears to be intermittent (although now its happening more regularly). The exhaust fan comes on, minute or so later the burner lights.....stays lit for about 30 seconds and then goes out. Does this twice and stops. At the times that it works, the burner intially comes on, goes out and the blower comes on....burner lights (for the second time) and it works.

    At this time, I'm a bit confused as to the pro's and con's of having this problem repaired. I know that it could be a simple fix and fairly inexpensive. However, since this is the 2nd problem in 2 years.....I have to also wonder about the Tech's statement about it not being a quality unit. I was all set to look into replacement until my research uncovered that this unit is probably 80% vs. the 70-75% the Tech indicated. Initially, I was all set to upgrade to a 90%.....but if this unit is less than 10 years old........

    Also, I know my AC unit is REALLY old and costing me an arm and leg to operate.......but.....it is getting close to Xmas and money is kinda tight. But.....I wanna make the right decision as we plan on being in the house for many years.

    Advice/help is greatly appreciated.

    Thanks

    alan


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Near Chicago, IL
    Posts
    3,317
    An upgrade to a 90+% efficient system will show a savings of 10% +/- on your heating portion of the gas bill. Whether or not it is worth it is your call.

    A two stage and variable speed drive would be a worthwhile upgrade- even if you stayed with an 80% model.

    The new board will probably last for a while. The ignitor could be considered normal maintenance.

    Your current problem could be something like a flame sensor- may not be too expensive to fix.

    The "not a quality unit" could be some bias against the name or planting the seeds of doubt in your mind. The Goodman product is manufactured to a price point. It will perform ok if it is installed and maintained properly. Simple as that.

    Yup, that AC should be replaced. New laws will mandate a 13 SEER replacement, your original might be either a 6, 8 or 10 SEER when it was new.

    You are on your own regarding the R22 vs R410a debate. Might as well do a search about the phaseout of R22 on the web and read up on it.

    If you can get another new 560 humidifier, just swap it out if you are so inclined. Could be a simple problem, though.

    Make sure the new stuff is sized and installed properly.
    Proper Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance

    "There is hardly anything in the world that some man cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and the people who consider price only are this man's lawful prey. It's unwise to pay too little.
    When you pay too much, you lose a little money -- that is all. When you pay too little, you may lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do.

    The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot -- it can't be done. If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is well to add something for the risk you run. And if you do that, you will have enough to pay for something better."

    John Ruskin


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Posts
    3,182
    Do you have any idea as to the square footage of your home? Has your "tech" determined that the furnace is of the proper size for your home? Has he determined that the duct was sized correctly?

    If you do decide to replace rather than repair, make sure that the contractors perform a heat loss/gain on your home. That seems like an awful big furnace for most homes.
    Your current problem sounds like a simple fix.

    Perhaps you should ask around and see if there are any other reputable contractors in your area. Get more than one opinion and ask questions.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Posts
    4
    Thank you both for your replies.

    I do think that the repair tech last year was trying to talk me into a new unit....and I have to admit that he did kinda 'brain-wash' me into thinking that my unit was poor quality.

    My square footage is 2,825 and I also thought that a 150k BTU unit was pretty big.......but thats what was here when we bought the house. If this unit was 'oversized' to begin with, will I be saving even more by going with a 'correct' (read smaller) 90% efficient furnace as opposed to a 10% savings?

    Ahhhh....the joy of decisions. I think that I'll call a couple local contractors and have them come out to evaluate what I have, and then weigh my options. The one thing pointing towards a new furnace is the fact that I know the AC should be replace this spring and it is probably cost effective to bundle both, right?!

    Again - THANKS


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Memphis
    Posts
    2,502
    Here's my opinion. From your description of the problem, it sounds like a very inexpensive repair. If it were me, I would place a service call & if its something as simple as I'm thinking it is, I would get the part replaced. A lot of people will say upgrade to a 90 + furnace & thats not a bad idea. But your furnace isnt even 10 years old & if its been maintained then it should have some life left in it.

    Also, I am thinking the GMP's were a 80% furnace. So if you do replace it, definitely go with a 90% furnace or your no better off than you were.

    [Edited by hvac hero on 12-05-2005 at 02:22 PM]
    Life is like a jar of jalapenos. What you do today might burn your ass tomorrow.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    Yo.... Here!, I'm right here..
    Posts
    6,236
    Pretty much sounds like a flame sensor as stated before

    But

    Here are the questions you need to answer.
    1) Do you like the house and are you staying for more than 5 yrs

    2)What is most important to me, A,B, C or Din order of importance
    A) Initial Cost
    B) Efficiency
    C) Reliability
    D) Comfort

    And forget about who the equipment manufacture is IT IS THE INSTALLATION THAT COUNTS NOT THE EQUIPMENT MANUFACTURE.

    Now with that being said answer the 2 questions and we can proceed

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Posts
    4
    PJS,

    1) Yes and Yes

    2) You're asking a very difficult question here as all of those are key/important. But.........if you force me (lol),
    C,B,D,A

    My dilemma kinda boils down to the fact that 'if' I was not experiencing a problem for the 2nd consecutive year (and even an in-expensive repair will probably be a couple hundred, I probably wouldn't even be thinking about replacing the furnace (especially since the efficiency appears to be 80% vs. what the Tech told me last year). But.....again, throw in the fact that the humidifier is also bad and the AC very old and I'm kinda leaning towards replacing it as I 'think' I'll get a better deal on a combo job compared to replacing just the AC in the spring?!

    Thanks.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Near Chicago, IL
    Posts
    3,317
    You need to separate the savings from an oversized unit replacement and the savings going from an 80% to a 90% efficient unit. Not the same issue.

    Next you need to figure how much that extra 10% savings is gonna cost you in equipment and installation premiums. If it costs you $100 to heat your home now, it will cost $90 in gas with a 90% model. Do the math.

    If you don't two-pipe a 90% unit, you are wasting your money. That means combustion air comes from outside. You can get an 80% unit with the same feature- it will cut down on drafts in the home when the furnace is on, increasing comfort.

    Get a Manual J done to figure the heat load. You can spend the $$ yourself and check out the "HVAC CALC" red tab above. Furnaces only come in certain sizes, so maybe 150k was the best choice- no way to know without doing a load calc.

    It is cheaper to do it all at once versus furnace now, AC later... But, each can be done at different times. Whether or not you get a "deal" remains to be seen.

    Recent tax law changes may enable you to get a rebate from Uncle Sam if you choose high efficiency equipment (not to be confused with a manufacturers rebate).

    I would lean towards fixing it rather than replacing it... Especially if you can change the flame sensor yourself.

    But, a properly matched system will perform better, especially if your furnace can be downsized.

    Sometimes you get what you pay for... Sometimes you pay for what you get.



    Proper Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance

    "There is hardly anything in the world that some man cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and the people who consider price only are this man's lawful prey. It's unwise to pay too little.
    When you pay too much, you lose a little money -- that is all. When you pay too little, you may lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do.

    The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot -- it can't be done. If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is well to add something for the risk you run. And if you do that, you will have enough to pay for something better."

    John Ruskin


  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    michigan
    Posts
    677
    Rebate is for 95%+ furnaces after the first of the year. If I were you I would do some research on equipment and buy for the future. I have a old hot water boiler and am doing the same thing in anticipation of outrageous heating bills. I'm looking at high efficency modulating equipment and so should you.
    I don't know about anyone else but I don't discount all that much for package purchases because my prices are good to begin with. You may also want to look at a duel fuel system ie LP furnace in conjunction with a heatpump. Some of the southern guys could be more helpfull on that. Duel fuel systems are just now starting to catch on up here in MIchigan and I'm sorry to say I'm a little lacking in the process but am learning every day.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    Yo.... Here!, I'm right here..
    Posts
    6,236
    Ok apotocki
    Since you gave it to me straight here's (my estimation of) your best pic.

    First NO more than 3 estimates, “once you go over three you are wasting our time.“

    …Narrow down the product selection on line, this CAN be very confusing!! Good Luck.

    You may think it is like buying a set of Michelins for your car it IS NOT!!!

    Some Manufactures have gone to classifying their dealers ie: Bryant Factory Authorized Dealers this may help and some dealers are affiliated with Associations this may help

    (Personally we have sold Bryant for some 26+ yr. your first and second clue in contractor selection.) Pick a contractor that has handled a specific product for an extended amount of time

    Your responses were C, B, D, and A


    C) Reliability
    ..Answer) Your best bet is to pick the best contractor, first and go with their suggestions as far as Equipment. This is going to take some effort on your part, as it is mostly Intuition and Common Sense. Now you don't have to be HVAC experienced to do this selection, just read the sales person (hopefully the owner or one of their techs, be careful here some techs are getting BIG commissions for their sales.

    The size of the company Does Not Matter

    Intuition, Intuition, Common Sense,
    Now Mind you the good Guys are most likely not professional sales people like car sales but honest hard working Joe’s, who want to do a good job get paid well for what they do and go home to the wife and kids. But they should ask the appropriate questions and take all the pertinent information.
    Appropriate questions, and or comments.
    What is important to youJ
    Do you have any rooms that are a problem heating or coolingJ
    I’m going to measure your house and I’m going to do a box load Loss/ Gain calculation, if it warrants, I’ll do a Room-by-Room Loss gain.

    “ These are not part of a FREE estimate” and you can expect to Pay for these

    B) Efficiency 90% with a 7 Day programmable T stat my choice Honeywell Vision Pro
    D) Comfort 2-stage heat and depending on where you live 2 stage cooling, or Variable speed.
    A) Cost –“ you listed this last” you are My kind of customer, No I’m not looking to take you to the cleaners J We don’t want to waste our time on tire kickers who want Michelins and want to pay for Sears. We want to give you what you are paying for and go home feeling we did a good job

    When you get this far we will discuss the Air Conditioning
    I may help save you some money here


    Where are you located

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Posts
    4
    PJS, et al,

    I want to Thank You all for your replies and advice.

    I've contacted a local company to come out and evaluate what I have today and give me idea's for the future.

    My wife has also spoken with the Tech that came out to our house last year to do the repair. (he handles the building where she works). He also indicated that the problem we are experiencing now may be something very simple/inexpensive to resolve. He's going to come out today to look at it. I'll keep you posted. Depending on what is found may influence me as to what to do for the immediate future.


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