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  1. #1
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    Nov 2019
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    14.5" downdraft furnace replacement, brand, AC and trust questoins

    Hi:

    This is long and detailed! I have so many questions. I repeat my questions at the bottom but they may not make sense out of context.

    I have to replace my downflow furnace, which sits atop the coil box. I have 2 full quotes and 2 half quotes from furnace companies. I've read that a good installation is more important than the brand. I've tried to find well-regarded companies, but everyone seems to have some legitimate complaints in reviews. It makes it hard to trust someone with loads of money I don't have. I will have to finance this and worry about defaulting on payments.

    The current furnace and coil is 14.5" wide, which limits my options.

    Company 1 wants to replace the coil so they can go with 17" furnaces. They say a new coil is compatible with r22, and if we replace the coil later (the AC is 21 years old) they'd have to remove the furnace and reinstall it, that alone will cost just a hundred dollars less than the coil price now (so the coil replacement would be twice as expensive if I wait). This company's quote is the most expensive, the furnaces are Armstrong, and they offer either 10 years or 5 years labor warranty (5 years for the 80% furnace). The extensive labor warranty inclined me to trust this company more, however I've read (here!) that replacing only the coil is not a great idea for a variety of reasons.
    We discussed some brands as I'd been trying to read up on them but hadn't come across much about Armstrong yet. I mentioned York seemed bad and he said they stopped carrying them because they were so problematic.

    The 2nd company giving a thorough quote carries York, Ducane and American Standard.
    He told me that replacing just the AC coil will cause the compressor to fail within a year. He says the furnace DOES NOT HAVE TO BE MOVED to replace the coil in future, you just open the front panel and slide the coil and drip pan in. He said there are new coils that will fit my coil box. So is Company 1 not so trustworthy for saying that lifting the furnace later would be required and cost all that money? (The coil box is 14.5x14.5x21.5, PLEASE tell me if he was correct about putting in a new coil, this could really help me out)

    He also priced out replacing the whole AC system so I have 17" options. He is also willing to put a 17" furnace on my 14" coil box, which I have also read is a bad idea. So is it Company 2 that is not trustworthy?

    His company offers just a 1 year labor warranty. After that it's a fee to come out and a hefty hourly rate (3 figures, barely). It is a union company which I do really like.

    His quotes were less expensive at the low end, with overlap of his high end with Company 1's low end. His low-end quote (80% York and complete 2-ton 13 SEER AC is the same as Company 1's 80% Armstrong and coil only)
    He quoted York and Ducane, they have furnaces in 14", and the American Standard would add a thousand to the quotes. I have since read enough to see an HVAC site have York on the bottom of a recommendation list, and Ducane not on a recommended list anywhere. So maybe York has improved a lot in the last few years?
    I am also concerned because on his quote, for the York 14" 95% furnace he wrote "40 or 60000 btu" I'm in northern Indiana with a 1200sf average insulated, slab house, 40k btu will not work according on online calculators even at 100% efficiency. Why would he even write that?

    He insists that the AC brand must be the same brand as the furnace. I'm concerned about that as I have half a quote from someone for a Ruud/Rheem furnace--which gets better reviews than York and Ducane on hvac sites--but apparently their AC is problematic.
    This place, Company 3, did a quote via emailed photos. They said I should replace the coil and condenser together, but I only need to go to 17" if I want high efficiency, not if 80% is ok. But then the 80% Rheem furnace they specified in the quote is a 17" They "didn't get" my first email to them so I re-sent, and now they haven't answered my follow-up email. All of these things make me doubt them.

    So to recap my mire of questions:
    -Can I really slide a new coil in later? (dimensions above)
    -If no, would you personally take the risk of replacing just the coil (remember serious lack of $$)
    -Does the AC brand have to be the same as the furnace brand?
    -Which company would you trust to do the job well? I have concerns about all 3. All have mostly good reviews--Angie's, Yelp, Google.
    -Between York and Ducane, which would you choose?
    -Between Armstrong and American Standard, which would you choose?
    -A 40k btu furnace for N Indiana is ridiculous, right?
    -If you're aware of a brand with a 14.5" furnace that isn't named here, please let me know. They do seem to be rare. (I guess Carrier has one, but that company really only gave 15% of a quote and won't respond to me at all.)


    Thank you!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
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    New England
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    Get a load calculation done 1st to determine what sizes you need, for heating and cooling.

    Free one https://www.loadcalc.net/

    You can purchase others online for a minimal cost also.

    If you want rebates and a matched system, you would need a AHRI number.

    In Indiana, may want to consider a condensing furnace, starts at 92%>

    Need to register equipment as manufacturers warranty decreases significantly if never registered.

    One brand was offering the basic one year labor warranty. If you like the company and equipment they offered ask them how much it cost for the 5 or 10 year extended labor warranty.

    One reason the Armstrong is more expensive is the extended labor warranty, those aren’t free.

    If your planning on installing a system soon, I would replace the coil with a new furnace, ( bundle mania ) save your money over the winter months then spring time of next year add the OD section, that matches the furnace and coil. Ask all of them if they plan on offering AHRI matched equipment.

    Ask for something like this.

    https://www.ahridirectory.org/Home/D...WJ9HihqNQR337q

    From other Techs/Contractors here many seem to give thumbs up for Armstrong Air. They are owned by Lennox. You probably can get a better equipped unit for the price of some more recognized brands, meaning better manufacturers standard features, higher efficiency system, as they are not advertised as much, saving from the manufacturers passing the cost onto customers.
    Last edited by Bazooka Joey; 11-22-2019 at 06:05 PM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Location
    Indianapolis, IN, USA
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    To me, a coil is part of the cooling unit. Don't change with the furnace just cuz it makes for an easier install. Suppose you do this and your old A/C burns out and puts acid and other nasties in the new coil. What a waste. Since other dealers say they can do it with the existing coil, that's what I'd do.

    Ducane is essentially a Lennox Merit unit. There's 1 next door I haven't touched since it was installed a number of years ago. 2 doors the other way is a premium Allied 95% unit again I haven't touched. We have a number of the 14" 66,000 BTU units out there doing just fine. York is rare around here. I have heard some negative about it and Consumer Reports suggests against their A/C units. I'm guessing problems due to the type of coil they use(d) as they have made the old style coil that almost everyone else still uses an option.

    The Carrier family of brands has 80% and 90+ lines in 14.5" as does Goodman. Rheem has it in 50,000 BTU 80% models.

    If you aren't looking high end, the furnace & A/C brands do not have to be the same. The coil needs to match the A/C however.

  4. #4
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    Jan 2014
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    New England
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    To clarify my statement, you living in Northern Indiana, doubt your using the A/C anymore, with that , If you plan on installing a furnace soon, I would install a new case coil, also, do not hook it up, you can even pull the coil out while running the furnace. Only when springtime comes around purchase the new OD unit and slide in the coil and tie in then register the equipment. Register the furnace on start up.

    Worst case they can crimp and solder/braze the ends of the lineset by the coil if you plan on reusing the existing lineset.

    As BaldLoonie brought up a good point, if you want a low SEER A/C ( something around 13-14 ) you should match coil to OD unit. If you want to go say 15+ SEER and even apply for rebates, chances are you would need to match the furnace to ID and OD coil.
    Last edited by Bazooka Joey; 11-22-2019 at 07:06 PM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2019
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    Thread Starter
    Thanks for your responses, you two.

    Even if I can wait a bit to replace the AC (months, a couple years) I likely won't have the funds to get higher efficiency/SEER, so the perfectly matching thing seems unnecessary.

    I'm not clear, have either of you stated that the original coil can be removed and replaced without changing the box, therefore without uninstalling the furnace? I have been unable to google that answer and I'm dying to know.

    Also, if Armstrong is owned by Lennox, are there the same issues of only being able to use Lennox parts to repair, requiring a wait while they're ordered, etc.?

    Thanks!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
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    New England
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    How much more can a new box with a coil ( cased coil ) be with a new furnace vs keeping a existing box with a new coil, if you can find a perfect fit. Chances the front cover of the old box will need to be modified as the holes for the lineset hook ups probably will not line up with the original panel holes, also the drain pan holes of the new coil may not line up with the notched holes on the existing panel which adds to to cost ( more labor )

    Don’t know what to tell you about future repair parts down times while waiting for parts. I suppose if there are a lot on Distributors and Contractors in your area that shouldn’t be a problem.

    I believe at least one brand says that when replacing equipment they need to be matched in order for the manufacture to receive the maximum manufacturers warranty once registered. Certainly if your going low SEER the furnace combo will not be needed but the ID coil to OD unit may?
    Last edited by Bazooka Joey; 11-23-2019 at 08:54 AM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2000
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    Indianapolis, IN, USA
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    There are a lot of parts in common between Allied & Lennox. Not all. The supplier of Ducane in Indiana is a class act, probably stock important parts or get from a nearby branch rather quickly.

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