Author Topic: Replacing 2 AC units this month, budget killer  (Read 1649 times)

Valhalla

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Replacing 2 AC units this month, budget killer
« on: August 09, 2017, 11:47:07 AM »
I tried to hold it off, but the bill finally is coming due... replacing two AC units this months, a huge budget buster.

Well over $10k worth of work... but hopefully the AC units will last at least 15 - 20 years (fingers crossed).  I guess I will need to put off FIRE longer to afford to cool the house.

SMH, FML.    I need a MMM group hug to help me feel better, LOL.
« Last Edit: August 09, 2017, 11:49:55 AM by Valhalla »

Goldielocks

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Re: Replacing 2 AC units this month, budget killer
« Reply #1 on: August 09, 2017, 11:55:41 AM »
Hugs. 

It was 84 inside our home yesterday, and I did not want to do very much.  I completely understand wanting AC in hotter climates.

VoteCthulu

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Re: Replacing 2 AC units this month, budget killer
« Reply #2 on: August 09, 2017, 12:19:05 PM »
Are these for rental properties, or is your house so large it requires 2 AC units to cool?

Valhalla

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Re: Replacing 2 AC units this month, budget killer
« Reply #3 on: August 09, 2017, 01:13:08 PM »
Are these for rental properties, or is your house so large it requires 2 AC units to cool?
Primary residence. House is only 2400 sq ft, single level, but according to estimates (1 ton for every 400 sq feet) it requires 6 tons of cooling, so I have two small units instead of a single 5 ton unit.  So I get to pay for 2 units just because the house is slightly larger than what a 5 ton unit can handle. :(

FIRE47

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Re: Replacing 2 AC units this month, budget killer
« Reply #4 on: August 09, 2017, 01:24:16 PM »
This is why I am trying (in what may be a vain attempt) to budget a monthly amount for all of these inevitable maintenance/capital items.

I have determined a rough amount of what my total housing replacement/maintenance should be over the next 10 years and divided it up and added a monthly line item to my budget. If it goes unspent each month it just slowly builds in a reserve/liability instead of adding to my NW in order to attempt to smooth the inevitable nature of these large one-time expenses. When a large expense occurs it just comes out of the reserve and doesn't lower my total NW calculation. I realize this is all just a nebulous thought/accounting exercise but I like to try to nail my budget as close as possible.

« Last Edit: August 09, 2017, 01:26:40 PM by FIRE47 »

Valhalla

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Re: Replacing 2 AC units this month, budget killer
« Reply #5 on: August 09, 2017, 01:26:23 PM »
This is why I am trying (in what may be a vain attempt) to budget a monthly amount for all of these inevitable maintenance/capital items.

I have determined a rough amount of what my total housing replacement/maintenance should be over the next 10 years and divided it up and added a monthly line item to my budget. If it goes unspent each month it just slowly builds in a reserve instead of adding to my NW in order to attempt to smooth the inevitable nature of these large one-time expenses. When a large expense occurs it just comes out of the reserve and doesn't lower my total NW calculation. I realize this is all just a nebulous thought/accounting exercise but I like to try to nail my budget as close as possible.
Good idea.  Another potential expenditure is roof repairs. Every 15 - 30 years a new roof or roof repairs may be needed.  Then home water heater, plumbing, etc.  If anyone has a comprehensive list that would be great.

ketchup

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Re: Replacing 2 AC units this month, budget killer
« Reply #6 on: August 09, 2017, 01:39:05 PM »
This is why I am trying (in what may be a vain attempt) to budget a monthly amount for all of these inevitable maintenance/capital items.

I have determined a rough amount of what my total housing replacement/maintenance should be over the next 10 years and divided it up and added a monthly line item to my budget. If it goes unspent each month it just slowly builds in a reserve instead of adding to my NW in order to attempt to smooth the inevitable nature of these large one-time expenses. When a large expense occurs it just comes out of the reserve and doesn't lower my total NW calculation. I realize this is all just a nebulous thought/accounting exercise but I like to try to nail my budget as close as possible.
Good idea.  Another potential expenditure is roof repairs. Every 15 - 30 years a new roof or roof repairs may be needed.  Then home water heater, plumbing, etc.  If anyone has a comprehensive list that would be great.
This one is from BiggerPockets (a real estate investing site).  Numbers of course vary based on location and property (and are probably a little less aggressive timing-wise for a primary residence vs a rental property with turnover), but the broad strokes are applicable.

Valhalla

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Re: Replacing 2 AC units this month, budget killer
« Reply #7 on: August 09, 2017, 01:48:34 PM »
Great info...thanks.

MilesTeg

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Re: Replacing 2 AC units this month, budget killer
« Reply #8 on: August 09, 2017, 01:54:34 PM »
Are these for rental properties, or is your house so large it requires 2 AC units to cool?
Primary residence. House is only 2400 sq ft, single level, but according to estimates (1 ton for every 400 sq feet) it requires 6 tons of cooling, so I have two small units instead of a single 5 ton unit.  So I get to pay for 2 units just because the house is slightly larger than what a 5 ton unit can handle. :(

Do you have two furnaces? Our (new construction) home which is only about 1950 sqft has dual HVAC, and it's quite wonderful and has thus far proven to be considerably more efficient. In the summer there's very little need to cool the downstairs (and no need to cool either floor when we are only using the other floor) and in the winter the heat dissipation from the downstairs keeps the upstairs reasonably warm even without active heating. It doesn't quite halve the utilities bill, but it does put a huge dent in it.

It's yet to be seen if it actually saves us money (two small furnaces + two small A/C units is still more expensive than 1 large of each), but if you are doing two A/C units anyway and don't have dual HVAC it might be something to look into.

Google tells me it's even possible to have multi-zone a/c sans multiple furnaces which you might look into if that's not how you are already setup.
« Last Edit: August 09, 2017, 01:57:31 PM by MilesTeg »

Kroaler

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Re: Replacing 2 AC units this month, budget killer
« Reply #9 on: August 10, 2017, 07:25:15 AM »
Are these for rental properties, or is your house so large it requires 2 AC units to cool?
Primary residence. House is only 2400 sq ft, single level, but according to estimates (1 ton for every 400 sq feet) it requires 6 tons of cooling, so I have two small units instead of a single 5 ton unit.  So I get to pay for 2 units just because the house is slightly larger than what a 5 ton unit can handle. :(


I see someone is suggesting to you 1 ton per 400 square feet.      HVAC jobs should not be sized by rule of thumb.

If any contractor wants the contract from you, please make sure they are competent and require a Manual J for sizing. 

Manual J is the correct calculation to size units.

Dicey

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Re: Replacing 2 AC units this month, budget killer
« Reply #10 on: August 10, 2017, 08:02:58 AM »
Oh, boy, can I relate to this pain. We just had to replace the A/C unit in a rental because the next-door neighbor complained that it was too noisy! I admit that it was just as loud as others on the block, but her husband is on the board, so guess who got singled out? We managed to drag it out for a year, primarily because the HOA's standards were so vague that we forced them to clarify their regulations. (The A/C worked fine, just not super quiet.)

During that period, we kept getting quotes. DH found someone who did the job for 30% less than the first few quotes. He and his sons did a great job, so now they will be servicing all of our rentals twice a year.

My point is that getting multiple bids really paid off.

ETA: Yes, we have big, fat reserves for maintenance, but as always, why spend more than you have to?
« Last Edit: August 10, 2017, 08:33:59 AM by Dicey »
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tipster350

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Re: Replacing 2 AC units this month, budget killer
« Reply #11 on: August 10, 2017, 08:27:55 AM »
Replacing the a/c isn't really a budget killer; it needs to be part of your budget, along with other repairs/maintenance/unexpected costs needs. I like the chart above for planning useful life  but the amounts to plan for seem low to me.

Fishindude

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Re: Replacing 2 AC units this month, budget killer
« Reply #12 on: August 10, 2017, 08:48:03 AM »
Replacing the a/c isn't really a budget killer; it needs to be part of your budget, along with other repairs/maintenance/unexpected costs needs. I like the chart above for planning useful life  but the amounts to plan for seem low to me.

My thoughts also.

talltexan

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Re: Replacing 2 AC units this month, budget killer
« Reply #13 on: August 10, 2017, 08:56:19 AM »
Isn't there a rule of thumb that's like 1%-3% of the capital cost of your home per year?

MilesTeg

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Re: Replacing 2 AC units this month, budget killer
« Reply #14 on: August 10, 2017, 09:45:56 AM »
This one is from BiggerPockets (a real estate investing site).  Numbers of course vary based on location and property (and are probably a little less aggressive timing-wise for a primary residence vs a rental property with turnover), but the broad strokes are applicable.


I know you're talking about broad strokes here, but I think it's a mistake to look at what an investor would budget for if you are not an investor. Obviously a primary residence is not going to do major renovations (drywall, framing, plumbing, etc.) on a 30 year schedule, so I won't complain about that.

But, many of the items on this list are "appearance" items, such as cabinets, counter tops, fixtures, flooring, garage door, etc. People aught to be budgeting for things like roofs and mechanicals, but items that are really only replaced for appearance sake are either a.) unnecessary expenditures or b.) an investment to improve sales price made shortly before selling the house.

ketchup

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Re: Replacing 2 AC units this month, budget killer
« Reply #15 on: August 10, 2017, 10:00:20 AM »
But, many of the items on this list are "appearance" items, such as cabinets, counter tops, fixtures, flooring, garage door, etc. People aught to be budgeting for things like roofs and mechanicals, but items that are really only replaced for appearance sake are either a.) unnecessary expenditures or b.) an investment to improve sales price made shortly before selling the house.
So those things *never* wear out or break, by your logic?  Replacing them is completely optional?  My 1988 carpet I ripped out of my living room last year would like a word with you.

Drifterrider

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Re: Replacing 2 AC units this month, budget killer
« Reply #16 on: August 10, 2017, 10:11:15 AM »
Are these for rental properties, or is your house so large it requires 2 AC units to cool?
Primary residence. House is only 2400 sq ft, single level, but according to estimates (1 ton for every 400 sq feet) it requires 6 tons of cooling, so I have two small units instead of a single 5 ton unit.  So I get to pay for 2 units just because the house is slightly larger than what a 5 ton unit can handle. :(

That made me smile.  A few years ago a co-worker described his house as "a very small 2,500 sf house".

Kroaler

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Re: Replacing 2 AC units this month, budget killer
« Reply #17 on: August 10, 2017, 11:22:13 AM »

Are these for rental properties, or is your house so large it requires 2 AC units to cool?
Primary residence. House is only 2400 sq ft, single level, but according to estimates (1 ton for every 400 sq feet) it requires 6 tons of cooling, so I have two small units instead of a single 5 ton unit.  So I get to pay for 2 units just because the house is slightly larger than what a 5 ton unit can handle. :(

That made me smile.  A few years ago a co-worker described his house as "a very small 2,500 sf house".

Release the face punch monster!

Valhalla

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Re: Replacing 2 AC units this month, budget killer
« Reply #18 on: August 10, 2017, 11:24:29 AM »
Are these for rental properties, or is your house so large it requires 2 AC units to cool?
Primary residence. House is only 2400 sq ft, single level, but according to estimates (1 ton for every 400 sq feet) it requires 6 tons of cooling, so I have two small units instead of a single 5 ton unit.  So I get to pay for 2 units just because the house is slightly larger than what a 5 ton unit can handle. :(

That made me smile.  A few years ago a co-worker described his house as "a very small 2,500 sf house".
lol around here 2400 sq feet is pretty small. McMansions are common and many homes are at least 3,000 sq feet or more.  It's all relative to what's common in the area.

MilesTeg

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Re: Replacing 2 AC units this month, budget killer
« Reply #19 on: August 10, 2017, 11:26:41 AM »
But, many of the items on this list are "appearance" items, such as cabinets, counter tops, fixtures, flooring, garage door, etc. People aught to be budgeting for things like roofs and mechanicals, but items that are really only replaced for appearance sake are either a.) unnecessary expenditures or b.) an investment to improve sales price made shortly before selling the house.
So those things *never* wear out or break, by your logic?  Replacing them is completely optional?  My 1988 carpet I ripped out of my living room last year would like a word with you.

For some things, it's not that they don't wear out, it's that replacing them is not an emergency and don't need to be proactively replaced. Your 30 year old carpet still being in use simple means you have an ugly, worn out carpet. A heater breaking might result in massive damage to the structure (frozen pipes) or render the home unlivable.

And of course, things like garage doors, counter tops and cabinets and drywall effectively don't wear out or break from normal usage and replacing them is pretty much always optional. Occasionally they will be damaged (flooding, rodent infestation, etc.) or abused (counters used as a sawhorse?) and require replacement to maintain functionality, but normal wear and tear does not render them unfit for their purpose. I say 'effectively' not because they will last forever, but because they have an indefinite life expectancy and are generally only replaced for appearance reasons.

tipster350

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Re: Replacing 2 AC units this month, budget killer
« Reply #20 on: August 10, 2017, 12:11:32 PM »
Sure, different opinions will arise around what people feel they need to replace when it comes to aesthetics. And those opinions can be reflected in each individual's budget number for ongoing repairs, maintenance, and unexpected expenses. That doesn't take away from the fact that everyone still needs to budget for the category. It shouldn't be considered a surprise setback or budget buster when a system fails. If you do you are being unrealistic about what you need to allocate in a budget.

Re3iRtH

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Re: Replacing 2 AC units this month, budget killer
« Reply #21 on: August 10, 2017, 12:24:14 PM »
This is why I am trying (in what may be a vain attempt) to budget a monthly amount for all of these inevitable maintenance/capital items.

I have determined a rough amount of what my total housing replacement/maintenance should be over the next 10 years and divided it up and added a monthly line item to my budget. If it goes unspent each month it just slowly builds in a reserve instead of adding to my NW in order to attempt to smooth the inevitable nature of these large one-time expenses. When a large expense occurs it just comes out of the reserve and doesn't lower my total NW calculation. I realize this is all just a nebulous thought/accounting exercise but I like to try to nail my budget as close as possible.
Good idea.  Another potential expenditure is roof repairs. Every 15 - 30 years a new roof or roof repairs may be needed.  Then home water heater, plumbing, etc.  If anyone has a comprehensive list that would be great.
This one is from BiggerPockets (a real estate investing site).  Numbers of course vary based on location and property (and are probably a little less aggressive timing-wise for a primary residence vs a rental property with turnover), but the broad strokes are applicable.


That looks like something Ben Leybovich would have posted.

MilesTeg

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Re: Replacing 2 AC units this month, budget killer
« Reply #22 on: August 10, 2017, 12:48:56 PM »
Sure, different opinions will arise around what people feel they need to replace when it comes to aesthetics. And those opinions can be reflected in each individual's budget number for ongoing repairs, maintenance, and unexpected expenses. That doesn't take away from the fact that everyone still needs to budget for the category. It shouldn't be considered a surprise setback or budget buster when a system fails. If you do you are being unrealistic about what you need to allocate in a budget.

What I'm trying to say is if something doesn't *need* to be replaced, but is just an aesthetic concern, that it doesn't fall in the category of something to plan (i.e. budget) for. Frankly, if you are in the (common) position to need to budget for important things (rather than just pulling money from savings when needed), then you probably don't have or shouldn't be spending to replace things for purely aesthetic reasons anyway. Real estate investors (including those looking to sell their primary residence in the near future) are different, of course.

If ugly cabinets are something that would be a financial hardship to replace, you shouldn't be replacing them.

Tetsuya Hondo

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Re: Replacing 2 AC units this month, budget killer
« Reply #23 on: August 10, 2017, 01:52:53 PM »
I'm currently awaiting a part to repair our upstairs AC. It occurred to me that this is yet another good reason to have a smaller home (which we plan to do when we're FI, meaning we no longer need two home offices, and the kid is older) that only needs one unit. With two units you double the cost of maintenance and replacements. It's an additional expense that many don't think of when buying a bigger home.

Anyway, hugs. Been there. Both units had died at our old home within a year of each other.

SharkStomper

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Re: Replacing 2 AC units this month, budget killer
« Reply #24 on: August 10, 2017, 02:19:28 PM »
I had to replace the AC unit in my rental last month, so I feel your pain. :(

Papa bear

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Re: Replacing 2 AC units this month, budget killer
« Reply #25 on: August 10, 2017, 04:42:58 PM »
10k for 2 AC units?  You should get a few more quotes...


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VoteCthulu

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Re: Replacing 2 AC units this month, budget killer
« Reply #26 on: August 11, 2017, 02:45:01 PM »
What I'm trying to say is if something doesn't *need* to be replaced, but is just an aesthetic concern, that it doesn't fall in the category of something to plan (i.e. budget) for. Frankly, if you are in the (common) position to need to budget for important things (rather than just pulling money from savings when needed), then you probably don't have or shouldn't be spending to replace things for purely aesthetic reasons anyway.
Wow, you and I have wildly different opinions on what a budget should include. I think any foreseeable expenditures should be budgeted for, even if they're completely unnecessary and face-punchable. If someone can't stand driving cars more than 3 years old, they should budget for new cars so they understand exactly what that's costing them. Likewise for someone who wants to paint their room a new color every year or replace their cabinets every X years.

To only budget for "important" items and relegate other predictable expenditures to some un-budgeted slush fund seems like a recipe for disaster IMHO.

Cadman

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Re: Replacing 2 AC units this month, budget killer
« Reply #27 on: August 12, 2017, 01:08:27 PM »
Valhalla, definitely get a calculated cooling estimate performed. By all accounts I should have needed 5-6 tons of cooling, however the utility company came out, figured sq ft of windows, type and R-value of insulation, and several other parameters and came back with a cooling estimate of 3.5t. This is what I had the contractor put in (sizable rebate if you don't exceed the util calc) and it seems to be cooling just fine. You may very well get away with a single unit.

LiveLean

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Re: Replacing 2 AC units this month, budget killer
« Reply #28 on: August 12, 2017, 01:30:49 PM »
10k for 2 AC units?  You should get a few more quotes...


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10K for two complete HVAC systems could very well be a great deal depending on size. I replaced a 3-ton and 4-ton system together in December 2012 and received quotes up to $20K. Even the Costco-designated company was at $15K, though they were connected with Lennox.

I ended up with Bryant units, not top of the line but pretty much identical to its parent company (Carrier) and paid $8,950 for two systems installed. These replaced two 17-year-old systems that I had put a lot of money into for repairs.

When I purchased a rental property in July 2014 that needed a new 3-ton system none of the estimators could believe the deal I got 18 months earlier. (The rental property is in VA; I live in FL). So I got another 3-ton Bryant system, but this time paid $4,600. Knock on wood, all three Bryant systems have been low maintenance compared to the two York systems I inherited when I bought my then 3-year-old primary residence in 1999. They gave me issues from the first month.

I find HVAC costs the most frustrating. You're talking about what looks like big metal boxes, fans, and various tin cans.

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Papa bear

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Re: Replacing 2 AC units this month, budget killer
« Reply #29 on: August 12, 2017, 01:48:44 PM »
10k for 2 AC units?  You should get a few more quotes...


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10K for two complete HVAC systems could very well be a great deal depending on size. I replaced a 3-ton and 4-ton system together in December 2012 and received quotes up to $20K. Even the Costco-designated company was at $15K, though they were connected with Lennox.

I ended up with Bryant units, not top of the line but pretty much identical to its parent company (Carrier) and paid $8,950 for two systems installed. These replaced two 17-year-old systems that I had put a lot of money into for repairs.

When I purchased a rental property in July 2014 that needed a new 3-ton system none of the estimators could believe the deal I got 18 months earlier. (The rental property is in VA; I live in FL). So I got another 3-ton Bryant system, but this time paid $4,600. Knock on wood, all three Bryant systems have been low maintenance compared to the two York systems I inherited when I bought my then 3-year-old primary residence in 1999. They gave me issues from the first month.

I find HVAC costs the most frustrating. You're talking about what looks like big metal boxes, fans, and various tin cans.

2 full different systems, furnace, AC, air handler. Sure 10k would be pretty solid. But for 2 AC units at the same house?  Looks like the installer is trying to retire early. They aren't doing you any favors.


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LiveLean

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Re: Replacing 2 AC units this month, budget killer
« Reply #30 on: August 12, 2017, 01:54:29 PM »
10k for 2 AC units?  You should get a few more quotes...


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10K for two complete HVAC systems could very well be a great deal depending on size. I replaced a 3-ton and 4-ton system together in December 2012 and received quotes up to $20K. Even the Costco-designated company was at $15K, though they were connected with Lennox.

I ended up with Bryant units, not top of the line but pretty much identical to its parent company (Carrier) and paid $8,950 for two systems installed. These replaced two 17-year-old systems that I had put a lot of money into for repairs.

When I purchased a rental property in July 2014 that needed a new 3-ton system none of the estimators could believe the deal I got 18 months earlier. (The rental property is in VA; I live in FL). So I got another 3-ton Bryant system, but this time paid $4,600. Knock on wood, all three Bryant systems have been low maintenance compared to the two York systems I inherited when I bought my then 3-year-old primary residence in 1999. They gave me issues from the first month.

I find HVAC costs the most frustrating. You're talking about what looks like big metal boxes, fans, and various tin cans.

2 full different systems, furnace, AC, air handler. Sure 10k would be pretty solid. But for 2 AC units at the same house?  Looks like the installer is trying to retire early. They aren't doing you any favors.


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Yes, same house, two full systems. One HVAC system was shot and the other was not long for this world. Having pumped money into them for 13 years, I knew it was time to replace them both. I challenge anyone to get a 3-ton and 4-ton system installed today for $8,950.
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Cadman

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Re: Replacing 2 AC units this month, budget killer
« Reply #31 on: August 12, 2017, 03:59:34 PM »
Are the evaporator coils in good shape? Tubing ok? Why rip out the passive components if there's no need. Just have the condenser units that do the work replaced and charged. A quick estimate shows <2k per name-brand 5 ton unit. Figure $1k or less for soldering the tubing and charging.

Still seems strange you need two units. I know people in 3-4k sq ft homes that have single mainstream units that work fine.

TomTX

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Re: Replacing 2 AC units this month, budget killer
« Reply #32 on: August 12, 2017, 06:55:11 PM »
Are these for rental properties, or is your house so large it requires 2 AC units to cool?
Primary residence. House is only 2400 sq ft, single level, but according to estimates (1 ton for every 400 sq feet) it requires 6 tons of cooling, so I have two small units instead of a single 5 ton unit.  So I get to pay for 2 units just because the house is slightly larger than what a 5 ton unit can handle. :(

That seems dramatically oversized. I have a 1730 square foot single-story in Austin with mediocre insulation, mediocre R-6 flexible ducting in the attic, mediocre airflow in the attic, and a lot of sun exposure.

Our 10 year old  3-ton unit handles our regular 100+ degree days with no issues, doesn't run constantly even in the hottest parts of the day.

As another poster said: AC should never be sized by a "rule of thumb" - Manual J all the way.
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Dicey

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Re: Replacing 2 AC units this month, budget killer
« Reply #33 on: August 12, 2017, 07:05:54 PM »
Are these for rental properties, or is your house so large it requires 2 AC units to cool?
Primary residence. House is only 2400 sq ft, single level, but according to estimates (1 ton for every 400 sq feet) it requires 6 tons of cooling, so I have two small units instead of a single 5 ton unit.  So I get to pay for 2 units just because the house is slightly larger than what a 5 ton unit can handle. :(

That seems dramatically oversized. I have a 1730 square foot single-story in Austin with mediocre insulation, mediocre R-6 flexible ducting in the attic, mediocre airflow in the attic, and a lot of sun exposure.

Our 10 year old  3-ton unit handles our regular 100+ degree days with no issues, doesn't run constantly even in the hottest parts of the day.

As another poster said: AC should never be sized by a "rule of thumb" - Manual J all the way.
A/C units are definitely one of the few examples where bigger is not necessarily better, even for the same money ;-). Oversized is almost as bad as undersized. Manual J all the way, indeed!
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