Author Topic: Furnace Repairs vs. New System  (Read 4825 times)

Grindin' Away

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Furnace Repairs vs. New System
« on: September 15, 2014, 08:07:16 AM »

I have a 16 year old Furnace that went out, and I paid the money to have it diagnosed.

The draft inducer motor, and the pressure switch are toast and need to be replaced.

The guy who diagnosed it gave me three options:

1.)  $757 to replace the parts, and 1 year of their "gold club" heating and cooling routine checks

2.)  $658 to just replace the parts

3.)  replace the whole thing, possibly doing a whole brand new Furnace/AC system.  ($6,000 - $15,000 estimate per the diagnostics guy)


So I have a few questions for any Furnace/HVAC Mustacian Experts out there:

1.)  I am not extremely handy, but have been learning.  Is there much risk if an amateur like myself tries to replace the parts?  Or is this something that definitely needs to be done by a professional?

2.)  Is it worth the money to replace the parts at all, or is it time for a new system?


I live in Iowa, and won't need the furnace for at least the next week, but would like to have it ready to go if a cold blast comes our way.

Thanks

Greg

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Re: Furnace Repairs vs. New System
« Reply #1 on: September 15, 2014, 09:12:32 AM »
I'd certainly look at replacing the parts that were determined to be bad.  It's not rocket science and you should be able to find the replacement parts online using the description and number on the existing parts.  Take pics as you go, and YouTube the process if you're unsure.  Probably a few hundred in parts. 

What will you do if the diagnosis was incorrect?  Is there a way to verify the diagnosis?  I'd Google the diagnosis part too to see if you can verify before ordering the parts.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Furnace Repairs vs. New System
« Reply #2 on: September 16, 2014, 05:37:29 PM »
I'd for sure fix the furnace, either yourself or by hiring someone. Consider calling a few other places, though. I had similar work done not that many years ago and it was less than $400.

At least on my furnace, the inducer is pretty damn easy to replace, but you are dealing with a part that, if improperly sealed when installed, can allow CO from the combustion chamber back into the house.

If it helps with the diagnosis, my inducer had a frozen bearing. The furnace would be "on" and trying to ignite but the ignition would lock out. Because the inducer was still trying to spin, the motor would be hot to the touch.

daverobev

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Re: Furnace Repairs vs. New System
« Reply #3 on: September 16, 2014, 07:12:54 PM »
Just replace parts. I would let the professional do it, it can be fatal if done wrongly, so...

Amfurnace.. at least ours... is pretty simple. Burners, pilot, valve, fan, filter all in a box connected to a thermostat. Ours is 30+ years old and in the crawl space... engineer when servicing last year said the reason companies that made them went bankrupt was because there's nothing much to break.

Admittedly, efficiency is not high!

foobar

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Re: Furnace Repairs vs. New System
« Reply #4 on: September 16, 2014, 08:08:48 PM »
I would get an exact price on the new option. I would also make an estimate of what the fuel savings would be(could be big or small). Personally I would probably go with 650 dollar option and hope to get another 5 years out of it.

DangleStash

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Re: Furnace Repairs vs. New System
« Reply #5 on: September 17, 2014, 01:56:44 PM »
One more thing - is this gas/oil/propane? 

I had a relative (elderly) who was paying obscene amounts monthly in winter ($7k for the winter!!!) to heat a relatively small house.  She just assumed it was the higher oil prices, and converting to a new, efficient gas system had a quick payback period for her.


usmarine1975

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Re: Furnace Repairs vs. New System
« Reply #6 on: September 17, 2014, 02:55:04 PM »
I think it depends on the furnace that you have currently especially in regards to what fires it.

I have 6 properties with 6 furnaces and I wouldn't touch anything with them.  That is a personal decision for me.  5 of the 6 are gas and gas quite frankly scares me enough that I don't touch it.  Although last year I did hook up my gas stove.

I would certainly get a 2nd opinion on fixing and replacing.  You will find that the price ranges will be quite drastic.  But again it depends on the type of system you have.  I only have 2 that are forced air the rest are either hot water or steam.  With only one being an oil burner.  That oil burner survived a basement flooding with a little work and we just haven't justified the cost to replace it.  For us it's about a $6,000 replacement cost with a hot water heater as a separate item.

Spork

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Re: Furnace Repairs vs. New System
« Reply #7 on: September 17, 2014, 03:13:37 PM »

I used to be deathly afraid of gas as well.  (And if you go farther back, I used to be deathly afraid to work on electricity.)

If you're afraid... there isn't anything wrong with calling a pro.   But,  that said, it really is simple.  It's just plumbing -- and very low pressure plumbing at that.  If you are careful, understand what you need to do and why... and test your work with soapy water... it is pretty simple.


usmarine1975

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Re: Furnace Repairs vs. New System
« Reply #8 on: September 17, 2014, 08:32:30 PM »
I could do it and maybe deathly afraid is the wrong word.  I just feel for me its better to let the HVAC guys handle the furnace.  I know enough to be dangerous.  And no desire to learn more.

horsepoor

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Re: Furnace Repairs vs. New System
« Reply #9 on: September 17, 2014, 09:43:19 PM »
Try getting multiple estimates if you're interested in replacing the system (is the A/C also 16 years old?)  Check the efficiency ratings on these and estimate how much money you would save.  You could also look into getting only the furnace replaced, if you don't use the A/C very much.

The price you were given sounds really high to me. They may have thrown that out there assuming you'd just get the repair done, or go with them on a new system, rather than shopping around.  We have a 3,000 SF house and got a Trane gas furnace, including plumbing it from the newly installed meter, plus the matched A/C installed for $6,500 three years ago. I think the estimates ranged from $4K for a lower-end brand up to $10K for a really fancy pants multi-stage system with 98% efficiency or whatever. The whole system is so much more efficient than the old heap it replaced that it really made sense to do so, and not only save repair bills, but also on all future utility bills.  There might also be tax credits that you can take for upgrading to a more energy efficient system.  Check both state, federal and your local utilities on this.  I think we ended up getting back almost $1,000 in credits and rebates when all was said and done.

MrFrugalChicago

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Re: Furnace Repairs vs. New System
« Reply #10 on: September 18, 2014, 08:01:09 AM »
So I have a 17 year old furnace and AC.. not broke yet but have been doing some research. Here is what I found:

Your furnace is likely 80% efficient range. A new furnace would be 95-99% efficient (meaning 80% of gas it burns heats your house). The math does not work out EXACTLY like this, but in general your heating bill could be about 10-20% lower with a new furnace. If you spend $100 per month heating x 6 months a year, you would save like $60-$120 a year in gas. Nothing to sneeze at, but you won't get back the money you spent on a furnace (5k+) in a short time.

On the other hand, old central AC units were really terrible. You are likely at something like a SEER of 8, where a new unit would have a SEER of 14-18. If you AC for 6 months a year at an average of $300 a month, this could save you $900 a year in electric - which would be a VERY fast payback of everything. But if you hardly use your AC, it won't do much.

So in summary:
If you are a big AC user, and have 5-12k to spend, replace EVERYTHING with a high efficiency model. Will pay for itself in a few years, and last for many more years.

If you are not a big AC user, see what you can do to patch it up. Maybe shop around and get different quotes, maybe you can get it fixed it for $500 from someone else. But realize your AC and Furnace were built to last about 15 years, they are not going to last forever. In the next 2-5 years you should plan on replacing them.

Spork

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Re: Furnace Repairs vs. New System
« Reply #11 on: September 18, 2014, 09:24:57 AM »

Just an anecdotal note on replacement and efficiency. 

About 2.5 years ago we were building a house from scratch.  I happen to have some connections into a well known HVAC manufacturing company and I was able to talk to one of the lead engineers.  (I'd rather not say what brand.)  As a caveat: remember, this is 2.5 years old and technology/price/minimum SEER rating changes... but I think it may still be worth saying...

He suggested a 14 SEER unit (or equivalent -- for example, he said a 13 SEER with variable speed indoor unit was a 14 SEER equivalent).  He also said that if you go above 15 SEER, you will spend more on the unit than you'll save on power.   

He thought there were some brands that had much better/more efficient products when it came to heat pumps... but thought for furnaces/AC units, all the major manufacturers were of equal quality.