Author Topic: My house tried to kill me, and seeking advice on upgrading a gas HVAC.  (Read 1413 times)

Cozzmo

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Hi, I recently moved to Richmond, and am revamping the house while I live in it.
Has anyone considered going from a gas furnace to a heat pump?
I have two possibly 25 year old R22 HVAC systems. One is in the attic and one is in the crawlspace.
They are working well now. (For the most part)... So there is no rush to replace them.
I once had a heat pump back in 1985 and it just blew cold air. Everyone HATED it.
But, I am sure that they are much nicer now.
I really like the gas heat though, and it would seem a waste to have all those unused gas lines..
Would the proposed new system require new circuitry from my rather full fuse panel?.
I am not limited to any specific type of system, and of course, I prefer to save money. So ANY suggestions on what to do with regards to a new HVAC would be welcomed.

Incidentally, I think that my house is trying to kill me. I just found a large CO leak in the crawlspace.
How did I find the leak? I was in the crawlspace mapping out the plumbing and suddenly felt a wave of nausea, I ran outside and threw up. It was only then that I carefully went back in looking specifically for a CO leak and found a doozy.
I suspect that the contractors, while they were wrapping the crawlspace, knocked the vent pipe loose. Now there is a 1/4Ē space between where the pipe is supposed to connect to the draft fan. The single sheet metal screw that was holding the pipe together had popped out and was laying on the new lilly white ground cover.
I could NOT get those pipes to come together. It seems to take about 40 lbs to pull that gap closed, (I think maybe this is why it came apart in the 1st place), and then for some reason the female side is not permitting the double walled male pipe to be inserted. So I am calling a pro who will be here today just to fix that.

Thanks,
Chris

scantee

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Re: My house tried to kill me, and seeking advice on upgrading a gas HVAC.
« Reply #1 on: November 20, 2023, 10:28:23 AM »
I have a ducted heat pump installed about 1.5 years ago. My house is in a much colder climate, Minnesota, so it doesnít suffice on the coldest of cold days, but thatís maybe a month total each winter. For those days I do have a gas furnace as the back up heat source. In Richmond I think you could get away with a heat pump alone for both heating and cooling.

Iím very happy with the heat pump. No complaints. My understanding is that heat pumps have improved dramatically in the last decade. There are many more on the market and theyíre much more efficient and quiet compared to older models. Canít hurt to get quotes for heat pumps as compared to conventional furnace or AC units. Mine was a bit more expensive (maybe $2000?) but it seemed worth it for something that could last several decades.

ChpBstrd

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Re: My house tried to kill me, and seeking advice on upgrading a gas HVAC.
« Reply #2 on: November 20, 2023, 11:00:55 AM »
You'll probably need to add a double breaker for each heat pump. Check your box to see if there is room. If not, the service box will have to be upgraded. That costs about $3500.

Heat pumps and gas furnaces are about on par these days. If you can move your house to all-electric, it might be cheaper because you can do away with the service charges on your gas bill. Also note that gas pipes eventually need replacement too, because they rust out and the putty on the threads eventually turns to dust. If your gas plumbing is >50 years old, think very hard about any plan that involves using them for the next 20 years or so.

Your brush with death by carbon monoxide is a reminder of the dangers with natgas. As more research indicates the health risks of unvented gas appliances in homes, it's worth considering switching.

I spent $4300 recently to upgrade my panel and have electrical lines installed for the stove, dryer, and water heater. Thus as these appliances wear out I'm replacing them with electric. Also, my house's gas pipes are 80 years old, so abandoning them at some future time will save a big plumbing bill.

WRT replacing your existing HVAC units, it would probably be cheaper if you could find a way to use one bigger unit to heat and cool the entire house, rather than 2. In a 2-story house, this might involve routing ductwork between the two stories, for example by running a duct from the craw space up to the attic through closets, the attic of an attached garage, or new enclosed spaces such as a little box in the corner of a room. Set up a valve so you can direct more air to the upstairs versus downstairs vents in summer or winter, respectively.

lthenderson

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Re: My house tried to kill me, and seeking advice on upgrading a gas HVAC.
« Reply #3 on: November 21, 2023, 11:52:26 AM »
From what I have seen, going with a heat pump over a forced gas system is lifestyle choice. Some people like to adjust temperatures by large deltas throughout the day or like the really warm air blowing out of a register and a heat pump can't do those things. Others are okay with a steady temperature all day and no real hot spot to cuddle up too and a heat pump is perfect for them. I tend to like it a lot cooler at night and warmer during the day so enjoy my forced gas system and have no desire to switch it with a heat pump. But I don't begrudge others who have them.

You should have just a single gas line supplying your HVAC unit so I'm not sure what you are referring to with "all those unused gas lines." If you don't need it, simply turn off the incoming gas supply and cap the line. Someday in the future you might have a need or want to have the option of returning back to natural gas.  If the lines are below the joists and in your way, you can cap them closer to where it enters the house. Where I live, all electric houses are more expensive to condition/run and so get a little less when you go to sell it than a house than can run either gas or electric utilities. I'm sure this varies on location.

ChpBstrd

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Re: My house tried to kill me, and seeking advice on upgrading a gas HVAC.
« Reply #4 on: November 21, 2023, 01:47:46 PM »
From what I have seen, going with a heat pump over a forced gas system is lifestyle choice. Some people like to adjust temperatures by large deltas throughout the day ... and a heat pump can't do those things. Others are okay with a steady temperature all day and no real hot spot to cuddle up too and a heat pump is perfect for them. I tend to like it a lot cooler at night and warmer during the day so enjoy my forced gas system and have no desire to switch it with a heat pump.
I don't understand this point about steady or variable temperatures. Sounds like what a programmable thermostat can do with any type of HVAC.

Bartlebooth

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Re: My house tried to kill me, and seeking advice on upgrading a gas HVAC.
« Reply #5 on: November 21, 2023, 02:22:27 PM »
From what I have seen, going with a heat pump over a forced gas system is lifestyle choice. Some people like to adjust temperatures by large deltas throughout the day ... and a heat pump can't do those things. Others are okay with a steady temperature all day and no real hot spot to cuddle up too and a heat pump is perfect for them. I tend to like it a lot cooler at night and warmer during the day so enjoy my forced gas system and have no desire to switch it with a heat pump.
I don't understand this point about steady or variable temperatures. Sounds like what a programmable thermostat can do with any type of HVAC.

Not much of a difference assuming same sized systems, but that could be a big assumption.  Typical gas furnace is 80-100k BTU.  That would be an extreme heatpump system.  Have you ever seen an 8 ton heat pump?  Seems to be commercial units only.  The tall two-fan split units are only 4 ton.

Otherwise, mostly a "feeling" thing I think.  The blast of hot air of the gas furnace makes it feel like something is happening, moreso than the indistinguishable draft of just warm enough air that a heat pump emits.

ChpBstrd

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Re: My house tried to kill me, and seeking advice on upgrading a gas HVAC.
« Reply #6 on: November 21, 2023, 02:42:46 PM »
From what I have seen, going with a heat pump over a forced gas system is lifestyle choice. Some people like to adjust temperatures by large deltas throughout the day ... and a heat pump can't do those things. Others are okay with a steady temperature all day and no real hot spot to cuddle up too and a heat pump is perfect for them. I tend to like it a lot cooler at night and warmer during the day so enjoy my forced gas system and have no desire to switch it with a heat pump.
I don't understand this point about steady or variable temperatures. Sounds like what a programmable thermostat can do with any type of HVAC.

Not much of a difference assuming same sized systems, but that could be a big assumption.  Typical gas furnace is 80-100k BTU.  That would be an extreme heatpump system.  Have you ever seen an 8 ton heat pump?  Seems to be commercial units only.  The tall two-fan split units are only 4 ton.

Otherwise, mostly a "feeling" thing I think.  The blast of hot air of the gas furnace makes it feel like something is happening, moreso than the indistinguishable draft of just warm enough air that a heat pump emits.
I see. Yea a heat pump runs for long periods instead of going on and off so all things being equal it keeps fluctuations to a minimum, whereas with gas the heat is either on or off.

lthenderson

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Re: My house tried to kill me, and seeking advice on upgrading a gas HVAC.
« Reply #7 on: November 22, 2023, 07:31:06 AM »
From what I have seen, going with a heat pump over a forced gas system is lifestyle choice. Some people like to adjust temperatures by large deltas throughout the day ... and a heat pump can't do those things. Others are okay with a steady temperature all day and no real hot spot to cuddle up too and a heat pump is perfect for them. I tend to like it a lot cooler at night and warmer during the day so enjoy my forced gas system and have no desire to switch it with a heat pump.
I don't understand this point about steady or variable temperatures. Sounds like what a programmable thermostat can do with any type of HVAC.

Pretty much answered above but due to the narrower delta between house temp and ground temp, it takes a lot lot longer to achieve a higher temperature in wintertime and so they are used to run nearly continuously at one set temperature. Where as with my forced gas system, I turn the thermostat back 6 degrees cooler at night and in the morning when my system fires up, it can be back up to where we had it in about 30 minutes or less. A heat pump might take the rest of the day to get it back up to the same temp.

GuitarStv

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Re: My house tried to kill me, and seeking advice on upgrading a gas HVAC.
« Reply #8 on: November 22, 2023, 07:59:14 AM »
From what I have seen, going with a heat pump over a forced gas system is lifestyle choice. Some people like to adjust temperatures by large deltas throughout the day ... and a heat pump can't do those things. Others are okay with a steady temperature all day and no real hot spot to cuddle up too and a heat pump is perfect for them. I tend to like it a lot cooler at night and warmer during the day so enjoy my forced gas system and have no desire to switch it with a heat pump.
I don't understand this point about steady or variable temperatures. Sounds like what a programmable thermostat can do with any type of HVAC.

Pretty much answered above but due to the narrower delta between house temp and ground temp, it takes a lot lot longer to achieve a higher temperature in wintertime and so they are used to run nearly continuously at one set temperature. Where as with my forced gas system, I turn the thermostat back 6 degrees cooler at night and in the morning when my system fires up, it can be back up to where we had it in about 30 minutes or less. A heat pump might take the rest of the day to get it back up to the same temp.

That's interesting, and not something I had ever really thought of before.  I usually like to keep the house temperature much cooler at night (in both summer and winter).  20 in the day, and 16 at night for winter . . . 26 in the day and 23 at night in the summer.  Keeping things cooler all the time in the summer would be OK, but having to keep nights warmer in the winter would bug me.

BlueHouse

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Re: My house tried to kill me, and seeking advice on upgrading a gas HVAC.
« Reply #9 on: November 22, 2023, 08:37:52 AM »
From what I have seen, going with a heat pump over a forced gas system is lifestyle choice. Some people like to adjust temperatures by large deltas throughout the day ... and a heat pump can't do those things. Others are okay with a steady temperature all day and no real hot spot to cuddle up too and a heat pump is perfect for them. I tend to like it a lot cooler at night and warmer during the day so enjoy my forced gas system and have no desire to switch it with a heat pump.
I don't understand this point about steady or variable temperatures. Sounds like what a programmable thermostat can do with any type of HVAC.

Pretty much answered above but due to the narrower delta between house temp and ground temp, it takes a lot lot longer to achieve a higher temperature in wintertime and so they are used to run nearly continuously at one set temperature. Where as with my forced gas system, I turn the thermostat back 6 degrees cooler at night and in the morning when my system fires up, it can be back up to where we had it in about 30 minutes or less. A heat pump might take the rest of the day to get it back up to the same temp.

That's interesting, and not something I had ever really thought of before.  I usually like to keep the house temperature much cooler at night (in both summer and winter).  20 in the day, and 16 at night for winter . . . 26 in the day and 23 at night in the summer.  Keeping things cooler all the time in the summer would be OK, but having to keep nights warmer in the winter would bug me.
Same here.  And my heat pump takes a while to get up to the temp I like to get out of bed in.  So the colder I keep the house at night, the earlier I program the thermostat to kick in.  And to avoid it turning on the "emergency heat" mode, I have two changes programmed within the first two hours to bring the temp up more slowly.  On top of that, when the heat pump turns on, I can hear the little "click" and that acts kind of like an alarm for me too if it's too close to the time I would wake up anyway.  If it's much earlier, then I sleep right through it. 
It's taken me 10 years to find a solution that works mostly the way I want it to work with a heat pump.  I'd rather just have the regular kind of furnace, but now that I've finally figured it out (I think anyway), I'm okay with it.   

Miss Piggy

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Re: My house tried to kill me, and seeking advice on upgrading a gas HVAC.
« Reply #10 on: November 22, 2023, 08:45:34 AM »
In our last house, we switched to a heat pump after a very knowledgeable family member talked us into it. It made sense. But that family member lived in Minnesota, and we lived not nearly that far north. So heat pumps weren't common in our area, and it was difficult for us to find companies that could service ours. I'm thinking they're probably more common now (this was 15 years ago, give or take), but depending on your location, it might be something worth considering.

Verdure

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Re: My house tried to kill me, and seeking advice on upgrading a gas HVAC.
« Reply #11 on: November 22, 2023, 08:53:05 AM »
That's interesting, and not something I had ever really thought of before.  I usually like to keep the house temperature much cooler at night (in both summer and winter).  20 in the day, and 16 at night for winter . . . 26 in the day and 23 at night in the summer.  Keeping things cooler all the time in the summer would be OK, but having to keep nights warmer in the winter would bug me.

Our updated hardiness zone is 6b. We bought our 1500sqft house in 2008. Itís all electric, and we have had a heat pump system the whole time we have owned it. We bought a new one in the last few years, actually. Weíve been totally happy with it. In the winter we keep it at 21/70 during the day and 15/60 at night. We use a programmable thermostat, which works just fine, the heat comes on while we sleep so we wake up to a nice, toasty house.

It does not turn on a dime, so itís nice to be able to adjust by phone these days so we can come home to a warm house after a trip. But it doesnít take all day to bring it back up to temp, either.

MrV is one who likes a heat spot to cuddle up to, so he uses a small electric fireplace to toast his feet. We still get very favorable reports from the electric company on our use compared to our neighbors.

One factor to consider is whether you have reliable electric service. Ours has never gone out for more than a minute or two the whole time weíve owned the house. 

Edited to remove stray unfinished sentence

lthenderson

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Re: My house tried to kill me, and seeking advice on upgrading a gas HVAC.
« Reply #12 on: November 22, 2023, 12:04:28 PM »
Heat pumps have come a long way and I have no doubt, they will soon dominate the market just due to their better efficiency alone. They also work well in our much more tightly sealed homes of today than the comparatively drafty ones we lived in when the technology was newer. Installers also now use more efficient thermal mortars around the transfer piping than they did even 10 years ago. With all that, I'm sure they can heat up a house much more quicker than a system two decades ago could.


Shuchong

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Re: My house tried to kill me, and seeking advice on upgrading a gas HVAC.
« Reply #13 on: November 27, 2023, 12:29:25 PM »
If you do decide to go with a heat pump, make sure to check out if you're eligible for tax credits!  For example, "Heat pumps and biomass stoves and boilers with a thermal efficiency rating of at least 75% qualify for a credit up to $2,000 per year. Costs may include labor for installation."  This is for your Federal taxes, and the $2,000 is a max -- the credit is otherwise 30% of costs. https://www.irs.gov/credits-deductions/energy-efficient-home-improvement-credit


Your state may also have special programs. 

Just Joe

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Re: My house tried to kill me, and seeking advice on upgrading a gas HVAC.
« Reply #14 on: December 11, 2023, 01:20:26 PM »
And if you get rid of a gas water heater, look up a heat pump water heater. We LOVE our's. It heats the water and dehumidifies the basement at the same time. Standing in the room above the HPWH all i can hear is a blower fan running while it heats water.

During the warm months I run it in efficiency mode (heat pump only). This winter, I switched it to hybrid mode (traditional electric resistance heater elements and heat pump) for a faster recovery time.

Might consider a heat pump clothes dryer next time we need a new washer/dryer combo.

For an interesting read look up: electrocaloric heat pump

aasdfadsf

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Re: My house tried to kill me, and seeking advice on upgrading a gas HVAC.
« Reply #15 on: December 12, 2023, 02:39:11 AM »
Incidentally, I think that my house is trying to kill me. I just found a large CO leak in the crawlspace.
How did I find the leak? I was in the crawlspace mapping out the plumbing and suddenly felt a wave of nausea, I ran outside and threw up. It was only then that I carefully went back in looking specifically for a CO leak and found a doozy.

This is reality screaming at you to go electric.

ETA: A fun game I like to play is to imagine if everything were the other way around, as if everyone had electric heat pumps (also applies to cars, etc.) and then say, "What if we took your current HVAC and replaced it with something that was more costly and less efficient, required explosive gas pumped into your house, and it may occasionally kill you with a deadly poison."

Everyone would think your brain had stopped. 
« Last Edit: December 12, 2023, 02:54:50 AM by aasdfadsf »