New furnace and air conditioner

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Triple digit golfer
Posts: 3298
Joined: Mon May 18, 2009 5:57 pm

New furnace and air conditioner

Post by Triple digit golfer » Wed May 15, 2019 9:11 pm

Our gas furnace is 13 years old and central AC unit is 28 years old. Our HVAC guy (from a very popular, highly rated independent company with a great reputation in the area) said the AC has a freon leak and recommended replacement. The furnace is squealing and needs a $500 part (it's squealed for 3 years but works fine) and since it is 13 years old, he also recommended replacement rather than repair.

He said the cost for both is $5,000. We have a two story, 2,000 square foot house. I believe the current furnace is 80% AFUE.

I'm fine with replacing the AC but am hesitant on the furnace. It's not that old and it still works.

They only install American Standard products, which are some of the pricier options. He said it is the only brand that they will put their company's name behind.

Just looking for general opinions.

Should I leave the furnace alone and as long as it works, ride it out? I need more clarification on exactly what needs to be replaced. My wife spoke with the technician, not me.

Can/should I go for a higher efficiency furnace when I do replace it? I understand that higher efficiency means I can get by with lower BTUs. Realistically, with a $100 gas bill for a few months a year, how much will I actually save going from 80% to 90% or 95%? $10-15 per month? Doesn't really seem worth it for an extra $1,000 that the unit would cost.

Is $5,000 reasonable for both? Based on my research, it seems like it is. I will get a few quotes, but feel they may be apples to oranges, as different companies will use different brands and quality products.

Anybody have experience with lesser known and cheaper brands like Goodman? They ste significantly cheaper and I am assuming that is for a reason, but I would love to hear some opinions.

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fortfun
Posts: 1912
Joined: Tue Apr 19, 2016 7:31 pm

Re: New furnace and air conditioner

Post by fortfun » Wed May 15, 2019 9:29 pm

Triple digit golfer wrote:
Wed May 15, 2019 9:11 pm
Our gas furnace is 13 years old and central AC unit is 28 years old. Our HVAC guy (from a very popular, highly rated independent company with a great reputation in the area) said the AC has a freon leak and recommended replacement. The furnace is squealing and needs a $500 part (it's squealed for 3 years but works fine) and since it is 13 years old, he also recommended replacement rather than repair.

He said the cost for both is $5,000. We have a two story, 2,000 square foot house. I believe the current furnace is 80% AFUE.

I'm fine with replacing the AC but am hesitant on the furnace. It's not that old and it still works.

They only install American Standard products, which are some of the pricier options. He said it is the only brand that they will put their company's name behind.

Just looking for general opinions.

Should I leave the furnace alone and as long as it works, ride it out? I need more clarification on exactly what needs to be replaced. My wife spoke with the technician, not me.

Can/should I go for a higher efficiency furnace when I do replace it? I understand that higher efficiency means I can get by with lower BTUs. Realistically, with a $100 gas bill for a few months a year, how much will I actually save going from 80% to 90% or 95%? $10-15 per month? Doesn't really seem worth it for an extra $1,000 that the unit would cost.

Is $5,000 reasonable for both? Based on my research, it seems like it is. I will get a few quotes, but feel they may be apples to oranges, as different companies will use different brands and quality products.

Anybody have experience with lesser known and cheaper brands like Goodman? They ste significantly cheaper and I am assuming that is for a reason, but I would love to hear some opinions.
My goodman AC has worked great for past 14 years.
5k (together?) seems reasonable.
I have a neighbor with a high efficiency furnace. He has had nothing but PROBLEMS with it. I'm kind of glad I have a not so efficient furnace.
The squeal sounds like could be a bad motor or squirrel cage blower fan. Could be $500 for new motor, easily.

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Kenkat
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Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 11:18 am
Location: Cincinnati, OH

Re: New furnace and air conditioner

Post by Kenkat » Wed May 15, 2019 9:35 pm

We replaced a furnace around the same age (13 years) when we had to replace the AC unit. Factors that led us to choose replacement:

- went from a single stage 90% efficient furnace / air handler to a two stage 98% efficient furnace / air handler
- the two stage unit allowed us to go with a higher SEER AC unit (more efficient)
- the new furnace had a DC motor which uses less power than the old unit which used an AC motor

I figured the payback from energy savings at around 9 years so we went ahead. The two stage unit does a better job of heating / cooling more evenly as well.

Your price quote sounds reasonable to me.

SteveinMN
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Re: New furnace and air conditioner

Post by SteveinMN » Wed May 15, 2019 9:51 pm

We just went through this experience. My takeaways:

- Some of the answer depends on where you live. I live in the Plains states; going without a failed air conditioner until I could replace it would not be a real hardship. The furnace, however? I don't want to be a day without it in the winter time. That's why I chose to replace our 22-year-old furnace proactively. The A/C is that old, too, so it's being replaced as well. However, I have a rental property in town with a 24-year-old furnace and a 12-year-old air conditioner and I'll be replacing only the furnace in that property at this time (cash flow). I'll chance that the A/C has some life in it, and, if it doesn't, you can get by many days here without it. That property likely will be for sale in the next five years, too, and that had a bearing on spending money now.
- Replacing now can save you money. Wait till something fails and you'll likely settle for whichever company that can install what you need the fastest. That may not be the most qualified contractor or the least expensive company or even the most appropriate unit for your installation.
- Most conventional furnaces and air conditioners sold in the U.S. are made by just three or four companies -- and they share many common components (blower motors, etc.). So the name on the boxes matters far less than the quality of the installation. You want them to install what they know and you don't want the furnace/A/C company to give you problems because the contractor wasn't trained to install their stuff.
- Models and parts go obsolete. Most manufacturers are not going to stock parts for a 28-year-old unit, which makes the $500 fix illusory. Even 13 years might be stretching it if the model you have was some sort of new tech for the company, quickly superseded by a better part or technology. I don't know what refrigerant your air conditioner uses, but unless the A/C was retrofitted along the way I'll guess it's not easy to find that refrigerant these days ($$$).
- Check if your utility offers rebates for higher levels of efficiency. Ours does, enough that the price difference between the high-efficiency models and the lower-efficiency models was around 10-15%. I'll see that back in operating costs fairly quickly, so it was a low-brainer to get the models with better features, a better warranty, and better efficiency, even for the rental property.

We replaced the furnace and A/C in an 1800-square-foot rambler with high-efficiency versions of both from Amana (a Daikin company, as is Goodman and a few other brands). After rebates we'll pay around $5,000. We got a far less expensive bid for comparable Bryant equipment from a company we've had do our furnace and A/C inspections but I see they took shortcuts in the estimation process (eyeballed the furnace size and ordered a higher-efficiency furnace in the same size) so I'm not confident in what we would have ended up with using them. In this case I'm happy we got what we paid for. Happy to answer any other questions you may have...

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lthenderson
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Location: Iowa

Re: New furnace and air conditioner

Post by lthenderson » Thu May 16, 2019 8:05 am

Normally I would be inclined to fix the furnace since it likely just needs a new fan assembly (the only moving part that can cause a squeal) but since you are most likely replacing the A/C and the furnace is 13 years old, I probably would just replace both at the same time. When we replaced both of ours six years ago, the cost was around $5k too. Our new furnace had a dual stage fan on it which has greatly reduced noise levels in the house when the unit is running. We can no longer hear it when it runs on the lower stage which it does much of the time when the temperatures aren't extreme.

Topic Author
Triple digit golfer
Posts: 3298
Joined: Mon May 18, 2009 5:57 pm

Re: New furnace and air conditioner

Post by Triple digit golfer » Thu May 16, 2019 8:09 am

Thanks all, for your responses. I appreciate hearing about your experiences.

I am inclined toward just replacing both and having peace of mind. I pay $79 twice a year to have them cleaned and checked by the company who will be installing them. They're good guys and have a good reputation around here. Out of almost 300 reviews on Angie's List, only 2 are not A rated. I was skeptical at first, but the Google reviews are just as good. They've been in business for more than 40 years, owned by the same two guys.

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