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Old 10-23-2013, 07:56 AM   #1
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Do I really need a new furnace?


Our house has a 30 year old gas furnace than has never given us much trouble. A few years ago the thermal coupler went, and the pilot light kept going out. Had it fixed, relatively cheaply. Recently, the pilot light was going out again, and in my estimation, it was just dirt diverting all of the pilot flame to the burners, and nothing was focused on the coupler, because if I held a BBQ lighter on the coupler the furnace worked fine. I am the type that would do my own brain surgery, however I will not touch gas, so I called in a tech, and he said the thermal coupler needed replacement. As I chatted with him I noticed him quietly cleaning the flame splitter of the pilot light, so I am sure that was all it was. The coupler was probably fine. Anyway, whatever, he starts telling me I need a new furnace. Why? This thing is so simple, nothing but the thermal coupler has ever needed replacement.....I clean up the fan bearings once and a while, and if the motor goes, I can replace it myself. With the new furnaces, and all the fancy electronics (which I hear are not that reliable) I see no advantage other than gas savings. 95% efficiency to my probably less than 50% efficiency. I don't care about the savings. I would never recover the costs, as these new furnaces are so dam expensive, and I will probably be long under the sod by then. Thoughts anyone? Thanks.

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Old 10-23-2013, 09:09 AM   #2
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Do I really need a new furnace?


Nothing wrong with keeping it as long as the heat exchanger is checked properly for cracks. What is the brand name and model #. Some units we can tell you if it is prone to cracking.

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Old 10-23-2013, 09:22 AM   #3
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Do I really need a new furnace?


Thanks, Yuri. The fellow who came over never mentioned that the exchanger was cracked. It is a Clare Hecla....don't have the model # but I will try to locate it. Thanks.

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Old 10-23-2013, 09:31 AM   #4
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Do I really need a new furnace?


That is /was a pretty heavy built unit with a thick heat exchanger. I would start saving $$ for a new one as that one will get brittle and could crack very soon. Clare went bankrupt in the late 80"s and parts for some of the mid efficiency units etc are obsolete. You got the very basic one that uses generic parts. If you want a good basic meat and potatoes furnace buy the basic Rheem/RUUD model as the circuit boards on them are very reliable. In Canada we all have high efficiency units now, no mids.

My main concern would be if it dies during Xmas holidays it is a huge hassle and problem to get it replaced let alone quickly. Unless you live where it is warm getting a high efficiency furnace installed when it is -30C with wind and snow blowing is not a fun proposition. The installers have to drill holes in the walls to get the vent pipes outside and you will get a much better job done when the conditions are better. We do them all the time but having to heat your house with a few 1500 watt space heaters during the holidays is not fun.
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Old 10-23-2013, 09:43 AM   #5
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Do I really need a new furnace?


Yes, only high efficiency here now. So what happens if it cracks. Leaks CO2 into the house? I do have a CO2 detector. Can I just wait until it cracks.
(reminds me of an old joke...can I do it until I need glasses)
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Old 10-23-2013, 09:49 AM   #6
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Do I really need a new furnace?


On that one the flames will roll out the front and burn the wiring and short it all out and it can produce CO. Read my post above yours as I added to it. I may see a Clare about once every 2-3 yrs now as most have been replaced. There are some heavy old Lennox G8s still running , some ICGs plus the old Pulse unit but not too many others.

Google or BING cracked heat exchanger and hit Images. When they are that old and crack they can split wide open quickly.
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Old 10-23-2013, 09:59 AM   #7
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Do I really need a new furnace?


Thanks Yuri for all of the information. I will look up "crack heat exchangers" as you suggest. The Christmas factor (or worse the minus 20 February factor) is definitely a consideration. Have a good one.
James.
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Old 10-23-2013, 10:03 AM   #8
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Yeah, most people don`t know that getting a furnace from a wholesaler between Dec 23 and Jan 2 is not easy as they sort of close down and have only emergency parts guys there.

Joke : Reminds me of my 92 yr old customer who needs a new roof. Getting quotes on new shingles he says. Salesman says do you want the 20 or 30 yr shingles. Want the 1 yr (guaranteed) ones he says.
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Old 10-24-2013, 03:21 PM   #9
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Do I really need a new furnace?


OK, a couple of things.

First of all, if I walked into your home and saw a 30 year old furnace I would tell you that it is time to start thinking about replacing it. Thinking about it, not necessarily doing it unless I found something that was failing, like the heat exchanger. So, don't condemn the tech, he is doing his job by informing you that you should consider it.

I did a quick search on the Internet and came up with a efficiency savings calculator. Let's just look at a few things to begin with.

I am going to go with a current 60% efficiency for your existing system. I will go with an 85% replacement efficiency. Your fuel cost savings for every $100 spent would be about $30. If you go with a high efficiency unit your savings jump to about $37 per hundred dollars spent. Keep in mind that if I had more information I could likely get it a bit more accurate, but as a general idea, this will work for you. Additionally, take these numbers as a mere general idea and not a specific quote on your savings.

The main motivation for replacing this thing should be the overall integrity of the unit, you could get another 20 years out of it, you could get another heating season out of it or it could be cracked now... there are no guarantees either way. What I would tell you if I were your technician is that if you have the money to do it now, then you should replace it because having to scramble around and replace it if it fails will ultimately cost you more than if you just do it now.

As far as being able to recoup your investment, depending on your current expenditures for heating, you will save money, but you cannot put a price on the peace of mind that you will have.

I wish you the best.
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Old 10-24-2013, 05:12 PM   #10
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Do I really need a new furnace?


Canada has no sense of humor.

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