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nichelob 01-05-2010 01:13 PM

Heil Heat exchanger gone bad. What to do?
Type of unit: Heil GasPack
Age: 11 years old
Warranty: 10 years
Heated area of home: 1300 sq ft.
Age of house: 50 years (built 1959)

Sequence of events:
1. 1998: GasPack installed
2. 2002: I buy the house
3. 2009, December: Stops heating
4. 2009, December: I pay large company $89 to inform me that a safety switch has been triggered, which effectively shuts the unit down
5. 2009, December: Safety switch is reset, heat works fine.
6. 2009, December: Same company inspects unit and informs me that heat exchanger is rusted thru, which I verify to be true (I keep heat off to avoid CO poisoning)
7. 2009, December: Plan to make it thru winter without HVAC heat and reevaluate next winter.
8. 2009, January: Too cold. Decide to purchase new heat exchanger from for $350 and have licensed Craigslist guy install for $250.
9. 2009, January: Part is on B/O. Debating whether or not to purchase whole new unit.

So my questions are:

1. Should I repair or replace?
2. If replace, which brand should I get? Goodman is cheap, but would like to have a Carrier, Trane, Lennox or some other “high quality” brand.
3. If replace, how should I go about getting this done properly? (Correct sizing, quality install, etc…)

Thanks in advance! Feel free to heckle :jester:


SULTINI 01-05-2010 04:10 PM

Ask guy from Craig's list to give you price to install new heater, let him do it.

beenthere 01-05-2010 04:21 PM

Get a couple estimates. Ask them if they do load calcs before you have them come out. If they say they don't do them. Tell them thank you, I'll call someone else.

Brand doesn't matter. the installer does though.

Marty S. 01-05-2010 04:29 PM

Only 11 years old I'd replace the heat exchanger if it was mine and in an area where you hardly need a furnace. Run some space heaters for now. Make sure the guy on craigslist is a licensed HVAC contractor in case something isn't done right, if you decide on replacing the whole furnace that is. Many list an EPA refridgerant certification as a HVAC license and it's not the same thing. Around here you must have passed the masters test before you can get a contractors license.

SKIP4661 01-05-2010 04:40 PM

May also want to make sure your Craigslist guy is insured with adequate liability insurance.

nichelob 01-05-2010 06:41 PM

Wow, excellent information, Thanks!

I'd like to save a few dollars and just replace the heat exchanger, but the two unknowns are:

1. How much longer will the other components in my Gas Pack last?
2. How much more efficient will the new unit be? Or, how much will I save? (Currently, I pay about $150/mo in gas and electric for my heating and cooling, if I can cut it by 50% or cut it down to $100/mo, that might be worth it?)

Thanks again!

yuri 01-05-2010 06:50 PM

Unfortunately it probably has a HWell Smartvalve gas valve which is nothing but trouble and will need replacing soon. If it has a number like SV**** on it then you will have trouble soon and have to spend more $$. $500 or more. The A/C is probably a 8 or 10 SEER and a new unit will be 13/14 SEER and more efficient. 11 yrs of use on a A/C compressor is quite a bit if you are in a hot area/ use it a lot. You may get a few more years use out of it but it will require some repairs. Depending on the cost of a new unit I would think about it. Get 3 quotes and then decide. If A/C is the biggest consumner of your $$ a higher SEER unit may be worthwhile

nichelob 01-05-2010 07:05 PM

Thanks, Yuri. I've picked a well known company, lesser known company and a craigslist guy to come by and give me estimates tomorrow. I will keep you guys posted. That's more good info.

FWIW, here is the model number: PGAD36D1K5

Good luck trying to figure out the SEER or Tonnage rating, I couldn't! However I did see 90,000 BTU on the unit before I had to run inside. :surrender:

yuri 01-05-2010 07:51 PM

Probably a 3 ton A/C, 36=36,000 BTU's = 3 tons. I assume it is hot and humid where you are so you need that size fer sure. Historically I know the years when the SEER rating increased and yours is definately a 10 or less.

Yoyizit 01-05-2010 08:02 PM

If you repair you have an even chance of getting another 11 years out of it.

beenthere 01-06-2010 05:17 AM

Package units have shorter life spans then split unit systems.

So at 11 years. You have already gotten more then 50% of expected life span from that unit.
Better off replacing.
And having a warranty on all parts again. In stead of having to pay for more parts in a year or 2.

SULTINI 01-06-2010 07:16 AM

I say replace also now it's the heat exchanger next week when the wind is whipping up it will be the gas valve, the week after that it will be the blower motor.
Not only expensive but Aggravating.

An the efficiency is another story.

beenthere 01-06-2010 07:24 AM


People tend to box themselves into a bad corner.

After someone spends money on a heat exchanger change out.
When another part goes out. In order to justify what they spent on the heat exchanger. They now have to spend the money on the next repair.
And when a third thing goes out. They have to spend money on it, to justify the other 2 repairs.

And then they are still stuck with an old unreliable unit. that has no warranties on it. And is inefficient.

OP: Due to the configuration of a package units design. They are prone to heat exchanger failures.

chard 01-06-2010 10:59 AM

I think it all depends on how much you can afford. Just cause you replace the HX now doesn't mean the compressor will go out next summer.
I am an HVAC tech and if it was me I would replace the HX. A new compressor. May cost around a thousand to replace. A new unit will cost around $4000.
There's still plenty of life left in that unit. As far as savings on your utilities, that varies house to house.
You may not save $50 a month. And if you could, even though you don't use it 24/7/365, that would take you 7 yrs or more to recoup the cost of a new unit.
Kind of like buying a new car to justify getting 10MPG better gas mileage when you only drive 100mi a week.

beenthere 01-06-2010 12:03 PM

As a tech. You can risk it. And not pay as much for repairs as someone that isn't a tech. And pays for repairs.

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