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Old 11-20-2012, 08:12 PM   #1
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My 23 year old York Stellar 80% unit died last week due to a broken crossover tube (I believe the tech who I had come out to clean/tune it last put the ignitor back incorrectly and had it touching the tube, ultimately burning it into two!).

The furnace is fixed now with a welded tube, but I don't want to have to go through troubleshooting/repairing it again and want a new system.

Money is tight right now so is a concern, but at the same time we do plan on being in this house for 10 to 15 more years. I have had 4 estimates.

So here are the quotes I've gotten so far:

Company A
This is a mid-sized company with a good reputation (particularly on Angie's List, for what that's worth). For both options, a 1 year labor including maintenance warranty is included, along with 10 year manufacturer warranty on parts:
Option A ("Better System") < they're term, not mine
Carrier Performance Series, two stage burner, standard fan 96.7% AFUE, 59TP5A100 with Honeywell Digital Programmable Pro 4000
$4970

Option B ("Budget System")
Carrier Comfort Series, single stage burner, standard fan 92% AFUE, 59SC2A100
Honeywell Digital Programmable Pro 4000
$3,298

Company B
This is the well known larger area company with a stellar reputation. They include a 10 year parts and labor warranty through them (not the manufacturer).
Lennox (2) stage/variable speed gas furnace model EL296UH090XV60C rated 96% efficiency (88,000 Btu input)
$6187

Company C
Still waiting on proposal. Salesman seemed to be an experienced tech/knowledgeable, unlike the others who had varying degrees of credibility/believability.

Company D
All Lennox systems. He did not list model numbers in writing:
a. "Premium Plus" - 95% HE 2 stage - $5534
b. "Platinum Solution" - 95% single stage - $4767
c. "Gold Solution" - 80% two stage variable speed - $4726
The salesman for this company seemed clueless/unsure of things like whether a new return drop would be needed, where to vent to, etc., but at the same time he was a bit pushy. Because of that, I won't be using them, but included them here for comparison.

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Old 11-20-2012, 08:20 PM   #2
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More guys will be along shortly who can give you more info on brands....but I just wanted to commend you on at least doing your homework.

One other point....Angies list? Worthless.....along with BBB.....

Word of mouth is one of the better 'yard sticks' along with how long a business has been in business...

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Old 11-20-2012, 08:36 PM   #3
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I guess this is a diy forum.

You can find used furnaces on craigslist. My experience is that they are difficult to move. I have one in my basement which is a 90 plus which I replaced because it had no air on it and I thought it would be good to have a complete, new system.

Secondly, you can buy a new furnace. You can buy a lot of furnace for $1200. I recently bought two new systems (with AC) and the furnace portion was about $850.

I had planned on putting a new plenum on mine, but it was easier to leave the existing plenum and adapt to it. It did get a new cold air return drop however.

Another house I did at the same time got a new plenum and cold air drop.

Skills necessary for this task include: being able to connect a gas line, connect an electrical connection, connect a thermostat, glue pvc together for the condensate drain line and intake/exhaust lines.
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Old 11-20-2012, 08:46 PM   #4
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Thanks cleveman. A close relative of mine has his HVAC license but is in another line of work and has no residential experience. That said, he's offered to purchase a system on my behalf and install it. I'm sure he'd do a great job but my concern is that he might miss something and it won't show up for a couple of years and then....

So I'd rather have an experienced pro do it. I'm all about DIY (I'm typing this while waiting for the construction adhesive to dry on a new 'Pole-Wrap' I just applied as one of the last steps in my basement finishing project). But this is one area I'd rather not DIY.
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Old 11-20-2012, 08:51 PM   #5
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Thanks for the compliment on 'doing my homework', but I have to admit - I'm still clueless as I'm not certain as to exactly what I need/best value in a system.

From the sound of it, the benefit of a 2 stage furnace seems great. But so far the prices have been so much higher for the 2nd stage that I don't know if it's worth it...if the heating/cooling 'quality' is *that* much better.

And then the 80% vs 90% vs 96% efficiency thing...I'm just not sure. The pushy sales guy that came today started with a 98% system that included the ability to program the thermostat remotely through an iphone (talk about pointless technology...) that was twice the price of everything else, and when I balked at that he immediately just kept pushing the 80% furnaces. Right after he told me that come March next year they will no longer be legal to sell!

I keep going back and forth between:

A. This old York 80% single stage has been fine. A bit loud when it starts blowing air, but it cools/heats great when it's working.

B. For an extra grand or two, since I'll be in this house for 10+ years, maybe I'd be cheating myself by not getting a 2 stage unit?

Decisions decisions.... : )
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Old 11-20-2012, 09:39 PM   #6
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How old is the house, how long do you plan on staying there, how air tight is the home? You can purchase equipment through http://www.alpinehomeair.com/ but will have to find a hvac installer willing to do the hard work.

Mark, actually being able to use a smartphone or web browser to control your thermostat is not pointless. I use a 3m filtrete 3m-50 thermostat with the Our Home Spaces/Cloudbeam wifi module, and both I and the wife love it. Been many of times that we are on our way home, and will connect with the thermostat to bump it up, while we are still 1-2 hours away from home.

Also makes it easy to change your program of the thermostat, depending on the weather for that week.
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Old 11-20-2012, 10:16 PM   #7
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If you want my honest opinion and the sales guys would hate me as their commission would be less but I don't care, go with Company B. I sell and fix all Lennox and that furnace is excellent and not as wickedly complicated and expensive to repair in the long run as the more expensive top model above it the SLP. The SLP is a great furnace but incredibly complicated and less than 5% of the techs have the skills or experience to fix them. The 2 stage unit 95% of the techs can fix. SLP is a great furnace but you are buying a Porsche and only a few Porsche mechanics will fix it. It also comes with a VERY expensive WIFI tstat which is great for techie guys but the tstat probably costs me $300-500. If you want the most expensive toys and some people do then it is great but the best value and performance and comfort for your buck $ would be Company B IMO.
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Old 11-20-2012, 10:22 PM   #8
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Hi yuri,

Did you mean "Option B" for "Company A" in my original post? The Company B one is unfortunately out of my price range - over $6100.
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Old 11-20-2012, 10:33 PM   #9
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Yep, I meant the $6100 quote but it is your money. I would definetly stay away from anyone who did not increase the return duct size and sound like he knew what he was talking about. The new furnaces are all 33" high but there should be no problem for a skilled tin guy to make a transition bonnet/duct. DIY looks easy but getting the metal to fit, furnace sloped for drainage properly etc etc is where the jobs go bad for a lot of guys. Then they have venting problems, pressure switch tripping issue, condensate drainage issues and I would not necessarily recommend DIY furnace installs. Fan speed/temp rise/gas pressure and other things need checking and unless you have the tools or skills to do that problems will occur sometimes later than sooner but they happen.

Rule of thumb is to add $500 to go from 1 stage to 2 stage furnace and add another $500 to get a energy saving variable speed motor. Subtract the $1000 from the $6100 and you are in the $5000 range. The 10 yr labor warranty adds about $500 in value and the first company is giving you a cheaper $50 but OK tstat. So the numbers do add up. Smaller companies have less overhead and some are OK but the larger ones tend to have more staff on call and available 24 hrs a day but have to charge and sell at a higher price. Depends on what you expect for service etc. Impossible to compare quotes apples to apples but sometimes you get what you pay for in the long run. I like both Carrier and Lennox and would not hesitate to buy either, a proper install by a long term professional company is most important, not just price.
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Last edited by yuri; 11-20-2012 at 10:45 PM.
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Old 11-20-2012, 10:48 PM   #10
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Am I missing something here, 6k for just a furnace replacement?
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Old 11-20-2012, 10:55 PM   #11
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Lennox does make a 1 stage ML merit series and a series with constant torque non variable speed energy saving motors so you may want to get Company B to give you quotes on those or look at them at Lennox.com for more info. I think he should have given you those options too.

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Last edited by yuri; 11-21-2012 at 08:35 AM.
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