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Old 10-19-2008, 05:27 PM   #1
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Old House Issues


I've been trying to get some information about installing central heat and air. I live in an older home I have it's history back to over 100 years. Ive called and gotten several estimates but all of them are out of my reach. The contractor told me I had several issues which made the estimates so high. #1. The house did not have enough room under it to run the duct. #2. The house had an old fuse type box (which I have since upgraded to breaker box and got the electrician to install a bigger box so that in the future if I decided to install central heat and air it would be able to hold it). After all of the electrical work I again got estimates on installing the central heat and air system. But to my surprise they were still really high I spent over $ 2,000 on the electrical upgrades and it did not drop the price for installation. Recently a friend flipped a house about the same size as mine and gave me the old unit from the other house which was only a couple of years old. The unit is made by Coleman which I am not familiar with but I have the unit and the handler. My question is would it be advised to cut some corners in the budget and get a contractor to install the free unit and duct work? I'm not sure what to do I know if I call someone out to loook at it they are probably going to try and talk me out of this because I don't know the history of the unit.

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Old 10-19-2008, 07:06 PM   #2
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I've been trying to get some information about installing central heat and air. I live in an older home I have it's history back to over 100 years. Ive called and gotten several estimates but all of them are out of my reach. The contractor told me I had several issues which made the estimates so high. #1. The house did not have enough room under it to run the duct. #2. The house had an old fuse type box (which I have since upgraded to breaker box and got the electrician to install a bigger box so that in the future if I decided to install central heat and air it would be able to hold it). After all of the electrical work I again got estimates on installing the central heat and air system. But to my surprise they were still really high I spent over $ 2,000 on the electrical upgrades and it did not drop the price for installation. Recently a friend flipped a house about the same size as mine and gave me the old unit from the other house which was only a couple of years old. The unit is made by Coleman which I am not familiar with but I have the unit and the handler. My question is would it be advised to cut some corners in the budget and get a contractor to install the free unit and duct work? I'm not sure what to do I know if I call someone out to loook at it they are probably going to try and talk me out of this because I don't know the history of the unit.
I don't quite understand your current setup. Do you currently have duct work installed in this house?

If not, then the installation of duct work is going to be your largest cost.

A brand new high efficiency 85K btu furnace can be purchased for around $1,200.

Are you thinking of installing a furnace that is electrical instead of gas for some reason?

If it is a gas furnace, they only use about 2amps of power.

Jamie

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Old 10-19-2008, 09:27 PM   #3
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I don't quite understand your current setup. Do you currently have duct work installed in this house?

If not, then the installation of duct work is going to be your largest cost.

A brand new high efficiency 85K btu furnace can be purchased for around $1,200.

Are you thinking of installing a furnace that is electrical instead of gas for some reason?

If it is a gas furnace, they only use about 2amps of power.

Jamie

No I don't have duct installed. I have been using propane wall heaters and window a/c units.
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Old 10-19-2008, 10:45 PM   #4
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Your house being old as it is is why your estimates are so high.

You can't just hack away and run any old size duct. It has to be laid out and run properly if it's going to work at all.
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Old 10-20-2008, 05:27 AM   #5
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Older houses are a challge at times. And that is why they cost a little more to do.

How do you know this "free unit" is the right size.
Why did your friend pull it and have another installed. It didn't get him more money for the house he flipped.

Most contractors don't want the headache of installing a used unit provided by you. Because even though you say you understand there is no warranty on it.
If it doesn't work when they install it. many people say, well it should have ran for at least X amount of time. And blame them for it not working, and expect them to fix it, for free.

I would install used or new equipment provided by a customer.
I would charge the same as if I provided the equipment, minus my wholesale cost and tax of that brand and line of equipment.

So basically, you would only save a little because you got it for free, but you still wouldn't have a part or labor warranty on the equipment.

Your best bet. Is to look for contractors that have 12 month Same As Cash financing available.

Then you can have a good system installed, and spread the cost over a 12 month period.
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Old 10-20-2008, 09:05 AM   #6
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What Beenthere said
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Old 10-20-2008, 09:28 AM   #7
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I don't install used stuff. Not worth the hassle. If it is a unit I am not familiar with I have to go online and search it out and learn all about it. Granted most are similar but some are different enough to need specific information. This all takes time and if I were to do it I would be charging the customer. These extra costs would end up being the same as a new furnace with a warranty.

If you want to save money then learn to put in duct work. This involved ripping out lath and plaster, putting in the duct work CORRECTLY, and then sheet rock the walls. While you have the walls open you could insulate them which would save you money.

Of course this is time consuming and there is a lot of sweat equity but it will save you a lot of money.

What was your estimate by the way?
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Old 10-20-2008, 10:00 AM   #8
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What about just duct work and furnace for now? Keep using your windows units for now as I bet in your climate they probably get the job done.

If duct work is what's really causing the high estimates, what about hydronic heat?

What are your utility cost like there? With really low electric rate, say from a coop, with your service now upgraded, electric resistive might be cost effective.

With an old house like that insulating, sealing and otherwise tightening your envelope will be very important.
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Old 10-20-2008, 11:05 AM   #9
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What about just duct work and furnace for now? Keep using your windows units for now as I bet in your climate they probably get the job done.

If duct work is what's really causing the high estimates, what about hydronic heat?

What are your utility cost like there? With really low electric rate, say from a coop, with your service now upgraded, electric resistive might be cost effective.

With an old house like that insulating, sealing and otherwise tightening your envelope will be very important.

You hit the perfect solution with Hydronics. Cooling this home's a perfect application for Mini Splits.

But this is probably more than the OP original estimates.
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Old 10-20-2008, 11:40 AM   #10
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No I don't have duct installed. I have been using propane wall heaters and window a/c units.
The duct work is what is going to be expensive.

I can not understand why there would be any issue with electrical. Like I mentioned a central furnace with blower uses very little power, about that of 1 outdoor flood light or less.

Now if you are talking about the power that a central AC is going to need, the compressor will likely need a 30A dedicated circuit. If you spent $2000 on an electrical upgrade, I don't see how you could not have the capacity for a 30A circuit.

What did they do for the electrical upgrade? Photos of your electrical panel and meter outside would help greatly if you don't quite know what you have.

What prices are people quoting you for this install? Have they broken it down into the major components, for example, I would want to see these things listed out with prices for each of them:

Duct work Cost
Duct work install (labor)
Furnace Cost
AC Cost
Furnace Filter System Cost
Humidifier Cost
Gas piping cost*
Electrical cost*

*in many cases with existing installs these costs are minimal, but since your doing a new install, the costs could be higher and it would be worth it to have them list these costs out.


I am curious to hear what kind of prices people are quoting you.

Also:
What is the square feet of this house.
What is its status in terms of being weather tight? i.e. old windows, lacking insulation, etc? If the house is not weather tight, you may have to size up the furnace to compensate or fix these problems.

Jamie
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Old 10-20-2008, 01:36 PM   #11
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Thanks for all the ideas. I guess I'm the typical female when it comes to things like this. I know the "free" unit was just replaced because the friend is not your average flipper. She makes sure the houses she renovates has new units it's just something she feels strong about. The other couple of houses she has done the units have been old and needed to be replaced and it just became something that would help a new homeowner seal the deal having a new unit installed. As far as the electrical problems my house had the old glass screw in fuses which I was told was a fire hazard and it wasn't up to code because the meter was attached to the side of the house with no protection (metal box ). We have one of he highest power companies in the area which has contract out with the city so no other cheaper companies can come in town to supply power. It's crazy I pay two to three times the amount for a kWh than people who just live a mile or so from me. I'm not sure about the square footage of the house but I will find the bids and see if it's on there. But it's a smaller home 3 bedrooms, 1 bath, kitchen and living room one story home. The cheapest estimate so far was around $ 6,000.00 which may not seem like a lot for most but it is for me. I guess I was just trying to save a buck or two and use the "free" unit to get me by until I could get a new one. The system I have now with the propane space wall heaters works ok it's just some rooms are cold while others are burning up and the cost of propane is going up every time I turn around. As far as the AC it's the same some areas are freezing and other are hot. My main thing is the heat because I hate the cold. Here in SC I know some of you are going "you don't know what cold is" but I'm the first to turn on the heat and pull out the jacket. I think the "free" unit is a 2 ton unit I was going to get the contractor to look at it to tell me if it would be able to be used in my house. I heard that you want a unit bigger than what you need so that it will be able to run more efficiently. It that true?
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Old 10-20-2008, 01:43 PM   #12
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Oh and as far as what they did for the electrical upgrade he installed breakers panel and left 6 or so open that way if anything was to be installed it would have it's own circuit. I'm telling you it was a mess before all that was done I had several issues. Again thanks for all the good advise.
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Old 10-20-2008, 01:59 PM   #13
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I think the "free" unit is a 2 ton unit I was going to get the contractor to look at it to tell me if it would be able to be used in my house. I heard that you want a unit bigger than what you need so that it will be able to run more efficiently. It that true?
If you under size your A/C too much it will not provide adequate cooling but good dehumidification, but if you oversize you get a reverse problem. You really want to match the unit as close to the total heat gain you have.
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Old 10-20-2008, 02:05 PM   #14
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Oh and as far as what they did for the electrical upgrade he installed breakers panel and left 6 or so open that way if anything was to be installed it would have it's own circuit. I'm telling you it was a mess before all that was done I had several issues. Again thanks for all the good advise.
In terms of old electrical work being unsafe, that is possible, but it is not necessarily unsafe just because it is old. In general if your not modifying the electrical work, then you are not required to change it to comply with current code. If someone is telling you that, they are wrong. The Electrical code changes every 3 years, and it would mean constant upgrades to millions of homes. It isn't practical and isn't required.

That said, the electrical upgrades you did may very well have been worth it, and have likely made it safer.

RE: The electrical service for the AC or furnace, If you have a new panel installed with 6 open spaces, then I am not sure why there would be any substantial cost to the electrical work.

Jamie
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Old 10-20-2008, 02:21 PM   #15
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Since you have a single story house I assume you have an attic. Why can't you put the furnace in the ceiling??? That solves a lot of issue like duct work. Just come down through the ceiling.

Those setups in older homes are easy. You can put in the A coil and do the air later if you can't afford it now.

Going costs for an 80% with A coil and installing ducting around here is about $3000 to $4000 depending on the ductwork install, gas line location and so on. What you quote is in line with the whole setup with air. A 90% or better is about another $1000 or so.

I put in a new gas service, high efficiency furnace, air, did some ducting to the attic and the bill was $6200 a few months ago.

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