I hope I've been clear that I don't by any means pretend to be as good at any trade as the pro's, or that I'm doing my own work for any reason other than financial necessity. I'd much rather be working on my cars - where, by the way, I do brakes and engine rebuilds, upholstery, painting, welding and (if I still had access to the equipment) machining, sand casting and plating. I'd also hope that nobody else is intending to tout their own superiority.
These days are different times. 5 years ago, I would more likely take the $500 quote iin my present situatiton and ask to get a quote on the new furnace instead thinking if I'm going to spend $500 only to spend more later, I'd probably be better to just skip the $500 repair and do the replacement now. I'd have been able to finance it with a home equity loan - not just because I wouldn't have gone through the financial difficulty I've gone through, but because I'd actually still have the equity and the banks would actually be giving home equity loans.
These days, I can't pay for the new furnace sooner than I plan on it, and without the savings of doing the repair myself, I'd only have to postpone the furnace later - ultimately because I'm adverse to not having a working furnace during heating season, I'd probably postpone a whole year.
I get that y'all have probably seen a decrease in business because customers like me aren't getting home equity loans to pay for projects done by pro's and/or you aren't getting new construction paid for by people who now have a harder time getting new construction loans.. And I get that with less business there's a sense of need to protect what job territory you can.
Please do NOT consider any "before" picture of my house as any kind of endorsement of any particular construction method. In fact, you should probably assume that if I post a "before" picture, I am posting it because I am soliciting advice on a proper replacement for one of MANY things done wrong by a previous owner.