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mt999999 09-01-2013 07:49 PM

What to do about this furnace?
 
6 Attachment(s)
Hello Everyone! I am currently looking to buy a home on a tight budget. Said house has been unoccupied for about 6 years, meaning no heat, water, etc... anyway, I am trying to do basic remodeling on a budget, to make it liveable. Onto the HVAC...

Now, the furnace was installed in 1996, and only saw 11 years of use, leading me to believe it is feasable to be kept. However, it has sat unused for 6 years, so I am wondering if it is still possible to keep. I can keep blabbering all day, but I'll post a few pictures here to give you guys a better Idea. I was told it was working fine when it was last being used. I would guess it's an 80% efficiency, considering the chimney venting.

I really don't have money in the budget to buy a new furnace, seeing how a new furnace would cost MORE than twice what I am paying for the house, assuming a new furnace job would run about $2,500. Not to mention the lines were frozen, so I am probably looking at a new water heater. Do you guys think I can save this thing? The burners are clearly a little bit rusty. Can I scour them clean? What would I be able to do make this running again?

Other than checking the heat exchanger, what needs to be checked before it could be safely fired up again? I would plan on doing a through cleaning, checking the blower motor belt, and oiling the motor. I have minimal HVAC knowledge, so any info would help. Please don't tell me to hire a professional. I am an avid DIY'er, and I don't have extra money to spend on a professional.

Thanks for the help guys, much appriciated!

ModelAFan 09-01-2013 07:59 PM

That unit is older than 1996. Try 1986.

I'd get it cleaned. I'd also make sure the wires are not in the way of the burners, that one looks like it has been melted.

Also, you do know that in order to check the heat exchanger that you will have to move the evaporator coil (if this thing has air conditioning) and/or possibly a snake camera.

BTW, I also love how the previous owner wrote down their life history on the ductwork. :laughing:

mt999999 09-01-2013 08:16 PM

2 Attachment(s)
Quote:

Originally Posted by ModelAFan (Post 1236925)
That unit is older than 1996. Try 1986.

I'd get it cleaned. I'd also make sure the wires are not in the way of the burners, that one looks like it has been melted.

Also, you do know that in order to check the heat exchanger that you will have to move the evaporator coil (if this thing has air conditioning) and/or possibly a snake camera.

BTW, I also love how the previous owner wrote down their life history on the ductwork. :laughing:

Well, I just went off of where they wrote "finished" 1996. I found the writing kind of interesting!

This place, from my inspection, has 60 Amp Service, Gas dryer, Water heater, furnace, and stove. Two 60 Amp panels, one tied off of the other one. Lots of copper wiring missing, considering the cellar door was missing to the outside. The thing that scares me about the electric is the fact that where the standard 60 Amp fuse panel has three 15 amp fuses, and one 20 amp fuse, this panel has three 20 amp fuses, and one 30 amp fuse. Most, if not all, of the wires exiting it are 14 gauge.

Don't know where all the power is needed, considering the all gas appliances. Back to your original responce, there is no central air either. Again, why on earth do they need these 20 and 30 amp fuses? Elderly people lived here. In the pictures below, I think the first one (box with all of the lines cut) is the main service disconnect.

ModelAFan 09-01-2013 08:24 PM

60 Amp Service seems a little limited for a house. I bet that is an old house. 14 amp seems a little too small gauge, but you should post that in the Electrical section of this site.

If the heat exchanger on that furnace is cracked, it will need to be replaced. That furnace is from the 1980's, probably very early 1990s at the newest. Maybe they wrote "finished" on the ductwork for finished the ductwork or something.

BTW, that house looks like it needs a lot of work. If it does need a new furnace, I found a Tempstar dealer that is right in East Liverpool.

mt999999 09-01-2013 09:06 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ModelAFan (Post 1236945)
60 Amp Service seems a little limited for a house. I bet that is an old house. 14 amp seems a little too small gauge, but you should post that in the Electrical section of this site.

If the heat exchanger on that furnace is cracked, it will need to be replaced. That furnace is from the 1980's, probably very early 1990s at the newest. Maybe they wrote "finished" on the ductwork for finished the ductwork or something.

Have you just moved into this house?

Isn't 14 gauge standard for a 15 amp fuse or breaker? They were all the white, 15 amp wires, whatever gauge, on 20 amp fuses, big fire hazard. Minus, of course, the existing knob and tube.

It is a very old house. The kitchen and bathroom were built as a first floor extention, from the 1920's at the newest. The main house is a very old colonial, certainly mid-to-late 1800's. Two equal sized first-floor rooms and second floor rooms, small shared closet upstairs. Fireplace on either side, one of which was torn down. Place was donated to a church, and needs ALOT of work. I'm getting it for just a thousand dollars, and I'd rather put minimal money into it if possible.

I have not moved in, it certainly isn't liveable at the moment. But I plan on having everything up and running by next year, so this furnace has to work by next winter. No hurry at the moment.

ModelAFan 09-01-2013 09:47 PM

Knob and Tube Wiring is very dangerous. I'm not no electrician (and not no HVAC tech either) but I do know my stuff when it comes to gas furnaces, especially at parts and stuff on them.

If you do have the money (and I know you said you was on a very tight budget) I'd upgrade to a new furnace. You could buy a Tempstar 80% by next May (after May you must purchase a 90%+ furnace in your area.) 80% furnaces are not very expensive (or not as expensive as 90% furnaces) so if you stick with something like the Tempstar PS80 you shouldn't have to pay over $2,000 unless you add air conditioning. Tempstar is a pretty inexpensive brand, plus it's a brand of ICP, a subsidiary of Carrier.

I'd say clean the blower, clean the flame sensor (although I honestly don't think it has one), and maybe clean out the ductwork a little bit, but that's a more professional job. It might also be a good idea to check the flue vent for blockages. Also, check the heat exchanger and burners.

mt999999 09-01-2013 10:19 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ModelAFan (Post 1236978)
Knob and Tube Wiring is very dangerous. I'm not no electrician (and not no HVAC tech either) but I do know my stuff when it comes to gas furnaces, especially at parts and stuff on them.

If you do have the money (and I know you said you was on a very tight budget) I'd upgrade to a new furnace. You could buy a Tempstar 80% by next May (after May you must purchase a 90%+ furnace in your area.) 80% furnaces are not very expensive (or not as expensive as 90% furnaces) so if you stick with something like the Tempstar PS80 you shouldn't have to pay over $2,000 unless you add air conditioning. Tempstar is a pretty inexpensive brand, plus it's a brand of ICP, a subsidiary of Carrier.

I'd say clean the blower, clean the flame sensor (although I honestly don't think it has one), and maybe clean out the ductwork a little bit, but that's a more professional job. It might also be a good idea to check the flue vent for blockages. Also, check the heat exchanger and burners.

I think knob and tube is only dangerous depending on what it is used for. Also, if someone puts anything more than a 15 amp fuse on it. For lighting application, it should be fine. For a toaster oven or mircowave, however, it isn't safe. I'm sure the walls are still full of the knob and tube. I just don't have the money for a complete re-wire. I'll patch in what was stolen, unless it turns out to be more complicated than I though.

I didn't know they even made 80%'s anymore. Sounds nice, because I don't want to do completely new exhaust and intake runs. What difference would it make if the furnace was purchased before or after May?

What is a flame sensor? Pardon my ignorance, but I have no clue. I know it has electronic ignition, no pilot light, if the two relate at all. Someone told me to shut off the gas, remove the burners, put lit tealites in the openings, and fire up the blower. If the flames flicker, then the heat exchanger might have a hole in it. Burners look rusty as well. I'm sure the flue and the whole chimney need swept, considering the amount of ash in the old clean-out, plus ash falling into the livingroom fireplace from around the metal plate they used to block-off the fireplace.

ModelAFan 09-01-2013 10:26 PM

On May 1, 2014 80% furnaces are going to be "outlawed" in Northern States, including Ohio. A Flame sensor is something that senses the flame. I do know that furnace has a rollout switch that will detect a rollout caused by a cracked heat exchanger.

80% furnaces made even today (unless you get a Rheem or Ruud) don't require a intake pipe. They use the air surrounding the furnace as combustion air. You can use the existing metalbestos or metal flue pipe. However, 90%+ are a different story.

I'd also dust everything off. Make sure the safety controls work.

old_squid 09-01-2013 10:33 PM

That's a gas furnace which means you have a gas supplier. There is the potential that the gas supplier may require the furnace to be checked and given a clean bill of health before they will turn the gas on. Not saying that's what will happen, just to keep the possibility in mind.

To check the furnace you will need to:
*Check the chimney to make sure that it is in good enough condition to contain the flue gases that will be passing through it. After that much time unoccupied I would be guess something has made a nest in it. Also a potential problem is moisture getting into and deteriorating the mortar.... assuming it's brick or block. Repair or install a recognized liner if needed.
*Check the galvanized pipe from the furnace to the chimney, make sure it's screwed together and that there are no signs of weakness, rust or holes. Replace if there's any question.
*Check the heat exchanger for any signs of cracks by any and all means you or your friends have at your disposal. This is priority #1 on these older furnaces.

These first three "should" eliminate most causes of carbon monoxide poisoning.

*Purchase a good carbon monoxide alarm and install it in the house before you start using any gas appliances.
*Make sure the furnace is on it's own electrical circuit (15amp) and that there is a switch at the furnace to allow the power to be shut off.
*Have the gas piping checked for leaks. This "should" be something that the gas supplier will do for little or no cost because of the situation.
*The burners can be cleaned, BUT, keep in mind that they are more than likely galvanized and any means you use to clean off rust will also remove the galvanized protection which will make them rust easier.... so clean easy and only as much as needed.
*The gas valve and controls will need to each be checked for proper operation to make sure that the safety functions of each are working PERFECTLY. Even if they show good, don't fully trust them until the furnace has operated without issues for a few weeks. The house being empty and the potential for lots of things to happen or affect these items can and does make their reliability questionable.
*The blower motor and bearings should be oiled sparingly at first. After things get moving then oil them a few times (minimally) during the heating months for the first year. The belt... just change it no matter how good it looks.

If I was to do all this for you, yes it would cost. Would I give you any guarantee? Yes, that it would work until I got to the end of the driveway. Why? Because of the age, how long it was out of service and all the above potential things that can hide for hours, days or weeks before showing themselves as problems.

With all of the foreclosed housing out there being sold I come across your situation almost weekly. A lot of people are in the same situation as you.... so much to do and so little money to do it. I tell them all the same thing. Make a priority list of thing(s) you absolutely can't live without being #1 and list everything else under that in descending order.

Good luck.

mt999999 09-01-2013 11:07 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by old_squid (Post 1236994)
That's a gas furnace which means you have a gas supplier. There is the potential that the gas supplier may require the furnace to be checked and given a clean bill of health before they will turn the gas on. Not saying that's what will happen, just to keep the possibility in mind.

To check the furnace you will need to:
*Check the chimney to make sure that it is in good enough condition to contain the flue gases that will be passing through it. After that much time unoccupied I would be guess something has made a nest in it. Also a potential problem is moisture getting into and deteriorating the mortar.... assuming it's brick or block. Repair or install a recognized liner if needed.
*Check the galvanized pipe from the furnace to the chimney, make sure it's screwed together and that there are no signs of weakness, rust or holes. Replace if there's any question.
*Check the heat exchanger for any signs of cracks by any and all means you or your friends have at your disposal. This is priority #1 on these older furnaces.

These first three "should" eliminate most causes of carbon monoxide poisoning.

*Purchase a good carbon monoxide alarm and install it in the house before you start using any gas appliances.
*Make sure the furnace is on it's own electrical circuit (15amp) and that there is a switch at the furnace to allow the power to be shut off.
*Have the gas piping checked for leaks. This "should" be something that the gas supplier will do for little or no cost because of the situation.
*The burners can be cleaned, BUT, keep in mind that they are more than likely galvanized and any means you use to clean off rust will also remove the galvanized protection which will make them rust easier.... so clean easy and only as much as needed.
*The gas valve and controls will need to each be checked for proper operation to make sure that the safety functions of each are working PERFECTLY. Even if they show good, don't fully trust them until the furnace has operated without issues for a few weeks. The house being empty and the potential for lots of things to happen or affect these items can and does make their reliability questionable.
*The blower motor and bearings should be oiled sparingly at first. After things get moving then oil them a few times (minimally) during the heating months for the first year. The belt... just change it no matter how good it looks.

If I was to do all this for you, yes it would cost. Would I give you any guarantee? Yes, that it would work until I got to the end of the driveway. Why? Because of the age, how long it was out of service and all the above potential things that can hide for hours, days or weeks before showing themselves as problems.

With all of the foreclosed housing out there being sold I come across your situation almost weekly. A lot of people are in the same situation as you.... so much to do and so little money to do it. I tell them all the same thing. Make a priority list of thing(s) you absolutely can't live without being #1 and list everything else under that in descending order.

Good luck.

Thanks! This property wasn't a foreclosure, but it was essentially the same type of deal you would find with one. I hope the thing doesn't give me any issues.

ModelAFan 09-01-2013 11:26 PM

Yes. Like you said that thing is currently inhabitable. It sounds like a fire waiting to happen.

As old_squid said, make SURE that Robertshaw Ignition Control works and don't trust the safeties. A furnace that has been sitting for a long time (especially 6 years) is not good and can be dangerous.

A new furnace, if you can afford it, would be a nice way to go. The Tempstar PS80 I was talking about earlier would slide right in that furnace's place, with some modifications to the ductwork (the PS80 would be shorter than that Rheem.) The PS80 is also more efficient than that beast, not to mention probably more safer and reliable.

HVAC1000 09-02-2013 12:43 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ModelAFan
On May 1, 2014 80% furnaces are going to be "outlawed" in Northern States, including Ohio.

The department of energy has put this mandate on hold at this time. And will probably not be passed without great scrutiny and uproar from installers and homeowners.

COLDIRON 09-02-2013 06:42 AM

You need a HVAC Company to send a qualified HVAC mechanic to your house to do a complete inspection and startup and checkout of that heater.

747 09-02-2013 06:46 AM

60amp wow. I heard of 100 amp and 200 amp never 60. Way to small.

COLDIRON 09-02-2013 07:50 AM

Not trying to turn this into an electrical issue but 35 years ago I ad 60 amp service---Electric range/oven, Central Air, electric dryer, micro wave, and many other electrical appliances ETC ETC. Never had a problem. It takes quite a few things to draw 60 amps at the same time of each leg.


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