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Old 02-02-2011, 12:42 PM   #1
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what to look for when buying new HVAC systems?


Hey all,

OK - so I may be buying a new unit. The whole system is 13 years old. It presently consists of the outdoor unit (I think that's called a heat pump or compressor) and the "air handler" inside, which is a gas furnace with an AC evaporator and plenum on top.

So - should I replace all this at once (both the unit outside and the unit inside)? One guy told me I don't want to "mismatch" them and should buy both inside and outside units at the same time. But I don't know if that's a sales pitch. The unit outside is old but still works fine. It would seem I could save some money today and wait for the outside unit to die. Then again - perhaps there is some sort of savings I'd gain if all was installed at once.

Any ideas?

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Old 02-02-2011, 01:32 PM   #2
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what to look for when buying new HVAC systems?


I would replace them both and the outside unit is called a condensor. Unless it runs in the winter to produce heat in which case it is called a heat pump. You will get a better package price for both and the old outdoor unit is less efficient than the newer ones. If it goes any longer and loses freon and freezes up it can damage your new furnace when it defrosts and water leaks into the new furnace. Very expensive damage can occur from that. The new units fit better together as the tin work will be redone and made to fit better. May get better airflow from them with compatible units. Adaptors have to be made when adding it later and that can reduce airflow.

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Old 02-02-2011, 03:37 PM   #3
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what to look for when buying new HVAC systems?


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Originally Posted by denemante View Post
Hey all,

OK - so I may be buying a new unit. The whole system is 13 years old. It presently consists of the outdoor unit (I think that's called a heat pump or compressor) and the "air handler" inside, which is a gas furnace with an AC evaporator and plenum on top.

So - should I replace all this at once (both the unit outside and the unit inside)? One guy told me I don't want to "mismatch" them and should buy both inside and outside units at the same time. But I don't know if that's a sales pitch. The unit outside is old but still works fine. It would seem I could save some money today and wait for the outside unit to die. Then again - perhaps there is some sort of savings I'd gain if all was installed at once.

Any ideas?

Where are you located? Do you have gas available?
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Old 02-04-2011, 05:43 PM   #4
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what to look for when buying new HVAC systems?


Must find a real good company who will treat you honestly. I am an unfortunate one, I chose a "reputable" big company, paid top $$$ for A/C, furnace and humidifier in Oct last year, then found the humidifier is not sufficient for the size of my house. Called the salesperson up to complaint as they'd inspected my house before quote, and he just told me to pay another $1000- +++ to get another humidifier with motor. Not even mention how to dispose my existing four months new humidifier......
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Old 02-04-2011, 05:51 PM   #5
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what to look for when buying new HVAC systems?


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Must find a real good company who will treat you honestly. I am an unfortunate one, I chose a "reputable" big company, paid top $$$ for A/C, furnace and humidifier in Oct last year, then found the humidifier is not sufficient for the size of my house. Called the salesperson up to complaint as they'd inspected my house before quote, and he just told me to pay another $1000- +++ to get another humidifier with motor. Not even mention how to dispose my existing four months new humidifier......
Ask friends, family who they used. Check out Yelp and other ratings sites. Get referrals from satisfied customers.

We do all these things and are still questioned. Lots of dirtbag contractors out there, also dirtbag consumers who only care about price as well. It's a bad mix.
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Old 02-04-2011, 06:07 PM   #6
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what to look for when buying new HVAC systems?


Check the state contractor board to see how long they've been in business. Check that as well as the BBB site for history of complaints. Do the background check first.

After you prequalify your contractors, ask them to submit proposals. Get 3-5. Then review and choose the one you like.
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Old 02-06-2011, 10:19 PM   #7
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what to look for when buying new HVAC systems?


BBB is a good start, but do your research. Get a few estimates on different brands and warranty. See what an extended parts and labor warranty will cost you. if you want the units to pay for themselves in the long run consider high efficiency. Plus u get a little bit of a tax credit this year up to 500 if its high efficiency. See if the company will take a % off for paying cash so they don't have processing fees. Also its usually cheaper to get a full system rather than it separately. And remember that its not only the brand you are buying but also a relationship with the business who installs it. Make sure its a company you trust. So if it cost a few $100 more with a company you like best its worth it.

Last edited by jadams08; 02-06-2011 at 10:28 PM.
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Old 02-07-2011, 09:09 AM   #8
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what to look for when buying new HVAC systems?


Does anyone have any experience buying HVAC from the big retail chains like Home Depot? I know they sub it out and don't think it's actually Home Depot selling/installing the stuff.

They have those free hot-dog guys out front trying to get the leads - you fill out a form, then some other company calls you.

I was standing there off to the side (just trying to get a free hot dog) and some guy with his little girl came walking up and thanked the guy - he said it was the best price and great service...you'd think it was a setup - but no one was around to overhear this guy but me, and it was just coincidence I was standing somewhat nearby.

Of course, I want to do my research - but I figure this forum is research. There are 100s of HVAC sevice providers near me, certainly tons of different models and manufactuers, etc. Then different prices.

I'm just thinking perhaps a majority of people nationally have gone with some resource for their HVAC and been happy, so I can jump on that bandwagon..
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Old 02-07-2011, 03:40 PM   #9
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what to look for when buying new HVAC systems?


Im not a pro, but my $.02 is it is worthwhile doing the whole kaboodle - new furnace, air conditioner outside, new furnace filter, humidifier, new thermostat, etc. That way you'll get a whole system that fits well together that should run breakdown free for years to come. Try for a high efficiency furnace model so if you sell your home 10yrs from now the furnace you buy doesn't appear to be a starkly inefficient model. It's all about saving energy costs right? I admire a friends geothermal heat pump, but since the prior owner recently replaced my system and did it well I'm not inspired to modify anything for 10yrs! As a diyer I feel the big name brands take protecting their brands seriously enough to not turn out lemon products - but maybe the marketing has worked on me . When I say big brands I mean the units...not the installers. Like trane, Bryant, carrier, etc.

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Old 02-07-2011, 06:14 PM   #10
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what to look for when buying new HVAC systems?


Why would you replace a 13 yr old system, heck its just getting warmed up, figuratively speaking, but really if there are no problem with it why replace it? I would think that most systems should last a minimum of 25 years, if serviced regularly.

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Old 02-07-2011, 10:01 PM   #11
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what to look for when buying new HVAC systems?


I'm in a challenging place. Finishing my basement, and the gas HVAC unit and gas water heater are sitting on the wall and come out about 7 feet - right in the middle of the room. I planned to move these units to an unfinsihed hall we don't need. However, code prevents this because the angles on the exhaust would be too extreme to reach my current exhaust stack (which can't be moved). So if I keep them, I've got to leave them where they sit - and that drastically wrecks my this single large basement room.

Even if I could move them - I had an HVAC guy price that at about $1000+ since all the vents, gas lines, electric, ventings, etc. would need to be moved as well. I can't see spending that money to move an old system.

Finally - mostly I'm hearing these things last 10-15 years...and I've had neighbors with the same age system already have to replace their failed ones.
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Old 02-08-2011, 07:24 AM   #12
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what to look for when buying new HVAC systems?


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Originally Posted by denemante
I'm in a challenging place. Finishing my basement, and the gas HVAC unit and gas water heater are sitting on the wall and come out about 7 feet - right in the middle of the room. I planned to move these units to an unfinsihed hall we don't need. However, code prevents this because the angles on the exhaust would be too extreme to reach my current exhaust stack (which can't be moved). So if I keep them, I've got to leave them where they sit - and that drastically wrecks my this single large basement room.

Even if I could move them - I had an HVAC guy price that at about $1000+ since all the vents, gas lines, electric, ventings, etc. would need to be moved as well. I can't see spending that money to move an old system.

Finally - mostly I'm hearing these things last 10-15 years...and I've had neighbors with the same age system already have to replace their failed ones.


They only last long if its well maintained meaning it gets clean and inspected annually and you are lucky. Also remember that depending on where you live you can save 100 and up off your utility bills when replacing an old unit with a high efficiency one. Also remember that if you want them in a smaller spot where it is harder to work on them as well as reinstall them the price will be higher because it will take more to to do it.

Last edited by jadams08; 02-08-2011 at 07:27 AM.
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Old 02-08-2011, 09:07 AM   #13
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what to look for when buying new HVAC systems?


When we moved in, my home inspector noted that they probably were not well maintained. The foam insulation outside covering the AC coolant lines had all rotted away - and to him, that was a sure sign no one had been paying attention to the whole system. I've had an HVAC guy look at it - and it works. But there's no way to tell for how much longer.

Plus, the filters hadn't been clean, the coolant was low, etc. Ice had formed on the coolant lines inside, and when it melted - dripped right onto the furnace unit itself. It's got rust on it's shell, and other signs of green metal residue like when copper tarnishes.

So based on all this, I'd guess that my system is in poor to average shape.
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Old 02-08-2011, 10:52 AM   #14
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what to look for when buying new HVAC systems?


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Originally Posted by denemante
When we moved in, my home inspector noted that they probably were not well maintained. The foam insulation outside covering the AC coolant lines had all rotted away - and to him, that was a sure sign no one had been paying attention to the whole system. I've had an HVAC guy look at it - and it works. But there's no way to tell for how much longer.

Plus, the filters hadn't been clean, the coolant was low, etc. Ice had formed on the coolant lines inside, and when it melted - dripped right onto the furnace unit itself. It's got rust on it's shell, and other signs of green metal residue like when copper tarnishes.

So based on all this, I'd guess that my system is in poor to average shape.
Use it till it breaks. Don't invest any money in it. A/C's freon is expensive to for old units
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Old 02-08-2011, 02:20 PM   #15
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what to look for when buying new HVAC systems?


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Originally Posted by denemante View Post
When we moved in, my home inspector noted that they probably were not well maintained. The foam insulation outside covering the AC coolant lines had all rotted away - and to him, that was a sure sign no one had been paying attention to the whole system. I've had an HVAC guy look at it - and it works. But there's no way to tell for how much longer.

Plus, the filters hadn't been clean, the coolant was low, etc. Ice had formed on the coolant lines inside, and when it melted - dripped right onto the furnace unit itself. It's got rust on it's shell, and other signs of green metal residue like when copper tarnishes.

So based on all this, I'd guess that my system is in poor to average shape.

What climate are you in? Still waiting for the answer to that.

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