Help: replace Trane heat pump

I have Trane XL1200 heat pump with High Efficiency furnace gas backup system, which is 19 y.o.
The system refused to heat the house today (32F outside) and HVAC guy after tinkering with some electrical board diagnosed that the heat exchanger is no good and the whole system needs replacement. He does not specialize in Trane, but in York and Carrier and promised to quote prices for those. He asked what SEER do I want and whether I want variable speed blower. I told him I want a high quality system, since I am not selling this house any time soon.
1) Should I replace Trane system with another Trane system? 2) We have separate units for 1st and 2nd floors. The other one works well so far. Can only one be replaced now or do the need to be replaced in pairs? 3) What SEER do I want nowadays? My house is 3,500 sq ft, if it helps. 4) How can I tell if the guy is a real pro? He was very honest and said it will take 3 days to install and he will take $1,200 for labor (for one system, not both). The rest of the cost is hardware. I understand his price is not high, but how do I know he will do the best job?
I am lost (and cold). Please help.
Steve
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Not if the Trane system doesn't work. What good would that do?

Replace them in pairs. The unbalanced harmonics from a mis-matched set can cause problems.

Beats me. As long as it heats and cools, who cares?

If he is honest, he must be a Mormon. Check to see if he is wearing the magic underwear. That is the best way to find out if he is a real pro.

Treat him nice. Tell you wife to show him her tits. Give him some cold milk and fresh-baked cookies.

Go to WalMart and buy a compass and a blanket.

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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

sure, why not. It lasted 19 years, thats a proven track record. why re-invent the wheel?

replace them as they fail. or if you love throwing your money away, replace them both. Install all new windows while you're at it.

you want to educate yourself, so that you can make intelligent decisions on your own, without having to rely on strangers on the web.
Go to this website: http://www.aridirectory.org/ari/ac.php enter in the Furnace model #, the Evaporator coil model # and the condensing unit model #. ARI will tell you what the SEER rating is for that system. You want the highest SEER your money will allow, based on HOW MUCH you USE your ac system. Look into factory and utility rebates. Some Tranes have up to $1000 in factory rebates. Get a minimum of 3 bids.

Gut instinct Steve. If you shop price, you WILL get screwed. Which guy makes you feel good? Do just a tiny bit of homework and soon you'll be able to tell when someone is bs-ing you or isnt. Go with the honest guy, regardless of what his price may be. It will pay for itself in the long run.
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Thank you very much for not ridiculing me, like some people tried to. I am quite clueless in HVAC and I know that there very many options.
The HVAC guy first replaced the electrical board in the furnace (charged $105 for parts). The unit still did not work. The gas would ignite and immediately turn off. Also when the gas would ignite, the flames would shoot out somewhat. It didn't look to me like they shoot out too much, but I am not a pro and don't know what's normal. So the guy said the heat exchanger is cracked and in this high efficiency furnace (I think it's Trane XL90) you cannot replace the heat exchanger, only the whole unit. (???) But since we have a heat pump system that means the outdoor and the indoor units have to be both replaced. So instead of several nundred dollars of repair costs, I would be looking at several thousand.
He sounded sincere, but not terribly professional to me. He also doesn't deal with Trane.
I am wondering if the diagnosis makes sense and whether you really cannot replace the heat exchanger in the high efficiency furnace.
Also, I really need to replace the entire system, where can I get educated in plain English about different options that are on the market (variable speed blowers, dual stage, etc.)
Thanks!
snipped-for-privacy@gonefishin.net wrote:

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On 6 Dec 2006 12:58:40 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Obviously not the problem then.

In general, the flame shouldnt be shooting out the front.

This is a simple check. Have your furnace model and serial number handy. Call any dealer or wholesaler anywhere. Ask them if the heat exchanger/s for this furnace are available/replaceable.

Nope! If only you gas furnace is bad you dont need a new heat pump. In fact, you wont even need a fossil fuel kit change. A Honeywell Vision Pro will handle all those functions.

That was clue #1

That was clue #2

Sounds like somebody found a big ol bass

#1 Research #2 Talk to friends, neighbors, relatives, co-workers that have had new systems installed. #3 Call your friendly neighborhood hvac guy for a free estimate/analysis Bubba

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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

If the unit still did not work after he changed the $105 board, I would have told him to put the old board back in, or forget about getting paid for the new board. You tell that person he can put in parts all day long at his expense, when he finds the broken part, thats the one you'll be paying for.

you tell that guy to show you the crack. If he cant point it out to you, it aint there. Its a sales scare tactic. oh yeah, you got a cracked hx. You need to spend $10,000 to fix it. bs.
some people know how to fix things, other people know how to sell new things. you need to find a tech who knows how to fix but is clueless when it comes to selling new.

any competent tech should be able to work on and fix any gawd damn brand sold in amerika. who cares if it says york carrier trane rheem or goodman. junk is junk is junk, its all pretty much the same. some electronics are propriatary, but the basics are all the same. the key word is competent. sounds like you had a lemon who knows selling and thats about it.

last time I checked, we could put men on the moon. seems to me if humans can do that, replacing a hx should be somewhat easier.

before you go spending the big bucks, call a different ac company. dont tell them anything about the first moron. get a second opinion.

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Last night another tech came by. Looked, sounded and behaved a lot more professional. Anyway, the guy spent 3 hours with the system and fixed it. The heat exchanger was not cracked. The first technician did not install the board correctly - it was miswired. He was able to rewire the new board. He did not bother testing the old board, since time is money and I already paid for the new board anyway. He tested the outside unit and determined that some electrical component (maybe defrost cycle controller) got stuck in off mode. He fixed that and the system now works.
This tech was NATE certified, sounded very knowledgeable and charged very reasonable $140 for 3 hours of work. I was ready to pay more. His number goes on my speed dial and he got himself a customer for life.
He did however say that 19 y.o. system may get too expensive to keep fixing and maybe I should start thinking about replacing it, unless I want to deal with it as an emergency when it fails.
He did not recommend Trane, as in his opinion it's too expensive for what it provides. His favorite is Lennox, since in his opinion they are more service friendly and better designed.
snipped-for-privacy@gonefishin.net wrote:

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On 7 Dec 2006 11:07:38 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

He charged you $46.66 per hour for a night call !!! Holly shit! Give me his number. I'll put him on my speed dial too. He can run any and all my calls at that rate. Bubba

Lennox is not a favorite as their repair parts tend to be VERY expensive and proprietary

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Yes, Bubba, the rate was very reasonable. I think he may have felt pity on my as I already paid $120 and that didn't fix the system.
Anyway, since I will start looking around and educating myself on various brands of heat pumps. What brands are your favorite and why? I am looking for reliability, efficiency and total cost.
Also, here in Southeastern PA, does heat pump provide best solution or a combo of A/C and regular furnace give cheapest and most reliable results in the long run?
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On 7 Dec 2006 17:43:37 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

No, everywhere is different in price but a night call at $46 hr is not reasonable. Your tech got screwed but thats his problem that he didnt charge enough. I have no favorites. I dont get paid to advertise equipment. When they do, I'll let you know what my "favorite brand" is. I pick the equipment that my local wholesaler sells whom I have an excellent relationship with. I can get a part anytime I need it including after hours, nights, holidays and I dont get charged an "opening" fee. You need to find a company you can establish a relationship with. PA might not be your best choice for a heat pump but your hvac company will give you a better idea of that. Dont forget about Geothermal. It really is awesome in utility savings. Bubba
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