heater guy says replace furnace/AC

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Part of the price is squeezing the stuff down a 4x4' trap door into a 10x10' basement. I think the estimate was generous for the aggravation.
BTW, it looks like the installation price 25 years ago, was very nearly as high! I get the feeling that was not well priced back then!
Thanks for the other numbers, helps a lot.
J.

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Todd wrote:

I expect the way the company could do the install so cheap was their very efficient organization. Phoning in the duct info to someone back at the shop vs. trucking back and forth, with nothing being done on side during transit time could greatly increase the time to completion and therefore the total labor costs and the number of jobs that could be completed in a day.
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<stuff snipped>

You've described perfectly why it's much easier to "rip and replace" than to repair something 25 years old that's been "worked on" by who knows how many other people including the home-owner or his over-ambitious teen-age son. Instead of working with an unknown entity, they are working with something they've probably installed new several hundred times and the only tough part is to shoehorn the new system into the old ductwork.
From what you describe, good installers have that base well-covered, too, because each time an installer has to return, it's profit lost, so they've honed it to a one-day process. Most new furnaces are much smaller than the ones they are replacing, so fitting them is easy, sometimes easier than opening the old furnace, pulling the exchanger, getting a replacement and then returning to re-install it, test it, close it back up and discover that something else is wrong that wasn't apparent the first time around.
The problem I have is when they start pulling 5 year old systems because it's easier to "rip and replace" than spend any time diagnosing any but the simplest failures. If you replace too soon, higher efficiency is offset mightily by the dollars that got dragged off with the old furnace.
Todd, you're 101% about getting several estimates. Even if the cold winter is approaching, buy a space heater, bite the bullet, do the research. It's never, ever been easier to find out if a vendor is taking you for a ride because you can plug in the estimate numbers on Google and get a very good idea of the prices others are charging.
Once a vendor knows you've been talking to other vendors, a sort of Ebay auction frenzy takes place and they almost all will cut you a deal in this economic climate. The only one that might not will probably be the lowest bid because they can't go lower without doing the job at a loss. There's never a better time to do home improvement work than right after a big housing boom busts when there are still plenty of contractors around who haven't bitten the bullet and found other work. )-:
-- Bobby G.
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Inland San Diego, which is probably similar to your location in LA.
We had our 25 year old hot-air gas furnaces and airconditioners (3 ton each) replaced 2 years ago. Installed price was 8,000. Bids ranged from 16,000 to 7,000. You need to do a lot more homework. Also, make sure to take out a permit. As part of the replacement you are required by law to have a verification of your duct system. This cost another $ 500. If you don't do it, it will bite you when you sell the house.
Also replaced our two water heaters, 40 gal. gas, last year: $ 800 each, courtesy Home Depot. At $ 1500 for one, you are getting ripped off.
25 years is about the maximum life expectancy for gas furnaces. Don't go for the expensive, high efficiency furnaces and air conditioners. We pay about $ 100 a year for air conditioning electricity. Would take several lifetimes to pay for high efficiency units.
--
Walter
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Yes.
We probably have some old asbestos hanging around, how much of a $$ is that likely to be?

I guess I could call them for an estimate, but they don't do the work, do they, just hook you up with some "approved vendors"?
Again, these (both furnace and water heater) have to be manually hauled into a very inconvenient hole - or else installed in a new outside shelter somewhere. I can see a hundred dollars or more premium for the difficulty. And they were saying new ducts are necessary, another couple of hundred, I guess. But it still may be high, thanks.

Excellent point, thanks.
Even the run of the mill is probably a lot more efficient than these old models, 1984 was just before the more-efficient appliances movements began.
J.
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Here in NJ companies are running newspaper ads for Trane 100K BTU upright gas furnace and 13SEER AC for around $5k AFTER rebates and tax credits. I think as of right now the tax credits for high eff units expire the end of the year, though they might get extended. Make sure you check on ALL rebates available from manufacturers, utility companies, FED/state govt etc. They are substantial but only apply to high eff models and now could be a good time to replace a 25 year old unit.
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JRStern wrote:

FWIW, a recent article I just ran across in one of my RSS feeds.....
http://www.freemoneyfinance.com/2009/11/how-to-buy-a-new-furnace-and-air-conditioner.html
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I would expect the HVAC to do this and be part of the quote. It has to be installed to code and it has to have inspection(s) like gas/mechanical/electrical. When all inspections pass then final payment is made.

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Someone mentioned buying a controller from Graingers for $35. I'd like to see THAT!! You can get a generic controller for about $100 from White-Rodgers, but without a flame probe, and you will proly have to add extra blower relays.
If I understood the problem correctly, the flame going out is not a pilot problem -- a pilot problem would prevent any ignition. The problem (now) is the flame doesn't stay on, which could mean a flame probe/sensor problem. Flame probes cost anywhere from $25 to $100.
Which doesn't mean the exchanger is *not* cracked, but I think this is dicey to diagnose, as blowers can stir up ambient air around them as well, making match/smoke tests difficult to assess.
Rewiring a furnace is not rocket science, but it does requre some familiarity with basic electricity, relays, etc.
--
EA



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> Josh
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Neither is spelling "probably".

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I think you meant "proberbally".
--
EA



>
>> but it does requre some
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wrote:

conditioner with a furnace and air to air heat pump for $6500. That's not including the federal tax credit of $1500 and the local energy company's credit of $620. Couldn't pass up the deal. Michigan prices.
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"JRStern" wrote in message

As you live in L.A. and it is not very cold there and not very hot in the summer, I would say get it repaired if the cost to repair is less than about 50% of the replacement cost.
If you lived up north where heating is a major expense, then it would be a good idea to replace it now rather than later because the energy savings on new units would help to pay for it.
Or if you lived in Arizona with summer temperatures frequently around 110 F., then replace the A/C as the newer units can save quite a bit of electricity and A/C is a major expense there.
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On Tue, 3 Nov 2009 08:16:44 -0800, "Bill"

Complicating life is that the heater is down in a cramped little basement, do they really have to haul it back to the shop to work on anyway?
BTW I also talked to the guy who gave me the quotes yesterday (and is giving me a little high-pressure, it's in his job description, but when I told him I just have to get some more bids, he was decent about it), I said that $1500 for the water heater sounded high, and he said yes, it's the cramped location, and see if other bids don't say the same.
Thanks.
J.
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IMO, You'd have to be nuts to put anyhwere near 50% of the replacement cost into a 25 year old gas furnace. That is the typical life expectancy for units of that era. With all the rebates and credits available around here, NJ, which certainly is one of the more expensive area, you can get a new furance and AC installed for about $5000 after rebates and tax credit. Now way I'd sink say $2400 into a 25 year old unit.

How about after he spends $2400 on it, two year later it has another major failure?

Replacing just the AC on a 25 year old gas furnace makes no sense to me. Especially with all the rebates and credits available right now that knock thousands off the actual cost.
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It gets a bit complicated with heating and A/C due to more efficient new models, rebates, etc....
Anyway with things other than that, I've seen some businesses have a policy of ALWAYS repairing things if the repair cost is less than buying a new one. One dollar less to repair, they will choose repair!
This makes a lot of financial sense. Take an apartment complex for example. There may be 100 units. That is 100 refrigerators. Say 10 of these break each year. And repair costs average 25% of the cost of a new refrigerator. This policy could save thousands of dollars a year on refrigerator maintenance ALONE!
Anyway that is the way some businesses decide the repair / replace question...
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Less complicated than you think. I'm saving 40% on my fuel cost with a new boiler. Easy decision. It is paying for itself.
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wrote:

condensing furnace (High medium efficiency?) 2 stage burner, 2 speed DC eductor fan and variable speed DC blower - didn't save a cent on gas. The couple percent improvement in gas efficiency was countered by the VAST improvement in blower efficiency - so the heat that was no longer supplied by the inefficient blower motor had to be made up by the gas.
It IS saving us significantly on electricity, however.
A 10% improvement in gas efficency would mean less than $50 per year, and a "high efficency" furnace would not be 10% better than what we got. Figured the extra expense, and generally shorter life of a condensing furnace, would take too long to pay-back to make it worth while.
Didn't replace the (still working well) 35 year old AC. A 14 SEER would be nice - the old one is likely closer to 5 - but since we generally only use it about 5 days a year, the payback on that one would go to our grandchildren!!!
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Which just shows how foolish some business people can be and how much more money they'd be making if they had some sense.

I don't think so. You can buy a brand new refrigerator typical of what you might find in many apartments for $400. Using your example, I think it's highly unlikely that you're going to find the average repair cost for a service call on a 25 year old refrigerators is going to be 25%, which is only $100. That's where all the math breaks down. And that's even before you factor in pissed off tenants with spoiled food, the overhead of the calls they make to management in the middle of the night, how your apartment looks with a 25 year old unit compared to others that may have newer appliances and command higher rent, etc.
In the case of the OP's 25 year old gas furnace, I think most of us here would agree it could make sense to put a few hundred dollars in repairs to it under certain circumstances. However, I think very few would say that it makes sense to put repairs costing anywhere near half the cost of a new system into it.

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On Thu, 5 Nov 2009 06:33:09 -0800 (PST), snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

With the prices of so many "things" dropping,(and the markup, or "profit" on the sale shrinking even faster,)it is QUITE possible that fixing things will make more money than replacing in the not so very distant future - particularly when disposal of the "spent" product is factored in. We live in a VERY wasteful society.
To me, if the choice is fixing something that has worked well for10 or more years at a cost of X dollars, and replacing it with something of unknown (but suspect) quality for 2X dollars, I sure know where MY money is going.

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