Heater servicing

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I recently moved into a new home and wanted some advice on whether it's necessary to get a heater serviced. During inspection, our home inspector recommended getting our heater serviced. I've been using our heater for the past few weeks and it seems to be working fine. So, I'm not sure if the inspector was being conservative in recommending we get the heater serviced or if it's something we really should have done.
Here's a link to the page from the inspection:
http://www.smugmug.com/photos/672136806_ta8do-X3.jpg
What exactly does it mean to get a heater serviced? Is that something that needs to be done every year? I live in the Boston area and it gets cold here - do folks recommend buying a service contract?
Thanks, PB
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I recently moved into a new home and wanted some advice on whether it's necessary to get a heater serviced. During inspection, our home inspector recommended getting our heater serviced. I've been using our heater for the past few weeks and it seems to be working fine. So, I'm not sure if the inspector was being conservative in recommending we get the heater serviced or if it's something we really should have done.
Here's a link to the page from the inspection:
http://www.smugmug.com/photos/672136806_ta8do-X3.jpg
What exactly does it mean to get a heater serviced? Is that something that needs to be done every year? I live in the Boston area and it gets cold here - do folks recommend buying a service contract?
Thanks, PB
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"PB2" wrote in message

As to having something like a furnace serviced, this could mean replacing the filter (air will flow better), or oiling the moving parts (things last longer), or cleaning it (may work more efficiently or more safely).
Good thing to follow the manufacturer's recommended service as outlined in the instructions if you have that.
So just call up a heating company (yellow pages) and say you need your air filter replaced and the furnace serviced (say no more). See if they say you need additional work done as outlined in the report.
As to a service contract, many of these do not cover much of anything. So you can pay for that and also wind up still paying to have something fixed. If you do buy a service contract, READ every single word before buying!
Then I look at service contracts and extended warranties as one cost for everything in my house. If I had purchased these for everything I own, I probably would have spent $10,000.00 or more! Yet I have only had to repair or replace maybe $900.00 worth of items.
So find out the cost of service contracts for everything - extended warranties. Then instead of buying them, put the money in a bank account each month. You will have plenty of money for repairs!
As to getting a new furnace as outlined in the report, depending on the type, many newer furnaces are much more efficient than older furnaces. It can save quite a bit of money on the heating bill to buy a new furnace! So might be a good idea to check into that. And might be better to shop around for the most efficient furnace and pay a bit more for it.
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Thanks for the tips. I've already replaced the air filter, simply because that's easy to do. I'll take a look at Angie's List and see if I can find a good heating company.
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"PB2" wrote in message

No, yes, maybe.
There are a lot of "it depends" on the subject. I've been a homeowner (different houses) for 44 years and I've had the service man out three times in all of that time, and I repaired something on the boiler myself three other times. .
What is service varies according to the system you have. Gas hot air heat tends to need the least service, but oil hot water needs the most. I've had both.
You can change a filter in a hot air furnace easily (you should do that a couple of times a season) an d put a drop of oil in the blower motor oil cups if it has them. Oil burners need more cleaning of internal parts, spray nozzle replacement, filter replacement, air adjustments, etc. A typical service call is about $120 for that and should be done about every 1000 gallons.
If you have oil heat and an older unit, a service policy does a couple of things. It covers many parts for replacement, it gives you peace of mind, it gives you a fixed cost, and, most important, they will come out at any time with no charge. Nice to know at 10 PM on a cold windy January night when the heater won't start.
The last couple of years I did have a policy on my oil fired boiler and I came out ahead the last year. I've since replace the heater and it is still under warranty.
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I can't access the photo because I'm blocked at work, but if you have a gas furnace, theres really not much that goes wrong with them. Oil furnace is another story. That requires cleaning periodically. I'm not a big fan of service contracts, theres always something in small print.
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I'm no expert but I have had to get a couple of oil heaters replaced. If you burn throught the heat exchanger and get soot in you house, you will have a real mess on your hands. If your system is oil, I understand furnace should be checked and adjusted annually. We have a full service company that supplies oil and service. Gas furnaces can go longer between service.
Too bad you did not have a prepurchase inspection as you could have put a contingency on the seller. I suspect now, from the report, that you will be looking at getting a new furnace.
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If you read the post, he did have it inspected. And since the inspector found it to be working and apparently without problems, I don't think he had a great case to argue for a new one. Just because an inspector says something is at the end of it's useful life doesn't mean the buyer is automatically entitled to a new one.
If I were the OP, instead of getting the thing serviced, I would strongly consider getting a new one. With the discounts, rebates, tax credits, etc combined with significantly higher efficiency, it would make more sense if he's planning on staying there awhile.
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snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

Yes but it could have been a negotiating point to lower the price or seller could buy a one year appliance warranty. New home owners are not normally flush with cash to make a major home repair.
I agree that replacement is the best option after going through a burned through heat exchanger on our first furnace. House filled with soot and took an insurance claim and my wife putting up with a week of people who looked homeless doing clean up. The new furnace, not installed properly backfired and we went through the whole cleanup a second time. It was a nightmare. Also had to line chimney because of some blockage and new furnace needing higher draw.
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Yes, the fact that it was 20 years old was a negotiating point in getting a lower price. I was expecting that it would need to be replaced within the next 1-3 years.
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Do you mean a furnace for the house, or a hot water heater, if furnace, gas, oil, electric, or coal??
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With rust and crud showing like that, it's way past time for service.
Quoting Andy Griffith "Aunt Bee! Call the man!"
A good tech can check for cracked heat exchanger, limit safetys not working, carbon monoxide, and all the problems that can leave you cold, dead, or cold and dead. Most service contracts aren't worth the money, unless your equipment is old and needs to be replaced by them. Then, it can save you money.
I used to work for Sears, and I reccomend avoiding them. Look for a local (to you) company with a smallish yellow page ad.
--
Christopher A. Young
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I can't tell much from your photos, but if we're looking at a horizontal gas furnace, then it most certainly should be checked by a pro. You don't want to end up with one of these;
http://www.cpsc.gov/CPSCPUB/PREREL/prhtml01/01189org.html
That style burner has a tendancy to split wide open when it rusts. If that happens, it will concentrate all the heat in one spot usually closer to the spud end, as opposed to heating evenly all along the burner. That could spell big trouble.
Also, you should be aware that a residential CO detector does'nt alarm until around 75ppm. The ones the pros and fire department carry are much, much more sensitive (and expensive). If I were you, I would get it checked out simply because you are new to the equiptment. As others stated, if you have the cash, you may want to look into upgrading now anyway.
HTH, Lefty
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Thanks for all the tips. It sounds like I should plan to get the system replaced at some point. The questions become a) do I proactively replace the system and b) is it worth servicing if I'm going to be replacing at some point soon anyway.
I've got a CO2 detector, so hopefully that will catch anything that goes awry. It sounds like there are other risks as well (with it splitting wide open and concentrating heat in one spot). How real are those risks? Would their be symptoms prior to it occurring? Does it make sense for me to do a routine servicing just so someone knowledgeable has a look at it?
Also, we have two HVAC systems - one for the first floor/basement and one for the attic (the one with the rust is in the attic). Even if one goes bad, the other will hopefully hold us over for a few days. Of course, the one in the basement is 20 years old too, so lightning could strike at the same exact time!
Thanks, PB
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One other tidbit - I noticed that the rooms serviced by this furnace have been accumulating dust, which I imagine is from the forced hot air. Is this typical or could it be a sign of issues? I had the ducts cleaned recently and a new filter installed.
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If I were you, I would try to find the local pro for some help. Did you say you were new to the home, or new to the area as well?? I would call some of your neighbors or any local friends you have there, and get an idea who they use. Once you've located some leads, then pick a reasonable guy to come out and look at the thing for you. It may be unlikely that you have one of those bad Consolidated units (they were marketed under many major brand names), but you are going to want to know for sure. If you have one, it should go, no doubt about it. You could probably post the name and model here to figure that out.
The reason for an annual service call is really to verify safety control functionality, as well as general maintenence. All manufacturers recommend this be done. Many people will say this is overkill, and in some cases it is. I've certainly seen equiptment run for years without anyone touching it. I've also seen handymen wire the limit control out of the circuit because they did'nt understand what they were doing (eventually resulting in a house fire with serious smoke damage due to a fried blower motor with no safety control to stop the burner). This is why I say, if you are new to the equiptment, then it should be looked at at least once.
Some contractors will knock off the cost of a service call, if it turns into a new equiptment sales call. All you have to do is ask. If we assume the unit is in good shape, then make sure your smoke detector locations are up to code, and in good working order. As far as CO detectors, I recommend the Nighthawk digital readout model. I've had much better luck with it than a lot of the others out there. It's the one that plugs directly into an outlet. One thing to remember about residential CO detectors though; they don't alarm until they hit 75ppm. The maximum allowed exposure where people may be sleeping is only 9ppm. So they should be viewed as a safeguard, but the science has not yet been perfected.
Good luck, Lefty
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I went ahead and scheduled a servicing for both of the furnaces, and I found a highly rated HVAC company through Angie's List. Unfortunately, the earliest appointment was two weeks out, but I've checked and the furnace is Magic Chef, a manufacturer not listed in the list you provided.
Thanks for the tips and help.
PB
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Unfortunately, the Magic Chef ENG series gas horizontal unit is indeed "on the list". Don't freak out though, if you've watched it burn and it does'nt appear to be doing anything crazy, it should be OK for another couple weeks. On the other hand, if you see any soot rolling out, or any black marks, paint burnt off the side, flames burning unevenly or jumping when the blower kicks on, etc., you should be very glad that you started this newsgroup thread. I would make damn sure to keep anything flammable away from it. Now Consolidated is long since bankrupt, but I have read fairly recently that some of the major manufacturers who bought this line of furnaces from them were still helping folks out to avoid any further lawsuits (and to show goodwill). Magic Chef was owned by Air-Ease and used other brand names too. They are now Armstrong Air Company, and are wholly owned by Lennox Corp., so you just may have an avenue to go there. Now keep in mind, IIRC, the only furnaces that were involved in class action were the ones with Nx rods over the burners, but a model number from the unit will decipher that for you.
http://www.armstrongair.com /
HTH, Lefty
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Here's some further info and pics. Forgive me it's been a while since on of those units has been mentioned, so I'm a little rusty. I do remember one of the most important things is that the furnace should have been installed *hanging* and not just sitting on the attic floor without any fire barrier under it. That would be an important thing to check out.
Sorry for not having my links together..................
http://www.consolidatedfurnaces.com/pictures.html
http://www.consolidatedfurnaces.com /
I looked at your pix again. It appears your unit is up on bricks or something?? That would be good.
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Wow... I'll look at the model number after returning home, but will likely just look to replace the unit. Again, thanks for the tips and pointers. It's a good thing I looked into this rather than ignoring it for the season!
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