Hoping someone can offer some advice/insight on a problem I'm having:
I've got a 25-30yr old Singer model forced hot air Oil furnace. The last
few years I've had it serviced by the same company and have had no
problems (efficiency rating has been 73-75%) with the servicing. Today,
I had it serviced, and the technicial came in and after a few minutes of
pulling out the gun and nozzle and checking, announced that "the chamber
inside is split, so you're not getting the proper amount of heat going
through your ducts into the house, and in effect, losing heat up the
chimney". I took a look inside and, yes, there did seem to be something
there, but it looked straight and clean (almost like a seam). He said
that there wasn't much that could be done other than getting a new
furnace. He kept remarking about the age, how it was almost impossible
to get parts for (I had replaced the oil pump a few years ago, and was
able to find one without a problem), and that he wasn't about to do any
sort of repair on an old furnace "It just isn't worth it". I also asked
if this problem developed over time and was told "yes". However, none of
the other service techs mentioned this problem.
As I said, I'm running 73-75% efficiency for the past 5 years on this
furnace. He remarked that "those numbers are false readings". No
explanation.Why he said that, I have no idea considering it was from the
same company he worked for. I have been using the same amount of oil for
the last 3 years (I installed a new oil tank 3 yrs ago and get
deliveries around the same time every year once my tank gets to 1/4) and
have not noticed any excess fuel used this year, nor that it takes the
house longer than usual to heat up this year. The one thing that is
noticable is a slight exhaust smell coming from the register once in a
while, but we have a CO detector, and that hasn't gone off.
Anyway, my question is that I'm wondering if this guy is just trying to
sell me a new furnace, or if it's possible for that chamber to split
cleanly and not notice any loss of fuel or home heating time. His
efficiency reading was 65%, about a 8-10% dropoff from when it was
measured last year. He was pushing a Thermo Pride "the cadillac of oil
furnaces" as he called it, that they sell for $3400 installed, even
leaving a brochure with us and saying that it was old and had to be
replaced soon. Maybe it does, but he certainly didn't seem like he
wanted to put any effort into this one.
Thanks in advance for your help.
I can't address the mechanical aspects of whether you do or don't have a
problem as to whether your furnace actually *needs* replacement or just
a fix-it repair, so I'll just add some food for thought. My own
gas-powered water boiler is well over 25 years old and I recall having a
somewhat similar conversation a short time ago with my own HVAC guy, who
happens to be a close family friend who takes his job probably more
seriously than God and keeps our mechanicals in better shape than they
probably even need to be every summer or early fall so our heat doesn't
putz out in the winter. Best of all, he's an HVAC nuts and bolts guy,
not someone who also sells shit on the side to supplement the income. He
certainly has his preferences about certain models or manufacturers for
various reasons, but only in terms of what will do the job best for the
circumstances or most trouble-free over the long haul.
We were taling about this because we're thinking about doing an
expansion to our 1930s Cape Cod, and I wanted to know whether our boiler
was adequate for any additional square footage and how much (we still
don't have an actual square foot figure because our expansion is still
only just an ever-changing concept at this point), or whether I'd need
to plan on replacing the boiler to a larger one able to handle the
additional room. He stated that I might not even need to buy a *larger*
boiler because since my boiler was installed sometime back when Christ
was busy losing his sandals (the original paperwork makes references to
installation by a "steam fitter," so that gives you an idea of its age),
the efficiency of same-sized boilers has increased considerably, which
would be a benefit to us eventually even if we didn't expand.
So I'd only say personally speaking, if it's really old and it ain't
broke, don't fix it -- but if something really old SEEMS broke or on its
way to getting to broke (as yours could well be), it probably makes a
lot of sense and money-smarter in the long run to replace it. But ONLY
in terms of what you actually need, not in terms of what someone's
trying to sell you. And if it *seems* like someone's trying to sell you
something, he certainly is.
As a lot of us around here have probably found out: They don't make 'em
like they used to ... and there's probably a really good reason why they
stopped doing it that way.
Beware! Sounds like a shyster to me, get a 2nd opinion from an unrelated
company. dont tell them a thing, just schedule an apt and have them do an
annual inspection. See what they come up with on their own with no hints
from you. Dont even breath a word of having it inspected by some one else
or that they found something wrong. If it is truly broke, you'll get the
same report. Follow me?
Amazing it lasted that long. Most cracked the heat exchanger by 15 to 20
IF thats the case, by law here, he should have locked the oil off, called
the inspectors, and shut it down.
His legal liability IF thats the case, is to shut it down.
And no..you are not losing heat up your chiminey, but you are allowing the
possibility of combustion gas into the home.
If it split along a seam, it will look like that.
IF its really split, he can pull the heat exchanger and see it from the
Ok...Singer is out of biz....as in done..gone. And a repair on that unit,
would indeed be a waste of your money.
You cant replace, what you cant get.
I can get oil pumps and drive shafts all day long for that unit...I can also
get them for 40 year old ThermoPrides, and Carriers....
Oil pumps are easy to get...and cheap.
30 year old old furnaces never ran that high....period. Anyone that told you
that is a liar. The best you can get out of a new one is 83%...period.
You cant always go by that.
Your heating days per season vary.
What brand? Most like the ones you get at Home Depot wont go off till its
You should NEVER, and thats NEVER smell exhaust from a register. Period. I
think you just verified that you have a cracked exchanger.
Um...yes., and yes....or no, and yes.
The reason why? Simple...if you have been using the guys, they have no
reason to lie to you, since a new unit will take from them the #1
I never suggest that you allow a oil company to service your unit anyway.
They want to sell you one thing..oil.
ThermoPride IS the best unit on the market. Bar None.
The price he quoted, without knowing details, seems very reasonable. I sell
them, and I cant recall one that cheap.
I also sell of course the York oil units, VERY similar to the ThermoPride in
design...about the only difference is the color, price, and the lack of a
copper coated heat exchanger.
And it sounds like, IF you really have a cracked heat exchanger and you
probably do, but I have no way of knowing, that he left you in a situation
that could hurt you.
Get a second opinion ASAP, and make sure that if you DO have a cracked HE,
that you do something about it now..no scare tactics, just the simple
facts...if its cracked, since the HE is under pressure from the combustion
blower, it can and will kill you. CO is unforgiving...
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.