Posted by: admin in General,Home Office,Investment,Office,Services on December 6th, 2014

heating repairIn this “throw it away” “planned obsolescence” world we live in, I’m always dubious when told “you should get a new one”. So, as I look at my ~ 1989 “Day & Night” furnace and hear the HVAC guy say this, I’m not convinced. So I’m asking my fellowmen for insights…

Existing furnace & related: Circa 1989 “Day & Night” downdraft furnace (electronic ignition), estimated 60000 BTU (3 ton?). Location: SF Bay area (i.e. not cold), 1800 sq foot house. Used 4 months of the year for average of $80/mth.

Current problems:

  • sticky relay on control board means the blower fan doesn’t always turn off
  • blower is out of balance so it causes vibration in the house and is quite noisy and somewhat annoying

I had an HVAC guy look at it and he quoted a new Trane furnace for $4k plus $2k install for a new 96% variable speed (yada yada) furnace, sealing the existing ductwork to bring it up to California efficiency code, permits, inspection, new PVC vent piping etc.  “Not worth repairing this old thing”.

Random thoughts:

  • I don’t think the extra efficiency of the new 96+% furnaces pays off in the 20yr lifetime of the furnace as our usage is so low
  • surely fixing the blower balancing / motor / bearings (whatever is wrong?!) would be easier, and quite likely a DIY job as its separate from the gas work
  • while I’m at it, replace the control board. It seems like there are plenty available for < $100 that will fix the relay
  • Home Depot charges $1600 for a no-name furnace, but the Home Depot recommended installers don’t install them – just Trane or Rheem for 2x the price. I’m guessing that for ~$1500 I could eventually find an installer who would do it for $3k total replacement cost

Gotchas:

  • I don’t have the manual and can’t find the model # on the furnace. This is making it hard to identify things exactly and get online DIY pointers

We really would appreciate the increased comfort from stopping the vibration and likely lowering the noise, but none of this has to be fixed “right now”.

My other concern of “vibration” seems to be an unbalanced blower. The blower imbalance and resulting vibration is more of a problem for me than the control board. Right now I can hit the side of the heater to help the relay along and then its good for a few weeks (but of course its a problem just waiting to happen). One HVAC company said “it would cost at least $1000 to take out the motor and fix the vibration”. I found a good description of how to re-balance it and several good youtube videos on replacing the whole motor and blower myself if it comes to that. Its basically two screws and the whole thing slides out.

You can literally replace the whole thing if you want, but there are also easy to find new motors, blowers etc. E.g. electric motors for my furnace are < $200 (and possibly < $50 – I haven’t pulled it out yet to get the exact part #).  One estimate of a friend is something like: “It takes an experienced tech about 30 mins to change out a motor. A DIY type should allow 2-3 hours. The hardest part is if the blower is frozen to the motor shaft. Use WD40 and patience – not a bigger hammer”.   Indeed, this could perhaps become a nice summer project if only I am not too busy. And furnaces can sometimes give you head aches, especially if it’s cold outside and you need it more than ever. To make sure you don’t need furnace repair services on a winter day, save yourself some time and money and learn how to repair your furnace and keep it in a good condition.

I have used RighTimeHome Services several times. Very very good and professional, and not the expensive in town. I highly recommend their heating repair Long Beach CA. I have used this company several times with great results at a fair price:

No connection other than a satisfied customer.

Replaced my two split systems recently (2 x 2 ton ACs + 2 x 90% furnaces all TRANE) at a fraction of the cost of the larger places.