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NFT: BBI home owner’s suggestions needed

Hammer : 7/11/2019 1:02 pm
Hey guys (and gals),

I am in the market to replace my central air conditioning unit and forced hot air furnace.

Any suggestions how I should invest my money will be greatly appreciated because retirement is staring me in the face and I can’t afford to make any more of my typical mistakes.

Thanks a ton.
Frankly,  
rnargi : 7/11/2019 1:09 pm : link
everything should be decided based on your duct work. When I had to replace mine, I wanted a high efficiency, high SEER rating, etd. I was looking to spend the extra money. Luckily, I had an honest company send an honest tech who told me I could have the best stuff on the market and it wouldn't make a difference based on how my ducts were installed and their load capacity.

I suggest you do some research online, then get three estimates and see what happens.
just do what they did  
superspynyg : 7/11/2019 1:11 pm : link




actually this is a very difficult thing to answer based on your circumstances. How long till retirement? Do you plan to move? Do you need to replace right now? How big of a house?
rnargi's response is right on  
Mellowmood92 : 7/11/2019 1:38 pm : link
I know enough to be dangerous when it comes to mechanical systems, but I'm not a mechanical engineer. I don't know enough to calculate the capacity of my ductwork (supply and return), or determine the static pressure - which is largely based on your duct sizes and configuration.

So when it was time to replace my system I wanted variable speed, high efficiency everything - and I really couldn't be talked out of it. Two years later, I have a carrier infinity system - which is great, and top of the line and I have no complaints. I can monitor everything, see the energy usage, blah blah blah. However I am not saving any money from my old, oversized single-stage 20 year old Lenox system. Because.. the ductwork in my house sucks and the air doesn't get to my second floor adequately on the lower AC stages and heating levels.

Long story short, if I had a lot of trust in one of the companies I had give me a quote - I would have gone with a single stage or at most two stage system. So I wasted about $2-$3K on a system that can't perform as well during high seasons (dead winter and mid-summer), as it's designed to do.

So find a good HVAC contractor - whether you go with Carrier, Lennox, Trane whoever doesn't matter as much as the company doing your installation and recommending the proper system for your house.
One comment I will make -  
Red Dog : 7/11/2019 2:02 pm : link
stay away from Goodman products, and they also make Amana and at least one other brand. Stick with a name brand like Carrier, Trane, or York. This is the voice of experience speaking.
so how does your ductwork suck?  
BillKo : 7/11/2019 2:21 pm : link
Is it just not routed properly? Or are you talking the type of material?
air source heat pumps  
jintsjunkie : 7/11/2019 2:38 pm : link
Depending on where you live, you might be best off with air source heat pumps. They are far more efficient energy wise. I live in Maine and run a Fujitsu Halcyon with a SEER rating of 31 all year round. It keeps the 2,100 square-foot house dry and relatively cool in summer and has cut my propane bill in half (it works to minus 5 for heat, but I have only one 18K/23K unit and would need two more to actually heat the whole house). Cost? $3500, with rebate. You also could look at mini-splits, which run several indoor heads off one outside unit, but they are generally less efficient.
It's all marketing tricks  
Coach Red Beaulieu : 7/11/2019 2:40 pm : link
I "upgraded" to LED lights, electric bills go up.
RE: One comment I will make -  
section125 : 7/11/2019 2:49 pm : link
In comment 14496747 Red Dog said:
Quote:
stay away from Goodman products, and they also make Amana and at least one other brand. Stick with a name brand like Carrier, Trane, or York. This is the voice of experience speaking.


My AC guy said Lennox. Said Trane is starting to cheap out on materials especially the coils. Think he said they are foreign(Chinese?) owned now.
RE: so how does your ductwork suck?  
Mellowmood92 : 7/11/2019 3:40 pm : link
In comment 14496752 BillKo said:
Quote:
Is it just not routed properly? Or are you talking the type of material?


It's a combination of things:

#1 - undersized return air ductwork. Up until recently (and still recently) return air was an afterthought. Typically contractors would throw some sheet metal over a stud (if even that) and use the space between studs for the return air path. My house has a lack of return air volume / area. and the return air plenums are horribly sealed. Lack of return air = poor air movement and increased static pressure. Forced air heating and cooling relies on a circular supply / return path to be successful and move the air properly.

#2 - improperly sealed ductwork. Guess what - duct-tape from the 60's sucks. Go into your ceiling and see if that stuff is even still adhered to 50% of your ducts, most likely it's not. The newer duct-tape is certified by SMACNA and has a much longer life span than the older stuff. If your ducts leak, your system is losing efficiency regardless of the system.

#3 - No duct insulation. Lack of duct insulation leads to condensation and lack of efficiency. Similar to improperly sealed ductwork.

#4 - my unit is located on one side of my house, not centrally located - and in my basement. Because of the improper sizing, sealing and insulating - i lose a ton of heating and cooling by the time it reaches the other side of my house - particularly the 2nd floor. Ideally you have one unit for your first floor and second for your second floor, or your ductwork is zoned, and the unit(s) are located centrally and branch out.

In my house (2 story colonial from the mid-60's) the best way to heat and cool, is full blast to reach our comfort levels. Variable speed is GREAT for the first floor, shitty for my second floor.
RE: It's all marketing tricks  
Mellowmood92 : 7/11/2019 3:41 pm : link
In comment 14496763 Coach Red Beaulieu said:
Quote:
I "upgraded" to LED lights, electric bills go up.


Not true. LED lighting, just like variable stage mechanical equipment can save a ton when properly designed. There's also good LED lamps and really cheap shitty ones. You get what you pay for.
RE: RE: so how does your ductwork suck?  
BillKo : 7/11/2019 4:16 pm : link
In comment 14496789 Mellowmood92 said:
Quote:
In comment 14496752 BillKo said:


Quote:


Is it just not routed properly? Or are you talking the type of material?



It's a combination of things:

#1 - undersized return air ductwork. Up until recently (and still recently) return air was an afterthought. Typically contractors would throw some sheet metal over a stud (if even that) and use the space between studs for the return air path. My house has a lack of return air volume / area. and the return air plenums are horribly sealed. Lack of return air = poor air movement and increased static pressure. Forced air heating and cooling relies on a circular supply / return path to be successful and move the air properly.

#2 - improperly sealed ductwork. Guess what - duct-tape from the 60's sucks. Go into your ceiling and see if that stuff is even still adhered to 50% of your ducts, most likely it's not. The newer duct-tape is certified by SMACNA and has a much longer life span than the older stuff. If your ducts leak, your system is losing efficiency regardless of the system.

#3 - No duct insulation. Lack of duct insulation leads to condensation and lack of efficiency. Similar to improperly sealed ductwork.

#4 - my unit is located on one side of my house, not centrally located - and in my basement. Because of the improper sizing, sealing and insulating - i lose a ton of heating and cooling by the time it reaches the other side of my house - particularly the 2nd floor. Ideally you have one unit for your first floor and second for your second floor, or your ductwork is zoned, and the unit(s) are located centrally and branch out.

In my house (2 story colonial from the mid-60's) the best way to heat and cool, is full blast to reach our comfort levels. Variable speed is GREAT for the first floor, shitty for my second floor.


Sounds exactly like my house, were the upstairs is considerably warmer.

I always thought it had to do with the power of the forced air, but I think I have some of the pitfalls you mentioned.

That was really good.
RE: RE: RE: so how does your ductwork suck?  
Mellowmood92 : 7/11/2019 4:35 pm : link
In comment 14496808 BillKo said:
Quote:
In comment 14496789 Mellowmood92 said:


Quote:


In comment 14496752 BillKo said:


Quote:


Is it just not routed properly? Or are you talking the type of material?



It's a combination of things:

#1 - undersized return air ductwork. Up until recently (and still recently) return air was an afterthought. Typically contractors would throw some sheet metal over a stud (if even that) and use the space between studs for the return air path. My house has a lack of return air volume / area. and the return air plenums are horribly sealed. Lack of return air = poor air movement and increased static pressure. Forced air heating and cooling relies on a circular supply / return path to be successful and move the air properly.

#2 - improperly sealed ductwork. Guess what - duct-tape from the 60's sucks. Go into your ceiling and see if that stuff is even still adhered to 50% of your ducts, most likely it's not. The newer duct-tape is certified by SMACNA and has a much longer life span than the older stuff. If your ducts leak, your system is losing efficiency regardless of the system.

#3 - No duct insulation. Lack of duct insulation leads to condensation and lack of efficiency. Similar to improperly sealed ductwork.

#4 - my unit is located on one side of my house, not centrally located - and in my basement. Because of the improper sizing, sealing and insulating - i lose a ton of heating and cooling by the time it reaches the other side of my house - particularly the 2nd floor. Ideally you have one unit for your first floor and second for your second floor, or your ductwork is zoned, and the unit(s) are located centrally and branch out.

In my house (2 story colonial from the mid-60's) the best way to heat and cool, is full blast to reach our comfort levels. Variable speed is GREAT for the first floor, shitty for my second floor.



Sounds exactly like my house, were the upstairs is considerably warmer.

I always thought it had to do with the power of the forced air, but I think I have some of the pitfalls you mentioned.

That was really good.


Bill - you can try a couple of things that might help. Generally a 2-3 degree spread from your 1st floor to 2nd floor is normal - because heat rises.. although my upstairs is cold in the winter and hot in the summer. If you have the ability, run your fan continuously at night during the middle of summer. Although the cooling may not always be running, it'll help keep your air moving, and will keep it cooler upstairs. Only do this at night though during the hours you're sleeping and want it cooler because you don't want to burn out your fan.

If you have stacked grilles, same location on the 1st and 2nd floor - close the first floor grill - particularly if it's on the far end of your house. Don't do this too much, maybe 2 grilles at most on the first floor - but this is a basically a poor man's damper / zoning.

Attic insulation and too many ceiling penetrations in your 2nd floor ceiling can cause big issues as well - particularly if your attic is unheated / not cooled. So if you have a bunch of recessed lighting and ceiling fans in your attic, you're penetrating the air barrier a bunch as well - and if you don't have really good attic floor insulation (like R25), you're going to experience a lot of heat / cooling loss through your ceiling.
A number of years ago I installed a new furnace and central A/C  
Marty in Albany : 7/11/2019 4:37 pm : link
I already had air ducts in the house.

I called three of the best firms in my area for estimates.
They each provided me with fairly detailed written estimates that showed what they would do and what equipment would be installed.

I made my selection and have been happy for the last 9-10 years.
^^ I meant 2nd floor ceiling.  
Mellowmood92 : 7/11/2019 4:37 pm : link
And by fan, i mean the fan on your air handler
When they come to your house, don't be afraid to ask questions  
Marty in Albany : 7/11/2019 4:40 pm : link
Aside from a better understanding of the installation you will be a better judge of the quality and professionalism of the folks doing the work.
Thanks for the tips and pointers  
Hammer : 7/12/2019 9:21 am : link
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