Anyone know a source for good advice?

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Old 01-26-04, 09:41 PM
J
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Anyone know a source for good advice?

Hi,

Our son and daughter-in-law, just out of school, have just bought a small (<2000 sq ft) ranch-style house in southern California, built in the 70s. The furnace doesn't seem to make the place warm enough, so they called a furnace repair company to see what should be done. They were told they need a new furnace, a new central air-conditioner, and all new ducting because their duct work has asbestos. It will cost a fortune! We've never seen the house so we can't judge whether they've been given accurate information. I have two questions for any of you who may be able to offer advice: #1 - Would a heat pump work to both heat and cool in Orange County,CA? and #2 - is there any way we can advise the kids how to choose/judge a heating and air conditioning company? Ratings, professional organizations, etc.? We'd hate to see them get into a mess. Thanks for whatever thoughts you have.
 
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Old 01-27-04, 12:20 AM
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I would suggest that they ask the furnace repair company to explain exactly why a new system is needed - furnace, a/c, ducting etc. Ask the repair company to also show them the problem(s). Take photos if possible and post along with the explanations given by the company and I think people on this forum can help.

Without knowing the faults it is hard to see why they would need a complete new system like this.

Also another suggestion - call in a few more companies and see what they say.
 
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Old 01-27-04, 09:56 AM
binford
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A complete new system will always fix the problem, hell take your car to the dealer and they will sell you a new one complete with a warranty. There ceilings might have been spray with asbestos and some got into the duct openings. Get several bids. the old furnace should be more than big enough to heat the house. check the filter.
 
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Old 01-27-04, 05:09 PM
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Hello again,

Thanks for the advice. I want to help the kids, but I know so little on this topic. I don't understand the asbestos problem yet myself, but according to the first company, workers will have to go in with Hazmat suits to remove the existing ductwork. That certainly sounds expensive. I'll ask my son to take some photos of the ducts and the furnace that's there now. Even if they do need a whole new system, would a heat pump save them money in the long run, rather than a gas furnace and air-conditioner? I'll have them call several companies as you suggested, but I want them to have some idea what they should look for, and I don't even know if a heat pump works in an area where temperatures are moderate all year.

I appreciate your help.

Johanna
 
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Old 01-27-04, 07:34 PM
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Asbestos is a material good at resisting heat and so was used in many products like buildings and brake pads until they found out that breathing the dust can cause terminal lung problems and cancer. So now they don't use it anymore and either leave it in the buildings if concealed or take it out while wearing protective gear. As to how it ended up in the ducts I have no idea - assuming that it is really there.

As for heat pumps - given the cost of electricity here in CA I would have thought Natural gas heating would be the best option. To see if the furnace is undersized you need to do what is called a heat load calculation. You can get someone to do this for you or buy the software (I think I saw HVAC-calc selling for around $40 for homeowners to buy and do their own heat load calcs).

Tip for your kiids - as new homeowners the best things they can do is to get plenty of reading metarials and try to understand how everything in the house works. That way they can be in control of what is done on the house.

The reason for low heat from the furnace could be something simple as suggested earlier like a dirty filter or air flow not correctly balanced. Many of these can be fixed by the average homeowner.
 
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Old 01-27-04, 09:02 PM
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Here is that program that Rav was talking about..

http://www.hvaccomputer.com/main.asp

It will be well $49 spent for comfort, and you will know if the dealer has figured the right sized system.

As for heat pump, it should be a good system to have in CA area since you don't have lot of days below freezing.

I would go to http://www.warmair.com/html/fuel_cost_comparisons.htm

and see what would be the cheaper route to go.. Gas or Heat Pump.

http://www.warmair.com itself is a good sight to look at things, and for them to read.

Like the other guys has said, get a few bids.
 
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Old 01-28-04, 08:07 AM
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To compare fuel cost there you want to go to www.warmair.net
to check for cost.
South Ca . I dont think a heat pump is best for you there could be.
Go for just A/C and strip heaters for electric or a gas unit and A/C.
Like here a heat pump dont pay the cold is to short. Put the $$$ in the bank

Now asbestos in a 1970s home. Just dont know not there.
But I know at that time it was gone . We did not use it and you couldnt buy it anyway. Id sure look into this.

Get 3 bids for this job for sure. Call the BBB there and talk to them. Get a company that has been there a longtime. Ask around there by them on who they use for the heat and cool of the home. ED
 
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Old 01-28-04, 07:59 PM
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Smile

Thanks everyone. You all certainly gave me lots of ideas on what we should check out and what we should question. The web sites are very helpful. I'll pass the information on to the kids. Especially glad to know the info about a heat pump not being the best thing for southern California. Someone I talked to here steered me wrong on that, so I won't even have my son look into it. If anything else comes up about the asbestos thing I may post again for your opinions, and maybe see if we can get a photo of the ducts. Thanks again. I have a feeling you guys may have saved them a lot.

Johanna
 
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