Please help me with this furnace quote

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Old 10-08-07, 10:08 PM
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Please help me with this furnace quote

The heat exchanger has cracked on my 14-year-old natural gas furnace. (bummer, but it was a cheap contractor grade unit) Today the “furnace salesman” came to visit and included some things in his bid that seem pretty expensive for what I’m getting. Two things stood out like a sore thumb.

The first is a charge of $430 to replace the “B vent” I’ve never heard of a “B” vent before and he said that the vent from the furnace to the stack has to be replaced per national code. The vent in question is at most 3 feet long and is visually in perfect condition. He said that a new double walled vent had to be installed. The furnace is in a dedicated upstairs furnace room with outside combustion air. So if the old vent has to be replaced due to code changes fine, but is $430 out of line?

The second charge is $300 for a new pigtail from the hard gas line to the furnace. He said that replacing that was a Utah code. The connection is one of those flexible lines that won’t break if there is an earthquake and the furnace tips over. (Like that could even happen <lol>) Again if its code OK but $300 to install a $25 flex line seems a bit excessive.

The total bid was $2,900 for a Carrier 585STA070 (70 K BTU) Labor was $950
The other bid I have is $3,400 for a Trane G50 but there was no breakdown on the individual parts price.



TIA


Here are the answers to the pertinent questions from the forum stickies.

1. In which area you live and ambient temperatures you usually experience.

Utah SLC Area - winter temps go to 0 on really cold nights

2. House style and construction details.

Two story with 2x6 exterior walls stuffed with the best insulation R value available. I don't remember the R value number but its as good as I could get when the house was built in 1993. Total square footage is 2500. This furnace heats the 1000 square foot upstairs

3. Make, model and age of equipment related to the problem.

The upstairs furnace has failed. It is a 70K output unit topped with a 2 ton A/C unit. We were happy with its performance.

4. Fuel type.

Natural Gas

5. Water temperature and pressures of boiler systems.

N/A

6. What type of zoning do you have with your boiler system.

N/A

7. Thermostat type.

Electronic Automatic Set Back

8. Anything else that would be useful. No detail is to small.

The furnace is an updraft model. All of the bedrooms are upstairs and the heat is only run in the mornings to make things comfortable for getting ready for work. My estimate is that 30% of the gas is used by the upstairs furnace. (that's probably a bit high) Based on my calculations using the gas bills from last year going from an 80% to a 95% efficient furnace will save $50/year. I am a very advanced DIY'er and while I'm not going to do it myself, the thought did cross my mind.
 
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  #2  
Old 10-09-07, 01:16 PM
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The "b" vent is the steel vent pipe that goes up through the roof. In a house as new as yours, I would really question him as to why it needs to be replaced, as I'd assume it is already double wall pipe.

Is Salt Lake City in a designated high risk zone for earthquakes? Connecting gas furnaces with pigtails between the furnace and rigid gas piping is fairly common everywhere, not just in earthquake prone areas, but the price seems VERY high.

I'd get two more quotes before I committed to this contractor. If you want to stay with this contractor, I'd ask him to show you the code IN WRITING where these changes are mandated.

Are you going to retain the 14 year old AC system, or have you thought about replacing it out along with the furnace?
 
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Old 10-09-07, 04:20 PM
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The first is a charge of $430 to replace the “B vent” I’ve never heard of a “B” vent before and he said that the vent from the furnace to the stack has to be replaced per national code. The vent in question is at most 3 feet long and is visually in perfect condition. He said that a new double walled vent had to be installed. The furnace is in a dedicated upstairs furnace room with outside combustion air. So if the old vent has to be replaced due to code changes fine, but is $430 out of line?
WOW! that's way out of line.

National code? We don't use B-Vent from furnace to the main stack. Just the main stack on the way up to the roof is B-Vent.. As said, I'd ask to see this in print.

The second charge is $300 for a new pigtail from the hard gas line to the furnace. He said that replacing that was a Utah code. The connection is one of those flexible lines that won’t break if there is an earthquake and the furnace tips over. (Like that could even happen ) Again if its code OK but $300 to install a $25 flex line seems a bit excessive.
Again, I'd ask to see this in print.. I know here in Minnesota, code does NOT permit flex line to be used between the gas line and furnace. Flex line has a high chance of being "cut" by the housing it goes though to get to the gas valve.

Also, if there was to be an earth quake, the line is going to break one way or another.

The total bid was $2,900 for a Carrier 585STA070 (70 K BTU) Labor was $950
The other bid I have is $3,400 for a Trane G50 but there was no breakdown on the individual parts price.

On the G50, that is not a Trane.. It's a Lennox.

tell you the truth, 70,000 is A LOT of heat to just to heat the upstairs. You already got heat going uptstairs from your main floor heating.. I'd lean towards like 45,000.

Where is this furnace sitting? Attic or room or basement?
 
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Old 10-09-07, 05:34 PM
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The B-vent to the stack may very well be local code; it is in my area.

The prices for the individual parts (B-vent and flexible gas line) are outrageous to me but the overall cost is probably not too high.
 
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Old 10-09-07, 05:45 PM
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Code?

To me the word "code" is always a red flag. There is a National Fuel Gas Code BUT in order for it to be applicable, there has to be some kind of official local acceptance. The prices for the B-Vent & the flex line are out of this world but as Furd said, the overall price does not seem out of line.
I too suggest getting a couple of more bids & ask to see the "code".
 
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Old 10-09-07, 10:08 PM
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Thanks guys, a virtual six pack to all

The more I thought about this guys bid the more I questioned it, so I called one more company. Their bid was about what this guys bid would have been minus the crazy charges for the B vent, pig tail, discounts for paying cash, and signing the contract while the salesman is in the house. (I know I have three days after signing a contract like that to change my mind, but it makes me when they pull that on me.) I think the guy was trying to pad his bid. (FYI he works for a large national chain)

So the final bid is $2K and change for a 70K Carrier single stage 80% efficient furnace installed with a new thermostat. The company is local and has been in business for long as I can remember, least 40 years. They're smart because the downstairs furnace and A/C won't last forever and if they treat me right I'll call them for bids on those jobs. That national chain won't be getting another opportunity to sell to me.


Beachboy
Are you going to retain the 14 year old AC system, or have you thought about replacing it out along with the furnace?
The AC is about 8 years old and according to all of the salesmen its in good shape. Besides Mr. Wallet has already had several heart attacks when I showed him the bill he has to pay

Jay
On the G50, that is not a Trane.. It's a Lennox.
You are right, my bad memory.

tell you the truth, 70,000 is A LOT of heat to just to heat the upstairs. You already got heat going uptstairs from your main floor heating.. I'd lean towards like 45,000.
All of the salesmen said basically the same thing, but they also said that the extra blower capacity was needed for the AC. And the upstairs AC gets a workout in the summer months.


Again virtual beers to all. Your answers really helped me confirm that the local shop is the right company to do the job.
 
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Old 10-09-07, 10:31 PM
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How many ton is the A/C upstairs?
 
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Old 10-09-07, 11:03 PM
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If your actual heating needs are considerably less that the maximum output of the necessary furnace then I strongly urge you to go with the two-stage heat and variable speed blower. It will add about $900 to the cost but it will repay you in comfort, fuel saved and wear and tear on the equipment.
 
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Old 10-10-07, 08:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Jay11J View Post
How many ton is the A/C upstairs?
The upstairs AC is 2 tons. And the summer months are quite warm with temps in the high 90's / low 100's for days on end. All of the bedrooms are upstairs so night time comfort in the summer is the most important of all.
 
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Old 10-10-07, 09:03 AM
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Originally Posted by furd View Post
If your actual heating needs are considerably less that the maximum output of the necessary furnace then I strongly urge you to go with the two-stage heat and variable speed blower. It will add about $900 to the cost but it will repay you in comfort, fuel saved and wear and tear on the equipment.
I thought about a two stage furnace, but decided not to go that way. Because the upstairs is only used for sleeping the heat is turned off for 90% of the day. It turns on just before our alarms so it is comfortable for showers and getting ready for work. Then after 2 hours it's set back to 60 until the next morning. During the day when the downstairs furnace is, and the heat is rising, the upstairs unit seldom if ever runs. At night during the cold it will run some when the downstairs unit is off. But then I'm asleep and usually don't hear it The furnace is installed in a dedicated upstairs furnace room that is insulated and sealed off from the rest of the house. When the current unit is running you can hear the air moving, but not the unit itself, and it is nothing special.

Now the downstairs furnace is another story. When that one gives out I can probably justify having a 2 stage, variable blower, high efficiency unit installed.
 
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Old 10-10-07, 12:38 PM
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I'd go with the smaller 45k, it will move more than enough air for your A/C needs.

As little it runs, not point of spending extra money on extra BTU, and more gas useage on the 70k.
 
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Old 10-11-07, 12:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Jay11J View Post
I know here in Minnesota, code does NOT permit flex line to be used between the gas line and furnace. Flex line has a high chance of being "cut" by the housing it goes though to get to the gas valve.

Here in Kansas, flex is permitted, but a short section of black iron pipe must be run from the gas valve out through the side of the furnace, THEN the flex can be attached. This is supposed to lessen the risk of the furnace cabinet cutting the flex. Yes, I wish the installers would go back with hard piping like was done on my original furnace installation, but evidently its too time consuming. I just wish my particular installer hadn't installed an 18" flex line, where only 6" or so was needed, just because the 18" was the only one he had on the truck.
 
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