One of the burners in my furnace is back-firing... fix or replace?

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  #1  
Old 11-27-13, 09:30 AM
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Unhappy One of the burners in my furnace is back-firing... fix or replace?

One of the burners in my furnace is back-firing.
I recently bought this home and it's around 20 years old.
There are 4 burners in this furnace and 2nd or 3rd from left back fires few times before it finally starts burning.
When it back fires, it makes loud noise against the metal cover like someone's banging on it.
Is this serviceable or time to replace?
thanks for comments.
 
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  #2  
Old 11-27-13, 10:33 AM
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It could be a matter of cleaning of the burners. If you are handy, I'd give that a try. Sometimes the cross overs between can get lint on them. If it still does it after that, might be time to consider calling a pro in. It's going to get worse before it heals itself.
 
  #3  
Old 11-27-13, 11:03 AM
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Thanks for comments.
How to clean and what to use?
thanks
 
  #4  
Old 11-27-13, 02:15 PM
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Different brands have unique assemblies. Ideally it's best to remove each one and clean and inspect. If you are able to access them, a steel brush and compressed air should suffice. I always number the burners before removal with a pencil and put back in order. If you can't get them out, try just compressed air, taking care if you have a hot surface ignitor. What you have needs immediate attention.
 
  #5  
Old 11-27-13, 02:40 PM
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I think it does have hot surface ignitor.
I see a small square/rectangle surface that's glowing yellow all the time.

I'll buy an air compressor soon but currently, I have an electric leaf blower that may clean some dirt out?
I also have air dusting can somewhere.
thanks
 
  #6  
Old 11-27-13, 02:47 PM
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Use the dust can. The cost of an air compressor is comparable to a service call IMO. Just be careful around the ignitor. They are very fragile.
 
  #7  
Old 11-27-13, 03:49 PM
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For the sake of my peace of mind, I do have to add, if a leaf blower is even a thought, it's time to call a repairman. I wish you well, but some things are out of our realm and we have to pay someone that knows what they are doing. Do not ignore this, it could end up badly.
 
  #8  
Old 11-29-13, 06:26 AM
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Use a straightened paper clip to poke through each of the orifices in the burner unit. But if you cannot access the orifices or you cannot do it without much force then you should get a professional in to do it. Tilt and tap the burner unit to get dust and rust inside to fall out the opening that fits onto the gas supply manifold. (If you tilt it so much that dust could fall out the orifices, you'll need to repoke the orifices in case some reclogged.)

If you don't know where the orifices are, then observe the flame while the furnace is operating. It's actually a lot of little flames, one coming from each (unclogged) orifice.

On some models of furnaces the burners will lift and slide out although you may have to unscrew a piece of metal paneling. Out of the furnace the burners are easier to clean.

One cause of backfiring upon startup is having the orifices nearest the ignitor clogged. Then the burner won't start until enough gas comes out of the further orifices and drifts over to the ignitor or the flames on an adjacent burner. By the time the flame catches there could be lots of unburned gas in there and you get a loud pop which can cause damage if it happens repeatedly.
 

Last edited by AllanJ; 11-29-13 at 06:43 AM.
  #9  
Old 12-10-13, 08:41 AM
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Cleaning/inspecting guys coming today...

I have furnace cleaning guys coming today.
Hopefully, that'll resolve the issue or at least they'll let me know what the fix is.

I bought a $119 value furnace cleaning and inspection deal on local groupon kinda thingy for cheap.
 
  #10  
Old 12-10-13, 09:10 AM
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Please post back and let others know what they found. Might be helpful for others in the future.
 
  #11  
Old 12-10-13, 02:01 PM
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remove all of them but mark the one that blows out...wire brush the openings on the tracks on the length of it.
 
  #12  
Old 12-11-13, 10:56 AM
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Had to reschedule for next week as the guys didn't finish the job before me on time and we are not home when they have time.
 
  #13  
Old 12-16-13, 12:54 PM
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Okay here is the update and basically I just wasted money on cleaning as they didn't do anything after discovering that the heat exchangers (burners) have cracks.
They didn't even turn the furnace back on due to safety concerns.
The loud bang was due to the heated air escaping out through the cracks and igniting outside.

So basically, it's a huge paper weight now and need replacement.
It's cold in Denver but not as bad as last week so space heaters can help for one or two days.

He gave estimate of over $3k to replace the furnace with the cheapest furnace (80% efficient 90,000 BTU) he has.
I'm checking if I can find something more economical.
Anyone know where to look in Denver/Lakewood area?
Thanks
 
  #14  
Old 12-16-13, 12:57 PM
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Look up Tom Martino's Referral List on google. I'd trust anyone that's on them.
 
  #16  
Old 12-16-13, 01:12 PM
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Great! I've seen his infomercial in TV.
Thanks for the link.

Found this link for $1776 installed so it'll be around $2k after taxes.
NEW 80% BRYANT Furnace Replacement for $1,776 Installed

I'll check more in there.
 
  #17  
Old 12-16-13, 01:14 PM
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If a customer calls his radio show with a complaint from someone on his list, he calls them and gets answers and fires them if they screwed up.
 
  #18  
Old 12-16-13, 03:39 PM
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I see but how come it has F BBB rating but 50+ good reviews on Tom Martino's site?
Ben Franklin Electric Inc Business Review in Lakewood, CO - Serving Denver/Boulder BBB
The BBB site has 7 complains against them.
Did they start doing good job since being on Tom Martino's site?
 
  #19  
Old 12-16-13, 03:45 PM
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As I recall there are 2 Ben Franklin in Denver. One was bought out by a Canadian corporation and went to hell on customer service. I'd call the place and ask them that. I've heard Tom slam the other Ben's. Call the one on the referral list and call others too. I listen to him almost every day and he won't put up with someone that gives his list a bad name.
 
  #20  
Old 12-17-13, 08:00 AM
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Question I don't see cracks... is the inspection guy on cracks?

I came back from work and checked with wife what the guy said.
She said, he opened the cover and the inside plate and didn't do anything else.
He showed inside of each chamber with flashlight and said they have cracks and said need replacement.
Unless I'm looking in different area, I don't see cracks in there.
There are small rust spots but no cracks anywhere inside.

Those are factory cut opening in each chamber.
Looks like this guy is trying to replace a working furnace.

I've attached few pictures here of the burners 1, 2 and 3. Burners 4 and 5 are hard to focus inside.
The opening is on the other side of the chamber so it's hard to take a picture but you should get the idea.
I don't think they are cracks. What you think?




 
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  #21  
Old 12-17-13, 09:50 AM
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I believe those are welded seams that you are looking at. Cracks usually form up higher in the hx and maybe a flashlight and an inspection mirror could be used. I'd get a second opinion if that's what he pointed out. Some companies employ a camera to inspect and then you can see for yourself.
 
  #22  
Old 12-17-13, 11:14 AM
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IMO, I don't see how he could properly inspect the hx without removing the burners.
 
  #23  
Old 12-18-13, 07:40 AM
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Yes the ones I highlighted are not cracks.
I took a small mirror and with more peeking, found the cracks.
They are in high center area on the left wall of at least two chambers.
So the guy was right but his replacement costs are too high.
I have another company coming to look at it and give a replacement quote today.
 
  #24  
Old 12-18-13, 12:16 PM
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Update...
Technician was supposed to come alone as the owner said he can't make it during this time.
But both came. I asked owner that he mentioned he can't make it today and he said that he was in a nearby appointment that finished sooner.
Anyways, technician also showed up few minutes later.
The furnace was completely open as I didn't put back the plate and cover since Monday when the 1st guy came.

I showed them the cracks and tech took the tube camera thingy out and confirmed there are cracks in 3 chambers.
He quoted $3k for 80% efficient furnace of 90k btu and $95 service call if I don't buy furnace.
I told them they never mentioned service call when I talked yesterday and also that's way too high for something that they didn't have fix anything.
The owner said, "That's for both of our time to come down here."

Did I ask both of them to come? No.
Anyways, I said, I'll discuss and call them if we decide but I'm not giving business to a company who doesn't say anything about price before coming in and then charges $95 for peeking in an open furnace for less than 2 minutes.
 
  #25  
Old 12-18-13, 01:09 PM
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Was that a company from the referral list? Seems a little steep for that short of time, but they have to charge to pay for the camera, I guess. Most companies offer to waive the service call if you go with them. Maybe get a couple more bids and see if they are in the ballpark.
 
  #26  
Old 12-18-13, 01:13 PM
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Also, before they threw out a dollar number to replace, they should have spent some time to examine duct work, sq footage of the house to see if you really needed 90,000 btu.
 
  #27  
Old 12-18-13, 01:20 PM
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Angry

tinmantu,
Existing heater is 95k btu so I think that's what they looked at for replacement.

A lot of companies here offer free service call to promote business and get customer base.
Plus I checked several local companies and even those who charge are around $39 to $59, some are even $29 and that involves more work to figure out the problem.
Not like in my case where I already told them there is crack and furnace need replacement.
When I told him that, he said he'll come and take a look and give quote for replacement.
Never mentioned service call fee.
Even for regular service call, $95 is way too high.

I'm not expecting free service call but had they mentioned up front, it won't be a surprise as well as if they told me it'll be $95, I'd have called other ones that are $39.

I already am out $150 with these two service calls without any work.
The 1st guy was a half the cost of this one and he did have to open furnace, plates and check in detail unlike the guy today as everything was open for him to see.
If they don't work with me, there will be a "nice" long review in google, yelp and other local sites.
 
  #28  
Old 12-18-13, 02:06 PM
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Did you give York a call to see if the heat exchanger is still covered under warranty? I was thinking most furnaces have a 20 year warranty on the heat exchanger, and maybe you might get lucky and get it replaced for free, or at least just paying the labor costs.
 
  #29  
Old 12-18-13, 02:17 PM
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The house was built in 1993.
The furnace is at least few years older and it's already end of 2013 so not sure if that will work plus I'm not original owner.
Hmm... but I'll check.
thanks
 
  #30  
Old 12-18-13, 06:23 PM
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Does anyone know where the serial number is on this furnace?
I called York and they need serial number.
There are few numbers on a sticker but they don't look like serial number.
 
  #31  
Old 12-18-13, 07:54 PM
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When you get quotes for replacement, the furnace should be sized based on the output capacity, not the input capacity.

95k @ 80% = 76k btu out

An 80k 90% eff furnace could replace it.

Now, if built well, your 20 year old home may need 40-60,000 output BTUs unless it's over 2500 sq ft. Ideally a heat load calculation should be done. 90k is for a larger house.

As for cost:

$3k is a lot for a builder's basic 80% efficient unit, but not too much for a good furnace.


If you think that you'll be in the house for a while, spend the extra $500-$800 and get a high efficiency furnace. You'll be stuck with whatever you get for the next 15-20 years, and the price of gas will probably increase faster than inflation. (it's cheap now, but won't be forever)

Reasons:

- Payback usually 5 years or less. Total life-cycle cost of the mid efficiency furnace is greater than that of high eff unit
- Sealed combustion ->High eff if installed right takes its combustion air from outside. Sealed combustion makes the furnace quieter, safer, and reduces or eliminates the need for a humidifier. The air used by a regular furnace gets replaced with cold, dry outdoor air which has to be heated and humidified
- They have the same parts as 80% eff units to go bad and are equally reliable. Anyone who tells you otherwise isn't worth doing business with

-Mid efficiency furnaces are pretty much obsolete in colder climates. They were taken off the market in Canada 3 years ago and probably won't be available in the US for that much longer. Any contractor who offers to install one is just trying to make a quick buck.


Changing a furnace is a major home renovation -> you should consider more than the initial cost.
 

Last edited by user 10; 12-18-13 at 08:21 PM.
  #32  
Old 12-18-13, 08:14 PM
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Existing heater is 95k btu so I think that's what they looked at for replacement.

A lot of companies here offer free service call to promote business and get customer base.
Plus I checked several local companies and even those who charge are around $39 to $59, some are even $29 and that involves more work to figure out the problem.
Not like in my case where I already told them there is crack and furnace need replacement.
When I told him that, he said he'll come and take a look and give quote for replacement.
Never mentioned service call fee.
Even for regular service call, $95 is way too high.

I'm not expecting free service call but had they mentioned up front, it won't be a surprise as well as if they told me it'll be $95, I'd have called other ones that are $39.
You have got to be kidding.

In this day and age, it's impossible for a business to charge $39 for a trip and diagnostics -> I don't think that would even cover 1 hour of skilled work, let alone an hour gas, insurance, a truck stocked with parts, office rent/staff, etc.

I'm sure you could get a quote from another company for free, knowing that it's cracked.
 
  #33  
Old 12-19-13, 08:08 AM
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Muggle,
Thanks for efficiency information but from what I calculated, it's not cost effective.
There is at least $1200+ difference in the price for high efficiency vs 80%.
My gas bill is less than $40 per month including hot water so 15% savings is only $6 per month even if whole bill is applied just for furnace.
= $72 per year (but realistically, it's only 7 months cold so $42)
= $720 in 10 years (7 months $420)
= $1440 in 20 years (7 months $840)
So not worth it... I may not even stay 10 years in this place.

And I'm not kidding about the service charge.
If you eat a sandwich and I charge you $100 after you ate, how do you justify that?
I have to tell you before you eat that the sandwich costs $100.
Then it's your choice to eat that or go somewhere else and pay $5.

I already had a guy come on Monday and told me it's cracked and he gave me a quote of $4k.

So I already knew it was cracked before this 2nd company came in.
It was not a call to come and find out what's wrong but to get a replacement quote.
I had everything open and showed them the cracks with flashlight.

I told the guy on the phone the day before that I see cracks in two chambers so this is not repairable and need a replacement quote.
He said, "I'll come and take a look and give replacement quote".
He never mentioned service fee of $95 on the phone.

Anyways, update on one more company...
Okay after that mess, I called another company referred by my plumber.
He came for size measurement and gave a very good quote of $1.5k + permit/admin fees for a Goodman 80% 90,000 BTU furnace.
I know it's not as expensive as the 310AAV Bryant the 1st guy quoted that goes for around $1100.
The Goodman is going for $645 and has 10 year replacement and lifetime on heat exchanger.
https://www.acwholesalers.com/Goodma...SVgMgodDHkAKw#

From what I read online, Goodman is same as Amana or Bryant so should not be a problem honoring warranty.
This company is licensed/insured and all that so hopefully, it'll work out.
Any bad experience with Goodman?
or 80% is a no no?
My house is pretty small, less than 2400 sq. ft. including 600 sq. ft unfinished basement so not much heat needed down there.
So 72k btu (80% of 90,000) should be enough.
Thanks for comments.
 
  #34  
Old 12-19-13, 10:05 AM
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The price premium for high efficiency may be greater in your area if few are sold where you are.

Have you seen a January or February gas bill yet? $40 is difficult to believe unless almost the entire winter is spent well above freezing.

How cold does it get where you are?

How do you know 90k is the right size; generally the smaller the furnace is, the more comfortable the house will be provided that it can keep up on the coldest night of the year. Downsize if it warms the house up quick and doesn't ever run continuously.*


If you get get the goodman, be sure to get a factory 10 year parts and labour warranty. Amana is the same manufacturer as goodman but if the model number starts with an A, it has a stainless steel heat exchanger and better components than the goodman.

Always get the full model number so you know exactly what you're getting. Also, inquire about required duct transitions, filters, etc.
 
  #35  
Old 12-19-13, 10:11 AM
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Goodman and Amana are sister companies. Have nothing to do with Bryant to my knowledge. Bryant is higher quality IMO. A properly installed Goodman may serve you well. The problem is that a lot of people can buy them without credentials and hack them in, only to walk away and disappear when you need them. Bryant holds their dealers to standards.
 
  #36  
Old 12-19-13, 10:36 AM
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Okay, thanks for info.
I don't have details on the exact unit except that the HVAC guy said he'll install something that's rated 10% more than what's there and no need to do any work on the vents/ducts as nothing different is required for the new furnace.
For efficient one, he said that there will be more work like extra intake, condensation line and few other things I don't remember and it won't be done tomorrow.

My old heater is York Stellar 95,000 btu but there is no model information so not sure.
Looks like it was repaired before and they took the model/serial information.
So the replacement around what the original is should be okay.

The HVAC guy said he has account with Goodman so it'll be quicker to get a Goodman furnace.
I don't have heating and he can install it tomorrow morning so I said let's do it.
I did ask to get a furnace with warranty and so that's should be fine.

I'm in Denver, CO, so it does get cold but this year, it is not that cold except few weeks ago when it went below 0 for a week. My old heater worked fine and it never ran all night to maintain 68 degrees. I mean it ran most of the time but not continuously all night but it was -13 outside plus windchill one of those days.
I just moved in a month ago so only have November's bill and it's less than $30 for electricity and less than $40 for gas that includes gas water heater as well as a $6.50 gas service fee so basically, it's not even $34.
In Jan/Feb, I don't expect it to go over the double and still not worth the upgrade price.

This house has windows on south side and gets pretty warm during the day.
I saw it was 71 inside without heater in the afternoon when it was not even 48 degrees outside.
 
  #37  
Old 12-19-13, 06:28 PM
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Okay - good luck.

Furnaces these days need a 16x25 filter opening to get proper airflow - if your filter is smaller than that, make sure he alters the return air drop tomorrow.

As for gas costs, your current bills might be estimates - they may not read the meter every month
 
  #38  
Old 12-20-13, 09:31 AM
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Thanks.
I mentioned him about the filter size and he said it's is big enough for proper air flow.
I haven't measured it though.
The new furnace is smaller than the old but rated at 100,000 btu.
They are still installing.
I'll update more later.
 
  #39  
Old 12-20-13, 11:57 AM
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Thumbs up Finally heat is on...

Okay, finally heat is on.
Right on time as it is getting pretty cold today.
Inside temperature was 52 and outside is 20.
Needed heat quick so filing permit will have to wait till next week.
The filter size is 16x25 as they put new filter of that size.

Anyways, this guy was pretty frank about the furnace price when I asked.
He usually gets this Goodman 100,000 BTU for around $425 but he said they were out of stock so had to buy another model or from another dealer so was around $600.

So even with that, it's around $800 for installation.
It took them around 4 hours but actual work was not even 3 hours.
I wonder why install charge is so high on these furnaces and I'm going by the cheapest quote I got.
I don't even want to talk about other quotes of $3k and $4k.
What's your thought?
Had I bought the furnace myself, would the installation cost still be $800?
 
  #40  
Old 12-20-13, 12:54 PM
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Why do Contractors Charge so Much? | Energy Air, Inc. Air Conditioning and Heating Orlando, FL Plus if you bought and installed yourself, you would have no factory warranty and no one to call when it breaks down.
 
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