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Where to purchase new HVAC? (Now w/ pics)
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(self-titled) semi-posting lurker
Minor Deity
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Ok, we had estimate number one today, this was someone from a company that contracts with HD -- well, we don't actually have the estimate yet, he's going to email me with three options (the classic low-, mid-, and high-end options with a goal of selling the middle one?) But he gave me lots of info and lots to think about. He was pushing Rheem or Lennox, and he said we need duct work (the ducts you can see in the basement). He said another company might come in and just replace the HVAC units themselves and not do anything to the existing ductwork, and that the end result of that would be high bills because the heated or cooled air isn't getting where it needs to be.

I suspect he's right about that. The ducts are in terrible shape, and they kind of look like they've been added to, altered and rigged together over the years...

So, we'll see what his estimate/quote looks like.

A guy from the local company is coming tomorrow, so I'll see what he has to say. And I have someone from Lowes coming on Monday. And then I'll decide if I want to contact any other companies.

I'm pretty skeptical of HD and Lowes based on Steve's comments above. It will be interesting to see the actual numbers.

Good grief this is exhausting!


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My piano recordings at Box.Net: https://app.box.com/s/j4rgyhn72uvluemg1m6u

 
Posts: 11976 | Location: not in Japan any more | Registered: 20 April 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Has Achieved Nirvana
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More random thoughts and questions (I do this a lot, bear with me).

My gut reaction is that this guy might be selling you a bill of goods.

1) Do you know what the previous utility bills were? Can you find out?

2) Do you know the SEER rating of your current equipment? I'm guessing it's relatively inefficient and that if you replace the old equipment with Steve's recommended SEER 13 it will bring down the utility cost. And the guy could easily say, "See? All the extra cost for duct work was worth it!" and there'd be no way to prove if the duct re-work had anything to do with it.

3) I know you want to avoid a midsummer outage, but is it worth living there for a season to see if you actually have issues with uneven heating and cooling? (This is an extension of the classic gardener's advice to wait at least a full year before making major changes to landscaping. Gives you time to figure out what you have, and to plan changes accordingly). Still do your homework now and get estimates and figure out who you would use, but don't pull the trigger unless you have to.

I know there's a desire to get everything in tip-top shape and exactly how you want it before you move in, but as a homeowner of four decades I'm here to tell you that's very hard to achieve unless you have very deep pockets.


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Ever since I first learned about confirmation bias I've been seeing it everywhere.

Bazootiehead-in-training



 
Posts: 23484 | Location: Somewhere in the middle | Registered: 19 January 2010Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Will you be heating/cooling the basement?

Pictures of the ductwork?


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Life is short. Play with your dog.

 
Posts: 27168 | Location: Yorba Linda, CA | Registered: 23 April 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
(self-titled) semi-posting lurker
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quote:
Originally posted by well-tempered gardener:
More random thoughts and questions (I do this a lot, bear with me).


I totally appreciate that you do this, it's super helpful!

quote:
My gut reaction is that this guy might be selling you a bill of goods.


I agree with you, if nothing else, I need to remain super skeptical. At the same time, I can see with my own eyes that the ductwork is in really bad shape. Now, the real question is, what is the necessary solution to that. Is it some strategic taping and call it done? Or is it, replace all the duct work in the basement, and call my bank account empty? suave

Also, if the ductwork has to be replaced or significantly repaired, does that have to be done right now/at the same time as the HVAC replacement?

So I will be very curious to see what the guy from the local company has to say tomorrow about the ducts.

quote:
1) Do you know what the previous utility bills were? Can you find out?

No and I don't know. The seller is a jerk, but maybe I can get him to tell me. I wonder if the electric company would share that kind of info with me... I will certainly ask!

quote:
2) Do you know the SEER rating of your current equipment? I'm guessing it's relatively inefficient and that if you replace the old equipment with Steve's recommended SEER 13 it will bring down the utility cost. And the guy could easily say, "See? All the extra cost for duct work was worth it!" and there'd be no way to prove if the duct re-work had anything to do with it.[quote]

The guy today said he thought the current unit is probably an 8 or 10 SEER, and I believe he said there's a requirement in our state that the rating be at least 14. I will certainly check to see if that's the case.
Anyway your point here about not being able to tell if lower bills were due to new unit or ductwork is well made!

[quote] 3) I know you want to avoid a midsummer outage, but is it worth living there for a season to see if you actually have issues with uneven heating and cooling? (This is an extension of the classic gardener's advice to wait at least a full year before making major changes to landscaping. Gives you time to figure out what you have, and to plan changes accordingly). Still do your homework now and get estimates and figure out who you would use, but don't pull the trigger unless you have to.


Yeah, we may consider doing this.... we'll see how risk averse I am. The last thing I want to do is have the AC break when it's 100 degrees out! Ugh. The guy today say it would take a week from placing the order to having all the work done and the new unit installed. I'm guessing he's thinking of all the extras he's hoping I'll buy. But I will ask the guy tomorrow for that kind of estimate -- IOW if the unit suddenly dies, how long would it take for a new one to be up and running.

quote:
I know there's a desire to get everything in tip-top shape and exactly how you want it before you move in, but as a homeowner of four decades I'm here to tell you that's very hard to achieve unless you have very deep pockets.


Well we're not striving for tip-top, we just want all the basics to be running, and in the south, in July, AC is one of the basics. And we made the purchase with the understanding that one of the very first things we'd do was replace the HVAC.

Nevertheless, I really appreciate all your comments and advice! I'm looking forward to the visit tomorrow, and to seeing actual quotes to compare.


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My piano recordings at Box.Net: https://app.box.com/s/j4rgyhn72uvluemg1m6u

 
Posts: 11976 | Location: not in Japan any more | Registered: 20 April 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
(self-titled) semi-posting lurker
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quote:
Originally posted by Steve Miller:
Will you be heating/cooling the basement?

Pictures of the ductwork?


Steve, I'll take photos of the ductwork when we go back over there tomorrow.

Re the basement, right now there are these weird things that look like exhaust fans in the basement, added on to the ducts, obviously long after the original ductwork was installed. They're supposed to be able to be opened and closed, and when they share the duct, and the air, going to the main level.

But, as to your question, the finished side and the unfinished side can be totally closed off from each other, so I think the smart thing to do will be to heat/cool the finished side only. (that's an 11x19 room I believe).


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My piano recordings at Box.Net: https://app.box.com/s/j4rgyhn72uvluemg1m6u

 
Posts: 11976 | Location: not in Japan any more | Registered: 20 April 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Ok, maybe not so weird, but the things in the basement look a lot like this photo that I found by googling:



There are two in the unfinished room and two in the finished room.


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Posts: 11976 | Location: not in Japan any more | Registered: 20 April 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Has Achieved Nirvana
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Those are supply registers and were put there to condition the basement at some point.

If you are heating/cooling the basement it doesn't matter if the ducts leak some. The air is going in there anyway. Giant leaks that keep air from getting up in to the house would be a different story.

Let's have a look at what you're dealing with.


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Life is short. Play with your dog.

 
Posts: 27168 | Location: Yorba Linda, CA | Registered: 23 April 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
If you are heating/cooling the basement anyway, it doesn't matter if the ducts leak some


Good point!

I will upload photos tomorrow.

Thank you and WTG! This is super helpful!!


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My piano recordings at Box.Net: https://app.box.com/s/j4rgyhn72uvluemg1m6u

 
Posts: 11976 | Location: not in Japan any more | Registered: 20 April 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by ShiroKuro:
Also, if the ductwork has to be replaced or significantly repaired, does that have to be done right now/at the same time as the HVAC replacement?


No. You can do that any time, and unless the ductwork has big holes in it you can tape the joints very easily. There is a special tape for this BTW, and it is NOT duct tape.

quote:

The guy today said he thought the current unit is probably an 8 or 10 SEER, and I believe he said there's a requirement in our state that the rating be at least 14. I will certainly check to see if that's the case.


It may have been an 8 or 10 SEER when it was new but if it's really 25 years old the efficiency has dropped way below that.


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Life is short. Play with your dog.

 
Posts: 27168 | Location: Yorba Linda, CA | Registered: 23 April 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
You can do that any time, and unless the ductwork has big holes in it you can tape the joints very easily. There is a special tape for this BTW, and it is NOT duct tape.


Good to know, on both points!

quote:
It may have been an 8 or 10 SEER when it was new but if it's really 25 years old the efficiency has dropped way below that.


Good point!


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My piano recordings at Box.Net: https://app.box.com/s/j4rgyhn72uvluemg1m6u

 
Posts: 11976 | Location: not in Japan any more | Registered: 20 April 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Sorry, I haven't read the whole thread. However, if this has not been mentioned yet: get the system cleaned. If it hasn't been cleaned in the last 2-3 years, there's dirt buildup in the unit, and that will lower both its operating efficiency and its life expectancy.
 
Posts: 42383 | Registered: 20 April 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Quirt, the unit was cleaned when it was inspected in October. But as far as its life expectancy, it’s well over 20 years old, so it’s already outlived itself. Everyone we talk to about it pretty much says it’s a miracle the thing is still running at all!!


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Posts: 11976 | Location: not in Japan any more | Registered: 20 April 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Got pics!!

Ducts. The first and second photos are examples of where you can put your hands inside the duct work.















Vents in basement







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Posts: 11976 | Location: not in Japan any more | Registered: 20 April 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Ok, so the guy from the local company came out today. Like the first guy, he also did not give me any quotes on the spot, but I should get info on Monday or Tuesday.

Unlike the first guy, he didn't try to sell me on an air scrubber, and he did not say the ducts need to be replaced. So there you go.

He pointed out that the ducts were well insulated (perhaps more than is necessary) and he said something to the effect that they would work with what's already there, although he mentioned that the new HVAC units are much smaller than the ones we have now.

So I'm looking forward to getting some actual quotes. Oh, one more estimate still to go, someone is coming from Lowes on Monday.


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My piano recordings at Box.Net: https://app.box.com/s/j4rgyhn72uvluemg1m6u

 
Posts: 11976 | Location: not in Japan any more | Registered: 20 April 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Has Achieved Nirvana
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Well, the good news is that the guy from Home Depot isn't lying to you. The bad news is that the ductwork in your new basement needs some work. I'm surprised your house inspector didn't write it up.

Some of what is wrong is cosmetic - the insulation is coming off. That's easy to fix yourself. At least one piece of ductwork will have to be replaced - the broken duct in the second picture. That is a little more work but not all that hard. An awful lot of what I see is just plain sloppy work, which makes me wonder what is going on under the insulation.

It does not appear to be asbestos ductwork so that's good. The original rectangular ductwork coming off the furnace can probably stay but most guys would start from scratch anyway.

Bottom line is that I would consider replacing it, if for no other reason than it looks bad and would make me crazy. You could probably get by with fixing just the broken duct for now and budget for new ductwork when you get around to finishing up the basement. Perhaps just ask for a two hour labor quote to repair what is there a as best they can.

Something else to consider, then, is that someone paid to have that ductwork installed and they guy they paid to do it did a sloppy job - a job I would have refused to pay for. If you decide to replace it you are going to want something much more professional in appearance. The way you make sure you get this is to insist you be allowed to look at a recent installation performed by your contractor in another house. You'll know in an instant if you want that contractor to do your work - properly installed ductwork is a thing of beauty.

Also, please insist on a permit. I know it's a hassle and a permit costs a bit more but in your case I think it would be worth it.


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Life is short. Play with your dog.

 
Posts: 27168 | Location: Yorba Linda, CA | Registered: 23 April 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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