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Old 06-20-2010, 12:08 PM
 
7,177 posts, read 8,625,644 times
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My home is 22 yrs old and the HVAC system is the original one installed by the builder. I'm the 5th or 6th owner of the house since it was built and I've been in the home for 4 yrs.

The HVAC is a dual-zone system, with the furnace up in the attic, and 2 separate AC units: 1 for downstairs and 1 for upstairs.

The upstairs unit cannot keep up with these hot temperatures. It's 80 degrees upstairs right now, with the AC going full time. The unit is obviously too small. Further, there might not be enough insulation in the attic.

The downstairs is a lot more comfortable.

Before I just jump headfirst into upgrading the entire HVAC system, I thought I should at least ask the knowledgeable ones on this board if that is my only option, given that the system is really old?

I used $1,200 of the total $1,500 tax credit in 2009 for other upgrades done to my home, so that leaves me with $300 to use this year by December, tax-credit wise. I know there is pending legislation in congress for a rebate/credit for upgrading systems with energy efficient systems, including HVAC, but I don't know when something like that might be passed. In the meantime I'm melting.

So...with 22 yr old components do I need to upgrade everything at once? Should I? I know it would be the most efficient thing to do because of course only components with a SEER rating above 13 would be installed and that would be more efficient than what's there now.

Opinions?
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Old 06-20-2010, 12:38 PM
 
Location: Cary, NC
33,605 posts, read 58,304,270 times
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Are you sure you only have one furnace?

Usually we have two, with a "gas pack" packaged unit providing both heat and ac to the lower level:
Furnace and AC in one cabinet: XL16c Gas Electric Packaged Heating & Cooling Units : Trane Residential
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Old 06-20-2010, 12:55 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeJaquish View Post
Are you sure you only have one furnace?
Well whatever it is (if it's two), the furnacii are up in the attic in one place. Gas pack sounds familiar.

Outside there are the two AC units. There is no other 'furnace' located anywhere else in this house other than in the attic.

Does that change the answer though (to replace all of it at one time)?
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Old 06-20-2010, 01:37 PM
 
Location: Cary, NC
33,605 posts, read 58,304,270 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lottamoxie View Post
Well whatever it is (if it's two), the furnacii are up in the attic in one place. Gas pack sounds familiar.

Outside there are the two AC units. There is no other 'furnace' located anywhere else in this house other than in the attic.

Does that change the answer though (to replace all of it at one time)?
I would suggest that if the system is 22 years old, and you can swing it, replace the whole upper floor system, furnace and AC.
Confirming the need for replacement with an HVAC contractor, of course.

Bigger check up front, with a bigger return in comfort and utilities costs.
Systems have gained a LOT of efficiency in 22 years.
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Old 06-20-2010, 01:57 PM
QIS
 
920 posts, read 4,068,589 times
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Hi Lottamoxie,
You are on the right track! I don't know where you are located,but, start getting bids now before you can't get a contractor to come out or you pay a premium for getting the job done.
HVAC jobs are best done in the between seasons of fall and spring.
In California we have title 24 which requires matched components and that means new ducting through out when systems are replaced;more expensive, but worth it 4 sure.
The government and utility companies seem to have standing upgrade incentives, so hopefully you will abler be benefit from them now matter when.
Bear in mind that it might be possible that the systems can be cleaned and serviced to get you through the summer( which might be considered good money after bad). Horizontal furnaces of that vintage have a bad reputation!
Do start getting bids from reputable, licensed contractors and like Mr. Jaquish eluded too; the energy efficiency saving will be noticeable!
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Old 06-20-2010, 02:35 PM
 
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I'm in NC (this is the start of the REALLY HOT summer months here). I can wait, since I have been living with this old system since I moved into the house, but perhaps it's best not to wait too long, esp. while the system is actually (still) working.

Up until now I've kept a home warranty each year just in case the HVAC system went out, but it feels like now's the time to upgrade it (or soon-ish anyway).

I guess the budget for a full house system (1900 sq ft, 2 stories) is going to run in the $8K neighborhood to replace both the furnace(s) and both AC units? I'm assuming new ductwork will be needed as well. Does that sound like an accurate number?

And any particular feelings about the main mfgs (Trane vs Carrier vs Lennox vs ?)?
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Old 06-20-2010, 02:45 PM
QIS
 
920 posts, read 4,068,589 times
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All good stuff! I like all three and Goodman stands behind their stuff in general.
8k would certainly be in the ball park for both!
Get estimates for BOTH a good servicing and total replacements!...
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Old 06-20-2010, 03:19 PM
 
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A 'good servicing' means they would clean and check the furnace and AC units, check and change the furnace filter, add freon if needed, right? A servicing will run around $200 on average.

Total replacement is a whole other thing altogether.

Or am I not understanding what is meant by 'good servicing?'
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Old 06-20-2010, 05:51 PM
 
Location: Knoxville
4,245 posts, read 20,764,941 times
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At 22 years in NC, the units are past their expected life, you are on borrowed time. While you may get the upstairs unit "serviced" and get a little more time, its kind of like putting air in bald tires.
Not all States have a requirement to replace ducts, so you may not need the ducts changed.

If one of your air conditioners on the side of the house is almost twice the size of the other one, then its likely a package unit, a gas-pak if the heat is gas, or just a package heat pump is the heat source is electric.
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Old 06-20-2010, 06:04 PM
 
7,177 posts, read 8,625,644 times
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Yep, one of the outside units is definitely much larger than the other one (the larger one is the downstairs unit). And yes, my heat is gas.

I think the answer is becoming pretty clear: I need to do a full system replacement. That way all the components will match, they will be designed to work together, and they should provide much more energy efficient heating/cooling. It's a chunk of $$$ to do it all at once, but honestly, I knew I would need to replace the system eventually when I purchased this house, so it's not like there are any surprises for me.

The only disappointment is that the energy/work bill has not yet passed congress, and I could sure use that additional rebate since this is an expensive project. Oh well...
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