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Reasonable?

Shadowdoc
Shadowdoc Member Posts: 32
edited November 2021 in Gas Heating

Diagnostic visit $

Informed Hot air furnace needs new gas valve and thermocouple should be replaced. 

Work visit $

Thermocouple and gas valve replaced for $.

Told there was a bad heat exchanger and shouldn’t run furnace because of “flame rollback and CO”. Suggested they could replace entire unit, add A/C for about total of $ roughly. Scheduled estimate for replacement.

In the meantime, I googled issues furnace was having. #1 cause was dirty furnace. Since I was never offered to have furnace cleaned (sticker on furnace indicated last cleaning was ~5 yrs ago), I took it upon my self to do so. Heat exchanger was clogged with soot, ‘flame guard’ wasn’t attached.

A few YouTube’s, 10 screws, carefully cleaned and cleared, reattached flame guard. Furnace has zero rollout and acceptable CO after ‘thermally activated vent damper’ opens. Running furnace with no issues since.

Estimate visit FREE

In addition to hot air furnace, also inquired about a boiler replacement for other part of home, since it was old and getting rusty.

Furnace estimate

$ - $ coupon = $

225K BTU unit. Other than transition ducting, all ductwork is already present.

Boiler estimate 

$ - $ coupon = $

276K BTU unit. Includes new circulatory (2), expansion tank, auto feeders, etc. 

I'm only curious if this sounds reasonable for upstate NY (Capital region). I have no other way of determining if it is reasonable.  

Comments

  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 6,007
    please edit to remove prices.

    sounds like you need to find a better tech to service it properly. it should not soot up if it is adjusted properly.
    kcoppErin Holohan Haskell
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,519
    mattmia2 said:

    please edit to remove prices.

    This. See: https://heatinghelp.com/forum-user-manual

    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    Erin Holohan Haskell
  • Zman
    Zman Member Posts: 7,375
    You have been a member for 5 years and never noticed the no-pricing rule?
    I am curious how you determined "acceptable CO"?
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
    Erin Holohan Haskell
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 12,364
    edited November 2021
    @Shadowdoc If the HX is bad there is nothing the service company can do about it. How old is the furnace??
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 3,658
    edited November 2021
    First of all, You must remove all the pricing from your post. That violates the rules of this forum.

    However seeing your numbers I have to say that i believe you can do better. Keep in mind the following: I worked for larger HVAC firms and small firms. I also operated my own HVAC contracting business before retiring... and there are two schools of pricing for HVAC work. The Free Estimate and the service call. The free estimate is usually performed by a commissioned salesman or the owner of the contracting business. This person only gets paid if a sale is made. The company does not lose anything in payroll expense if a free estimate does not end up in a sale.

    The service call is usually performed by a salaried or hourly wage employee. this means that when the service technician shows up to your location, that employee is paid if you have the repairs made or not. Thet employee is under the pressure of generating income to offset the cost of his salary, plus the overhead of the company.

    We would tell a service call customer on the phone that there will be a charge to send a technician to your home of $XX.00. For that fee, our tech will arrive at your home and perform a series of diagnostic procedures to determine the cause of the problem. If it is a minor adjustment or simple repair, then the cost will be $XX.00. If however your problem requires parts or additional labor, an estimate will be provided for your approval. before any work is completed. If for any reason you decide not to have the repairs completed, then all you owe is the $XX.00. And you get to keep the estimate for the repair.

    Service calls for a service call fee or diagnostic fee are usually for repairs of under $1000.00

    Free estimates are for new equipment that usually cost well over $1000.00

    So the premise of your post is quite normal and in accordance with industry standards, there may be competitors that will offer lower prices. You have to shop around. Just remember you get what you pay for.

    Another factor with prices for new equipment is the features and benefits of each model of furnace or boiler or air conditioner. The more efficient models usually have higher price tags than the "Builders Model" or what we like to call "Entry Level" or "El Cheapo" equipment. (El-Cheapo is not a registered trademark for really bad equipment) So to say "I got a price for $YYYY.00 and another price for $ZZZ.00 from another guy. Why is there over $2000.00 difference?" can not be answered easily because you could be comparing two different pieces of equipment even from the same manufacturer.

    You need to call around. there is also a "Find A Contractor" link on this site. For the most part, you can trust these guys as offering quality service and equipment at a fair price.

    Mr.Ed
    Edward Young
    Retired HVAC Contractor from So. Jersey.
    Services first oil burner at age 16
    P/T trainer for EH-CC.org

    Shadowdoc
  • HVACNUT
    HVACNUT Member Posts: 4,672
    'Thermally activated vent damper'?
    What make and model furnace?
    The heat loss of the house is approximately 400K BTUH?
    PC7060
  • Erin Holohan Haskell
    Erin Holohan Haskell Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 1,909
    @Shadowdoc, I've removed the pricing on your post. We cannot discuss prices here. Thank you.
    President
    HeatingHelp.com
  • Shadowdoc
    Shadowdoc Member Posts: 32
    Sorry that prices are such a taboo thing. Even hospitals have to post prices these days. Lol. I guess keeping prices veiled in some sort of secrecy perpetuates the lack of trust in many industries. 

    The building I am referring to is actually a church. 

    If no one can mention prices for specific items, how can anyone compare of find out if a service is reasonable?

    Imagine car shopping and not being able to mention prices when comparing dealers. 

    Rules are rules. Silly as it seems. But for me, cost is paramount. 

    For those that did try to answer and help by working around the ‘price secrets’, I appreciate your effort. 
    PC7060Zmanmattmia2EdTheHeaterMandelta T
  • PC7060
    PC7060 Member Posts: 783
    edited November 2021
    It’s a long standing rule and you will find the professionals on the site carefully adhere to it to avoid the site becoming a marketing free for all. 
    I’ve been a member for a couple years and I’ve found the technical advice to be unbiased and consistently high quality across a wide range of HVAC specialties. 
    If you want better estimates on pricing and technical solutions I’d recommend your church hire a professional engineer or heating consultant to write a performance specification and assist you in soliciting / evaluating bids.  The PE would not be providing the system so would be able to offer unbiased advices as the to best option  for your building.  
    Shadowdoc
  • Shadowdoc
    Shadowdoc Member Posts: 32
    “ Don’t listen to the person who has the answers; listen to the person who has the questions.”

    Albert Einstein
    Zman
  • Shadowdoc
    Shadowdoc Member Posts: 32
    edited November 2021
    I can’t determine if something is better, if what I have is a mystery. Thank you PC7060 for your response.  
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 6,007
    You need to observe the burner before the blower starts and while the blower starts to make sure the flame doesn't change when the blower is running. The heat exchanger being compromised could be the cause of the soot. Since this is a public building you need to find a professional you trust to look at it.
    Shadowdoc
  • Erin Holohan Haskell
    Erin Holohan Haskell Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 1,909
    edited November 2021
    Thank you, @PC7060 and @Zman. That's correct.

    @Shadowdoc, get several estimates and then you'll be able to make an informed decision based on your specific job. This is not a one-size-fits-all situation. Every job is different and prices vary based on all of the variables of the job.
    President
    HeatingHelp.com
    ShadowdocIronmanEdTheHeaterMan
  • Zman
    Zman Member Posts: 7,375
    Shadowdoc said:

    “ Don’t listen to the person who has the answers; listen to the person who has the questions.”

    Albert Einstein

    There are plenty of sites out there that attempt to allow you to compare publicly available established pricing of all sorts of things. This just doesn't happen to be one of them.

    It did hear your question, you just didn't want to hear the answer...
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
    PC7060
  • Shadowdoc
    Shadowdoc Member Posts: 32
    Thank you. Obviously you can’t explain it simply. I know that. I was kinda just looking for a thumbs up/down kinda response to keep it simple and then I could understand a little better where I was at. 👍🏻
  • Shadowdoc
    Shadowdoc Member Posts: 32
    Just to be clear. It’s not a public building. I own the church. I converted the fellowship hall into my residence (boiler) and maintain the 200 yo church as a piece of artwork (furnace).  

    Odd I know. Lol. 
    PC7060
  • PC7060
    PC7060 Member Posts: 783
    Stick to technical aspects of the proposed solutions.  Expressing cost as a relative factor seems to be acceptable.
    For example “System A was 25% higher than the second bid but also including repiping/insulating the near boiler lines to meet manufactures approved configurations and rebuilding/checking all traps. Does this seem reasonable?”

    @Erin Holohan Haskell , please let me know if I’m out of line with this assumption.  

    Asking if two type systems are comparable quality / service life will also help you get a better understanding of relative befits of the different type of solutions.
    Shadowdoc
  • Erin Holohan Haskell
    Erin Holohan Haskell Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 1,909
    @PC7060, that's fine. Thanks.
    President
    HeatingHelp.com
    PC7060
  • PC7060
    PC7060 Member Posts: 783
    Shadowdoc said:
    Just to be clear. It’s not a public building. I own the church. I converted the fellowship hall into my residence (boiler) and maintain the 200 yo church as a piece of artwork (furnace).  

    Odd I know. Lol. 
    Just the kind of project the folks on this site love. Post some pictures of your systems so we can all geek out!
    Shadowdoc
  • GW
    GW Member Posts: 4,576
    so so true- install pricing can swing 100%. I chat with contractors from across the nation. 

    Then you have the guy working out of Moms garage vs the Brick/mortar full scale business, another 100% swing 


    Gary Wilson
    Wilson Services, Inc
    Northampton, MA
    [email protected]
  • HVACNUT
    HVACNUT Member Posts: 4,672
    Shadowdoc said:
    Just to be clear. It’s not a public building. I own the church. I converted the fellowship hall into my residence (boiler) and maintain the 200 yo church as a piece of artwork (furnace).  

    Odd I know. Lol. 
    If you're able to maintain a 200 year old church and reside in a residence portion requiring 200K BTUH, then cost should be the least of your concerns. Edmond Dante's would be envious. 

    You need to do research in your area for a contractor knowledgeable with your systems. The cost is your time only.

    Since you cleaned it, has it been tested for a cracked heat exchanger? 






  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 19,442
    "Rules are rules. Silly as it seems. But for me, cost is paramount. "

    Which, @Shadowdoc , is precisely why you are having problems with your heating. Heating -- whether maintenance, installation, or design, is a highly skilled trade and needs to be valued as such.

    The price which one pays for such work varies widely in different areas. Not only do wages differ, but the various overhead costs -- which most consumers are completely unaware of -- are very different in different places. As a result, not only are there very significant risks of anti-trust actions arising when prices are discussed (I was a member of an organisation which was destroyed by the federal government for having the temerity to suggest relative salary and benefit levels across regions, but for publishing a ethics statement), but the resulting comparisons are meaningless outside of a very specific region. You are not buying an object which is traded nationwide -- such as the car to which you allude.

    I might also point out that "upstate New York" means very different things to different people. To some, it might mean Westchester or Dutchess County -- with eyewatering prices for everything. To others, it might mean Gouverneur, a very pleasant little community in upstate New York, which is a little different in price structure.

    Given your preference for cost being paramount, I would suggest that you ask two or three local firms for an evaluation of your existing system, and for quotes to remedy any problems they find. I admit to being somewhat concerned as to the safety of the present work, but since this is a private residence and you have done some of the work yourself that is entirely your hazard. Once you have the two or three quotes, again given the paramount nature of money, simply go with the cheapest.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    Shadowdoc
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 6,007
    You should replace that bimetal vent damper with a piece of straight flue pipe, there is no way those don't spill some flue gases on startup
    Shadowdoc
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 3,073
    Shadowdoc said:

    Sorry that prices are such a taboo thing. Even hospitals have to post prices these days. Lol. I guess keeping prices veiled in some sort of secrecy perpetuates the lack of trust in many industries. 


    The building I am referring to is actually a church. 

    If no one can mention prices for specific items, how can anyone compare of find out if a service is reasonable?

    Imagine car shopping and not being able to mention prices when comparing dealers. 

    Rules are rules. Silly as it seems. But for me, cost is paramount. 

    For those that did try to answer and help by working around the ‘price secrets’, I appreciate your effort. 
    GOOD
    FAST
    CHEAP

    You can only get 2!
    ShadowdocPC7060
  • Shadowdoc
    Shadowdoc Member Posts: 32
    @Jamie Hall thank you for assuming you know precisely why I am having problems with my heating system in a building I just purchased. You and god know I should have had all the answers in advance. 😂 

    Simmer down Jamie. I’m upgrading and improving what was already here.

    you know what they say about assuming…..lol
  • Shadowdoc
    Shadowdoc Member Posts: 32
    @PC7060There are two hot air furnaces for the church portion but I only use one because two is almost overkill for the amount of heat they both generate. But just look at those returns :-). Lol

    And then the other is the boiler that you see is for two levels of the fellowship hall which is my residence. Oldies but goodies :-)

  • JakeCK
    JakeCK Member Posts: 899
    edited November 2021
    Just to add to the different region, different prices point, I have a friend in CT who had a project done similar to what I had done at my house. My project was actually a good bit larger but his cost was more than twice mine. But Cleveland is a much cheaper local compared to CT... His numbers were absolutely eye watering and would not have been cost effective here.

    And that cost difference was actually in the low to mid five figures too.
    Shadowdoc
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 19,442
    That is a very lovely building. Not unlike one of the churches in the region I care for -- even to the generous return ducts! And, not unlike yours, that one had an elderly hot air furnace as its main heating supply.

    What was recommended -- by me and others -- was to retain much of the hot air system and replace the heat source with a pair of high efficiency mod/con LP fired boilers, with hydronic coils in an air handler (located where the old furnace was), utilizing the existing duct work. The parish hall was completely redone using baseboard hot water off the boilers.

    The vestry in question liked the recommendation -- as did the Diocesan office -- and the installation was performed two years ago. Last year was not a fair test -- much of the year the sanctuary was left unheated (amazing how much warm clothing can fit under a habit...!) but the parish hall was in use. It appears that the energy savings will be significant (perhaps as much as cutting the heating bill in half) and the installation cost was reasonable.

    You might be interested in looking at something along those lines.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    Shadowdoc
  • Pumpguy
    Pumpguy Member Posts: 551
    I would certainly want to get that "cracked heat exchanger" issue resolved.

    After all the soot was cleaned, could you actually see the crack?

    If not, this could just be the tech's sales talk.

    If yes, well then something needs to be done, IMO the sooner the better.
    Dennis Pataki. Former Service Manager and Heating Pump Product Manager for Nash Engineering Company. Phone: 1-888 853 9963
    Website: www.nashjenningspumps.com

    The first step in solving any problem is TO IDENTIFY THE PROBLEM.
  • Shadowdoc
    Shadowdoc Member Posts: 32
    @Pumpguy. Heat exchanger was not cracked. Baffles was kinda Coated with dust/soot. Last cleaning appeared to be 5 years ago, before I owned it. Also a dead bat was in the vent. Fried bat. 
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 6,007
    the bat was probably more your issue. still, if the hx is significantly cracked, the change in pressure when the blower comes on will affect the flame and you will see that, so you should observe the burner as the blower comes on. It won't change at all if the hx is good.

    I bet those big grates were originally 2 gravity floor furnaces.

    I would just get that boiler serviced by someone that knows what they are doing and run it until you see water on the floor. that could be another 40 years.

    Also, when you do replace things, doo heat loss calcs on the areas you plan to heat first, you know the furnaces are very much oversized, that boiler may be too.

    Shadowdoc
  • PC7060
    PC7060 Member Posts: 783
    edited November 2021
    @Shadowdoc - wow, a congregation could move in tomorrow. Love the original stain glass and pews.  What are your plans for the large areas; debating society? 😎
  • Shadowdoc
    Shadowdoc Member Posts: 32
    @PC7060 the fellowship hall is about 6000 sq ft. The upstairs hall portion is my home. Great commercial kitchen. 16 burner stove. Lol. Downstairs has 11 rooms. I made one a laundry room, one an office and one a gym so far. Gym never sees me. 

    The ‘church’ I simply maintain and make it available to non profits that can use the space for meeting or events, free of charge. 

    BUT…..it’s a great place to have coffee in the morning when the sun is rising. 😉
    PC7060
  • Larry Weingarten
    Larry Weingarten Member Posts: 2,637
    "BUT…..it’s a great place to have coffee in the morning when the sun is rising. 😉" Now THAT paints a magnificent picture! Thanks!

    Yours, Larry
    Shadowdoc