Furnace Cleaning

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Mark Paquette, Oct 25, 2005.

  1. Mark Paquette

    Mark Paquette Supporting Actor

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    Anyone here have their furnace cleaned regularly? I see media reports, even more so this fall, about the importance of having your furnace cleaned each season. It sounds like a scam to me, but I've never had it done. What exactly are they supposed to clean, check or whatever? My furnace and house are only about 4 years old, but with the expected jump in natural gas prices this fall I'm looking for anything that will save me some $$.
     
  2. Mort Corey

    Mort Corey Supporting Actor

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    Assuming you're referring to a central, forced air type unit, about the only thing they do is vaccuum around the heating elements and a general good cleaning around the filter area (and change the filter of course) Since your unit is relatively new, just a good "dusting" would likely be fine.

    That said, I have my HVAC system cleaned and inspected annually. Takes about an hour or so and they clean everything, check for leaks, check the blower belt for wear and proper tension, etc, etc...and it runs about $125 IIRC.

    Keeping the filter fresh will give you the most bang for the buck efficiency-wise.

    Mort
     
  3. JoeyR

    JoeyR Second Unit

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    What do you have heat pump? Gas? Electric? Oil? Im gonna take it as gas because of the end of your quote

    Im a commercial HVAC tech, if you think having a service done is a scam, your kidding yourself. Find a good contractor in your area(reputable, may cost a few extra bucks but it will be worth it). Newer gas furnaces have a number of safeties to make them safer than they have ever been, but do what you want, worse case scenario your gas valve sticks open, fills your attic with gas, furnace ignites and BOOM no more house or furnace, or your high limit goes out, your blower doesnt start, the exchanger gets cherry red and next thing you know your house is burning to the ground......

    Im not trying to be a butt but it can happen, you should never take anything forgranted that could endanger your family.....

    With saying that, like I said the newer furnaces are safer.

    Instead of having the standard burner under the exchanger configuration(hot attic air hits exchanger during summer, cold air passes over exchanger, condensation ensues, rust forms on exchanger falls into burner and you get a slight booming noise when the heater fires) newer furnaces and some older stand up furnaces have gas jets that actually shoot the flame into a tube, you have electronic ignition(either through a spark igniter or glow coil, etc.) Another thing you have to worry about is the cap on your gas vent out your roof, is it there? Did the birds build a nest in it? Is the blower clean? Is the filter clean? Is the evaporator clean(checked out a place once evaporator was stopped up(low airflow) the temp going into the unit was 70 degrees, it was 140 coming out the grills(you usually want about 30 degrees difference).

    ----A word of warning---- If you are the owner of a horizontal furnace made from the mid 80's to mid 90's, be aware the main exchanger manufacturer had a bad run of exchangers and went bankrupt, 75% of exchangers made by Consolidated during this time I have found bad, they made exchangers for many companies but a furnace made by them will be about 5' long and silvery colored like your ductwork, have it checked anyway, if you have a heater from before the mid 80's have it changed.

    Also as an added bonus--As of Jan 1,2006 a new federal law goes into effect, if you have any a/c unit installed the Seer on it has to be 13, standard now is 10, if your outside unit goes out you have to change both, if your inside unit goes out, you have to change both, so if you are waiting til next year to change a piece of a/c equipment do it now or you will be paying alot more after Jan 1
     
  4. Mark Paquette

    Mark Paquette Supporting Actor

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    JoeyR - Thanks for the info, that's basically what I was looking for. I did a once over with my untrained eyes last night before I fired her up for the first time this season. I cleaned out a lot of cob webs and some dust, replaced the filter, replaced the water panel in the humidifier. I did notice a couple of things that concerned me so I'm having someone come out and take a look at it. The furnace is a Carrier that was installed new in the spring of 2001 so this is it's 5th heating season. There is a bracket that holds some kind of ignition plug, the plug glow red when the furnace starts and ignites the burner. Anyway, this bracket is rusting. Also I noticed the a/c coils inside of the furnace have some rust starting where the 2 pieces meet to form a "V." Thanks again for your insight.
     
  5. Randy Tennison

    Randy Tennison Screenwriter

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    I'm getting to the point of having to replace my air conditioner, and probably, my furnace. Anyone know how much it will run me (ballpark) for a 3 bedroom ranch home (not that big)?
     
  6. Mort Corey

    Mort Corey Supporting Actor

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    I had mine replaced about three or four years ago (heat and air) and it ran about $4500 for a new Carrier unit IIRC. It was basically a swap out so I'm sure price could escalate rapidly if extensive retrofitting becomes necessary.

    Mort
     
  7. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Executive Producer
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    I've always been confused by my furnace. The filter is this chintzy mesh thing and looking in the manual it says that's all that's needed and to give it a rinse every season. Am I totally missing something?
     
  8. JoeyR

    JoeyR Second Unit

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    I dont like giving ball park figures because of what you can come across in an installation. I am a member of an airconditioning forum

    www.hvac-talk.com

    You can find a good local contractor there that can take all the necessary steps, always check your contractor, you have to live in the house, dont take that forgranted.
     
  9. JoeyR

    JoeyR Second Unit

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    Does the filter look like light strands pulled everywhere and thin or is it thick with heavy stranding or is it in a metal frame?

    If it is light strands its fiberglass-change monthly
    If it is heavy strands its hoghair-change to fiberglass
    If it is metal frame with mesh insert-change to fiberglass, after so many washings the dirt usually gets stuck in the center of the metal filter resulting in limited airflow, even when CLEAN they severely limit the airflow-I call them compressor killers [​IMG]
    If you have the metal filters, until you get another if MUST be washed every 2 weeks, I have seen spotless houses that this is necessary, most people are told to clean them monthly
     
  10. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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    Make sure the A/C has a heat pump! Gas prices are shooting through the roof!
     
  11. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Executive Producer
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    The frame is plastic and I'm pretty sure fiberglass strands. I gave the filter a good washing and it actually needed one this time. In the past it looked pretty much the same from year to year, though I rinsed it off every time.
     
  12. Mark Philp

    Mark Philp Second Unit

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    Those cheap filters that you buy at places like Wal-Mart for about 25-50 cents should be changed every month. My furnace guy told me that the ones that sell for around $3.00 each in three or four packs are much better and can last about three months. They may be a little more costly, but well worth it.

    As for furnace service, I have it done every year. We have a two family house and bought two new furnaces couple of winters ago and I want to protect my investment. To do both of them costs about $150.

    One other thing he told me, is one of the worst things that clog the filters is kitty litter dust. So if you have cats and keep their litterboxes in the basement, don't put them near the furnace.
     
  13. Dennis*G

    Dennis*G Supporting Actor

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    haha, my heating/air guy stated to me just the opposite. Stick with the cheaper fiberglass filters instead of the likes of 3m filterete. The filterete (and other corrogated designs) restrict the airflow to much
     
  14. JoeyR

    JoeyR Second Unit

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    You should be using the fiberglass and not the corrugated, anytime you stick one end of the filter in the grill and the other end gets sucked to the grill you are restricting airflow too much.
     
  15. Dan_J_H.

    Dan_J_H. Stunt Coordinator

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    Just one week ago I got a new Carrier furnace (natural gas) and a new a/c. What a great feeling to finally have this done. I was putting it off for a few years now. My old furnace was a 51 year old Bard. My a/c was 26 years old! The furnace would stop working from time to time. I'm glad I beat the 2006 a/c (13 seer) price increase.

    It REALLY pays to get several estimates. My estimates ranged from 3,300 to 6,000 for furnace and air!
     
  16. JoeyR

    JoeyR Second Unit

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    Hey Dan, with those ages you will see a really decent change in your utility cost
     
  17. Tim Hoover

    Tim Hoover Screenwriter

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    Since we're on the subject of furnaces, I have a quick question:

    I recently took apart the pilot assembly on my gas furnace to replace the thermocoupler. Now I have a small, intermittent leak where the gas line for the pilot light goes into the light itself. Gas is not seeping into the house, as any leakage immediately gets burned off. However, I'm kinda concerned about this, and would like to know if I have good reason to be. Also, in case I need to rectify the situation, what should I seal the threads with to prevent leakage?
     
  18. JoeyR

    JoeyR Second Unit

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    Sorry Tim I wont assist with DIY info, especially with gas furnaces, it is a very dangerous situation, if you need something to seal the threads you have more damage to your pilot line than sealant will fix, call a reputable local HVAC contractor.
     
  19. Todd Hochard

    Todd Hochard Cinematographer

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    This is the modus operandi at hvac-talk. These guys are apparently VERY protective of their market.

    Natural Gas is child's play compared to the stuff I play with at work (Silane, Phosphine, etc), and yet, everything is "too dangerous" to be explaining to the DIY'er.

    I'm most thankful that the experts here at HTF and at several car boards I frequent don't withhold.
     
  20. JoeyR

    JoeyR Second Unit

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    Alot of people feel comfortable playing with natural gas, it doesnt mean that what is being done is right.

    There is a big difference if you miswire a speaker, you could blow the speaker, ok your out a speaker.

    Now if I tell Tim just add some thread sealant, without looking at it, and say he cracked the ferule, he hooks it up and it leaks intermittently, the pilot doesnt light right, gas builds up, then the pilot ignites and BOOM, there goes Tim, his family, and his house, guess what, I can be held liable for that plus I have a conciense.

    Im just here trying to help and advise where I can, I really dont appreciate the knock in your post. We have to go through different certifications and training to do what we do(or should I say to be good at what we do), I do commercial work so giving residential info to me is no big deal, but there is liability involved and plus how can a professional opinion be given when a professional hasnt looked at it?
     

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