Furnace / Air Conditioner replacement cost

Our house is a bungalow (a “stepless ranch”) comprising about 2,500 square feet. Four bedrooms with two and a half baths. It was built in the late 1970′s and the attic-mounted air conditioner is original while the furnace is probably about 20 years old. Both are due for replacement.

The existing air conditioner is a 4.5 ton Rudd unit and the furnace, well.. I don’t really even know what brand it is. Nor, I suppose, do I really care :)

I’ve had 3 guys come in and offer estimates. The first guy was very professional, recommended by a friend who used him to install her furnace. One thing I liked was that he offered a pretty reasonable (I think $140/yr) maintenance schedule to keep everything up to snuff once installed. But he did not do any calculations or measuring besides estimating the needed tonnage of the air conditioning unit based on the power connections and outside coil size and reviewing all the registers and returns throughout the house. He also inspected the current ductwork.

The second guy walked cursorily through the house, indicated a disdain for variable speed furnaces and indicated that he could get pretty much any furnace I wanted for a very good price.

The third guy noted the model number of my existing air conditioning unit and went and looked it up to determine what the existing tonnage was. Then went through the attic to inspect the existing duct work and reviewed all of the registers and returns. He then returned a week later to fully measure all of the rooms and did the calculations to determine the proper a/c and heater sizing should be for the house as well as offering recommendations for additional registers in some of the more poorly served areas of the house.

I discussed a desire to zone the house with each of them, as well as to include a humidifier solution and an allergy-suitable filtering solution.

It seems that to zone the house will require pretty much removing the entire duct system and replacing it.

As my existing furnace is in the attic over the garage, I was warned by at least two of them that a humidifier system up there would need a waiver as there is the potential for freezing and associated pipe bursting issues.

I had initially thought to install some kind of heat pump or heat pump / gas hybrid furnace but it seems that the cost for that would be prohibitive.

<soapbox mode>In the end I’m thinking I’ll just ditch the zoning idea, forget about the humidifier and go with a normal gas furnace as, frankly, I’m not in any position to evaluate these things nor am I in a position assess the value of the opinions proffered by my local installers. It seems such technologies are only for folks with ties to educational institutions and / or the resources to employ experts in such fields. So I’ve resigned myself to the usual “whatever is for sale at a price I can afford and the environment can go to hell” position that we all end up having to take when we try to pursue these things beyond a superficial layer.

I can rant all day on the number of times I do a ton of research into new technologies only to find that it’s all theory and that you can’t actually *implement* what you’ve researched. I’m learning… slowly. I’m starting to drink more booze too.</soapbox mode>

Anyway, I received estimates and would like some opinions on them if you have any experience with these things. I think I’ll try to post the below information in some “furnace forums” I’ve seen too.

This from Coolray:

Trane XV80 (16 Seer) (model numbers unreadable)
Listed scope of work:
Install new Trane (5) Ton XL16I (16) SEER R410A Dual Fuel System to include Heat Pump Condenser, Coil, pad, variable speed furnace, new refrigerant lines, metal plenums, safety pan w/switch, drain sensor, new EWC Electronic(3) zone system, New R8 Supply and return ductwork, new Trane clean effects high efficiency air cleaner and vision pro digital t-stats. Lifetime parts and labor warranty w/annual maintenance.
Steam Humidifier S2000 add $1,295 and will need electrician to add separate circuit.
$11,698  (system)
$ 3,885 (ductwork)
$ 2,915 (zoning)
-$1,000 (federal rebate)
Total $17,528

I’m contacting him now for a simpler quote, in keeping with my reduced expectations above.

This from Seasonal Heating & Air:
(They actually provided me with 6 variations, this is the one most in keeping with what I would want)

Heil Equipment:Premier Grade with 5 year no hassle warranty
Duel Fuel system
4 ton 13 seer heat pump R- 410 A freon
4 ton 13 seer coil
80% gas 100,000 BTU furnace
Remove existing furnace,existing coil,all ductwork and discard
Install all new duct work R-6 Flex
Supply Plenums, Return Plenum
Add 3 supply outlets( master closet, work out room, laundry room)
1 year labor warranty
compressor 10 year warranty
parts 10 year warranty
limited lifetime warranty on heat exchanger

Optional items:
Programmable t-stat(s) 7 day = 100.00
Touch screen thermostat = 300.00
Humidifier(s) = 450.00
Media air Filter(s) system= 300.00
Electronic Air cleaner April Air 5000 = 950.00

Total (w/o optional items) $6,000

This from Bardi Heating & Air Conditioning:

Install New 14Seer 5 Ton R410-A Variable Speed Heating and Cooling System
The above price includes all equipment, labor, and materials to install a new American Standard 5 ton Heating
and cooling system in the attic. Add supply to master closet and hallway. Add supply to laundry and create return
from existing supply in laundry at door. Install 11/8 x 38 refrigerant line set down exterior to new unit location.
The warranty is 5Year Parts, 10 year compressor & 1 Year Labor.

Equipment is (American standard):
AUD120R9V5 variable speed 2 stage gas furnaces
4TXCC060 Aluminum Evaporator Coil With TXV

Total $15,165

So, what do you think?

I’ll post the updated Coolray estimate when I receive it.

Posted under On the Home Front, Retail Experiences

This post was written by Marc
on April 7, 2009 at 9:11 pm

23,567 views

6 Comments so far

  1. King April 7, 2009 10:07 pm

    I don’t know if this would work or not, but try giving a few ‘home inspectors’ a call and see what they would charge to take a look at your house, and their opinion on your estimates. They are usually used when buying a house, and they look it over and tell you what is wrong, and how much it will cost to fix, without actually doing anything. They SHOULD be albe to give you a less biased opinion, then those trying to sell you stuff.

  2. Tu Diep, PE May 21, 2010 5:38 pm

    This is a year old but maybe its worth my 2 cents. I think you can find better prices. Trane equipment is very expensive so expect to pay a premium for anything with the TRane logo on it. Not sure you need “dual fuel” heat pump and natural gas for a home.
    13 seer is the required minimum efficiency of today’s energy code. (I am in California) Yours may be different. Do not use anything less for new installation. Use R-410A as R-22 will be phased out soon.

  3. Marc June 2, 2010 8:41 pm

    @Tu Diep, PE – Hi Tu Diep, I eventually ended up going with another contractor (Accutemp) and ended up putting in a SEER 13 system for around $7,000.

    Mine is a 4.5 – 5 Ton unit and the economies of scale are not that great for such capacity units. My choice was vastly overpaying for a higher SEER rating to get a minor payback from the government rebate or to zone my house and use a couple of smaller high SEER units. The extra expense there was also not worth it at all for me.

  4. Ronald Hietala June 8, 2010 7:41 pm

    The federal tax credit of up to $1,500 is available only if the new equipment has a SEER of 15 or higher.

  5. Marc June 8, 2010 8:23 pm

    @Ronald Hietala – Thanks Ronald, ya that extra couple of notches in SEER rating was WAY too pricey to justify the tiny government rebate. SEER 13 was the best tradeoff in cost vs efficiency that I was able to make for a 5 ton unit.

  6. Andy June 28, 2010 2:03 pm

    Great Blog. I am in the same boat and going through headaches of dermining what is best for a 20 year old unit in the attic a house that has been expanding by 700 sq feet. I think might hurt the pocket book.

    Andy

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