Re: Choosing a new furnace
When you say "furnace" I assume you are talking about a FORCED HOT AIR heating system, and NOT a forced hot water boiler heating system.
Most of the info at the site listed below suggesting the steps to go thru in selecting a new furnace/hot water/heating system will also apply to the selection of a new force hot water furnace, with or without combining it also with an AC system.
There are also sites below to explain the different types of forced hot air furnace types available, from the standard 80% efficient furnace to the 90+% efficient/ hi-efficiency furnaces---the percentages listed refer to the AFUE efficiency of the furnace---an 80% furnace burns 80% of the fuel to heat the house & sends the other 20% as bad combustion products up the flue to heat the chimney (heat rises) so the dangerous gases will be expelled from the house; 90% to 95% hi-efficiency furnaces burn up to 95% of the fuel & expel the rest in condensate vapor & water that is expelled from the house by plastic drains.
As JLMcDaniel notes, many of these newer hi-efficiency furnaces cost lots more money, are more complicated in design & often require more service calls to iron out the quirks, especially during the first year of ownership; so it often gets to be a pain in the neck to have to constantly call the heating serviceperson while you sit there with no heat; in addition, having a hi-efficiency furnace installed often means that the present chimney can't be used, or requires an aluminum flex metal duct (flue liner--$300-$500) to be run thru it; also, many existing furnace locations (garage, attic, unheated area) are not suitable for condensate drains due to freezing, or drains have to be installed at sometimes considerable expense.
You should therefore discuss these points with the several heating contractors you call to give you estimates---they may suggest that the choice of heating equipment should be based on a less efficient 80% furnace, where you can use existing chimney and existing furnace location, and avoiding other additional expensive equipment like condensate drains & draft-inducer furnace power vents (Tjernlund & others) so you don't incur considerably more expense by installing the higher end furnaces.
Your first step before you install a new furnace should be to evaluate the exterior-walls insulation in your house & have cellulose insulation blown in to all non-insulated exterior walls; this will realize a considerable savings in heating/cooling bills over the year for the cost of a few hundred $$$; also replace any single-pane windows or missing storms with double-pane new windows.
The site below on boilers lists Angie's List ($8 for 1 month's subscription) as well as free sites like the BBB, Yelp, homeadvisor.com, Service Magic & others----I've had good luck with Angie's List, probably because the people who have had a recent furnace installed in the prospective furnace-buyer's geographical area write a "good/bad/fair" review of the job the installer did---this is extremely important because you will be making the very important decision of a contractor selection based on their TRACK RECORD WITH PREVIOUS CUSTOMERS---always get 3 estimates from 3 different contractors in any event, since the choice of equipment, plan of installation & cost of the install will vary widely amongst the contractors.
Well-known, quality furnaces are made by Bryant, American Standard, Heil, Rheem, Thermopride, Trane to name a few; Carrier, Lennox & York are ok, but their furnaces tend to have too many proprietary parts (parts made only by that particular mfgr, unable to be obtained as less costly interchangeable parts elsewhere, thus expensive)---if the local distributor happens to be out of the proprietary part, the customer often waits in the cold till it arrives.
RSTY Thermal (below, Richard Trethewey family heating business/TOH heating expert) is near your area & may be able to refer you to a reliable installer.
You will have to make the decision whether to install at the same time an AC system, that will use the same heating ducts, or make other arrangements for summer cooling.
Last edited by Pelton; 01-01-2013 at 03:41 PM.
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