Requesting feedback! (System inspection)

stinky-gardenerMay 4, 2011

Today I got a checkup performed on my cooling system. I have not turned on the air conditioning this year yet. I get the furnace and CS inspected annually, and have been in the house 5 years this month.

The serviceman wrote on my invoice (& explained verbally) that while the cooling systmen seems to be in o.k. condition, the furnace is in very poor condition. Normally, they don't inspect the furnace this time of year, but something caught his eye while he was looking up there.

He went on to discover and wrote, that the "Heat exchanger was cracked or blocked/clogged. Furnace had to be disabled." In other words, he turned off the gas. He said it was not safe to leave it on. He said that when he comes back to do the Fall inspection/service he would clean it and re-evaluate it. However, he did not sound optimistic that cleaning it would render it functional again. The system dates to 1987. The air-conditioning, btw, is powered by electricity, not gas.

What is your take on this scenario? I know no one has a crystal ball, but is this fixable? Or, come Fall, do you think I should I expect to have to replace the system?

Any suggestions or feedback would be appreciated!

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Heat exchanger is either cracked or clogged? That is like saying "the wall is either white or black", isn't it? (The question is aimed at techs, not the OP.)

The service company must do installs too. If you need a replacement then why don't they want to do now? That would be in their interest since they get your money now. The whole thing sounds very weird.

You should find out what is wrong and remedy it now. The cleaning can be done now instead of the fall. They can evaluate it at the same time. If cleaning fixes what ever is wrong with it, they can skip the cleaning in the fall and do it a little earlier than usual next year. (There is nothing magic about doing it in a particular month.) If you need a new furnace, the time to get estimates and make leisurely decisions is NOW, not when the frost is on the pumpkins! Maybe he wants you over a barrel in the Fall.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2011 at 2:31PM
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Thanks for your reply, Ionized. Yes, I wondered why he couldn't discern whether something was cracked or clogged. Maybe the thing is so filthy it can't be seen clearly?

You make excellent points about getting the "fall" cleaning done now. Indeed, there is no magical month for furnace cleaning. That makes perfect sense. I've already paid for the fall cleaning, maybe I can schedule it asap rather than wait. I will call tomorrow and see.

I don't "think" the guy has sinister motivations, but maybe he's just in the habit of doing furnace cleanings in fall and isn't thinking out of his box. Also, he said he'd be surprised if my AC lasted through the summer...(due to its age.) Maybe he thinks I'll be more open to replacing the system if the AC goes on the brink AND he's warned me about problems with the furnace.

Thanks again!

    Bookmark   May 4, 2011 at 8:29PM
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Maybe I'm wrong, but thinking about my PMs, why would an a/c check (check blower amps draw and lubrication, inspect/clean coil) include anything that would enable a 'chance' spotting of a clogged heat exchanger?


    Bookmark   May 5, 2011 at 9:32AM
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Hi Vee! Thanks for your comments.

I dunno! The units are located in close proximity to one another? The guy just took it upon himself to look at it while he was in the attic?

I want to call them today. What should I say? Should I go with another company? Does this raise red flags? My heat was turned off (fine for now) but something must happen before I can use it again come October!

    Bookmark   May 5, 2011 at 9:59AM
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Don't you need to pull the blower to get a look? O.K., I guess you could raise a cased coil or plenum to get a gander.


    Bookmark   May 5, 2011 at 1:52PM
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I don't have a gas furnace, but my parents do. If one was to take the side panel off to inspect the blowers, filters and AC evaporator, one could not help but be looking directly at the furnace components. They're right there.

BTW: if the whole system is 24 yrs old, you are reaching the end of it's useful life.

Nothing really raises any flags, other than he may have been in a hurry to get to other appointments that day and did not have time to dig any deeper. Telling you that you have 5-6 months to decide what to do is a good thing, right?

    Bookmark   May 5, 2011 at 2:29PM
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Vee, thanks for coming back, but you lost me! Way over my head!

Weedmeister, thanks. That's reassuring.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2011 at 4:07PM
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"Vee, thanks for coming back, but you lost me! Way over my head! "

The bulk of the HE is not visible when you remove the panel. The burners might provide access for a (snake) video camera (not standard equipment).

It takes more than a casual glance to evaluate a HE.


    Bookmark   May 6, 2011 at 7:05AM
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Thanks, V!

    Bookmark   May 6, 2011 at 9:30AM
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