AC/Furnace replacement - figuring out who to go with

hitthewall55August 20, 2012

Hi everyone, feedback would be much appreciated on our current HVAC situation. We live in Maryland - DC suburbs in a split level. House is about 2000 ft. total, but 1000 feet of that on the lower level is half underground. The evap coil on a 25 year old Ruud 2 ton blew up and so we are going to replace the AC and the 20 year old Carrier furnace while we're at it. Both units were more than adequate as far as heating and cooling the house so we're not looking to change size. So far we have the following estimates:

1)Amana 13 SEER

Furnace: AMH80604B

AC: GSX130241

Coil/air handler: CAPF3030B6

price 4884

2) Amana 14 Seer

Furnace: AMVC80604B

AC: ASX140241

Coil/air handler: CAPF3636B6

price: 5463

This company has sterling reviews and seemed very professional and easy to work with. These estimates include lineset and some minor issues with the junction box and water heater venting and repositioning the filter access.

Company 2: Bryant 13 Seer

furnace: 315AAV036070

AC: 113ANW024

coil/handler: CNPVP3017ATA

price: 5300

Also includes lineset and water heater venting. No mention of the electrical issues noted by 3 other companies as needing to be brought up to code, also no relocation of filter access. The rep for this company also showed up at 7:30 pm for a 1 pm appointment with no call, which worries me, in spite of pretty good reviews on the company.

Company 3: Trane

Furnace: TUDIA080R924

AC: 4TTB3024

Coil: 4TXCA0243

Price: 4500

This quote had a flush and leak check of the lines. A new lineset would be an extra 200 which I'm guessing will be necessary. This company also had excellent reviews and a good word of mouth reputation.

We definitely preferred dealing with companies 1 and 3. Our concern is that we were warned off of Goodman and Amana seems to be the same thing as Goodman. Company 1 also priced a Bryant option for us but it was much higher. The workmanship from Company 1 is supposed to be great (they've landed on multiple Best of lists) and the Amana warranty seems more comprehensive than the others, but again, we were warned against Goodman. Any thoughts on comparing apples to oranges here would be appreciated. The prices all seem to be about in line with each other.

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I have more faith in the Bryant and Trane products than the Amana/Goodman.

The Bryant Evolution is a 2-stage variable speed furnace. The Trane is a basic single stage unit. The Bryant is a good value if this price correct. Does it include the Evolution controller, it not get a quote to add it.

I would also be annoyed if the rep showed up six hours late with no call. It is the busy time of the year and hopefully not an indication of their workmanshop.

Have you gotten quotes for 95%+ efficiency furnaces?

    Bookmark   August 20, 2012 at 8:25PM
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We didn't get quotes for 95% because all of the guys after talking to me said it probably wasn't worth the price difference to us. The old furnace was totally adequate and we keep the house at 60 during the winter when we're home. (apparently this is crazy, as is our 80 degrees for the AC, but we're comfortable at those temps)Would the cost differential in a 95% furnace ever come back to us over the lifetime of the unit? That's why we were leaning towards a 13 SEER with the AC too.

The other guys told me things have slowed down a lot with the cool temps (we've been very comfortable since the AC died just opening the windows) the past few days, and the very very late guy didn't really give a reason as to the lateness. He was nice when he got here, but the lack of call + lateness seemed a little concerning as far as it might reflect on quality of work being similarly haphazard.

Would a Bryant (10 year parts/2 years labor) product with a flaky installer be better than the Amana with a better warranty (10 years parts and 10 years labor) from a more established installer that is considered top notch for the area? I'm a bit worried that the price on the Bryant is going to creep up once they start work and find that they do need to modify the electrical stuff and such. The company with the Amana quotes wrote up an estimate for the exact same Bryant items + the electrical and such for 6100. I can't find a single bad review//complaint about those guys out of lots and lots of Angie's List reviews, so I would think they'd do an excellent installation. Are the Amana products bad enough to avoid even with a good install and that long warranty do you think?

    Bookmark   August 20, 2012 at 9:29PM
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Those prices are awesome. If I could get those prices in Southern California, I would replace my entire system. Please post the system that you end up installing.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2012 at 12:18AM
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Thanks both of you for the reassurance that prices were ok. My cousin in Texas was saying they were high and I said that everything was more expensive in DC as far as skilled labor, but thanks for reminding me that a great price is really relative to the area.

I think we are scratching the late guy off the list. His reviews on Angie's List have gone downhill sharply lately so it seems like something else is going on there.

The company that quoted the Trane system for us told me they could also do a Carrier system (I'd have to get model numbers) for a few hundred more. They have 1 B and a couple hundred A ratings on Angie's so we feel really solid about them. Any benefit in Carrier over Trane? Worth it to have him do a full write up on that?

He was the only one who didn't recommend a new line set. He said he thought flush and leak check would be fine or at worst replacing the small copper line only. Am I crazy to think that with the systems being so old it makes more sense to just get all new while we're at it? It would add a couple hundred dollars.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2012 at 7:43AM
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If the lineset is accessible, then it should be replaced. This will ensure it is the correct size and it has no R22 refrigerant. If the old lineset is flushed, then you have to trust the contractor is doing it correctly. Replacing is worthwhile in my opinion.

It is better to have a good installtion with lower grade equipment, than a poor installation with top of the line equipment. I am a fan of Carrier/Bryant equipment since this is what I have. I have read many compliants about Goodman/Amana equipment. This is why I recommended the Bryant over the Amana.

I am suspicious of the Bryant price. You can't that price where I live in NJ. Perhaps it best to stay away from that contractor.

If it true you keep the temperature at 60 in the winter and 80 in the summer, then a 2-stage furnace is rarely going to operate in the high stage.

I am not an expert on Amana, but I would not consider it unless the 10 year warranty was directly from Amana. I personally would feel more comfortable with the Trane equipment with a new lineset and the corrected electrical issues.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2012 at 10:28AM
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Hit the wall

What thermostat was quoted for the Bryant system?

You need to recheck the model number and size of the Trane Furnace. Appears to be the XR80 model. That furnace is a poor choice.


    Bookmark   August 21, 2012 at 11:41AM
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