Reasonable HVAC for small condo in Northern Virginia

condoowner1October 21, 2012

Hi -

The HVAC in my 1,100 sq ft condo in Northern Virginia stopped working, and due to the age of the system (20+ years), the motor that is broken is no longer available, so repairing the unit unfortunately is not an option.

The contractor I've been using for maintenance quoted me $7,600 to install the following:

Carrier Comfort Gas Furnace, 58STA070-08, 70,000 btu

Carrier Coil, CNPVP2414, 2 ton

Aerosys A/C, THDC24, 2 ton

I only plan on keeping the condo for another year or so, and sinking almost $8k into the unit is simply not within the budget. Does anyone have any ideas for alternative systems?

I've been trying to quickly get up to speed on HVAC systems but would appreciate any advice readers may have.

Many thanks

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Advise you to get a couple of other bids.

I am not sure about your region, but some northern states will be required after May 31 2013 to use 90% efficient furnaces. As this is not the law currently, you still have options that you won't have after that change.

I suggest when you ask for bids you request a standard efficiency replacement system, and make sure to buy the extended warranty if it can be transferred to the new owner. This will make the new system a positive over other units in your building that have not had the system replaced. Tell the contractor you are planning to move in 1-2 years and you want a good basic replacement system.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 12:51AM
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The good news is there are a lot of HVAC companies in the metropolitan area. I don't know if manufacturers prices per 70K BTU unit are pretty similar. The bad news is your heading into cold weather so if you can be patient and creative temporarily with electric alternatives while you bid out, that would help you. That said, my price for heating and air and coil (but larger furnance 120 btu and air) was about the same in 2003. So given inflation, metal price etc. maybe it's about right? I don't know. I hear there are 'split systems' that are economical, but have no idea if applicable to you.

Not to high jack your thread but I'm curious about what juliekcmo said is coming down the energy pipe: 90,000 BTU "high efficiency" gas furnaces use PVC straight to outside, yes? What about those of us venting through a dedicated chimney flue? Can't imagine we'd have to change everything around and make more holes in our bricks? In fact, I'm having a SS chimney liner put in now on a 2003 American Standard (long story).

    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 4:34PM
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Sparkling...the efficiency is 90%, not a 90,000 btu.

There are standard venting 80% efficient furnaces which are sold now. Standard furnaces can vent through a common vent.

The rules change for some regions will not allow them to be sold or installed in heating dependent regions after May 2013. These regions will be required to use condensing 90% or higher efficiency furnaces. These furnaces have secondary heat exchanger and are vented to the outdoors differently

Here is a link that might be useful: here is a link about the new standards

    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 4:50PM
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Yes, I meant 90% high efficiency furnaces not btu. oops, big difference.

The OP states she lives in Northern Virginia, as do I. I checked the final versions and Virginia falls in the 80% recommended AFUE efficiency for both heat and air conditioning. Check page 60 on link below, look at small ** which lists southern states. It's only 2012, so 80% efficiency is ok now, and I guess I'm reading in VA will be for a bit. Wonder what the price difference is between weatherized HVAC units (typically fit for weather or outdoors) and non-weatherized units (like most have inside their house/garage/crawl.

Still, my question is: don't 90% efficient furnaces require PVC direct to outside? How is every homeowner possibly going to be able to comply with that (northern states are listed on page 60 as *)? And who says an 80% two stage system is less efficient than a 90% single stage anyway?

OP-please let me know if you'd like names of the local HVAC companies I have used.

Here is a link that might be useful: final version dept of energy new HVAC regs

    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 5:20PM
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Thank you both for the helpful comments. SparklingWater, I definitely would appreciate any recommendations for HVAC contractors that you may have. The company that gave me the above quote took 2 weeks - while the weather was nice - to get me the above quote. I'm suspicious that the delay was an intentional effort to run me up against cold weather, when I'd be more likely to go with their high bid. But, perhaps I'm jus being paranoid - $8k for an 1,100 sq ft place just seems awfully high. I'll be getting other bids and look forward to seeing what those are. Thanks for the help.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 5:34PM
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Shop around. You can definitely get a new furnace and a/c installed for probably about 1/2 of 8,000.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2012 at 12:29PM
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Is this condo a high rise?

    Bookmark   October 22, 2012 at 4:57PM
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Good gosh almighty.

You are being grossly oversized on furnace.

I agree on 2 ton AC condenser. However, I don't recommend model or brand you were quoted. A matching system is mighty important.

However, the furnace must be grossly oversized. Ask for load calculation. This is pure madness. Ditch the dealer who quoted you this.


    Bookmark   October 22, 2012 at 7:51PM
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1,100sq ft, Northern Virginia, why not just install a low-end mini split HP?


    Bookmark   October 22, 2012 at 8:04PM
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condowner-I sent you an email. Good luck!

    Bookmark   October 22, 2012 at 9:01PM
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to answer your question, yes 90+ furnaces need their own pvc type of vent.

Sites not able to do this may be forced into electric heat or mini splits.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2012 at 7:43AM
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