Gas company vs HVAC regarding furnace repair

bandjo97October 24, 2012


I am posting this becuase I want to make sure I'm making a good decision so I thought this would be a great place to get some feedback.

I live in a manufactured home in Southern CA. It was built in 1975. Our heater has been an awesome performer, blows hot air and heats up the home fast. (FYI: we've done some major remodeling, new roof, sheet rock instead of paneling, etc...) It's very well insulated. (in case you need some extra info).

I had the gas company out to check our appliances last week. He checked the furnace and said that there was a yellow flame, should be burning blue and found a minor crack in the heater exchange. He said that could be monitored every year or so and to get the flame issue repaired.

Perfect. I called an HVAC company (referred by a friend). They say the furnace is dead. The pilot doesn't seem to stay lit... they found several cracks in the firebox. The carbon-monoxide threat was too great and they didn't recommend a "band aid" fix.

They said a new furnace would be at least $4500 to buy/install. They also said that because this is a mobile home, there is only one that can be installed in here and they are very expensive...

Then they charged me $105 for the "service check" and said if I went with them, they would deduct that from the cost.

They never even turned the furnace on!

We just had the furnace on last week in it worked pilot problems.

So, I did some googling, found out that there are several models that can be used in mobile homes. Not just one.

So I guess I had 3 questions:

Is it customary for a HVAC company to charge for whatever is needed for a "quote"? (now I feel stupid even handing them a check)

What is an average install cost?

In order to determine BTU, is the formula: square footage x 30 = btu output?

Thank you... I appreciate you taking the time to read this. My husband is out of town and I want to be sure I don't sign or commit to anything that is unnecessary.

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you paid for the service call..and your peace of mind.
if they do the install, your $105 will go towards
the price. sort of a thanks for chosing our company.
you should have yearly check ups on your equipment to
catch problems before they get too bad.

cracked heat exchanger isn't anything to play around with.
granted it worked before, but carbon monoxide kills.
I wouldn't take the chance.
I'm suprised gas company didn't red tag the unit..
or the hvac company.

I don't know prices for trailer furnaces, you
could get more quotes.
I think size is a big constraint for trailers.
the one they recommended may be in the line
of brands they carry & service. the ones
you googled may not be brands they carry or

get more bids. compare equipment & prices.
rule of thumb sizing is common, but not the
best way to size equipment.

best of luck.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2012 at 6:34PM
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A few red flags with the HVAC company. The furnace must be listed for a mobile home. And using the identical model means that the base flange will fit with no problem. If that is the case, a couple of knowledgeable people can do it in two hours.
$4500 is quite steep if the furnace is just a direct interchange.
And they seem to just have jumped on the replacement kick without properly evaluating your existing furnace.

Here is a link that might be useful: Mobile home

    Bookmark   October 24, 2012 at 6:47PM
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Thanks... my update should be interesting. Yes the Gas Co did have a reg tag on it that I hadn't seen before.

Regardless, I called the Gas Co back for another check. This time a different guy showed up. He could not find any of the issues that the first gas guy found and definitely didn't see any issues that the HVAC company found. The pilot stayed lit, the flame didn't "smother" and he could not find any evidence of cracking.

He suggested that we look into a new furnace, however, this one would be fine for now.

Go figure! It is an upflow furnace and I do realize that we need one rated for mobile homes. I am definitely going to start looking for a new one, but he said it shouldn't come close to 4500.

Since the gas company isn't making to look money off of me, I am more comfortable with their findings than I am with the HVAC company.

Thanks for your's been a very educational day for me.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2012 at 7:12PM
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My husband worked for So Cal Gas for 43 years in most of the jobs that they have.

His suggestion is that you call the Gas Co back and ask to have a supervisor come out.

You don't want to take chances with your life if you do actually have a cracked heat exchanger.

Hope this helps.

The supervisors have years more experience than the techs.

We had an issue with a wall furnace at an apartment that we rented out. My husband actually had the supervisor look at the furnace and the problem was entirely different than what the service tech said. It was actually a clogged roof vent.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2012 at 8:02PM
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Do you have a working carbon monoxide detector? That is the first thing I would Like NOW!

They actually installed one right on the duct next to my furnace when I got my new system installed. I didn't ask for it, so it must be standard procedure now (or may be just part the program I went thru which also includes safety checks--they also changed my dryer vent from that tinfoil stuff to a rigid one)

    Bookmark   October 26, 2012 at 10:27PM
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