Furnace for a lake house

MDean5October 22, 2011


I've been reading through posts and haven't been able to info on heating a part time residence. Help :)

We need to get a new furnace for our lake house. We are there very infrequently in the winter (maybe one weekend every two months). We set the heat to around 45-50 degrees.

We have spoken to a contractor and he suggested that we need a lower efficiency heater b/c of the temperature that we set the thermostat to. He suggested an 80% efficiency. Does that make sense? This is a lower efficiency than what we currently have.

Next question . . . the honest, ethical folks at American Home Shield (AHS) - snicker - are telling us that they can replace our 100,000 BTU furnance with a Payne 100,000 BTU for $300. They want to cash us out because our contractor said that 100,000 BTU is too big for our house and recommended an 80,000 BTU unit. Obviously AHS wants to spend as little as possible, and our contractor said that Payne furnances are not good. Can AHS really buy a 100,000 BTU furnance for $300? Seems like they are trying to rip us off (not surprising based on the amount of complaints that I found online about AHS).

The home is in Wisconsin. The 80,000 BTU 80% efficiency Trane furncance that our contractor recommended will cost about $1200. So, we will have to pay about $900 out of pocket.

Thanks in advance for any advice/help.


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Just to be clear, this is nat gas or LP propane.

What size living area for lake house?

How would you describe the insulation properties of lake house?

Where would new furnace be located? Home could accept high efficient condensing furnace?

I have to admit I am not a fan of and very untrustworthy of third party warranty companies. And I would not have a Payne for a dog house.


    Bookmark   October 22, 2011 at 10:39PM
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The furnace is propane. The house is a ranch and is about 1500 sq ft. The home is about 28 years old, we have only been in it for 1 year. I think it is fairly well insulated. Some of the windows have been replaced, but not all. But I don't see daylight coming through any where and I haven't felt drafts.

The furnace is located in the crawlspace (it is a large crawlspace, earthen bottom but has a vapor barrior). The problem with the existing one - other than it is the original and really old - is that the pilot light kept going out. The service folks came out and replaced the burning element and/or the panel around the pilot and cleane it. But the next time we went there, the pilot light would be out again. The contractor thought that there was no air flow so when the furnace fired up, it would light improperly and extinguish itself. Forgive me - I don't totally understand how the furnance works.

I don't know if the home could accept a high efficiency condensing furnace - I am not sure what the requirements are :)

I appreciate any thoughts that you have!


    Bookmark   October 23, 2011 at 12:08AM
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I think 80% is fine for what you are using it for - but I'd want to know how much more a 90 would cost. Your crawlspace should be ok for a condensing furnace. The issue is mainly freezing and that is worse in an attic (from what I understand)

    Bookmark   October 23, 2011 at 6:41AM
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Any idea of size and age of existing furnace? Must be pretty old to have a pilot light.

With propane being your heating fuel, I would look into a high eff 95% furnace. This would be a plus if you decided to sell the lake house.


    Bookmark   October 23, 2011 at 6:56AM
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It is the original furnance - 26 years old. It is a beast, and I have had to crawl down into the crawl space and light it. yuck! It is 100,000 BTU.

I thought that from what the contractor explained to me, you couldn't set the thermostat for higher efficiency furnance below 50 degrees. Because we leave the house around 45 degrees when we are not there, he said that we needed a lower efficiency. If that is inaccurate, please let me know! I don't want to burn through any more propane than we need too :)


    Bookmark   October 23, 2011 at 10:28AM
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