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Review quote for central AC replacement

Posted by idmd (My Page) on
Mon, Apr 15, 13 at 10:38

This is a quote from my local heating A/C company to replace my central AC.

Current System: A 15+ year old 3.5 ton unit with a SEER 8 rating located in an uninsulated attic. Existing ducts are not sealed or insulated - simple setup with a 50' main supply duct that runs a straight line down the middle of the house and 10 smaller ducts running from it to vents. Home is a ranch style house with 2500 sq ft. Located in southern CT. Current system is obviously inefficient and needs to run 100% of the time during hot weather but does cool and dehumidify well.

Quote includes:
Trane outdoor AC unit
Condenser leveling pad
Trane Hyperion indoor air handler
Watertight safety drain pan and platform
Honeywell thermostat

Scope of work:
Remove current air handler and condensing unit and discard per EPA requirments
Place new air handler in attic with water tight pan/wood platform
Wrap existing supply and return distribution system with R8 duct wrap
Install new R8 flexible duct from existing distribution line to ceiling registers
Place outdoor condensing unit on a approved pad
Replace refrigeration piping/electrical wiring
Complete drain piping.

Efficiency Options:

1. XB 14 SEER OPTION - $11985.00
Indoor unit: GAM5A0C42M31
Outdoor unit: 4TTB4042E1
Combined SEER = 15

2. Xli 15 SEER OPTION - $13895.00
Indoor unit: AM7A0C48H41
Outdoor unit: 4TTX5042A1
Combined SEER = 16

3. Xli 16 SEER OPTION - $14770.00
Indoor unit: AM7A0C48H41
Outdoor unit: 4TTX6048G1
Combined SEER = 17

Honestly all of these quotes seems really high. There's nothing particularly difficult about this change out. Guy is claiming it will take two guys 4 days to complete for EIGHT man days and that this is where the majority of the cost is occurred. Guy was pushing option number 2. Honestly I know very little about HVAC.

Any thoughts or opinions would be appreciated.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Review quote for central AC replacement

idmd

Shop around. I find the quotes on high side as well. I would get some pricing on both Carrier/Bryant and Rudd/Rheem.

You definitely should put some insulation in attic R40 and have all ductwork insulated at minimum R8 insulation.

Do yourself a favor and make this part of your project.

How many returns do you have? How are you currently filtering your return air?

BTW, how do you heat and with what fuel?

Post back.

IMO


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RE: Review quote for central AC replacement

Attic was reinsulated a few years ago by previous owner - everyone who has been up there has said they did a nice job...just ignored the ducts. System has two returns.

I have natural gas heat running through radiators.

Thanks for the input!


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RE: Review quote for central AC replacement

The quotes seem to be generous on the labor estimate. Unless there is something unusual with your attic, I would expect the work could be done in three days.

HVAC contractors don't like to break down the prices, but in this case I feel it would be fair to ask the cost of the new duct work.

Get two more quotes before making a decision.


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RE: Review quote for central AC replacement

A pet peeve of mine is ductwork pricing including insulation. Many use this type work as large profit centers when in fact these hourly people are usually low paid and cost of material is relatively cheap.

I would ask for a breakdown between the HVAC install and ductwork modifications including insulation/sealing.

If dealer balks, then I would walk.

IMO


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RE: Review quote for central AC replacement

You have nat gas boiler? Do you know its efficiency rating?

How many returns do you have? How are you currently filtering your return air?

Post back...


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RE: Review quote for central AC replacement

Ranch style house with natural gas boiler in basement going to cast iron radiators and central AC in the attic. Not sure the efficiency rating on the boiler but it's only a few years old and our heating bills are not high at all during the winter.

No filtration system on AC. Two returns on the AC - one for the main part of the house and one in the bedroom area - house has central foyer with bedrooms to the left and everything else to the right.


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RE: Review quote for central AC replacement

I would purchase a pleated media filter cabinet and have installed at return end of air handler. This will help indoor air quality as well as protect air handler evap coil and blower motor.

IMO


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RE: Review quote for central AC replacement

This is a picture "looking right". You can see the main duct. Yellow insulation was just thrown on top of the supply duct.


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RE: Review quote for central AC replacement

This is "looking left" from same spot as first pic. You can see the air handler which is positioned in the middle of the house over the foyer. Supply duct is in the middle of the pic and the two returns run parallel to it but to the right of this pic.Hard to see with the insulation but the supply duct does run almost to the wall with the attic fan.


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RE: Review quote for central AC replacement

Left look


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RE: Review quote for central AC replacement

We have one cold zone in the house and here's why. There are two 2'x3' open shafts on either side of the chimney. No insulation and as a result when cold out the walls that boarder these shafts are freezing. This is located smack in the middle of the house. Not sure what they were for - there is some counter-weight pulley system that goes into there.

How would you insulate this area? Plywood over the top with fiber glass?


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RE: Review quote for central AC replacement

First...thank you to everyone who has or will respond. Your comments and advice are greatly appreciated.

So I spoke to this guy last night and he will write up an itemized list of labor/cost of materials. He did say to do it correctly the main supply duct would need to be disassembled and reassembled to seal and insulate it properly - in other words it couldn't be insulated as is in place. Also he said the access to the attic is a scuttle and that the current unit may need to be "disassembled significantly more to get it out".

Had a second guy come out after that to look - hasn't given the quote yet. I he said he does everything himself with one helper and he thinks he can do it in 2.5 days and when I asked if the scuttle or the attic complicates anything he said no. This guy did my neighbor's house a few years ago for significantly less than anyone else quoted and it turned out well. He has a different outlook than guy one who said he'd only install very good to great quality components and he only deals in Trane. This guy said he won't put in low-end stuff but based on our budget will look around for deals/sales and try and fit that to our budget.

I'm torn because I like the philosophy of the first guy more but not if it's going to cost 30-50% more.

Anyway I have a few more companies coming out this week.


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RE: Review quote for central AC replacement

Ok second quote from the guy who was here yesterday - I don't have model numbers as he hasn't written it up yet but he said he wanted to install a 4ton Rheem with a SEER 13 rating. Project would include changing air handler, AC, and lines.

Interestingly he said the main supply duct was internally insulated and he was just going to wrap that duct without disassembling it and replace the smaller feeder ducts with new insulated flexible ducts.

His cost for the job $6000.

My concerns: He said 2 days maximum. He is the only one to mention the "internally insulated duct". Is Rheem a lesser brand? I'm assuming if wants to use a SEER 13 system he's scrapping the bottom of the quality barrel?

My neighbors are perfectly happy but I've called some of their "guys" in the past and they definitely value $ over quality.

Should I be afraid of this quote??


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RE: Review quote for central AC replacement

I would want to see some model numbers.

Rudd and sister company Rheem are an underrated and overlooked brand in the residential HVAC market but depending on model make some solid equipment. Little to no advertising and usually don't have cutting edge features and efficiencies like some of the big boys. I personally would want a 15 SEER system minimum.

Tell us about your main supply duct and main return duct. I would like more info on the internal insulation?

Again hopefully you can get some model numbers both outside condenser and inside air handler.

Post back.

IMO


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RE: Review quote for central AC replacement

To be honest.....the main supply and return ducts look like bare duct to me. Guy #2 was the first person to mention "internal insulation". Some other warning signs about guy #2 - he said the existing unit is 4 ton - it's 3.5 ton. The first company did measure everything in the attic as well as southern facing windows and a bunch of other things and did plug it into a computer to get the 3.5 ton size. This guy is just replacing what he thinks is there. I asked him if going down to a 3.5 ton with a higher SEER rating made sense and he dismissed it saying I'll never make my money back on the increased investment going from 13 to 15. All in all he's just "eyeballin" this job.


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RE: Review quote for central AC replacement

Depending on models, I am not scared of Rheem. But I do have some doubts about this Rheem dealer.

Unless you get some answers that make you more comfortable, I probably would walk and solicit several more quotes.

IMO


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RE: Review quote for central AC replacement

What is he proposing to use to wrap the main duct? Is it the R8 duct wrap or something else? The internal insulation comment seems bogus to me.


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RE: Review quote for central AC replacement

Good question mike_home. He said briefly the insulation comes on big 100'x48" rolls?

I suppose I could get to the bottom of the internal insulation by going up there and looking......


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RE: Review quote for central AC replacement

There is R8 insulation wrap that comes in 48 inch widths in large rolls. If it were my house I would want to insulate the metal ducts with a higher R value.


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RE: Review quote for central AC replacement

3rd quote came in today:

4 ton Bryant 13 SEER condenser with a 4 ton Bryant standard blower.
Fiberglass condenser pad
Replace all refrigerant lines
Wrap main supply trunk with R8 - replace 9 runs with R8 flex
$8060.00

Upgrade to Bryant Legacy Condenser and variable speed blower -16 SEER
$9230

Upgrade to Bryant Evolution condenser and blower - 16 SEER
$10660

Interesting comments - Guy said he also a Trane dealer but doesn't sell them anymore because their aluminum coils are failing. He spent about 2 mins evaluating the system.

Comment welcome.....


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RE: Review quote for central AC replacement

So far I'm most comfortable with company 1 - although they are significantly more because they wanted to disassemble the duct work to seal/insulate it. Every other company has said that's completely unnecessary. My questions are:

1. Can the supply duct be adequately sealed and wrapped "in place" without disassembling it?

2. What do people think about "countering" their quote and asking them to give me a price to wrap the supply duct as is?

Thanks!


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RE: Review quote for central AC replacement

"nteresting comments - Guy said he also a Trane dealer but doesn't sell them anymore because their aluminum coils are failing. He spent about 2 mins evaluating the system."

My experience and that of many others has been the opposite. Aluminum coils are the better choice over copper. Leaks due to formicary corrosion of copper coils have been an issue brands have struggled with for years, definitely to include Carrier/Bryant. It is not uncommon to see them leaking after 5-7 years or less. Of course several variables impact this. Aluminum coils (such as the ones used in the Hyperion air handlers) are immune to the issue. More and more brands are starting to introduce aluminum coils for this reason and more will in the near future. I disagree with the comment that the coils are failing -- likely a sales pitch. Could it be that they are *not* failing compared to the tin-plated copper coils in the Carrier/Bryant units, and therefore not generating the revenue they get when they have to replace a coil not covered under a labor warranty? Who knows. FYI, Carrier/Bryant now offers aluminum cased evaporator coils (not in air handlers, unfortunately), and like the tin-plated coils it would not surprise me if they became the standard and all the distributor stocked in the near future.

As far as wrapping and sealing the ducts. Looking at the photos you provided, it would be difficult to do the job properly without removing/raising the duct off the floor. If they are careful about it, it is not all that difficult to remove pieces of duct joined with slips/drives and reconnect them later. Wrapping and sealing the ductwork properly will take some time, but 4 days does sound like a large estimate of time for that job. Hard to judge without being able to see the job, but I'll take your word for it that it is a routine change out. Then again, if they replaced the system and hauled away the old on the first day, I could imagine disassembling, insulating, and sealing 50+ feet of duct would take at least a full additional day and likely two. If they take their time to do quality work, good on them.

This post was edited by ryanhughes on Sun, Apr 21, 13 at 22:13


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RE: Review quote for central AC replacement

Company one came out to calculate a heat gained/lost. Measured all the rooms and input all the variables and because of one room furthest from the air handler on the southern side of the house with large windows on 3 sides it bumped the requirement from 3.5 ton to 5 ton - he said that room alone (maybe 12x12') requires nearly a ton of cooling itself. Obviously 5 ton would add a significant amount $. He said if he changed the parameters from cooling the house to 75F on a 95F day to 77F on a 95F day the 4 ton works. He said I need to add another air return to do this and that the room in questions would likely be a few degrees warmer. As it is with the current system there could be as much as an 8-10F difference with just that room. I'm thinking after sealing/insulating and upgrading that should be more like 2-3F on the warmest days?

This stuff is really outside my knowledge - what do the experts think?


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RE: Review quote for central AC replacement

BTW....company 1 is the company that wants to disassemble sections of the main supply duct to seal and insulate all 4 sides. His feeling is there will be heat penetration on the underside and sweating will be a problem. He showed me an area in my dinning room ceiling that I never notices where the plaster is starting to buckle and sure enough the main supply duct runs above that very area (roof is new with no leaks). Also, he said the quoted price includes adding some runs to some of the larger rooms on the southern part of the house that currently only have one run and need two.


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RE: Review quote for central AC replacement

You would need to have a serious insulation problem if it takes nearly one ton of cooling for a 12 X 12 foot room. I think he is fudging the numbers. I also think a 95 degree outside temperature is a little pessimistic for CT. You should be fine with 4 tons assuming your duct work is large enough to handle the air flow. Do not go to 5 tons.

Do the windows have blinds? The glass does contribute a lot, but you can help reduce the heat gain by blocking the sun during the day. Are you going to add more insulation over this room?

It sounds like he wants to add more supplies and returns which explains why he thinks it is a 4 day job. This contractor is pricey, but he seems to want to attack all the problems and come up with a good solution.

If you do go with this contractor, it would be nice if you posted some pictures of the completed work.


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RE: Review quote for central AC replacement

Alright, I have his load form in front of me now.

Total sqft = 2510
Total required cooling 47602 Btuh @1600 cfm
Total required heating 75825 Btuh

The room in question is 192 sqft and he calculates in needs 276 cfm. Some rooms like the dinning room have too much flow as is and some like the very large living room don't have enough. Interestingly the "sun room" is the most cooling intensive room in the house even compared to the 464 sqft living room that only has one externally exposed wall and one large window.

As always comments welcome.....


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RE: Review quote for central AC replacement

Here is his load calc


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RE: Review quote for central AC replacement

page 2


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RE: Review quote for central AC replacement

Layout of house


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RE: Review quote for central AC replacement

Second page of calcs with totals


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RE: Review quote for central AC replacement

This looks like a legitimate load calculation. You should confirm the correct insulation values and orientation of the house has been entered. I also assume all the sizes of the windows have been captured.

The sun room has a lot of glass. Adding more supply feeds will help, but it is unlikely to be at the same temperature as the rest of the house. I think a 2-3 degree temperature difference is a reasonable goal.


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RE: Review quote for central AC replacement

Thanks mike_home. If anything the back of the house has more southern exposure....true north would be at the 10:30 position on the house plan. With the limitations of not being on site does 4 ton sound within the realm of reasonable?


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RE: Review quote for central AC replacement

To give you an idea today it was 70F outside and with no AC or windows open the sun room was 75F and the rest of the house was 68F....so even today there was a 7F difference. That room is all windows.


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RE: Review quote for central AC replacement

Your current AC is 3.5 tons and it manages to keep up on a hot day but running almost non-stop. It does this in spite of your poorly insulated duct work in the attic. I think a 4 ton new condenser with sealed and insulated duct work and new supplies to the problem areas will work well.


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RE: Review quote for central AC replacement

Thank you to everyone for the input.....I greatly appreciate it!


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RE: Review quote for central AC replacement

Alright....in the middle of the change out. Air handler (Trane Tam7) and condenser (xl15i - 4 ton) is installed and now they are working on the duct work. Turns out main duct was internally insulated with a 1" fiberglass duct liner. Their plan is to keep this because it was done well and in good shape and then use 3" fiberglass duct wrap. Installer said it should give around an R11.

Any reason to question whether or not internal insulation should be removed?


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