thatsnowinnebago (Forum Supporter)
thatsnowinnebago (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
7/28/20 6:01 p.m.

Hey everyone, I suddenly need to learn about gas furnaces. We are in the negotiating process on a new house and just learned that the underground oil tank for the existing heater is leaking, so it needs to come out. We're seeing this as a great opportunity to upgrade to gas heating. Which brands are good, which are trash, etc. House already has ducting and everything. 

11GTCS
11GTCS Reader
7/28/20 6:45 p.m.

I wouldn’t be as worried about the brand or type gas furnace as much as establishing the extent of any soil contamination conditions and an abatement plan due to the underground oil tank leak. I may be wrong but I believe once you own the property you’ll own the problem to whatever degree it exists.  You need to get a professional opinion  on this before any closing occurs and get it all in writing.  

Jesse Ransom
Jesse Ransom UltimaDork
7/28/20 8:53 p.m.

Local to the OP, 11GTCS is right. One of the things we took on when we bought our house was getting the long-disused but just-starting-to-leak oil tank properly decommissioned. It was a big deal to the seller, who was elderly and not in a position to spend money to get the house ready. On the flipside, we're actually nearing closing on the sale of our old house, and we were super-stoked when a scan of the yard turned up no disused tank for the buyers to add to the addendum for removal...

It ended up costing us $3175 to test and make sure the leakage wasn't so bad that it required digging everything up and hauling the bulk away, then to break into it from above, pump out whatever was there, and fill it with stable stuff.

I'll shoot you a PM about my experiences with a couple local HVAC companies...

Jesse Ransom
Jesse Ransom UltimaDork
7/28/20 9:13 p.m.

I'm guessing you're already on it with getting an estimate for the work for tank, but I feel like I should pound on the fact that the number I posted above was for a tank that hadn't meaningfully leaked. If it has, it will be much more expensive because they will have to dig it up and keep digging 'til the dirt isn't contaminated.

As I discovered in researching the new garage, having ever uncontaminated dirt hauled away is really expensive. When I was going to sink the garage 4' into the yard, the excavation was over $30k, and the bulk was actually dirt disposal, not the digging work!

thatsnowinnebago (Forum Supporter)
thatsnowinnebago (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
7/28/20 9:14 p.m.

We're for sure asking the seller to take care of it. No way I want to deal with contaminated soil.

thatsnowinnebago (Forum Supporter)
thatsnowinnebago (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
7/28/20 9:17 p.m.

In reply to Jesse Ransom :

1.) Thanks! This is our first house so we don't know anything.

2.) Goodness, that's so much money! The initial results were barely positive for oil so hopefully ours will be as simple as yours was to deal with. 

Jesse Ransom
Jesse Ransom UltimaDork
7/28/20 9:40 p.m.

I forgot to say congratulations! I hope everything goes smoothly! Crossing my fingers about the oil tank, and that the sellers will just take care of it.

stuart in mn
stuart in mn MegaDork
7/28/20 10:17 p.m.

I've been happy with my Bryant furnace.  Now would be the time to step up to a high efficiency model.

When I google "what are the best furnace brands", the first response is:

Best furnace brands

  • Trane – Best for Quality.
  • Lennox – Best for Efficiency.
  • Goodman – Best Value.
  • Rheem – Best Warranty.
  • Bryant – Best for Reliability.
dean1484
dean1484 MegaDork
7/29/20 12:06 a.m.

I would add burnham to the list. They I think are a bit more ore Ted for commercial use and as such are a little more $$$ up front but they are bullet proof. 

Grizz
Grizz UberDork
7/29/20 6:55 a.m.

In reply to stuart in mn :

Trane and Lennox are coasting on their previous rep and nowhere near as good as they used to be. Bryant is Carrier and my only complaint about Carrier stuff is their idiotic parts pricing. Rheem is very good and Goodman's quality has jumped up greatly since they got picked up by Daikin.

The last three are the ones I would suggest, starting with the goodman, since they have a very good warranty like Rheem.

11GTCS
11GTCS Reader
7/29/20 7:09 a.m.

We install a lot of York condensing furnaces in light commercial applications (bank branches).  We have good luck with them but everything is loaded with electronic controls and sensors now to make all the high efficiency magic work.   I'd plan on a 10-15 year lifecycle.  In another vote for York, they're still made here.

Check to see if your state has an energy efficiency rebate program in place, they will often provide a decent portion of the difference between standard efficiency equipment (80%) and 90% + condensing gas equipment.   The programs here are done in coordination with the gas utility companies so look at the utility web site to see whats available in your area.

thatsnowinnebago (Forum Supporter)
thatsnowinnebago (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
7/29/20 10:50 a.m.

What do y'all know about converting an oil furnace to gas? We found at least company that sells just a new burner to pop in the existing box. 

Jesse Ransom
Jesse Ransom UltimaDork
7/29/20 2:19 p.m.

In reply to thatsnowinnebago (Forum Supporter) :

I know doodly about that, but I'd be careful about the age of all the remaining periphery and how service-friendly the resulting hybrid is. Also guessing that's not super-efficient; I feel like there are some incentives around going with higher efficiency. But if it's cheap and gets you gas heat reliably until you recover from the shock of homeownership, maybe it's a win?

thatsnowinnebago (Forum Supporter)
thatsnowinnebago (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
7/29/20 3:07 p.m.

Noted, thanks. The oil furnace is relatively new we think, but the ducts have asbestos insulation. I'll find out more when our realtor's people take a look. Fingers crossed we can add AC at the same time. I guess older ductwork can be too small for cooling or something...

Jesse Ransom
Jesse Ransom UltimaDork
7/29/20 3:41 p.m.

In reply to thatsnowinnebago (Forum Supporter) :

Adding A/C to our old house worked quite well (built in 1928). It had an ancient gas furnace which we replaced, but all the (probably asbestos-wrapped) ducting stayed put. I believe that's one of those applications where it's okay to just not disturb it, or eventually to have it overwrapped/sealed. I'd ask the HVAC folks, and if it sounds problematic, at least get two opinions. If two agree, well... oh well.

That's only one data point, but... Once again, fingers crossed!

11GTCS
11GTCS Reader
7/29/20 7:54 p.m.

I’d get a number to do an abatement on the asbestos duct insulation, this is another red flag to buying this property IMHO.   You’ll own it once you close and the bank might not agree to finance the house with either the asbestos or possible oil contamination issue being present. 

Ive seen gas conversion burners, I helped install one on my grandmothers steam boiler years ago.  It made sense in that case (boiler was good and steam is only so efficient in 200 year old house).  I’m not sure it would be worth the trouble unless the burner was really inexpensive (less than 600 bucks) and the existing furnace is essentially new.  

 

thatsnowinnebago (Forum Supporter)
thatsnowinnebago (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
7/29/20 10:42 p.m.

Looks like we're going to propose having the sellers replace the oil furnace with a Rheem R95T. I think that's good. Y'all told me they've got a great warranty. And it's one of those high efficiency ones I think. 

thatsnowinnebago (Forum Supporter)
thatsnowinnebago (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
7/30/20 2:54 p.m.

Just heard back from the sellers: they're going to do the tank mitigation, replace the oil furnace with gas, and do the radon mitigation. That also means we'll have a gas line running to the house now for a future stove upgrade. 

rustyvw
rustyvw Dork
7/30/20 6:37 p.m.

We put a Goodman furnace in when we remodeled our house 15 years ago, so far there haven't been any problems with it.  I feel like I just jinxed myself by saying that.  

Jesse Ransom
Jesse Ransom UltimaDork
7/31/20 5:50 p.m.
thatsnowinnebago (Forum Supporter) said:

Just heard back from the sellers: they're going to do the tank mitigation, replace the oil furnace with gas, and do the radon mitigation. That also means we'll have a gas line running to the house now for a future stove upgrade. 

I vastly prefer gas stoves. One of the other best moves I ever did was having a line run to the patio at the same time so I can grill at a moment's notice and never have to exchange propane tanks (requires a natural gas compatible grill; some can be converted). After the move, we did it again and had two outlets plumbed so we can grill while hanging out under a heater (or next to a fire pit). Haven't actually done the heater/pit yet. But make sure you figure out everything you might want to run off gas and make sure the gas into the house is sized for it! We ended up needing a size up from normal for the gas range/tankless water heater/grill/patio heater/fireplaces combo (they want to be sure you can feed everything you might conceivably run simultaneously).

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