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Question DetailsAsked on 5/4/2015

Cost for furnace and AC?

I have three units, one for the basement, one for the main floor and one for the upstairs. The one on my main floor went bad so I had someone come quote a replacement.

I was quoted over $11K for a Gas Furnace (95.5%) and 14 SEER AC to replace mine that is about 15 years old. That was a lot more than I expected but I am a completely naïve when it comes to this. They offered to replace all three for $26K but I am not replacing the other two until they go bad. I've never had any issues with them whereas the one that went bad has had to be serviced two years in a row.

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If they are all 15 years old ,and lower efficiency then available today, I think about replacing them all.

Keeping them can force you into emergency repairs, and will certainly cost you more to operate, all money that could have gone towards replacement.

That said,prices vary greatly around the country , metro areas are usually the highest cost.

You can always check that price, with a top rated Angie's List provider.


Answered 5 years ago by BayAreaAC


You say "Gas Furnace 95.5% and 14 SEER AC", so this sounds like three completely independent central air units, not heat pumps, one on each floor. Sounds like the installer did not know how to go vertical with ducts - or concrete construction and someone forgot to block out the HVAC openings in the floors so HVAC contractor took the eashy way out.

BayAreaAC's point on age is well taken - 15-20 years is about the age where one might expect A/C's to start showing their age like the one unit evidently is, but commonly furnaces go 20-30 (especially if non-electronic) before "dying" so I would not automatically assume that those are on their last legs.

However, he and I differ (which is rare) greatly on the replacement thing: 3 units for one house, one for each floor - unless your house is say over say 8-10,000SF or so - is a VERY odd layout. I would be getting alternative bids, which granted might involve some tearing into ceilings and walls to do it (or maybe building a utility chase onto the house to reduce that) to replace all three with one central air unit, because the replacement cost for all three with one larger unit (not including the reducting) will probably only be a thousand or two $ more than for replacing one unit only.

I would guess you can reduct and use one larger (and therefore almost certainly higher efficiency) unit (unless you are committed to three for extreme cold winter backup purposes or something) for probably about or less than the cost of replacing 2 of the 3 units. This would be beneficial over the long term, and likely would also make the resale valule of the house go up too - because most home inspectors would flag a house with 3 furnaces and 3 A/C units as a probable lemon.

One other consideration of course is whether your climate justifies a 95.5% efficiency unit - while the unit itself does not cost a heap more vendors tend to upcharge dramatically for the higher-efficiency units, I guess figuring the greenies who tend to go for the high efficiency units are suckers to pay for a unit that will likely never pay for itself deserve to be suckered even more. Had a neighbor quoted $5000 difference for a 95% efficient unit versus the 82% efficient model - exact same manufacturer and housing and connections, and wholesale cost difference was about $450 for the difference in furnaces - but quote was $5000 different.

You should also be sure to get a minimum of 3 bids for your job because costs are wild these days - easily 2:1 differences between high and low bids. In my area in just the past few months I have seen basically identical sized systems for same square footage and model house range from under $4,000 to $14,000, albeit with efficiencies ranging from about 80% to 95%, but that only makes a thousand or less difference in unit cost commonly, within same brand. From what I see there is a LOT of overpricing out there - a $1000-1500 furnace should not run $10,000+ installed. Talked with a neighbor a week or so ago who was asking me (after the fact) what I thought of his price - $13,000 for 80% efficient unit that took exactly 2 manhours and maybe a few hundred in adapter parts to install, when another neighbor got exact same unit from another vendor for $2900 installed a couple of months ago - both replacing the same original model units (entire subdivision used same make and model units originally) with the exact same new unit, which was almost a drop-in fit - VERY little fitup work needed. So buyer beware.

And this decisiuon process should start with running ACCA Manual J, S and D calculations to determine exactly what your house actually needs versus just replacing what it has now - HVAC contrators can do this, or for an independent design and evaluation of modifying to one central air system an architect with in-house HVAC designer can also do it and develop plans for the work. If house is old it may well have been built with 30-40% efficient units, so at the time three units may have made some sense, though my suspicion is that it was a DIY job and the guy had not planned the ducting between floors so took the easy way out and put in a separate unit on each floor, because that is just not normal. Or maybe one or more floors were add-ons.

Answered 5 years ago by LCD

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