Our Furnace Mistake

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The Goodman ‘Never Again’ Furnace

They say a happy wife is a happy life and when it comes to home heating (and hot water)… that is certainly true. But in our case, it was not just my wife that had a problem with our home furnace, it was me too.

This furnace story started 5-years ago when we moved into our then 30 year old house. As experienced home renovators, we had a budget for some updates like a roof, windows, paint, and a furnace. The federal and provincial governments had some energy rebates on which we also took advantage of.

One day, one of our new neighbours dropped a flyer at our doorstep with a killer-deal on a new high-efficiency furnace. Thinking we had the greatest neighbours in the world, we decided to support the neighbour as they would not steer us wrong…

A few days later we were the proud owners of a new installed Goodman High Efficiency Furnace. As a Home Inspector, it looked great.

We Hated It

Well, right from the get-go, we hated it. It was loud, the multi-stage variable system only seemed to run on full all the time, and it just didn’t seem to heat the house as well as it should. By comparison,  the 30-year old original furnace it replaced was quieter, hotter, and didn’t sound like a freight train running in the house. 

My expertise was quickly maxed out and we had different expert technicians come in year after year trying to fix it. Every ‘expert’ tinkered a little with it but we never got a clear story on why it was so loud. Some technicians just said Goodman was a poor brand, some said it was oversized for our house, some made it worse, and some came, investigated, and gave up without even calling us back. 

We lived with a furnace we hated for 5 years.

If the Global Warming Apocalypse is Real, We May as Well Die Comfortable

This home has always been very uncomfortably hot in the summer for a few reasons:

  • Our bedrooms are all on the upper level of our home facing the late afternoon and evening sun.
  • Our home is located in a micro-climate that traps hot air in the summer and cold air in the winter
  • I’m allergic to nature so keeping the windows open in summer becomes a sneezing and snoring festival for my wife all summer long. 

For years (even before this house) we have relied on a few in-window air conditioners to keep cool but these are noisy and our bedroom was still hot.

After last years hot summer, we decided if the apocalypse of global warming is real, then we may as well be comfortable while we die so we decided this year to install a central air conditioner. We had a few companies in to look at our equipment and most were ready to swipe a credit card and get us our AC.

 To our delight, the owner of one smaller locally owned company with a 10-out-of-10 online rating (Jafar at  http://www.bestwayheating.ca) was special. He took a visual look at our setup and in a few moments diagnosed more issues with our setup than all the combined experts we had look at it in 5-years. The good news, he would fix much of it while putting in the AC.

Install Day

The day of our install came and first things first, the current equipment had to come out to get ready to add the AC. This is when the technician discovered a major problem. It turns out the chump who sold and installed our 5-year old furnace caused us numerous problems:

  • The furnace was intended for a home 1,000 sq ft larger than our house. Larger furnaces need to move more air which was a part of our noise problem.
  • The ducts that move air around the house had been crushed when the installer forced the furnace into place. About 1/3rd of our air flow was blocked. Combined with the oversized furnace, we had too much air moving through an even more restricted space.
  • The reason the ducts were crushed was because a 21” wide furnace was put into a spot designed for a 17” furnace. This equipment never should have been installed.
  • Lastly, 50% of our air flow is down into the concrete floor (down flow furnace) and the original concrete pour had collapsed part of the original ducting blocking another 1/3rd of our air flow.

In summary: We had an oversized furnace pushing more air than needed through only 1/3rd of the air duct functional. It was like a bagpipe being played with an elephant sitting on the bag.

Home Inspector Side-note - How did a home inspector miss this all in my own home? Easy. Most of it was concealed by the furnace and what was not concealed by the furnace was deliberately concealed with extra material. It took half a day before No expert we had in knew this problem as it took removing the furnace to discover it.

Fixing the Problem = New Furnace

Jafar from Best Way Heating called me at work and I came back to look. At the end of the day, they only had two choices. Put it back the way it was, or fix it right. Because of the concrete down flow system and some immovable walls, there was no way to fix it right with the current 21-inch furnace so we had to make the call to get the right equipment installed including a new furnace.

An original 1-day job spanned to two long days and in the end we now have:

  • New High Efficiency American Standard Furnace
  • New Central Air Conditioning (matched American Standard setup)
  • New Bradford White Hot Water Tank (this was planned in advance)

Lesson Learned

Once again the lesson is learned that best price typically does not mean best quality. By going with the local and cheap guy, even though things looked ok on the surface, we later found out that hidden problems cost us in the long run.

If there is a lesson from this I hope our friends, family, and clients can learn from our mistake is: Don’t trust the guy with the best deal. It can be hard to live with. 

By James Bell - Author | Owner/Operator of Solid State Inspections Inc