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Fraser-Johnston Furnace repair possible?


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13 replies to this topic

#1 POW

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Posted 04 January 2012 - 11:05 AM

We have an old Fraser-Johnston furnace (appx. 40 years old). We just learned that it has a 2-inch crack in the heat exchanger. The service tech said the heat exchanger can not be repaired or replaced. We need to replace the furnace. Is that true? As a matter of personal philosophy, I always prefer to repair something rather than throw it away and buy new (I have recovered my couch 3 times in the last 15 years, and our TV is 28 years old). Is there hope for this old furnace or is it time to ditch it?

PS-- As a housewife with an inquiring mind, I LOVE this forum!!

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#2 jumptrout

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Posted 04 January 2012 - 04:39 PM

You could remove the access panel on the furnace then place your 28 year old tv in it and turn it into a entertainment center.
Otherwise, heat exchangers are not repairable.
I see a new energy efficient furnace in your future.

#3 Shootist

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Posted 04 January 2012 - 07:23 PM

A cracked heat exchanger is potentially hazardous to your health. As jumptrout said, the new ones are safer and use less gas. I really like the Rheem/Ruud RGPS series, a solid furnace priced as a builder's model. If you would like a little upgrade go with the RGPE series; this is a 2-stage furnace with a variable speed ECM blower motor. For about a $600 premium you are planning for the future as pretty much any A/C unit over 14 or 15 SEER requires a variable speed indoor blower. This furnace also has serial communication capabilities. The 2-stage heating is really nice and makes the home more cozy and even temperatured. Since these new furnaces may last 30 or 40 years you may want the upgrade if the budget allows. The RGPE model is compatable with all the Rheem/Ruud A/C models from the entry level to the top of the line 2-stage cooling units. If you have central A/C now that variable speed blower can increase your existing SEER rating by about a full SEER point. Don't be at all surprised that the new models will have a lower BTU rating than your old dinosaur. HVAC engineers have learned over the years that we don't need as many BTU's as once thought. In addition, the higher AFUE models waste much less heat and burn very cleanly.

In Atlanta you have lots of competition amongst contractors so once you determine the size you need to get multiple estimates. You may find as much as $1000 difference between highest and lowest prices. Look in the yellow pages and find the local Rheem or Ruud wholesale distributor in your area. Call and ask for someone at the A/C counter. Tell them you want to have a new furnace installed and could they recommend a couple of honest dealers to do the work. Be sure and get the name of the person providing the references. Have one or two dealers look at your old furnace to make sure there's nothing unusually difficult with your change-out. If there is they will certainly mention it. You can then get pricing over the phone. Once you choose a dealer have them stop by and look at your setup (if they haven't already seen it) before the day of the job so there are no surprises. Get a written estimate before the work begins. A reputable dealer won't ask for any money up front but will expect payment in full once the work is finished and the new furnace is fully tested.
Have fun!

Edited by Shootist, 04 January 2012 - 08:43 PM.


#4 telefunkenu47

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Posted 04 January 2012 - 08:06 PM

GREAT POST! COULDNT HAVE SAID IT BETTER. DOMO
Even root canal is easy...if you're a dentist...

#5 Dan Webster

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Posted 04 January 2012 - 10:54 PM

Ditch it. Go geo thermal.
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#6 Shootist

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Posted 04 January 2012 - 11:16 PM

LOL! I would be willing to wager that a person frugal enough to hang on to a 40 year old furnace and a 28 year old TV isn't going to invest $15K+ in a geo-thermal system.

#7 POW

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Posted 05 January 2012 - 03:21 PM

It sounds like you guys are telling me that I'm going to have to (gulp!) throw something AWAY??!! :woot:

Seriously, though, I am so grateful to all of you for taking the time to educate me about this important topic (even you, Jumptrout-- Mr. Funnyman! LOL!). I like the idea of a 2-stage furnace and a variable speed blower. As you say, if I intend to hang on to something for 40 years, it pays to start with a quality product. It's going to take me some time to do all this research, so today I bought a carbon monoxide alarm just to be on the safe side-- it's registering 0 so far.

Well, I'm off to do some furnace shopping. Happy New Year to you all. And thanks again!

#8 jumptrout

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Posted 05 January 2012 - 05:04 PM

Why did you call for service?
What is your furnace doing? or not?

#9 RegUS_PatOff

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Posted 05 January 2012 - 05:15 PM

... I bought a carbon monoxide alarm just to be on the safe side--
... it's registering 0 so far.

have you seen the crack ?
.

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#10 POW

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Posted 05 January 2012 - 07:55 PM

I had to re-light the pilot light 4 times in one day. Something seemed amiss. :blinky: When the service technician came, he saw a 2 inch crack in the heat exchanger and wavering gas flames near the crack. Using a long-handled mirror, he showed it to me. The crack was rusty, so who knows how long it was there?

The pilot light was very weak, so he scraped some carbon off the jet. Now the pilot light is stronger so it's not blowing out. But the technician warned me about CO poisoning and said I need a new furnace and air handler.

#11 RegUS_PatOff

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Posted 05 January 2012 - 08:02 PM

.. the technician warned me about CO poisoning and said I need a new furnace ...

yes,
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#12 jumptrout

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Posted 05 January 2012 - 09:09 PM

A cracked heat exchanger is a serious fire hazard.
Do your self a favor and replace it while you can.

#13 POW

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Posted 06 January 2012 - 12:13 PM

A cracked heat exchanger is a serious fire hazard.
Do your self a favor and replace it while you can.


Yes, indeed, Jumptrout! You guys have generously educated me about the hazards and the impossibility of repairing the crack. I may be frugal, I may even be tight as the paper on the wall :deal: , but I am NOT stupid or suicidal! I just need a week or two to research furnace brands and features and to engage a licensed technician to install it. I'm on it, guys!

#14 Shootist

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Posted 08 January 2012 - 03:58 PM

I'll add that the Rheem/Ruud equipment has been at or near the top of Consumer Reports' dependability ratings for several years now. You will find that most contractors are partial to the brand they primarily sell so choose the brand first. A good question to ask is who is the wholesale distributor in the area and how many branches do they have. Many furnace parts are OEM only so it's important that these parts are stocked locally. The more brances, the bigger inventory.






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Replacing an old furnace: some expert recommendations on equipment, brand, and contractor selection

By Samurai Appliance Repair Man in Samurai Appliance Repair Man's Blog, on 12 January 2012 - 08:53 AM



A cracked heat exchanger is potentially hazardous to your health. As jumptrout said, the new ones are safer and use less gas. I really like the Rheem/Ruud RGPS series, a solid furnace priced as a builder's model. If you would like a little upgrade go with the RGPE...

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