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Heating contractors' -small town-efficiency test?
Old 09-29-2008, 06:13 PM   #1
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Heating contractors' -small town-efficiency test?

So I stopped in one of two of the town's heating contractor's office. Asked what is done in routine furnace service? The secretary calls the manager.

He comes out of his office and says, let me check with the guys who usually do that. A few minutes later comes back and says: well we change the nozzle, check to see if combustion chamber is clean, check the flue for soot, change the oil filter and screen.

I then ask if an efficiency test is part of the service. The manager says: I need to check with the guy that does that. Comes back and says: no we don't. we don't have the smoke tester or the other stuff for that.

I thanked him and said, I was going to hire you to do the job but I'll pass.

I think it is bizarre that a heating contractor does not have equipment for efficiency test, especially with the price of oil nowadays. Last time I had called a contractor from a town 12 miles away, and I had to force him to test the efficiency.

During the test I had to show the guy how to use the CO2 tester, and he could not even read the chart to convert the readings to efficiency.

It is truly sad that in small towns people trust the "oil burner man" who says things are well, when he is clueless.

It seems most neighbors have net stack temperatures over 650 some over 750 degrees F. I checked a few with my thermometer. Clearly oversized burner nozzles, heating the neighborhood. At $ 3.70 to 4.00 per gallon for heating oil.

//rant off//
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Old 09-29-2008, 06:34 PM   #2
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I prebought at 4.75.... dooh! I need to find someone to set up my new furnace and check efficieny
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Old 09-29-2008, 06:38 PM   #3
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You just discovered the dirty little secret to most heating/ac companies. You dont know how the furnace works and neither do they.

But they'll give you a nice hours worth of something for $70-100.

There really isnt much to encourage them to keep your furnace from grinding to a halt. After all, chances are if it does you'll call that handy number on the sticker they stuck on your furnace "If you need emergency help...call...".

I've had enough contractors in the biz tell me that unless you've got one of the fancy high efficiency units or an oil burner, you're best to just leave it alone. There isnt much to 'maintain'.
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Old 09-29-2008, 08:11 PM   #4
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This is not just a small-town phenomenon. The heating contractors i called to install a new furnace for me did not know what they were doing, and didn't want to do the job right (full heat loss calc, etc) even when I asked them to.

With most work I want done, I do the research to at least understand the outline of the work to be performed. The guys do NOT like an informed consumer, but there's no other way to know you aren't getting ripped off.
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Old 09-29-2008, 09:42 PM   #5
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[quote=cute fuzzy bunny;722788]You just discovered the dirty little secret to most heating/ac companies. You dont know how the furnace works and neither do they.

But they'll give you a nice hours worth of something for $70-100.

Aye, the secret is dirty allright.

Actually I find, I do know more about furnace operations than the "furnace man". They get wide eyed when challenged on nozzle size, net stack temperature, pump pressure verification, blower speed differences for AC vs Heating.

While I could buy the nozzles on Ebay, (Delavan or others won't sell to anyone but HVAC contractors, I don't want to spend the big bucks on Fyrite or other testing gear. The stuff on Ebay is either junk or overpriced junk.

Maybe I'll put on my designer hat, use a wide band O2 sensor for testing combustion. Though again, wide band O2 sensors are not in the "few bucks" range. Plus it needs some fancy electronics. Hint: 14.7 A/F is not right for burning oil in a furnace.

The sad part is they totally bamboozle the poor suckers (homweowners) into thinking all is well.
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Old 09-29-2008, 09:44 PM   #6
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Another good option is to go over to hvac-talk and ask if anyone that posts there does work in your area. Some of the guys there are blow hards, but for the most part the regulars do a good job and if nothing else you can go out them with a post and a photo or two.
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Old 09-29-2008, 09:52 PM   #7
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I'll give them a holler. Though this is sw Pennsylvania, out in the sticks. If I had test gear, would not need any of them.
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Old 09-29-2008, 09:59 PM   #8
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Thats a big site for hvac contractors, and most of it is private and you only get access by mailing them a copy of your contractors license. Hundreds of thousands of users.

I'll be really surprised if one of the regulars isnt within an hour of you. You can give him the 9th degree in front of his friends and see if he can put up or not.
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Old 11-06-2008, 09:09 AM   #9
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Follow up on oil burner service.
After calling many more heating service contractors, finally found one that does do efficiency test as a matter of routine. They were from two towns away.
Today their tech came and serviced my furnace. The fellow did a superb job.
Before and after service tests were done. Final burner efficiency is at 84%. This on a standard non-high-efficiency unit which is 6 yrs old.

I called their office and complimented the the fellow on his work. Again a superb job.
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