• Bill Gagne

Your Furnace is the Lungs of Your Home - Take care of it.






Podcast Transcript


Bill Gagne: (00:00)

So, what I wanted to discuss was really a basics of furnaces. From the standpoint of I bought a house I've lived in an apartment my whole life. What do I need to know about my furnace? I guess the first thing is, how do I know how old it is? Like where do I look to find out how old it is


Adam Leroy: (00:16)

Age of the furnace and you crack it down a lot from the gas tag itself that was installed. You can see when two, a furnace was installed, right on that gas tank that the technician would have left. Other cases, you can track it down by the serial name.


Bill Gagne: (00:28)

Where would I find the serial number on it? Let's imagine. I know this is going to be really hard for you to believe that I know zero about furnaces


Adam Leroy: (00:36)

Super hard. You would have to pop the door off either one big door or two big doors. You would have to pull off to get there in a lot of cases. Sometimes you'll see a sticker on the side of the furnace.


Sometimes you won't, but if you're going to start pulling doors off and that's one little thing I was going to mention too, is you probably want to turn that furnace switch off that you might see up in the corner of the room when you walk in.


Bill Gagne: (00:57)

Yeah. If, if somebody managed to move it there, if they're smart enough to move it there, they left it right where the lights, which is where people turn off their furnace when they come down the stairs. Why, um, why is it important for me to know how old my furnaces?


Adam Leroy: (01:10)

I mean, it's good thing to factor in for maintenances. You're starting to push that 10, 15 year Mark you're, you know, maybe it's good to prepare for, if it does quit.


You want to have maybe a budget prepared for that too, but definitely doing an annual maintenance on that.


Even that the first is only five years old is a great idea. But especially when it gets to be 10, 15 years.


Bill Gagne: (01:31)

That's good. Yeah. So I look at the gas tag is that gas, tagger is something on the furnace going to tell me who put it in. Is there a way for me to figure that out?


And then conversely, is that company, the best company to come and service the furnace itself?


Adam Leroy: (01:46)

I would say the first step is yes, most companies will leave a sticker and sometimes an installation date on there, which is another way to get that.


I would maybe start with that, maybe check the, see the furnace, and then maybe the return air on the one side, there might be a sticker of the company. I would try that and start with the calls to that company potentially just means that maybe they've done some maintenance and sometimes they write a report right then and there as well.


So you can see they've been there maybe four times already, or every year they might have a schedule right on there. So it's not a bad idea to maybe stick with that company or at least call them first. And see, now there's still lots of reputable companies out there.


And especially on the make of the furnace, you know, you might need to go to specific dealers too. If that one's not available, they might be able to suggest another company. Or you could probably Google search, which companies out there can handle that equipment too.


Bill Gagne: (02:39)

Does the make of the furnace really matter? And in terms of maintenance, does it say one make require less maintenance? Or are we just saying, Hey, it's a good given how expensive they are, right.


They're not cheap. And I am learning now like, Hey, I should probably change my furnace filter more often than they change presidents. in the US.


I've kind of, as I've gotten older, realize I should probably do that. I've been better lately. I've been better lately.


Adam Leroy: (03:07)

Yeah. I would say all makes probably a good idea to have an annual maintenance, no matter what the make is, I would say they're all the same when it comes down to having that yearly maintenance.



If he can, the filter change pending on the filter every month, every two months, you could look at it and depending on usage, it might need to be replaced.


If you don't have air conditioning, you're not running it all summer long. It might not have to change this filter for four months.


But if you're using it year round, especially if you're running the fan, you're going to pick up more dust and particles. So it's a good idea to stay on it. Every one to three months I would say is safe.


Bill Gagne: (03:41)

And the logic behind changing the filter, I guess it's, it's, I'm, I'm only spitballing this cause, you know, I know very little about it.


If your furnace filter is clogged, it's going to cause the furnace to work harder. So you're kind of, I'm guessing eroding the lifespan of it.


So the harder it works, the less you're really going to get out of it. So changing the furnace filter extends the life of the furnace as if you will. Is that correct? Or am I wrong?


Adam Leroy: (04:04)

Yeah, that's definitely a good statement. It's going to help fits clog your furnace fan. That's going to run throughout any S you know, when your heating or cooling is going to work harder, which is then going to put more wear and tear on that.


So over time, yeah. If you leave the clogged filter in there more often than you should, it's going to wear that fan more and more and other big bonus to it is really just the air quality in the home. And that's another big thing.


Bill Gagne: (04:29)

Yes. That would be the primary thing, right. Is like having clean air. And then the secondary is like, it extends the life of your furnace.


Adam Leroy: (04:36)

Some people say it's kind of like the lungs of your home. It's throat, it's the air you're moving. You should filter it. You keep it.


Bill Gagne: (04:44)

That's good. I like that. The lungs of your home. Awesome. What do you think about the smart thermostat?


So I bought this old house and it had these eco bee smart thermostat. So it tells me, it gives me a reminder, like, Hey, you need to change your furnace filter. And I'm like, Oh, what are your thoughts on the viability of like the smart thermostats and sort of, I want to upgrade to the nest one because all my stuff is Google. And I really think that stuff is great.


What is your having been around, you know, long enough that those didn't exist? What are your thoughts on getting one of those?


Adam Leroy: (05:19)

I would say they definitely serve a purpose, not only for maybe saving energy and efficiency overall, and maybe turning temperatures up and down when you're not in the home is another factor with those, the filter reminder, correct me if I'm wrong, but is it just preset to you? You know, saying to remind me every three months,


Bill Gagne: (05:38)

You know, me, Adam, and, you know, I did not set any of that. I said none of that. Okay. I programmed, like I downloaded. So that would be, I mean, it's a bonus. Yeah.


I want to get one of the learning thermostats so that it actually learns what we're doing. And I have to think even less, which is the goal at the same time there, you know, you're, you're dropping 300 bucks for a learning thermostat, the nest one.


I'm all in on it because I, I like the, all the smart home stuff, but I just want to make sure is it, I mean, how many people forget to change the furnace filter? I can guarantee you, most of my friends do in the maintenance, it's very common.


I don't even know what other, other maintenance I can do. Is there other maintenance I should be doing, you know, other than calling every year to get a service call. And is there a time of year I should be doing?


Adam Leroy: (06:26)

Yeah, I would say it's a very common thing that happens is people do forget about changing filters, having a little reminder now, whether that's $300 worth to you, you know, having a reminder to change it is, is, is, is better than nothing.


Whether the wifi option and whatever other features they might do, that's a big bonus for people, I guess, in some cases. So I would say just keeping up in the filter, but yeah, as a homeowner, I would sort of stick to that and I would stick to calling a proper company every year.


And typically, you know, we might do a spring cleaning for the summer, and then we might do a fall maintenance to help preventative maintenance, to help, you know, going into the winter months.


Bill Gagne: (07:04)

What are other signs that my furnace is reaching the end of its life? I mean, we talked about it earlier.


These are expensive things you want to plan for this because people aren't able in current times, and I think this is a trend with the real estate market and going in with conditions, et cetera, getting a home inspection. Isn't always a viable opportunity when you're buying a home.


What are signs of for me that if I'm like, Hey, I, I need to know how old my furnace is, what are signs that my furnace might be nearing the end? And I should factor that into my costs.


Adam Leroy: (07:36)

Yeah. I would say, uh, if you're starting to hear maybe some loud noises coming through, you're starting to see some moisture in some rust or, or any spots around it or on the floor that just don't seem right. It's going on and off way more than what you thought it was.


Maybe in the beginning, if it's short cycling a little bit more, but I would just say sometimes it's noise is the biggest thing that people hear. It doesn't seem right.


And that's where we get in there. And then it is a part that's starting to go and that can help save a no heat call suit


Bill Gagne: (08:05)

And hearing it being louder. Is that an indication that it's, it's working harder than it should be


Adam Leroy: (08:10)

Potentially? Yeah. Or a part has started to get worn and starting that maybe a blower or a fan or something that could be some piece could have broke off on it or in it.


And yeah, it could be just getting worn and hurts sometimes on certain models and makes it everything can be different, but they definitely could, could be definitely done. Good dig, maybe catch it before it's totally done. And you can get it replaced.


Bill Gagne: (08:35)

Is there a point where you recommend saying, say, if it's a part, is there a point where you say, okay, it's worth it for you to repair this.


You're going to get a few more years out of this, you know, for X amount of dollars or what's the line for you to say, Hey, look, you're going to get, we're going to replace this part six months. We're going to be back to replace this. I'd rather tell you this now.


And you make a decision and go from there. Does that happen? How frequent is that? Or what are your recommendations on that?


Adam Leroy: (09:03)

Definitely. I get those calls and just one today, you know, it was a no heat call and 11 years old. And would it be worth to spend a few hundred dollars on that? I think so.


But you start getting into a thousand or $2,000 to fix a 10, 15 year old unit starts to get to be a little more than what a lot of people want to spend.


I think it comes down to the homeowners or whoever's paying for that furnace repair or replacement is, is a, the age of the equipment, how long they plan to be in the home efficiencies of, of a newer unit can definitely help, you know, energy costs as well.


In case that's already 13 years old and it needs a lot of repair. Maybe it makes sense just to replace and get a more efficient unit in there.


So it really comes down to that kind of the 10 to maybe 15 year Mark is really where it could be, you know, maybe $500 or less really does really could make sense, but anything over six, 7,000 bucks, it might not be the most, uh, beneficial in the long run.


Bill Gagne: (10:02)

I'll try to save a bit of money. What are you, what are you going to spend on a furnace for your average house? You're going to drop three grand on a furnace. Yeah.


Adam Leroy: (10:10)

Say on average furnace price would start low three. So about 3000 to 3,500 is pretty safe depending on the installation.


And then again, depending on the size of the home, you could be spending up to six 6,500 is probably your max in most cases for a high-end or variable capacity or a modulating furnace.


Bill Gagne: (10:32)

So I've got a two part question for you here. Say, I'm like, okay, we've hit the point. I need a new furnace. What are my options here? I know there's options to lease by lease to own, whatever.


And then if I do that, so say I buy a new furnace ASA, and my opinion is always in the long run. You're better off buying it because the reason leasing makes sense as the company releasing it to you makes more money and you don't have the maintenance requirements, right. Whereas when you buy it, it's what comes with buying it.


What warranty comes with it is it is there service packages, people can buy. What is connected to buying a new furnace?


Adam Leroy: (11:06)

A lot of companies are definitely different. There's quite a variety out there. I would say most in most cases, um, you can definitely finance your furnace so that you own it.


Then whether that's a straight purchase and bio cash check or credit card, or if it's a, it's a finance option, that's typically the route I would also suggest versus renting because you do own it and you'll pay less overall.


You can definitely get into some companies will just get you set up on a, on a, a maintenance or a yearly plan after that to kind of keep on top of that equipment, especially when it's new, you want it to be running properly.


And certain equipment does require a yearly maintenance as well to have that full 10 year warranty on the equipment. So usually five years as a minimum, but most equipment that we sell now can get up to 10 years.


That's usually your standard and labor with that would be anywhere from one year, two year, five year. And maybe you can even buy packages up to 10 years. So you could be fully warrantied for 10 years, between parts and labor. And some people like that.


Bill Gagne: (12:11)

Now we've gone through like, okay, I've got a furnace, I'm maintaining it. Is there anything we've missed? Is there anything you want to tell somebody?


I know one of the things that I looked up when I was doing homework for this, that is an indication of your furnace is kind of getting to the end is, is your thermostat is telling you it's warm on your house is not. So essentially your thermostat is lying to you.


Adam Leroy: (12:33)

Yeah, I would say then, yeah, your furnace is not running properly now, you know, in some cases, could it be a thermostat issue? That'd be great because that would be a lot cheaper. But yes, a lot of cases, if your furnace isn't heating and keeping up is a good sign that it stopped.


Bill Gagne: (12:48)

Usually. I mean, every everything I've read, I mean, you see these lists everywhere, like top seven signs that your furnace is burning out. They're almost the same for your air conditioner. You know where it's like, is it loud? Do you see fluids? Is it not working? Like, is your house supposed to be cold? But it's not. Is it old?


Those are very basic things where you're just going. Yes. And I think they apply to a lot of the mechanical things in your house. I'm sure you see it. I see it. I'm a little bit older than you.


My generation does not maintain their house. I mean, I barely maintain my house. I've been something new that I've started being able to kind of share this in a local way for somebody who is local, like, Oh, this is a company I can actually call, like, this is somebody I could see I'm hearing from. Cause a lot of the blog posts and things like that, they're all aggregated right there.


Just did some research and they're posting it. It isn't an expert in the field who does this every day. They've never put in a furnace. They've never gone to service it. They're just like, yeah, this is what it is.


And I think you made a really like, like we said earlier, you're a furnace is the lungs of your house. And if your lungs are clogged or not working, it's not going to, you're not going to get the most


Adam Leroy: (13:58)

And just overall health. Right. And it's just better air quality in the home. And that's why every new home now as has an HRV unit air exchange to get that air quality in and out better error. That's what everybody's looking for.


Bill Gagne: (14:11)

You made a point earlier and I want to come back to this quality of furnace filter does that matter? Because I bought a bunch of cheap ones because, um, you know, I'm like, Hey, I'm at least I'm changing them.


But you mentioned you made a good point. If it's not a really good filter, am I now just not doing as much? And what's the of, what's the difference between the cheap ones and the good ones?


Is it just the density? The materials used? What's the difference?


Adam Leroy: (14:37)

I don't know at all, for sure on the filter end of it. Everything, but be a real hit at parties. If you were the, uh, the more basic filter and that's called just a standard one inch filter, you know, it's going to be a little less expensive.


It's not going to last as long. It's not going to pick up maybe as much dust and particles in the hole. It just means you might have to change it out a bit more.


You just got to keep an eye on it a little bit more than maybe your Murph six or mercury eight or Merv 10 filter that you might get as an upgrade. Those filters will be a little bit more dense.


They're going to pick up a little bit more air or a little bit more particles going through, but you also don't want to get one. That's too dense that it's not going to let the fan and the furnace actually work properly too.


So you do have to be careful not to get one. That's going to suffocate that furnace. But if you get one kind of in between, it might help with the maintenance a little bit and not having to change it out as often. But it's also going to pick up a little bit more Dustin and stuff that's floating in yet.


Bill Gagne: (15:38)

I get a service tech to come out. I'm doing my annual maintenance again. We've established, I know very little about furnaces.


Am I going to be able to ask him like, Hey, what filters should I be putting in this unit? Because I haven't put I've putting in the cheap ones.


What filter am I going to get the best results with? Is the tech going to be able to tell me, is the manufacturer going to be able to tell me, is there somewhere I could find that out?


Adam Leroy: (16:00)

I would say the technician might have, uh, some input depending on the make, right? If it's the make that maybe they're familiar with, we might suggest and recommend some filters that we've found that worked well with that unit. In some cases, it might be hard to give the exact filter. That's the best for that unit.


Maybe looking in digging into the manual or, or as you said, maybe somehow getting a hold of the manufacturer or searching that information online that might help. I think it's probably pretty generic with most units for a sort of a standard one inch filter.


Bill Gagne: (16:32)

Okay. I'm out. I'm done. Oh, I got one question for you. I live in a 1971 71 or 79, 79 bungalow. What about attic installation? Like if I want to keep the heat in, should I be in some way prioritizing, increasing my attic installation as well.


We talk about your house as a system, right? It's an envelope you're only getting the most out of your furnace. If you're optimizing your building envelope, I'm assuming correct.


Adam Leroy: (16:57)

Yeah. I would say for air flow, whether it's heating or cooling, I would agree that insulating not only the, the attic, but also exterior walls, as best as you can, is going to help the efficiency and help with making your furnace, maybe work a little less to keep the home more comfortable too.


I think adding installation, I can't say it's something that we get into very often, but it's definitely something to consider.


Bill Gagne: (17:20)

I would assume given you have a thermostat designed to measure the temperature in your house and then have your furnace to react, to maintain that if you've properly insulated your attic.


I mean, you're not hemorrhaging heat out because heat rises. If you're not hemorrhaging heat out of your attic, your furnace is going to work a little bit less. You're going to prolong the life of it. I mean, these are all small steps, but it's cumulative.


What's the difference between getting 12 years in 15 years out of your furnace, a whole lot of money as your furnace works, it's less efficient and all these things


Adam Leroy: (17:52)

Over time, for sure.


Bill Gagne: (17:53)

Can you over furnace your house? Can you like buy two sexy, a furnace or like too much furnace or too little furnace for your house? Is that,


Adam Leroy: (18:02)

Uh, yes. 20 questions you definitely could. Um, I'll be honest. I mean, we tend to sell a lot of two-stage furnaces, give you a kind of that lower stage of heating and then you get a higher state of eating.


So that does give you a little better balanced between sizing a furnace as well, but a lot of furnaces out there now, and, and still some that go in, you know, they're running full tilt off and on, and if you oversize a furnace, you're going to short cycle it and you're going to shorten the life of the unit.


So you do need to be careful on sizing. And if you put in a unit that's too small, you're now going to run it too hard and too long and wear it out. Do you do want to be kind of a happy medium, you know, and sometimes technology and more advanced equipment isn't for everybody.


And I get that. It's about having a system and possibly a furnace that's, um, you know, has two settings is going to help prolong the life of that as well. And, and, and also save the energy on your hydro and your guy.


Bill Gagne: (19:00)

So when I bought my house, I needed a new furnace and a new hot water tank. And I noticed I got the tankless hot water and a new furnace and previous gas bills from the homeowner were like $115 a month.


Now I'm down to I'm on the average billing, I'm billing out $62 a month. And then probably every third or fourth month, I'm getting a negative bill where it's like, they owe me four bucks. So I, and I still haven't done the attic installation. T


hat's one thing I'm like, I should do that. Like that, that would be a big benefit because we have new windows, we had all those things and, uh, re insulated the basement. So we're not hemorrhaging heat down here. Those are things where you're, I'm seeing the benefits of my furnace and hot water tank.


And then I'm realizing like, Hey, those were expensive. I should probably maintain those so that they last longer yup.


Does having a finished basement improve on the efficiency of your furnace as opposed to basically the room where the furnace is, right.


You have an unfinished basement that's, it's going to be cold. Is, is your furnace going to react a little bit to that? You know, is there going to be sort of a side effect to that, or is it only coming from the thermostat


Adam Leroy: (20:21)

It's still going to be only from that thermostat location. Now your heat's going to rise a little bit up there.


So I would say, I would think having, yeah, having a finished basement, definitely going to help conceal the heat in a little bit more and maybe make your basement feel a little warmer.


Cause basements are always colder. You know, an unfinished basement I believe would, would obviously let the air escape a little bit more into the walls and it would colder, um, a finished basement, I think would definitely help the efficiency of that.


Bill Gagne: (20:52)

It's more the slab, like with a basement, even if your walls are insulated, when we do them, people are like, Hey, should I put in a sub floor?


We're like, yes, if you upgrade the insulation on the walls of your basement without putting a sub floor, it doesn't matter because the concrete, just the cold concrete is going to suck the heat out. Right?


We talk about that and then we'll talk to them about, depending on the size of their basement, whether they should or shouldn't drop the runs, maybe your basement is 400 square feet. The heat is going to pump pretty hard. If you're in that in-between basement size, right?


You're not going to have a one heat run. One is not enough. And two's a little too much. So dropping them both to the floor. There's a potential, you're going to just make a sauna,


Adam Leroy: (21:35)

Think on the ceiling height as well as square footage for a basement. And if the ceiling is, if it's a lower basement, it might not make sense.


A lot of newer homes and newer basements and bigger basements, uh, you know, a lot of times we are dropping down to the floor level for heat.


Bill Gagne: (21:50)

It's such a minor cost, right? You're you're paying like to drop too. He runs, you're paying like 400 bucks. It's worth it in the grand scheme of it. If you're, if you're thinking long-term right. Yep.


Okay, Adam, that's all I got. Okay, cool. That's all I got. That's all you got. That was great. I appreciate it. No problem.

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