Fixing Everything In Our House: Day 1

Well our furnace, oil tank, water heater shenanigans are going to take two days. Today they installed the furnace and the hot water heater. We’re a little over 50% done. I found some other surprises along the way that were pretty fun too.

Plan for the Day

A couple of guys arrived in the morning with two trucks to get started. The first thing they told me was that I needed to move some additional items out-of-the-way. My shelf of iMacs was blocking access to the back of the furnace. It barely fit, but I found a place for the 6 iMacs (with a tube screen), 6 desktops, and 6 laptops on the floor of the basement. With the shelf clear I moved it to the side of the basement. Access granted.

They started brining a bunch of stuff in and I went upstairs. I popped down an hour later and noticed a bright orange tube screwed into the wall and attached to the bottom of the oil tank. They had started disassembling the furnace and I assumed that the line would be temporarily connected to existing tank until they brought the new one down later in the.

I mentioned it and found out the plan. The oil tank wasn’t coming today; it’s too much for one day. Today’s focus would be the furnace and the hot water heater. That’s fine. It’s a big job so I get it.

The Fancy Furnace

Screen Shot 2018-04-16 at 8.52.48 PM.pngIt took most of the day and three more technicians but the furnace was installed by the end of the day. There was a lot of banging to remove the old ducts and a lot of drilling to install new ones. They had to replace one of our tiny return ducts with a much larger one which unfortunately takes up additional space in the Mac Museum. Will have to do some reorganizing there. We did gain another foot or so under the stairs though.

The furnace is a Granby Conforto hiboy which seems pretty fancy. It looks a hell of a lot nicer than our old furnace. According to their marketing material it is the most efficient furnace of its design on the market. All I know is that it blows a lot more heat than the old furnace did and doesn’t sound like a dying horse while doing it. It also has a cool window on the front that lets you see the flame inside. Hot.

A Wet ‘n Wild Water Heater

ProLine_XE_Hybrid_Heat_Pump_Electric_Water_Heater.png

As I mentioned before the water heater was not strictly necessary to replace. Our propane water heater worked and wasn’t failing, but it had calcium buildup and probably wasn’t as efficient as it could have been. More importantly it was the only device necessitating a big old propane tank in the back yard and was located in pretty much the worst spot anything could be located – in front of the dryer.

After learning that we didn’t have enough air volume to power an oil water heater and being told that propane is super expensive (which we already knew), we decided to go with a hybrid electric heater. A hybrid heater uses a heat pump in an addition to an electric coil to heat water. After doing some research it could cost less than half of what we paid for propane. Plus they moved it to the other side of the basement next to the oil tank. AMAZING.

It looks like a fancy device as well. It is a State Pro Line XE and also claims to be the most efficient in its class. It has a heat pump-only mode for extra savings, a hybrid mode for the “best of both worlds”, an expensive heating coil-only mode when you need fast water recovery, and a vacation mode to save money while you are away without freezing your pipes. It’s also got a port for a “future home automation device”. It includes a water expansion tank which we didn’t have before and also needs a pump to pull condensation out of the heat pump and push it to the sewer drain.

It looks pretty cool but unfortunately we don’t have hot water yet. The electrician got tied up and didn’t make it out by the end of the day. So there is water, but no heat in it. It’s not that bad though; we only have to go half a day without; we’ll be just fine.

Other Discoveries

During this whole process I made some additional discoveries about our house. The bulkhead leaks, which is why the stairs were rotting and water was seeping into the basement. It needs some caulking and some dry-locking. I can do that myself so no big deal.

The bigger deal is that apparently the chimney seal leaks. Water was dripping down the outside of the chimney, down the electrical wires attached to it, and dripping onto the technicians as they assembled the furnace. It’s never happened before but we recently pulled some insulation out of it that was probably absorbing the liquid. Yay. We’ll have to get someone to look into that.

Oh, and our city water shutoff doesn’t actually shut the water off completely. They might add another valve for us tomorrow. I think I can charm them into it for not having hot water tonight 🙂

Tomorrow

Tomorrow should be mostly the end of our saga. The water heater should get wired, the furnace tested and verified, and the oil tank replaced. That will be interesting to watch. The inspector does have to come in after and take a look but I don’t know if that is for tomorrow or not.

 

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