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Got Repair Estimate - Repair or Replace?

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    Question Got Repair Estimate - Repair or Replace?

    Well, the repair estimate just to get the furnace up and running until the Spring arrives with warmer weather is around $1300.
    The tech warned however with such an old furnace many more pieces may break down (incl. a back part of the case that would emit Carbon monoxide and cause poisoning) necessitating a brand new furnace anyway. (We have to weigh safety concerns before "cheap" repairs just to get by.)
    He did not recommend this patch, but will send a salesman out to marrow at noon to tell us exactly how much a new , low end furnace would cost. (The 1991 Lennox is a Puls.)
    We will not contact the attorney until we know just how much the cheapest replacement would be.
    We paid an extra $20 for a three year service membership in case we do go ahead and fix or replace this furnace through these guys.
    Advice, similar experiences, thoughts?
    Last edited by Barbisi; 02-25-2021, 10:59 AM.

    I wouldn't spend $1300 on a 30 year old furnace. I know money is tight for you though. Get multiple quotes and negotiate a discount. Make the first salesman think you already brought someone else in for an estimate. 30 years is the max life expectancy of furnaces and you're in the extra bonus rounds. My unit was older and I did not think about fixing it and went straight to replacement.


      Thank you flashoflight for your perspective!
      A question for you: where you in BK13 when you replaced your furnace and if so , how did you pay for it?
      Another poster on a different thread said Lennox should last more than 30 years.
      We think getting a couple of other estimates would be in order.
      We do not have enough money in cash to pay for a new furnace outright now, but we have enough to "patch" it. The only way would be a 401K loan from my husband's new 401K with his "new" company LM. That means repayments immediately would be deducted from my husbands auto deposit, potentially endangering our current BK13 monthly payment plan.
      It is a potential risk what ever we do, and it appears, like gamblers everywhere ,we are destined to lose.


        Thanks Flash! Very good point.
        So we are getting another estimate for repairs/replacement tomorrow, from the company that services our swamp cooler. Local, friendly, lower cost (at least for the cooler). We are at the end of February, so we may be able to just use space heaters through the rest of this winter. Then, accumulate funds, maybe communicate with the attorney and trustee, etc. We will most likely need to replace the furnace before begin of next winter. Or, try to get it to run through most of winter; January 29 2022 or so will be our final payment. We doubt the furnace will run that long though.


          I withdrew from an IRA, which was rolled over from a 401k back when covid allowed for in-service rollovers and penalty free distributions with the ability to give the money back anytime within 3 years. 401k in your current job is dead money in a ch13 so rolling the whole thing out to the IRA was a huge gift. I would never do a 401k loan. I consulted with my attorney and asked about the trustee's policy in these things before doing so. The furnace had a gas leak, but we live in California so space heaters were only occasionally used. The big problem is when the AC broke. We limped along with portable AC while I waited for the off season to get better pricing. If necessary, I would have used space heaters and portable AC to get through the entire CH 13.

          Negotiate for the longest labor warranty you can get with the focus on trying to get through the 13 with warranty. Parts only warranty is nowhere near as good as parts and labor.


          • Barbisi
            Barbisi commented
            Editing a comment
            Thanks flashoflight for the info! We will definitely try to avoid using the 401k loan, unless we have no choice. Our plan is to sell the house if possible next year, so if we must install a new furnace to pass inspection, it will be the cheapest -no more fancy upgrades for the next buyers - BK13 taught us well! LOL

          Just a side note. Do you have a carbon monoxide detector? If not get one they are not expensive at Walmart. I just bought one since we had one that broke a few years back and every so often I get paranoid when I hear stories in the news.

          I keep worrying about our furnace, well not really "worry" because I block it out. We had it go out and then it would come back on. My neighbor was able to do a quick fix (he found the broken part and looked on You Tube). We will need to replace the part. It went out again, but then came back on It's the part that sense the carbon monoxide and if it malfunctions it won't turn on the furnace because it thinks it's causing carbon monoxide. We had ours replaced about 23 yrs ago so hopefully it makes it through our BK. We got kind of lucky because the "new" furnace in the house had a crack like you mentioned, but oddly was not leaking carbon monoxide the workers couldn't believe it because the crack was so bad. Then they found out the furnace had been recalled so they replaced it.

          I hope you can work something out to make it through without too much expense.


            Thanks Carmella !
            We had a few folks come today. Another tech pointed out the same hardware, and we got a couple quotes for furnaces.
            The last guy that came today was very helpful and friendly. He diagnosed it for free, and isolated two potential issues: the flame detector (kinda like a spark plug), and the pressure switch, which appears to be sticking. The flame detector - he tried to remove to clean, unsuccessfully - it has very high torque on it. He said, the gas utility company varies the amount of gas in the line, depending on demand. The probe may have built-up 'film' of gunk on it which needs to be cleaned. Pretty cool how it works. Anyway, he bypassed (i.e. shorted) the thermostat wiring to force it to run, then disconnected the short, repeatedly. Maybe that got things 'unstuck'. The other techs did the same thing as well, so maybe all that poking around helped. For now, it is running again. If it hoses up, I can check the blinking light indicator that will tell us what's going on with the flame detector and report to the 'last guy'. Ok; gnight!


              Zombie13 I am glad to hear it's working at this time. Our furnace puttered out last night. It must reset if you leave it off long enough. I had it turned off (temperature low so it wouldn't try to kick on) for maybe 5 hours plus whatever time it decided to totally shut down over night. It's in the 40's here today and all our snow is pretty much melted.

              I will call my neighbor to see if he can take the part out and give me the info so I can buy the new part. If I buy it he says he will install it and he thinks it will cost in the $20 some range. He was supposed to come over a few weeks ago, but got busy and forgot and I didn't push it since it was working and I am very happy he helps us out (and others on our street, too) with stuff like this, but I don't want to be nagging him or taking advantage like at least one other neighbor did. But she was an elderly lady with an adult grandson that lived with her who was no good/never helped her/ended getting taken away by police (I don't know why).

              Anyway last night I checked my email late. And I kind of ignored what I read since it was the Water Department telling us that according to their meters we might have a leak and we needed to check our faucets, pipes, etc.

              Well I had noticed maybe 4-5 days ago, I don't go down to the basement every day. The sound of running water and though maybe my husband was running the water, but it sounded different. Then the next time I went down I heard it again and I knew no one was running water. I went off to work didn't think about it. Then I heard it again and was a little worried, but would forget about it when I got busy. Then I got that email! I knew there were no leaks in the house that I could see.

              This morning I looked outside since the sound of running water in the pipes was near the front of the house. Sure enough the hose was dripping water. We don't have a shut off valve to that spigot, I know they should be turned off during the winter. We have been here over 25 yrs and haven't had a problem I was worried our luck ran out. But I tried to turn the water off and it felt like it was off so I turned it on and then back off tight as I could. No more water was leaking from the hose. I went down the basement and there was no sound of water running through the pipes.

              Hopefully, that did the trick, we will just have a slightly higher water bill. And I thought it was great that the water department noticed that something was leaking and notified us.

              Actually when I heard the running water I looked at the water meter in the basement and none of the dials were turning like they do when someone showers or runs the washer so it must have been a slow flow. Not sure what happened all I thought was maybe since we had a ton of snow that some of it was on top of the "key" (not sure what you call the part you turn, my dad called it a key) and maybe the weight from snow or ice knocked it open just enough to dribble. I know we had huge icicles falling out there. Just glad I found the problem and could easily fix it.


                Carmella , hope you get your furnace situation resolved quickly and at low cost! It's very frustrating dealing with that kinda thing.
                And, glad to hear the water situation has been resolved. Great to hear the water company notified you as well!
                We will have to replace the laundry room sink, the one used for washing clothes by hand. It is so nasty, we wouldn't dare wash clothes in it. I tried turning on the cold water faucet to drip, and well, now I can't turn it off at all: I can spin and spin and spin that thing. So, I turned it off at the supply knob. That basin is so ugly anyway; I dropped something heavy on it recently and a chunk broke off. That thing is long past dead; just a decaying, plastic corpse. When we get funds shored up, we will replace it with a new low cost one, and replace the supply knobs; this may require a plumber. I'm not going to try to do the whole copper piping thing myself, no thank you.


                  Hi Carmella!

                  We appreciate you sharing your experience with us -we understand and empathize with you completely.
                  We had 3 different tech/salesmen here yesterday for a total of 4-5 hours. It was exhausting to say the least!
                  We are grateful to have a furnace that is working- for the moment! After spending some money (for two diagnostic house calls) and one complimentary one (the very nice and loquacious gentleman) it does appear all three are aligned in their assessment of the problem, so now if we can just make it till early May,we can cobble enough together (provided we don't have a Clap For Colorado event again before then!) we could purchase a low end 80% efficiency model, not a high efficiency one , as is currently installed, over the summer or before the bitter temps return in the Fall. (Overnight , the temperatures are usually in the low twenties or teens -not conductive or desirable for a lack of inside heat!)
                  I'm glad you didn't have a leak -that would be a nightmare to pay for! How old is your furnace? Ours is 30 years old.
                  Good luck on keeping that old furnace going!


                    Barbisi we have lived in our house 24 yrs this July so my estimate is the furnace is around 20 yrs old. It was new when we moved in and then we had a cracked part and found out it had been recalled so it was replaced. It's not a high end model by any means. The people who owned this house used it as a rental so most repaired were made half a$$ed or the cheapest way. We even had a plastic pipe holding the faucet in the tub (it was in the wall you couldn't see it, obviously against code) I found out when it broke and I called a plumber and said the faucet broke off. They thought I was nuts since faucets don't break off in your hand when you turn it on!

                    After BK there are definite repairs we need to make. At this point I think we will stay in this house do to our age, unless we sell and move to a one level home in the same neighborhood what I call a lateral move hopefully sell the house and buy one that is going the same or close as possible to same price. There are definite repairs that need to be made like the tub in basement by the washer we have the the hot water that is shut off to that faucet and I am sure if they start they will have to replace all those pipes. That is what has happened here whenever we need plumbing it's not up to code and they replace more than a single fix. We also have a bad pipe under the kitchen sink. As embarrassing as this is to say the pipe is taped together with plastic/waterproof tape because there's a hole in it. It's where the water empties from the sink. The pipes were a cheap metal that rusted. There was a small leak and when I ran my hand against the pipe to feel where the water was dripping it cracked into a hole.

                    There are repairs we need to make whether we stay or move so we will deal with those after BK. We have a leaky garage roof and needs new shingles. Luckily it's set back far enough from the street that it doesn't bother anyone except my neighbor who complains how it looks since he can see it.

                    Once BK is over we will have more money, but we will be spending a lot of it on stuff like this. But then my husband will be full retirement age and plans to retire whether we can afford it or not which doesn't thrill me. He plans to work part time so maybe our income will be similar to him working full time since he has Social Security and a Pension. I sure hope so! I still have a good 7+ yrs to work before full retirement age after BK is over


                      Originally posted by Barbisi View Post
                      Well, the repair estimate just to get the furnace up and running until the Spring arrives with warmer weather is around $1300.
                      The tech warned however with such an old furnace many more pieces may break down (incl. a back part of the case that would emit Carbon monoxide and cause poisoning) necessitating a brand new furnace anyway. (We have to weigh safety concerns before "cheap" repairs just to get by.)
                      He did not recommend this patch, but will send a salesman out [tomorrow] at noon to tell us exactly how much a new , low end furnace would cost. (The 1991 Lennox is a Puls.)
                      I am a professional HVAC service technician. I would be fascinated to hear just what "repairs" are being done for $1300--which is a huge amount of money for a furnace repair, and what "back part of the case" might fail and "emit carbon monoxide". It sounds to me like this "technician" works on commission, and the company's pricing structure is unreasonably high. I assume this is a larger-sized company which spends a lot of money advertising on TV, radio, billboards, etc? Guess who pays for that advertising? Hint: it doesn't come out of the owner's pocket.

                      That being said, the design life of an HVAC system or water heater is 15 years. This is according to the leading manufacturers, and the 15-year figure is mentioned in the marketing literature and on the manufacturers' websites. It does not make sense to spend a large amount of money trying to repair a 30 year old furnace, given that the unit was cost engineered to last for 15 years.

                      It sounds to me like the contractor you have hired uses heavily-inflated flat rate pricing in order to justify what I assume will be a heavily-inflated quote to replace the unit. An entry-level furnace wholesales for about $1200-1300, and with labor and installation might cost $2500-2800. If you receive a quote of $5k to replace the furnace, I would keep looking and call someone else.


                      • Barbisi
                        Barbisi commented
                        Editing a comment
                        I agree and since it is currently running, we are going to wait until summer or fall (at the earliest) to replace, not fix. It is a 1991 Lennox Pulse unit. Very over- hyped and - priced!

                      Carmella, your current home sounds like (or should I say reminds me of) the the crummy house that forced us into BK13 in the first place - by that I mean we had so many things wrong all at once from the very beginning that we never had a chance to avoid ending up bankrupt! Virtually nothing was up to code and there were numerous violations which the sellers some how got away with. (We were told later that the house should have been sold As Is and should not have even qualified for a mortgage.)
                      We were advised to sue the realtor, mortgage broker, sellers, etc. -pretty damming, huh?
                      I do think however that your situation otherwise is not as bleak as ours was and is because (1) my mother died in the house on April 26, 2016 before the last of the multitude of projects was completed and her monthly SS check ,which was her contribution to our joint household expenses ,also died with her, leaving a loss of $700+ for us to some how financially make up else where, and (2) my desire to escape the house and the difficult memories that her sudden death caused. You guys love your location and don't have any negative associations where you have lived for 24 years. (Wow, such a long time in one place!) Our buyers thought the house was cursed and haunted and sold it less than two years later for a 85K profit!
                      We foolishly thought we could sell the house with all the updates and make enough money to pay off a larger chunk of the debt and have enough to buy another improved, newer house. I hadn't grown to loathe Colorado as much then, and was still a few months away from the chronic musculoskeletal and left ankle conditions that now routinely cost us more than $500 per month, and I hadn't totally given up on professional and cultural opportunities yet, plus I didn't detest the massive and frequent 50 degree drops in temperatures, the too sunny too dry high altitude over the "four" seasons.
                      For me, buying another overpriced , underwhelming house or HOA condo here feels like a slow suicide and dreadful waste of money- nothing to look forward to except continued , expensive medical care, never really feeling well ,no career opportunities, no true friends, no vacations, possible future layoff for my husband (his second here), eventual steep depreciation of the house resulting in foreclosure, repeat BK13 (or 7) and installation in a nursing home, with nothing but final regrets before our deaths : very depressing and not something one should just accept saying , well, I made my bed and I have to lie in it for the rest of my life.
                      My grandmother had a similar expression -We drove our ducks to a poor market!

                      I think what ever happens after your BK13 ends, you will able to persevere and master the challenges ahead. I'm rooting for you!
                      For us the long winding tunnel of BK13 is only the beginning of a very scary journey ahead - lots of little and a couple of major (or more) repairs, storage ,staging and selling, obtaining a newer car so I can ditch my 17+ year old almost clunker (LOL), finding a decent (at least) lateral or better job for my engineer husband ,visiting the area we plan to move to, relocation to a nice rental home in a new state, and trying to re-enter the fields the BK13 and Colorado compelled me to abandon.
                      It's a very tall order with out promise of success, but it is a road we must take and try to ride along to what ever destination awaits us!
                      Last edited by Barbisi; 03-02-2021, 08:59 AM.


                        Barbisi Once you are out from under the house and have the freedom to move to a better location I think you and Zombie will be able to enjoy yourselves! There's a reason they call houses a Money Pit.

                        Our house is indirectly what started us on the road to BK. We invested money in some needed repairs and then my income dropped 25% and we couldn't get it paid off as planned. Then we would start to make progress, but never saved money and ended up charging for necessary home, car repairs and then other things like education needs for our daughter, etc. We would put a dent in debt, but then have a need that dragged us back down. Hindsight tells me if we would have bought a different house which was more upgraded/higher mortgage--but not much higher in the same neighborhood our finances would have been different. But that's the past and we have to deal with what we did, choosing something to fix up for more affordable mortgage was a gamble, but I never considered my income would drop 25% because my field was growing and never suffered any things like pay cuts and lost hours until of course about a year after we bought the house.

                        All we can do is live and learn. I only wished I we would have learned about BK when we were a bit younger so we could enjoy things/have more time to do things the "right" way instead of having a bleaker income as retirement approaches.

                        I think we will be fine and I think you will be fine in the end. Even if there's some struggle the stress of the financial issues and the house and being stuck in a location you don't like. My struggle at the moment is I would like to look into other jobs, but I don't want to make a change / take risk due to BK as I would be the "low man" if I change jobs and the market it too bad with lay offs due to Medicare changes, due to the unknown policies of new administration (my income has been cut whenever there's a hint of socialized medicine) and any lingering effects of Covid or (Lord Forbid) any resurgence of Covid. I don't want to risk loosing more income or a job before the the BK is paid off! I have thought about changing my career, too, but that is also another risk. At least I know my job is one of the more secure jobs at the moment.

                        We just have to keep on keepin' on until Discharge! The end of this month will mark 3 yrs for us!


                          Hey Carmella,
                          I'm glad you didn't take offense that I compared that investor house to yours - even with all that's wrong with it ,you guys must have amassed many pleasant and happy memories of 24 years of living there. And you never lost a love one in the house.
                          I think of my mother's death and this BK13 as a one - two punch in learning to loathe Colorado fully because the first led irrevocably to the second devastating blow, one which sometimes seems almost unbearable to survive. I wonder often what would have happened had Mama not been sick and had she lived and not died?
                          You are right though - we all must just "keep on trucking"!
                          Congratulations on nearing the third year of this most severe of financial tribulations - you guys have only two years to go - Hip Hip Hooray!


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