We recently had a new furnace installed in the house. The outgoing furnace was installed with original construction of our home which dates it to 1971 – not bad for a piece of machinery to still be working after almost 40 years but as one service technician once advised us ‘they’re so basic there’s nothing to go wrong on them’.
Well maybe not but it was only about 45% efficient (by comparison to new 92-95% efficient furnaces) and last winter it had failed to start on a couple of occasions. Shouting at it and giving it a good kick did seem to do the job last year but we didn’t want to run the risk of it giving up completely right in the middle of winter. We knew we were already on borrowed time with the old furnace so decided to just get it replaced.
So we bid our farewells to this mechanic dinosaur.
New legislation introduced last year means you can only buy 90%+ efficient furnaces now in British Columbia. While most of the components of the new furnace simply tag onto the fixtures of the old one, there are a few new regulations which meant installation of the new furnace was not quite as simple as taking out the old one and putting the new one in it’s place.
New furnaces have a carbon monoxide exhaust which must now vent directly to an outside wall, not up through the roof as our previous machine did (if it even bothered to get rid of the carbon monoxide ?!). There are also stringent rules about how this venting must be installed, the angles the pipework can run at and how frequently the pipes are secured before reaching the outside wall. As our furnace room is situated in the centre of the house in the basement this proved quite a tricky job.
There had been fears the contractors would need to cut into the ceiling of our rental-suite to run the pipework outside, and more considerations that the outside section of vent would be adjacent to the stairs into the garden from our deck – which would be unsightly, potentially noisy when it expels air and gas and a tripping hazard on the stairs.
We were delighted that the contractors found a brilliant alternative, using the suspended ceiling in our own laundry to hide the pipework before exiting the house on the North wall, away from windows and anywhere that we would normally go.
So the contractors remove various ceiling tiles in the laundry while they install the pipework, having to be sure it’s secured at various intervals and maintains a specific gradient.
Inside the furnace room to enable the pipework along the laundry ceiling and keeping it away from the rental-suite they had to bring the pipes below ceiling height before connecting to the furnace. This is fine as it’s out of sight in the furnace room and not in the way of anything.
The new venting on the outside of the house is quite big and very visible. We are glad it’s on an end wall and not where we will normally see it. We are also able to paint it so will do so the same colour of the house which will hopefully hide it quite well.
And finally we have a sparkling new furnace. Well, OK, aside from being shorter it does look exactly the same as the old one just with a few less scratches…..but hopefully it’ll continue to work throughout the winter and will reduce our bills quite significantly. It also has a couple of extra features our old machine didn’t including a ‘summer fan’ which when turned on during warm summer months sucks the cooler air from the basement and circulates it around the upper level of the house. It’s not air conditioning but it will help to keep the inside temperatures down when needed.