A new furnace in Chicago

I was sitting around the office last week cursing this wonderful weather and praying for the cold front to move in. Let’s face it, I love winter. Due to the unseasonal warm weather, our phone is just not ringing like it should be. But at exactly 2:00pm the phone did ring.

A new furnace in a newly remodeled home is using more gas than the old furnace was using. I jumped in the van and headed out to do what we do best — “Whatever it Takes” — for a soon to be satisfied customer. When I arrived I found a newly installed furnace in a remodeled basement utility room. The homeowner told me that she had already called a competitor who had installed the furnace, and they had already been out to address her complaint. The unit was installed in January, and the homeowner had compared the current bills with a new more efficient furnace to past bills with a less efficient furnace. Surprisingly, the new bills were about 20% higher! I asked the same questions my competitor had asked her. Were you operating the furnace at same temperature as the old unit? Check. No additional persons using water? Check. No new appliances that would use more gas? Check. No gas leaks? Check. This was quite a conundrum. This was the point where my competitor walked away stating that they would contact the manufacturer. Definitely not doing “Whatever it Takes” or I would never have gotten a call. At Around the Town, we are going to solve your problem. I have never walked away from a job in my life and would never allow anyone who works for me to do so. If they cannot solve your problem, they can call me and if I cannot figure it out I will get someone who can. We will do “Whatever it Takes” to make sure you are satisfied when we finish the job. I then asked when the new siding was installed and was told at about the same time as the new furnace and water heater. I also noted that the utility room appeared to have been built recently and there were no vents in the doors or walls to allow air into the utility room. I also noted that glass block had been installed where there used to be windows, and once I walked the perimeter of the interior and exterior of the house, I found that the remodeling crew had sealed the house up tight. Every joint in the foundation walls had been tuck pointed and every crack in the lumber had a nice bead of silicone installed. No free air was leaking into this house. I spoke with the homeowner and she verified that the old layout had the furnace in another corner and the water heater about ten feet from that location. She had them move both units to the utility room so that the basement could be finished at a later date. Great idea and a good way to maximize space, but I had to tell her that there were two things done that I would not have done. First, the new furnace was new but definitely not as efficient as she had been lead to believe. Second, when the water heater and furnace were relocated to a more confined space, no one did any make up air calculations. Simply put, the units when they are running are using all of the oxygen in the utility room. As the house is now sealed up tight, there is no way for fresh air to get into the utility room. Since the units have burned all the oxygen, they are now burning more gas than they should and this was causing the excessive gas bills.

Our solution was to install a fan in a drum system that would bring fresh air into the utility room. This is an economical solution and will allow the homeowner to maintain the custom doors she has installed. We ended up with a very happy customer.