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Furnace buying tips

Buying a new furnace is a major purchase. It’s not a decision you want to make hastily on a cold Sunday in January. A little research will go a long way to help you find the furnace and contractor best suited for the job.

Ensure a quality installation

Just as important as the furnace itself is the quality of its installation. In BC there are codes to follow for the venting and gas fitting, but there are no standards for the actual installation of the furnace itself. Here are some steps to help ensure your new furnace is installed properly.

Choosing a contractor

Always use a natural gas contractor who is licensed with Technical Safety BC and employs certified gas fitters. They should also be bonded and insured, offer you a warranty and provide references and follow-up service.

You can find contractors meeting these criteria through our Trade Ally Network directory. As an extra step, check to see if the contractor is in good standing with the Better Business Bureau.

Get quotes

We recommend you get three quotes before deciding who will do the work. Ask each contractor to inspect your existing system. Each should provide you with a detailed quote listing all of the work to be performed, as well as the cost. Remember, the best price is not always the best deal. A low price could be an indication the contractor may take shortcuts.

What to discuss during the quote consultation

  • Ask the gas contractor to perform a heat loss calculation to confirm what size furnace your home needs. You don’t want to pay extra for an oversized system providing more heat than your home needs.
  • Let the contractor know if there are any cold spots in your home. 
  • The contractor should inspect your existing ductwork to ensure it’s sized properly for adequate airflow and air return with the new high-efficiency furnace that will be installed. 
  • Tell your contractor you’ll require an installation permit. This permit, from Technical Safety BC, or licensing organization in your jurisdiction, helps to ensure gas installation code compliance and makes sure the installation is registered with the safety system. Plus, if furnace rebates are available, only permitted installations will be eligible. 
  • Ask the contractor for details about the warranty.

During installation

These extra steps during installation will help maintain furnace longevity and help it run as efficiently as possible. Hint: a good contractor will have provided details of this work on the quote.

Tapered transitions – tapering these transitions between the plenum and the top of the return and supply air ducts can help reduce noise and electricity consumption of the furnace’s fan motor.

Two pipes are better than one - high-efficiency furnaces can be vented directly through an exterior wall, instead of the chimney. The venting should be double-piped, one pipe for fresh air intake and the other for exhaust. Both pipes should be vented to the outside together.  A properly sized two-pipe system helps with overall energy efficiency for the home, is quieter and reduces the chance of maintenance and combustion issues.

Pleated 2 - 4 inch filter - ask if your ductwork can be modified to fit a two to four inch pleated filter. Pleated filters improve air quality, as they are more effective than fiberglass or reusable types at filtering particulates. And thicker pleated filters have more surface area than one-inch types. This results in quieter operation, furnace longevity and electrical energy savings. Turning vanes, just upstream of the filter, also help to introduce the ret​urn air to the entire filter.

Matching or compatible thermostat - to achieve the full system performance of your new furnace and to maximize the overall comfort of your home, ask for a furnace compatible (or matching) thermostat. These mini-microprocessors allow for quick recovery and can offer more precise, even heating.

Sealed joints - have the contractor seal the joints on the exposed ducting with approved foil tape or paint-on duct sealant to prevent heat loss in the duct joints.

Tipped to drain - high-efficiency furnaces have double heat exchangers that extract heat from the combustion exhaust.  Once the heat is captured, the remaining condensate turns into acidic water. If not drained away from the furnace, a buildup inside the furnace could lead to premature equipment failure. Your contractor will install the furnace to ensure the condensation drains away from the furnace.

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