Oil furnace service: Scam or No Scam


Old 11-10-18, 04:39 AM
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Oil furnace service: Scam or No Scam

Good Morning,
I'm working with a Lennox Oil Furnace ELITE

PAID 8k for entire system in 2006.
I went to have my furnace serviced this year, there is a ceramic donut gasket that fits around the oil pump TUBE to seal off the heat chamber.

The furnace worked fine last season, no worries.
my Wife was home when company arrived, they took that ceramic donut off in 2 pieces and told my wife it was cracked and needed a new one. They also told my wife the heat exchanger itself was cracked and they saw it, we would basically need a new unit all together, now I've done some research and realize my purchase 11 years ago was probably not a good one, we are all at the professionals mercy and we believe them in any industry.....

As in anything, hope I don't make the same mistake twice.
Here's the thing, I asked the pro when I got home if I could see the crack in the heat exchanger, he explained it was covered with soot, I asked was their other evidence to show me, he said 32 years of this work. I want to believe what he's saying and I'm sure he's very knowledgeable, now if the thing is cracked, I'll replace it and use him to do it.No problem.
Is their any evidence other than the human eye and 32 years experience I should be given or just blind trust?
Old 11-10-18, 05:19 AM
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It's probably a small crack (at this point); but Carbon Monoxide is nothing to fool with. That's one key difference between the safety of Forced Hot Water (FHW) and Forced Hot Air (FHA) Systems . . . . a leaking exchanger in FHW is a nuisance while a leak in FHA can kill you.

Do you have a Carbon Monoxide Detector in the house ?

One of the bi-products of my having spent several decades as a Real Estate Broker is participating in a few hundred building inspections and one item that I came away with and remember well was an inspection of a home with a Forced Hot Air Furnace (FHA): the Building Inspector noticed a little soot above a few of the Heat Distribution Registers in the Living Quarters and said, even before we went into the basement where the Furnace was located "I think were going to find a problem with a rusted or cracked heat exchanger in the furnace in this place".

Sure enough . . . . where we got down to looking inside the combustion chamber, there was a gaping hole between it and the plenum used to take warm air up to where the people lived.

I'm not saying that you have such a problem; but that is one way a leaking heat exchanger can be detected in a FHA distribution system. I think some Furnace Models allow for the replacement of just the Combustion Chanbers/Heat Exchanger; but it's probably not cost effective. They certainly should have a design life greater than 12 years !

I guess I'd be seeking a 2nd Opinion.
Old 11-10-18, 05:39 AM
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Get a 2nd opinion and if they confirm the crack ask them to show it to you and/or prove it. I never condemned a furnace for a cracked heat- exchanger without showing the customer the crack if he wanted to see it. The statement that the crack is covered by soot is B.S. and 32 years of this work is not proof of anything. Also check the warranty and compare pricing for repair and replacement.
Old 11-10-18, 07:03 AM
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Does anyone use smoke/stink bombs to check heat exchangers any more? I can remember that being done years ago.
Old 11-10-18, 06:03 PM
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I would first check your warranty from Lenox. Their heat exchangers generally have a 20 year warranty. If this is a sham and they have to replace it for free you may find out you really do not have a crack.

I'm not saying you don't have a crack but 32 years of experience statement is a crock.

If he saw the crack then it should be visible to you. With a cracked heat exchanger you would be getting a smell and even possibly soot, depending how the furnace is running, up through your vents into the living area every time the blower came on and you would smell it. The stuff that is suppose to go up the chimney would now be coming up the vents.

They make smoke bombs that you put into your firebox of the furnace and then turn on your blower and if your exchanger is cracked the smoke will escape the chamber through the crack and you will see it in the living areas.

If none of this is happening I would be very wary and get another opinion.

Hope this helps a little.
Old 11-11-18, 04:42 AM
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Thank You

Thank You all for your opinions here, it's greatly appreciated, I have a LENNOX area manager from Virginia coming to evaluate the burner....

The second opinion company did confirm there was NO crack in the HEAT CHAMBER.....

Unfortunately for my wallet, the seed has been planted in my wife's head and She will now not rest properly and I will live in hell.

All of us in our own professional world has to rise above the almighty dollar and tell the truth no matter what......

I truly have no clue about these systems, i have no choice but to rely on professional folks, the last thing I would ask opinion

I'm sure there are plenty of them, any opinions on brands I may consider?
Old 11-11-18, 12:05 PM
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Your are right, if you ask 10 people you will get 10 different opinions.

With that being said what I would suggest is look for something that you can get parts for.

Warm air furnaces are not like boilers and basically work all the same. The fire heats up the air in the heat exchanger and a blower delivers the warm air to the house. It's a simple operation. They basically all use the same burners. You either get a Beckett, Carlin, Riello. The blower motors could have bells & whistles, the cabinets may be made of different gauge metal but in the end they all just deliver warm air to heat your home.

Some so called high brands want you to use only there parts which means you have to use companies that sell there product so you are limited to who will service these units. Lennox, at one time was one of these brands. I don't know if they have changed. You are lucky to have a rep in your area and although they were always higher priced they were as good as any.

Different brands are prevalent in different areas, which is why you get all the different opinions.

Get something that you can get off the shelf parts for, check your warranty's and make sure you can get someone to service these units and get parts for in case you want to change service companies.

It sounds like rambling but it really comes down to where you are located as to what is available.

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