N. VA GEO Upgrade "Quotes"

Discussion in 'Quotes and Proposals' started by DITBOY, Mar 18, 2013.

  1. DITBOY

    DITBOY New Member

    First, I hope the experts here will take a chance to readthis. I’m in awe of your knowledge ofall things GSHP and I wish I could absorb all I’ve read here, off and on, overthe last 2 years. Seems like thedominant lesson is to go with someone who seems to know what he/she is doing.
    The story is a bit ugly and started before the house was startedwith the building contractor said he’d only install a GSHP for a $100k upchargeon the house price. Since I’m militaryand was deploying in a week and they already had my $15k non-refundabledeposit, I went with the contractor HVAC setup.
    So, I have a 1 year old 3500 sq ft (basement not allfinished, but will be) Energy Star home on 3 ½ acres of rolling terrain inNorthern VA, currently heated with an oversized 5 ton propane furnace andequally sized a/c for basement/ground floors and 2 ton ASHP for heating/coolingfor upstairs. I say oversized, as aftera year of fighting with the builder’s HVAC contractor (aka HVAC #1) overexcessive air return howling, including involvement of county code inspectors,said contractor admitted the basement/ground floor unit was oversized using anincorrect (I’d say probably ‘generic’) Manual J as a basis forcalculation. This same HVAC contractor,in an effort to provide an additional source of return air, cut a hole in theside of the propane furnace. AnotherHVAC contractor (aka HVAC#2) identified both the oversized unit issue and notedthe new hole in the propane furnace was probably a code violation due to theclose proximity to the furnace burner and propane water heater. County code inspectors validated the violation. When confronted with the facts, HVAC #1agreed to swap out the current unit for a 4 ton (without changing the a/c, ofcourse). (BTW, everyone who has seen their install job is shocked at how sloppy and unprofessional it is).
    Since I never wanted the expensive propane system ($375 amonth, on average for propane in the winter, plus electric), I told them Iwanted to explore the GSHP again and would give their GSHP division a shot,with a discount for the work they’d have to do anyway to swap things out.
    HVAC#1’s quote then:
    Waterfurnace NDV049G11NT(L/R)0CNA 4 ton unit with EAL-15 Auxheat for basement/ground floor with “inside cube” air handler and FC2-GL flowcenter (not sure on the layout of the quote spread sheet)
    Waterfurnace NAH026A0501R 2 ton unit with NDZ02610AC Auxheat (?) for upstairs. System includesduct mods, Honeywell 8000 thermostat, control package and a desuperheater. Price for system alone is almost $30k with ahuge $1800 credit for all the work they would have had to do to pull out the 5ton, do ductwork mods and buy/install a 4 ton propane furnace (which seemspretty low). Driller came out andexplained two vertical loops to a depth of 450 ft and associated plumbing toget it to the unit would run another $18k to $22k ($48k - $52k total).
    HVAC#2 came out and did their own Manual J. HVAC#2’s quote (same folks who found originalissues in HVAC#1’s work):
    Trane Two Stage Variable Speed Package 3 ton Geothermal HeatPump with Trane 10kw Back Up Electric Heater and Desuperheater Hot Water Assistfor basement/first floor. Trane DigitalProgrammable Touch Screen Thermostat, flowcenter, and State 50 Gallon ElectricWater Heater (as Buffer Tank for Geothermal)
    Trane Two Stage Split 2 ton Geothermal System withDesuperheater Hot Water Assist, Trane 10kw Heater Package and Trane MatchingVariable Speed Air Handler for upstairs. Also includes a second thermostat, copper lineset and pad for the unit (just like the main to isolate vibration).
    Second driller also came out and said he’d also run twovertical loops to a depth of about 450 feet and this was included in the overallpackage price under $40k.
    HVAC#3 sent a friend out who was new to the business todiscuss what I wanted and to take some pictures of the property. I recently discussed the project with the “certified”GEO design engineer who said he really didn’t need a Manual J, as there isenough wiggle room in system size, that he could design it based on the size ofthe house. He says he does nothing butGEO designs (and didn’t have a lot positive to say about HVAC folks that arenew to the market). His company has itsown drill teams and they want to do a horizontal drill, which would, hopefully,wreck a lot less of my yard.
    His somewhat vague proposal (doesn't seem to want to invest any time in prepping one until I commit to using him), for an overall 7 ton systemis:
    BOSCH 2013 CGi Series units, two zones,both package units, available if existing furnace vent running to attic regionmay be used to run geothermal piping. Horizontallydrilled loop field, thermal conductive grouting, constructed to design criteriaby GeoConnections LoopLink software for effective performance. Desuperheater hook up to new electric hotwater tank and Honeywell touch screen thermostats. All for only around $53k.
    I have a follow up conversation scheduled with him, since hemay be a good engineer and just a ‘developing’ salesman.
    Seems at this point that HVAC#2 is the best choice. I’m assuming HVAC#1 is going to screw me onthe exchange cost (since I already paid them to do a poor job for the 5 ton andthey seem to think that work was only worth $1800 or that the total installedcost of the new 4 ton would be $1800, either way I’m probably getting lowballed).
    Advice? Observations?
    Thanks!
     
  2. docjenser

    docjenser Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Welcome and sorry for the bad experience.
    Most importantly what is the right size for the space. What are the correct manual J load numbers for your house in Virginia? First and Second floor?

    Get those numbers first. So why can't you condition the whole house with a single unit and a zoning system?

    #3 sounds scary and unprofessional (besides a lack of knowledge if he proposes 7 tons, #1 seems incompetent, #2 knew at least that there was something wrong, which still does not make him an a good geo installer, but at least his unit sizing was more on target.
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2013
  3. AMI Contracting

    AMI Contracting A nice Van Morrison song Industry Professional Forum Leader

    thanks for your service.
    there is no way I would hand 50K to a company that botched the first install and followed it up by being unwilling to repair it correctly.
    i'm not sure you have found the right guy yet.
    normally i wouldn't suggest 4 or 5 bids, but co 1 doesn't count and co 3 doesn't wanna do the math.
    as doc said it all starts with the homework, if you want to do your own man. j we can help with design/size questions.
     
  4. engineer

    engineer Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    It pains me to hear of deployed military getting so hosed, but it is likely a case of complete incompetence rather than treachery.

    Starting point is a proper Man J calculation and assessment of ductwork

    What does propane cost per gallon in your area?
     
  5. Mark Custis

    Mark Custis Not soon. Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Ditboy:

    I am not military. I did inhale.

    I do, like Joe, Doc and Curt feel your pain.

    Do you have tools or teenagers? We might be able to help.

    Our daughter lives in DC.

    Mark
    Lake-Erie-Indoor-Air-Services.net
    aka geo-gypsies
     
  6. DITBOY

    DITBOY New Member

    @Joe: Sounds great. I tried looking at some Man-J spread sheets back before we bought the house (that and a thousand other things I was trying to get done as I had to pick the house site and do the paperwork while on a short TDY from Germany, where I was before deployment) and I didn't have the patience to sort it out. I have details on the room sizes, window location/sizes/types (though my first attempt to Google the windows the contractor installed came up with a page of links to class action lawsuits), house orientation, what they tell me the insullation is, etc. I don't know any energy auditor companies in the area, so I don't know what the actual heat loss is. I am starting to be pressed for time, as the original HVAC company will probably start pressing me for a date that they can swap furnaces.

    I did reach out to a couple other companies. One in MD didn't do work this far south, one never responded and one I played phone tag with a couple times and they gave up. GEO installs must be booming business around here.
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2013
  7. DITBOY

    DITBOY New Member

    @Kurt: I think we're paying just over $2.50 a gallon for propane. One of the new neighbors managed to work a deal to swap tanks and get a different company from what the builder set the rest of us up for. The whole 'we have to come take our tank out and they will have to give you a new tank' thing is obviously designed to deter any of us from switching companies.
     
  8. DITBOY

    DITBOY New Member

    @Mark: My first girlfriend in the military probably would have preferred to be with you. I couldn't participate like the guys at her college.

    I have some tools, but no teenagers, just young daughters (you know that pain too). I can do things that require more effort than skill (like landscaping, though even without any training my results are way better than my builder's!)

    One of the downsides of the 'gypsy' military lifestyle of moving every two years is that I don't have family or lifelong friends in the area (in-laws in their 60s live in the state). Since I don't work locally, I don't even have coworkers, so I'm kind of a one man band doing what I can.
     
  9. Dit, Mark was referring to the gypsy as us. Having tools and travel trailer, we tend to go where the jobs take us. Since our daughter lives in DC, we like your area. (BTW our daughter is 27, no pain there). We did a job in MD last June and stayed in our TT there for a month. I think Trent is still happy with the job, he and his son did most of the hard work (more effort than skill). That being said, Trent is highly skilled, but is also good at grunt work.
     
  10. AMI Contracting

    AMI Contracting A nice Van Morrison song Industry Professional Forum Leader

    You indicated you selectded the first system while pushed for time. If you approach this similarly I would expect similar results. We do want to help but need information.
     
  11. DITBOY

    DITBOY New Member

    @Joe, I haven't paid for an independent Man-J, so absent having that in hand, I can tell you what some of the design numbers the one useful contractor I've had used. The house layout is basically the same sq foot on walkout basement and ground floors, with maybe 150 sq ft less upstairs.

    Design temps 98 degrees summer, 10 degrees winter, 72 degrees indoors, 12 degree set point. R-410a; 3 ton packaged unit downstairs, 2 ton split system upstairs, water to (dx) air system. All the system specs are in my original post, of course.

    What info do you need?
     
  12. Mark Custis

    Mark Custis Not soon. Industry Professional Forum Leader

    PWI?

    Mark
     
  13. DITBOY

    DITBOY New Member

    ok Mark, you got me. PWI isn't an acronym I recognize. I'll do a search, but I obviously am in need of a little more info myself....
     
  14. AMI Contracting

    AMI Contracting A nice Van Morrison song Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Heat loss/gain
     
  15. engineer

    engineer Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    98 summer design temp sounds about 6 degrees high for NoVa. It is a misconception that one should design for a temperature reached just 5-10 hours per year. That could be adding a ton to someone's heat gain calculation.
     
  16. AMI Contracting

    AMI Contracting A nice Van Morrison song Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Not trying to bust your chops, but you can do this correctly or leave success to chance (which didn't play out well last time).
     
  17. engineer

    engineer Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    We can lead a horse to water...but that's about it.
     
  18. DITBOY

    DITBOY New Member

    How do I do this? Sorry I've been buried at work for the past few weeks (and trying to get all the outdoor fixes done for Spring)
     
  19. AMI Contracting

    AMI Contracting A nice Van Morrison song Industry Professional Forum Leader

    There is freeware, there is a one time license for HVAC calc, you can employ someone to do it for you.....
     

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