How much do you know about your furnace? As a new homeowner, it was time to make the biannual air filter change. I had recently bought a furnace filter replacement at Home Depot. I knew the size was correct, but I didn’t really know any more than that. I went down to the laundry room. I figured this would be about a five minute task. Actually, I needed it to be a five minute task because I had a long list of other stuff to do. I was in for a surprise.
Where Is My Furnace Filter Located?
I started to take off the back panel of the furnace. I figured the furnace filter location was somewhere back there. After looking around, I noticed the air filter was actually up top. I took out the old one. Checked the orientation and then made sure to slide in the new one. Pretty simple actually. At that point, I realized it was probably unnecessary that I took off the back panel.
I was thinking more about the back panel as it was tricky to get back on. I wasn’t too concerned abut electrocuting myself as I made sure to turn off the furnace. As I ratteld the back panel, I noticed a monemtary spark. It fluttered so quickly that I thought maybe I was seeing things.
When I went to to turn the furnace back on, I noticed the thermostat upstairs still wouldn’t turn on. Hmmm…that was strange. I did what anyone who didn’t know what they were doing would do. I went to reset the breaker. I mean what else could it be. I started by turning off the furnace breaker. It was kind of hard to tell which breaker was the furnace but I thought I could make out the penciled in scribbles on the furnace. That did not work. I tried turning off the entire breaker. Still no luck.
An easy furnace filter replacement has become quite an ordeal. Click here to learn about how often to change furnace filter?
How To Change Furnace Filter?
At this point, I realized I had a problem. I called my dad who had a background in HVAC. We went through a couple of things, but it became pretty clear that I probably blew a circuit board during the hvac filter replacement.
Not only were we without heat for a couple of days, making for some cold mornings, but we needed to pursue next steps to get this addressed. After some brief research we realized our furnace was about 18 years old. Most furnaces get replaced around the 20 year mark. Also, we saw on the panel that a blower had been replaced in 2016. So this was not the first time something had went wrong. Did it just make more sense to replace the whole furnace? A new furnace was in the $3500-$4500 range.
We called three local HVAC companies to get an idea on the cost for a service visit. The first two were about $150 for the visit and diagnosis. One company had a flat fee and the other company was $150 for the first hour and then $35 per every 15 minutes after. We were told it was highly unusual for it to take more than 30 minutes to figure out what was going on. The mentality of the HVAC companies is to make the inspection cheap, to get in the door.
The other highly rated company in the area was $300 per hour for the initial visit and diagnosis. Once I realized this was just for initial visit, and that a new circuit board was in the $300-600 range this was starting to seem like an expensive mistake. I took off a back panel that didn’t need to be removed and now I was on the hook for a $1000 repair bill. What a bummer.
At that point, it started to seem pretty reasonable to just look at furnace replacement options. If I was going to spend $1000 why not spend $3500 and be done with it for 20 years.
Should I Get My HVAC Inspected?
The HVAC tech came out the next day and within minutes indicated that it was a blown fuse. He pulled out a generic looking fuse from his toolbox, stuck it in, and the furnace booted up. He didn’t even turn it off. I realized immediately I probably could of bought one of these fuses online and done it myself. He told us that this was probably the one repair the average guy could do. I just didn’t know.
Is HVAC Tune Up Worth It?
The bill totaled to $150 for the visit and $30 for the fuse, plus tax. I took a quick look online and realized that the replacement fuse could be purchased for under a dollar. But let’s be real, I probably would of messed that up. As a friend told me, the key to getting value out of a service visit is to ask questions and at least become more knowledgeable during the process. As there will always be a next time.
Here is the questions I asked to try to get some value out of my stupid mistake.
-What is the part that will most likely go out next?
-When should we plan our next furnace filter replacement?
-What part is most likely to go out next? How will we know? How much will it cost to fix this?