Thursday October 26, 2017
Yesterday the furnace stopped providing heat. I’ve had some success troubleshooting in the past, thanks to the internet. My Rheem furnace has an indicator light that will flash different codes based on what the problem is. This was a new one – two flashes of the green light followed by a few second pause, then two flashes again, etc. Looking at the panel schematic, it said that the problem is an open pressure switch and proceed to step F on the troubleshooting chart. None of the listed suggestions were helpful, so I resorted to look things up on my good friend Google.
It turns out my furnace has two pressure switches and there are a few causes for the pressure switches to fail. I found a YouTube video with a solution that apparently works for many people – blowing in and out into the tube attached to the switches to “exercise” the switch and loosen up anything that is sticking. For some people the fix lasts a long time, for other people, it at least gives them enough time to order a new pressure switch. Here’s the video:
I’d suggest just being careful not to blow too hard and damage the switch. I tried it and unfortunately, it did not help my situation.
Reading for other problems that could cause this led me to read someone who had a dead rodent in their outdoor vent pipe. My pipes are pretty high off the ground and fortunately, the one for my furnace has a wire grate covering the opening. I was pretty sure there wasn’t any animal in there, but I had no way to check.
I decided it was time to call in the professionals and I left a message for our HVAC company we have a contract with. They called me back just before 8am when they opened. They said they had a bunch of calls for heat being out but they could send out a technician between noon and 4pm. The technician showed up around 3:15pm, takes off the cover, and says it smells like something overheated. He feels the draft inducer motor and says it is really hot and it failed. Apparently when it fails, it will get hot. He goes outside and spends about 30 minutes apparently talking on the phone. I figure this means that the office has one in stock and he’s waiting for someone to bring it out to our house. He comes back in and says the part is not in stock but it looks like they will get it on Monday – and today is Thursday. He sets a time for someone to come out on Monday – between 2 and 4pm. It isn’t freezing outside, but it isn’t particularly warm either. Our house has been in the low 60’s inside, but we are supposed to have some cooler weather between now and Monday.
I asked how much the part costs, and he said $600 for the draft inducer motor. He also said that I’m basically in for about $150 already. I have no idea if the $600 is for the part without labor or for the part and labor. Looking online, it seems other people have been quoted $600 plus another $240 for labor.
There are a few videos out there on how to change the inducer motor. It didn’t look too complicated to replace it and most comments said they could do it in about 30 minutes but one said it took 2 hours but the stated they were going very slowly.
They sell the draft inducer motors online at a variety of places, including Amazon. I found the model number and specifics on a label on the side of the motor – the label says 71623861e. The one for my furnace is this model:
They sell at Amazon for around $230. It irks me to think that my HVAC company would be increasing the price as much as they do, but maybe the $600 I was quoted included installation. The item I linked to at Amazon has one review at this time saying it worked perfectly and only took the person 10 minutes to install.
At this point, I’m stuck waiting several days to have the HVAC guys come back and possibly charge me 4 times what it would cost for me to do it myself. I could order the part online and hope that is the only problem. If that isn’t the only problem though, I’m back to calling the repair guy out another time.
So my plan is in the morning I’m going to check and see if it really is not available in stock for them to replace tomorrow. I’m also going to check with another local HVAC company to see if they have it in stock and can come out tomorrow. I do have a contract with my preferred HVAC company, but if they can’t get the part quickly, it doesn’t do me much good.
I may also call and see if there is a local distributor that will HVAC parts to individuals. I think most will only sell to professionals, but it doesn’t hurt to call. If I can get one myself and try to install it before Monday, I may try to do that. If it works, I can cancel the Monday service call. If it doesn’t work, I’ll still have the guys come out on Monday.
I’ll update this when I have news.
Update 10/17/17 (Friday): I spent some time this morning calling around to see if I could either get a replacement part or find a reliable HVAC company that may have it in stock. I called a highly respected HVAC company this morning and they said there is a chance the part may be on one of their trucks, but they said most likely they would have to order it and it wouldn’t be ready until Monday. I started to think I could ask them to look and see if they have it on a truck, hope they can have someone available the same day, and pay them what is probably the same cost or a bit higher than the company I’ve been using that would be out on Monday anyway.
I then decided to call the company I normally use and confirm that the part would not be in until Monday. The office person I spoke to knew a lot and said that they did indeed have to order the inducer motor for my furnace and it was being shipping UPS, which is why it wouldn’t be in until around noon on Monday. I asked him for more information about the costs and he said the replacement motor was $489 and he said I’d be charged the straight time rate of $24 / 15 minutes. He said assuming there were no problems, it would probably be an hours worth of time because after replacing it, he’d have to let it run through a cycle and make sure everything else is working as it should. So I’m guessing the total cost would be around $600 including labor, assuming no other problems. I’m also not sure if there was a service call charge for the original diagnostic. The original technician said I was already in for about $150. I’m guessing that means the total bill would ultimately be around $750. I may get a 10% discount because I have a contract with them, so maybe $675ish.
I called around several HVAC suppliers in the area and they all said they can’t sell directly to the public. One company suggested I try Granger as they believe they can sell direct. I called and I gave the receptionist the model number that was shown on the motor (71623861e) and she said it doesn’t bring up anything so they must not carry it. I had basically given up trying when I got a text back from someone I contacted through Craigslist who was selling working, but used furnace parts. It turned out he wasn’t close enough to make it worthwhile for me to travel and pick up one of his used motors. He then said that Granger has the model I need for around $100. I checked the website, and when I searched for 71623861 (without the e) it brought up a model that is compatible with my furance, but it was $289, and it said it would be available for pick-up on Monday. I was debating calling and seeing if I went to one of their branches, if I could pick it up the same day. I was thinking it wasn’t worth the effort.
For some reason I was looking on Amazon at one of the matching models to see if I could easily find a list of the various part numbers that this item sells under. I saw in the question/answer section one company posted a phone number and said they would ship overnight. I figured it was worth giving them a call. I gave them my product number and they said they have it in stock. He also said that their system shows the part number is a Fasco product with model number A136 and they sell it for $191. They can also overnight ship it to me with Saturday delivery for another $55, bringing the total cost to $246. I debated doing it and then decided to go for it. I placed the order and the part should be here by noon tomorrow (Saturday). I’m hoping that the original HVAC company that is scheduled to come out on Monday doesn’t give me any grief as they had to order a part (which they say is a $489 part).
As an aside, it appears that the part that I need goes by the following alternate part numbers: Rheem A991, 7062-4239, 7162-3861, 7162-3861e, 7062-3861, 7024033-01, 7062-4537, 7062-4699, 7062-4841, 7062-5177, 70-24033-01-13, 70-24033-01, Rotom RF-RFB136, Dayton 4MH44, 33NT43, 28686, 70624239, 71623861, 7162-3861e, 70623861, 70624537, 70624699, 70624841, 70625177. If you are ordering one of these, please confirm that it matches the specifications of your current inducer motor.
So tonight I took off the old inducer motor. I watched a few YouTube videos to make sure there wasn’t anything I was missing. It took me about 15 minutes to remove the old part, taking my time to do it. I took pictures along the way, mostly so that I could re-assemble everything how it was. The only thing that may be able to be installed more than one way is the wire connector – in case you can connect it backwards. The rest seems very straightforward. I hope there are no surprises when I get the new part.
I’ll post another update after I’ve installed the new part.
Update 10/28/17 – Saturday
The UPS shipment arrived just before noon today. The product is exactly what I needed. Taking my time, it took me a total of 30 minutes to take off the old part and install the new part. It was held in place by 4 main bolts (with hex heads) plus one smaller bolt (with the same size hex head) holding the exhaust opening in place affixed to the vent pipe. There was one simple wire connector that clips and one green ground wire. My only advice is to take a picture of the connector before you take it apart so you won’t question which way it connects. By far the hardest part was getting the one bottom left hex nut back into the hole because there were pressure switches close to that spot. Once I had it installed, I turned on the power, set the thermostat, and everything started up exactly as it should. I now have heat again.