Contractor and his helper got aaaalmost everything done today. He'll have to return in the morning to take care of some freon-related stuff with the A/C condenser unit and to test some things.
Also, he noticed he had mistakenly installed a non-programmable Honeywell thermostate (his estimate had mentioned a programmable thermostat). Anybody have any experience with programmable ones?
I guess the idea is you can set it about 4 different ways each day. In theory, have it warm up about the time you'd wake up; go down a certain amount while you're at work; be fairly toasty around the time you'd go home; and then a certain temp when you're usually going to sleep. I've never really given much thought to any of that.
The natural gas cost is included in our condo fee, so it's really more of a comfort option than moneysaver, for me. Maybe it's more complicated than I need to bother with.
If anyone uses a programmable thermostat, I'd be interested in your thoughts.
As far as the furnace goes, he needed to do a lot of ductwork customizing. The old furnace was actually based on this rotting-wood box (maybe 2 feet high), and then connected to the duct work up top by a short connection.
For the new Heil, the contractor removed the rotting box, and instead put a large sheet metal pan on the floor (judging from the drilling sounds, I think he fastened it to the floor with a few screws), and then placed the new furnace in that. And then he connected the top of the furnace into the duct work at the top of the room via a lengthier duct connection.
He explained that in a multi-level house, he would probably have set it up so there was a shorter connection to the main duct work (i.e., the blower motor has a shorter distance to the main ducts) -- but in a small condo like mine, it's really not an issue (I can attest that at the variable motor's high speed, it blows very strong volumes of air from all vents).
He also did a custom thing with the inlet panel in the hallway. He made that wider, and installed a clip-cover so that the furnace filter goes there. With my old one, you were technically slotting the filter into the bottom of the furnace unit (just above the duct that leads to the inlet panel). It's a very different size filter; old one was 16X25X1, while this one is 20X20X1.
So far I'm pleased with the reduced noise levels, whether it's running at high speed or low speed. Although it's billed as "variable speed," it seems more akin to a two-speed thing. Like, if it's 65 in the room, and you set the thermostat to 70, it'll run at high speed until it reaches 70, switch to the far quieter low speed and then shut off. It does seem to always want to startup at the high speed, and then after a couple minutes moves to low.
The high speed sound is not quiet per se, but is far less noisy than the ole ones "full speed all the time" motor speed. It does have this sort of "fly wheel" motor noise that I may need some time to get used to. At low speed, it's a whisper. Either way, at least I won't have to crank the TV volume up 4 clicks, or shut the door of my computer room when the furnace kicks in now.
And I couldn't believe how ridiculously rusted up the interior of the old furnace was. It was horrible.