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Washington State Energy Code Increases Retrofit $


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Very soon, when an inspector finds a furnace worn out in Washington State, and the client wants to know what it will cost to replace it, inspectors would be wise to warn their clients that there will be a whole lot more involved with a retrofit than just replacing the furnace.

According to Tom Ebert, owner of Snohomish Energy Services, as of July 1st 2010 the new Energy Code (WSEC) at www.energy.wsu.edu/code/ requires that duct air leak testing be performed on all furnaces replaced that have ducts in unconditioned spaces. If the test results are unacceptable then ductwork enhancement measures must be included in order to be issued the permit required to replace the furnace.

Approximate replacement cost for an 80% efficiency unit used to be about $2400. After July 1st, once the cost of the duct blower test at $550 plus the duct work enhancement (R-8 minimum insulation after old insulation is stripped and joints sealed with mastic) is factored in, the average price will be about $4800 plus tax to replace the furnace in a 1300 sq. ft rambler with ductwork in the crawlspaces. For home buyers, this means that in some cases the cost of replacement will essentially double.


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There's good and bad to this. The owner may be able to recoup some of the cost of the upgrades thru rebate programs, and they will recoup some of it thru reduced energy use. If the owner sells shortly after the upgrades, benefits will accrue to future owners instead. $550 seems high to me for a duct blaster test, especially once we see larger numbers of trained and equipped auditors out there, and I believe future code revisions will require duct blaster testing on new installs too, so more technicians will have the equipment. I've done work on plenty of houses with ductwork in the attic or crawl space, AND ductwork concealed in floors and walls. You can do duct-sealing on the exposed pipe, the other stuff is harder....

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