I am discouraged today. Had the big rolling over the odometer birthday last Thursday (not why I am discouraged) and that day, I realized I could hear the flame part of our furnace but the blower motor was not coming on. It was making heat, but not pushing it around the house.
It had been a warm couple of days, and the forecast was for a few more warm days, so I declared "It's my birthday, I'm not going to worry about it today!"
The furnace has been a source of sadness since we built the house. We needed zone control so we could meter out heat to separate sections individually. If an area was unoccupied or warm enough already we did not want to be heating it. And if the furnace is not blowing heat into the whole house, it does not need to be blowing at full speed. Therefore as different zones request heat, the motor is programmed to run at different speeds.
But the furnace we installed was a bit too bleeding edge for it's own good. The Lennox Pulse 21V furnace with a Harmony Zone control system loves to burnout motors.
The furnace was installed just before we moved in back in August of 1994 (it has been running for just over 18 years!). But by November of 1995 the original motor had failed. It seemed to be a weak link in the system, and the motor was just not up to the demands of running at various speeds necessary as different combinations of zones demanded heat. Lennox had released a second generation motor (the heralded ICM2) and a new set of control boards. The new motor was installed that Autumn and warmth filled the house again.
... Until December of 2001. Poof the second motor failed. This one was not covered by warranty and six hundred dollars and a 40 mile trip to Kent later and the again we were warm.
This motor lasted the longest. It ran until July of 2010. Not too shabby. When the third motor failed my wife and I discussed replacing our furnace with a heat pump -- Hooray for air conditioning that will be used three weeks a year. Ouch! That is going to be expensive. But about the time we were going to write the check, other family demands reset our priorities and we settled on what was now a new thousand dollar fourth motor to carry us through.
Now here we are March of 2013 -- not quite three years later -- staring down what could be our fifth one thousand dollar Lennox 39L2801 one horse power variable speed motor.
Lennox has a reputation for using highly customized components, where vendors like York use more generic (read "interchangeable") components. I have on my desk here next to me a three year old bid for a York heat pump. So I go read the review. Lennox? Number 45 out of 56 (boo!) York? Number 34 out of 56. (gulp!) 34th? Only 29% of their customers recommend them. yikes! Oddly Kenmore (Only a single review -- Sears anyone?) and Emerson score pretty high. I guess it is time to get more bids.