Central Heating Systems

Parent Q&A

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  • Gas furnace replacement

    May 30, 2023

    I need to replace an ancient gas furnace (heat exchange does not seem like a good option for my situation) and wonder if anyone can recommend a good company?  Have you had good (or bad) experiences recently?  Any suggestions much appreciated.  I am in Berkeley. 

    Thanks, Rachel

    We used Atlas Heating and AC to replace our furnace (and install AC) and had a good experience with them overall, for install and continued maintenance. They are a family owned business based in Oakland. There seem to be multiple HVAC businesses called Atlas, they are the ones located in Oakland. 

    My recommendation is to call the following heating and air conditioning companies, make an appointment to look at your situation, have them give you different options and a quote for each one. I have used each one of these companies for different projects and can vouch for their integrity, reliability and very good quality service. The bids will vary but you can not go wrong with the one you choose. Apple Heating 510-530-2423, Atlas Heating 510-893-1393 and Rivera Heating 510-483-4328. 

    We had an amazing experience with Energy Solutions. Daniel, the owner, is responsive, and we were very happy with the quality of work. Our furnace went out right before the holidays during a cold snap, and he worked long hours to get us back online before the actual holiday (including replacing a lot of ductwork and creating zones in our multi-story home where none previously existed. He came back a few months later to install an AC unit. He is based in Antioch, but did our work in Oakland.


    We replaced our gas furnace a few months back with two Mitsubishi mini-split systems. We interviewed Atlas, Hassler and Air Flow Pros. Atlas dispatched a technician that ran a computer program that determined what size unit we needed for each area of the house.  Hassler sent out a salesperson, that gave us suggestions and offered undersized units, compared to the computer program of Atlas. Though they were similarly priced, the units from Atlas were 25% more powerful. Dealing with Atlas was a dream plus they've been in business forever. Note on Air Flow Pros: they came in 30% cheaper than Atlas and Hassler.  It was a one line contract, leaving us no idea what size unit we were going to get. Communicating with them was a failure. 

    We just had our old gas furnace replaced by a ducted heat pump. We got estimates from 3 companies: Hassler, Atlas, and Aarvak. Aarvak clearly knew what they were talking about, but their estimate was very high and their timeline was really long. The Atlas person was very negative about the project, and kept telling me it would never work. He was nice enough, but wasn't very clear about what they'd do when I asked my [well-researched] questions. I had to call twice after waiting a couple of weeks to get them to even send an estimate. It was the lowest, but we had already decided we weren't going to get the best work out of them. Hassler knew what they were talking about, answered all of my questions, and sent an estimate in less than a week. They were in the middle cost-wise, so we went with them. It's been a few months now, and the system works beautifully. The work, which was extensive, was fast and very nicely done. 

    We got quotes from Gott Watts, Atlas Heating and A-1 Heating. All three quotes were in a similar price range. Each had a slightly different recommendation on equipment, sizing, etc. Atlas and A-1 really stood out in terms of their knowledge, experience and detailed quotes. They are both locally owned and have been in business for a long time, with excellent references. We ended up going with A-1 heating and the installation was a efficient, professional and they were easy to work with. There are a number of good companies, I'd suggest getting as many quotes as you can handle! 

    After contacting close to two dozen companies, many of whom don't work with gas furnaces anymore, we were referred to Honrath and Stacey Plumbing and Heating of Richmond. They were flexible, responsive, and came in with a great bid.


  • We have solar panels on our roof. Now it’s time to replace our 60 year old gas furnace, and gas water heater. Does anyone have experience with installers?


    I'm in exactly the same situation. After getting solar panels I had big plans to get heat-pump based appliances. However, a heat-pump house heater would have been ~$20K, which was too much. I decided on a ~$5K heat-pump water heater from Hassler Heating. This is also a lot of money but I figured it would be worth it. However, Hassler said I would need to install an additional 30amp 220v electrical circuit. The circuit alone would have cost an additional $1.5K, but there was a chance that I'd have to install a whole new primary electrical panel, which would have been ~$10K. This was too much so I decided to switch to a tankless gas water heater.

    Throughout this whole process Hassler has been very understanding and flexible, and I'm going to get the tankless water heater from them. I suggest calling them. They won't be cheap but they have an excellent reputation for quality.

    We recently had a full hvac replacement done with Moore Mechanical. They were very good and able to come out to estimates and the install fairly quickly. We met with Contra Costa Climate Control, and they seemed great and had a competitive bid, but we went with the company who could do it sooner. We had used Atlas for 15 years, but they couldn't even send someone to do an estimate for 3 months!

    Atlas heating and cooling installed our mini split system. Reliable, good communication, good work and follow up when we had a few minor issues while it was under warranty. System is working well. I think the price was fair, too.

    We don’t have solar but we did have a full HVAC and with a new water heater work done early this year also with Hassler. We’ve been very happy with their work. They weren’t cheap but my husband who did all the bid research is very happy with his choice and their work and quality of everything 

    We swapped out our ancient gas furnace for an electric ducted mini split system and got quotes from a few installers and Hassler was definitely the most expensive.  We went with Kevin Armstrong who is a solo practitioner (chis ompany name is Specialized Heating and air conditioning (510) 886-5853). Kevin was recommended by the minisplit distributor company who told us that Kevin is the guy they call when people's mini split systems are installed incorrectly and Kevin fixes them.  He did a great job, was inexpensive and when we had a problem several years later, he came over on a weekend and fixed it quickly. We didn't have heating ducts prior to installing the mini split, so Kevin did all that duct work.  Six years later we're totally happy with what he did.  (And he was probably 30% -40% less than Hassler).

    Be sure you check at the BayRen and PG&E websites to see which rebates you might qualify for.  You have to use one of the approved contractors for the BayREN rebates (but I think pretty much all the reputable ones around here are included on the list).

    Be sure to TALK directly to an adviser at BayREN (a service they offer for free); unless you have a very old/small main panel (in which case, you're going to probably want to upgrade at some point anyway), there may be ways to avoid a new main panel at this point.  In addition to the various webinars offered locally (BayREN, Alameda County, city of Berkeley, etc.), I also suggest you watch the YouTube series by Nate Adams: "Electrify Everything.  It won't all apply to our area, but I found them very educational and well-presented. 

    We are still in the research stage, so can't recommend someone in particular, but take your time if you can, and get well-educated before making the investment.

    I just watched a webinar sponsored by Bringing Back the Natives on electrifying your home using solar panels, new ducting/ductless systems and heat pumps.  Here's the You Tube link.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9w8ngi6qEGg&t=629s. There are a variety of options that require more research.  Good luck.

    Yes. I have hired all three of the following HVAC companies for various heating and air conditioning projects and I am happy to give them all a high recommendation for quality installation.  Atlas 510-488-4152, Rivera 510-483-4328 and Apple 510-530-2423.

  • Help! My heater (the gas furnace and/or thermostat) stopped working and I've called every professional around- I can't find anyone to come look at it in less than 3 weeks! Can anyone connect me to a heating repairperson who can make an emergency housecall?

    Try Superior Mechanical - Laura Williams cell: 925-949-6806

    pls let me know if you find someone! same situation...

    I live in albany,

    francesca 203 909 4898

    We use Hassler and they have been pretty responsive from the first time I used them!

    Jazz Heating - came out in 2 days and they were fantastic! Our heater stopped working - turns out someone had accidentally turned off the power switch; we did not even know that one of the wall switches was for the furnace! They were cool about telling us about this simple error. They also installed a Nest thermostat. 

    Try Bobby owner of Apple Heating as he might be able you. 510-459-8868 or Marcus at Rivera Heating 510-483-4328. I have used both and they very good.

    Call Greg Hershman
    of Hershman Plumbing Heating Cooling
    510 799 7996
    (He replaced our furnace recently.)

    Try replacing the batteries in your thermostat. I felt really stupid begging for a heating guy to come out when all that was needed were new batteries.

    I did find someone through a friend - he came out the very next day, did a temporary fix, ordered parts, came back and handled it all. Very professional and knowledgeable - and an amazingly low cost -  Antonio (510) 586-3269

  • Heating Contractors

    Jan 14, 2018

    Looking for a good heating and furnace contractor.

    I just used Hassler heating a couple of weeks ago for furnace service. I have no complaints, the guy came right on time, found and fixed the problem pretty fast. The office person with whom I made the appointment was friendly too. The fee was $135 for the basic service call + extra for parts.

    Suggest you call Bobby, owner of Apple Heating and Air Conditioning, at 510-459-8868. He has installed two furnaces for us and did a thorough and clean job at a reasonable price. We have had no problems with either one. 

    I like Atlas Heating http://www.atlasheating.com/.  I've used a few other companies over the years and Atlas is the most reliable. They fixed my furnace a couple of years ago that another company installed, and I now have a yearly maintenance contract with them. They are dependable and they know what they're doing.

  • Cost for central heating

    Nov 8, 2017

    I recently bought a 1135 sq ft house, that only has an old wall heater between the two bedrooms. We're considering putting in central heating, but the first estimate we got was 13k. (Including a furnace, nest, and ducts put under the house in the crawl space.) This is a lot higher than we were expecting - does anyone have experience pricing this project? Would it be cheaper if we bought a furnace from home depot or something and they paid someone just to install and put in ducts?

    That sounds about right, unfortunately. We did this project seven years ago (had heat, but replaced entire system since we had asbestos ductwork and an aging furnace) and it was $9K then for a similarly sized house where we did not have to cut holes for the registers, so it would not surprise me at all if it were $13K today with the additional work. I would not try to part it out--you need permits for the furnace installation and it's better to do it all together using someone reputable, since the risks if it is done incorrectly are life and death (gas lines, carbon monoxide, etc.) That said, you can certainly ask them to cost out the furnace separately and you can tell them (as we did) that you want a less expensive option--we chose a slightly less efficient model that was $500 less than their recommended model. A good HVAC company should also be able to help you strategize on where to place the vents and how to size the furnace, which is really important. Certainly get a few more estimates, but I would not be too surprised if they're all in that range. Be sure to check out the state rebate programs to see if you are eligible to recover some of the costs that way, too.

    That seems slightly high. We just put in central heat and AC for $10k in Oakland for a home with the same square footage.

    It's hard to do a true apples to apples comparison without knowing the exact scope of work required for your project, but I can give you some figures based on a furnace replacement and duct upgrading project that I had done in 2016. My home is 1315 sq ft, and a split level. 

    The total project cost (before rebates, see https://www.bayareaenergyupgrade.org/) was around $11K. This included a mid-tier furnace (Carrier Performance Series 96.5% 2-stage), Nest thermostat, asbestos abatement ($700+ alone!), duct replacement, and limited air infiltration reduction (air sealing) for the attic and crawlspace. We qualified for about $2K in rebates, which we received a few months after the project was finished, which was really nice. 

    Your estimate does sound a little high based on my very limited experience, so I might try getting at least one other bid. We went with Hassler, and overall were happy with them (project came in on time and on budget), though there were a few bumps in the process around scheduling and comms. Basically, you need to make sure that someone is home throughout the job, every day of the job (and ideally the same person bc the team is not always the same, and you have to re-communicate A LOT). 

    One suggestion is to ask your provider to leave the option to add AC in the future. This should not cost you extra (maybe a nominal fee), and will give you the physical space to add AC, should you choose to do so later on (it has something to do with leaving enough space for the coil, if I recall correctly).

    That estimate sounds way too high. We installed heat in a 1600-square foot house without central heat about 10 years ago and paid $6K total. It's still working just wonderfully.....

    We paid about $10k for a similar project last year for our 1350 sq ft home. However, the house already had central heat, they were just replacing the furnace and all the ducts under the house. Not sure if your project would require more labor to add the vents and ducts inside the house

    We're in a similar situation, with an 1100 sf house and an old wall furnace in the hallway. We priced it out, and got an estimate for about $7k. I'd suggest getting a few more bids.

    I suggest you call Bobby, owner of Apple Heating and Air Conditioning at 510-459-8868. He has installed new furnaces and ducting for our friends as well as us and done a terrific and reasonably priced job. He is honest, thorough and knows his business well. Have him take a look at your situation, make suggestions and give you a bid. It should be a lot less than the one you received. Feel free to tell him Roger sent you so he will know who recommended him.

  • Shoe in the Heating Duct

    Jan 19, 2017

    We recently had our roof repaired  While they were working, one of the workers rested his shoe on the chimney and it fell in.  Unfortunately, that chimney is connected to our heater duct.  While the shoe probably fell to the bottom instead of curving into the duct, I would like to get the shoe out.  I do not feel comfortable with it sitting there.

    The roofers have said that they would come and undo the ducts and check, but heating is not their expertise and I am not comfortable with them doing this job. They also promised to take care of this right away, but it has been weeks and they do not respond to my calls. (they deducted about $2,000 from the bill until they deal with the shoe).

    Can anyone suggest a heater repair company who would  quickly and professionally be able to take care of this? 


    If you want to contact a heating & air conditioning company, I recommend Hassler, www.hasslerheating.com/.

    The people I have worked with at Hassler have been family and service oriented. For example, after they reworked our heating, they popped by a couple of times as a courtesy to make sure we were comfortable with the new heat distribution, which was very kind. Hassler has also been honest about what we really need vs. trying to upsell us. They come to help and solve the problem, not to gouge you. If they cannot do the job, they will not attempt it. If they show up, they will charge you for an hour of work, however.

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Furnace/Central Heat Installation

Jan 2013

Hi, We just bought a house in the fall and are living through this cold, cold winter without adequate heat. I am looking for current recommendations for individuals/companies who do heating installations (the reviews on the site date back to 2009). Our house was built in 1921 and has never had central heat--and we are investigating both forced-air and radiant heat options. If we go with forced air, we would need to cut registers and run ducting--in other words, this would be a brand new install. We also have a full basement and can do radiant heat (but know this is more $$$). Specifically, we are looking for recommendations BOTH for people who install furnaces and who install radiant heat. Thanks! Elizabeth

In 2009, when we moved into our 1920's home in Oakland, I looked to BPN for recommendations for a furnace company since we had no heat on the 2nd floor. I contacted a few companies and ultimately chose A-1 guaranteed and have been EXTREMELY happy with them. They are a diamond certified company and they have earned it. The installation went smoothly and the workers were extremely professional. They gave us recommendations for where we should put the registers and thermostat. (I had no clue.) Their bid was comparable to the other companies and as I understand it, they are also contracted with Home Depot. We have not had a problem with our Trane furnace since we had it installed and they come out every other year to do maintenance on it. I cannot say the same about the furnace installed by the previous owners for our main floor. When it goes down, which we expect it will, we plan on contacting A1 guaranteed to replace it. www.a-1guaranteed.com Hope this helps. Warm and happy

We used ABC Heating and Cooling in San Leandro for forced air heat--we already had heat, but had asbestos ducts in an old house, so basically did everything except cutting out the floor (new ducting, new furnace, etc.) I don't have anything to compare them to, but we liked working with them and they were efficient about getting the work done and following up on inspections. Also check out Energy Upgrade California's programs to see if you qualify for one of them to help with the cost. Good luck! Warm in Oakland!

I cannot recommend Hassler Heating and Air Conditioning enough. www.hasslerheating.com/ Mike Hassler himself is very responsive and kind. Everyone from his team that I have interacted with is professional and kind. They get the job done to your satisfaction and then bill. We have used them a few times in the last year for things ranging from improving or repairing our duct work to helping us distribute heat through our house more evenly. We will need a new furnace in the coming years and will work with Hassler for that project. anon

For your project I can highly recommend Apple Heating and Air Conditioning at 510-530-8868. Bobby and his team have installed several furnace systems over the years for me including removing the old ones and installing new ducting. Great to work with. Roger

Just want to share our experience on installing central heat and furnace. Our house was built in 1923 (~1000 sq. ft) and had never had central heat before we had one installed in 2008. At the time I only looked into forced air system. We decided on Atlas Heating and Air Conditioning in Oakland based on their reputation. Their responses were prompt and professional for the estimate and installation. As I recall the installation was painless (we both work full-time out of the house) and clean, so we were happy with Atlas. grrljock

2010 - 2012 Recommendations

Inspection of heating system and gas stove

Oct 2012

We're looking for a company that does inspections of heating systems and gas stoves to identify and repair leaks. Do you have someone you've used? We don't have any current problems but wanted to get things checked out just for regular maintenance. Thanks! anon

Every fall I call P.G. and E. and ask for a free inspection of my heating system; they always ask if I also want my hot water heater and stove inspected too.

Furnace repair

Dec 2011

Does anyone have any recommendations for furnace repair man in the Albany area? Our gas heater seems to have a broken igniter (sic?) Brrr...

I can recommend Malik with Cal Comfort in Richmond. Our old (I mean old!) furnace went out in November during a cold snap. I found him on Yelp, gave him a call. He was over at the house before noon that day and in 30 minutes had determined that the blower motor had burned out. He managed to find a replacement that would work, made some minor adjustments, and we were up and running by 4 pm. VERY impressive. It was a WHOLE LOT cheaper than a new furnace and frankly considerably less than I was afraid it was going to cost. I would not hesitate to use him again for furnace or AC work. His # is (510) 377-5662 ray

Heating Services Recommendation?

Nov 2011

We would like the filter in our furnace changed and possibly the ducts cleaned as well. Our furnace is unfortunately under the house and requires crawling on elbows and knees through the crawlspace to access it. Can anyone recommend an affordable and reliable heating services company? Thanks. Sarah

We recently had a problem where our furnace was blowing cold air and making a gurgling noise. I called 3 different companies based on yelp/bpn reviews, and we wound up hiring Hessler Heating. Mike Hessler returned my calls very promptly (within the hour) and was able to get someone out to my house faster than anyone else. Their hourly minimum was also the most reasonable ($85 vs. $125-$145 from the other guys). Our furnace is also under our house in a tiny crawl space, but the guy who came out, Mike Pagliuca, didn't bat an eye. He correctly diagnosed and fixed the problem and gave our system a once-over in less than an hour. He also said if what he did didn't solve the problem, he'd come back and fix it for free (which turned out not to be necessary). He was also great about explaining everything to me clearly and wasnt at all bothered by my noisy two year-old, who decided that she wanted to plunk her potty down in front of him and take a pee while he was telling me what was up with our furnace. We have a new system, and it was a pretty simple problem to fix from the sound of it. So I can't speak to how they'd do w/ something really complicated. But our customer service experience w/ them was excellent. I'd definitely call them again. A Rockridge Mom

Gravity heating system?

Oct 2011

We just bought a home in the Thousand Oaks neighborhood, and it has an old Homart gravity heating system. Because it contains asbestos, we will have to replace it. However, we don't like the feel, sound, and maintenance requirements of forced-air heating systems, and don't like the expense of water-circulating radiant-heat systems, so we are considering replacing the old gravity system with a new gravity system. I have three questions about this: 1. Can anyone recommend a good and relatively inexpensive asbestos- abatement company? 2. Does anyone know of a manufacturer of modern, efficient gravity heating systems? 3. Most importantly, can any of you who have gravity heating systems comment on their comfort, convenience, and quietness compared with other heating systems? I especially dislike the way forced-air systems blow out hot, dry air, and am assuming that gravity systems feel noticeably different, but I want to confirm this first! Thanks! Mark

Hi Mark,

The answer to your question is actually pretty complicated. First, my experience. We had a gravity heating system for awhile. With no fan, the heat sat on the ceiling, and I never felt warm in the house no matter how long the heat was on. The fan in a forced air system is noisy, but it mixes the air, so warm air is at all levels and people feel comfortable. I would recommend forced air.

Next, info and advice.

Forced air has a fan, which makes the noise. Gravity is quieter than forced air because there is no fan. That is its one advantage. But forced air can be quiet enough to be unobtrusive. One: if you insulate your house and put in double paned windows, you will need less heat, and the fan will be on less often. Two: wear sweaters, hats and slippers in the house so you need less heat. Three: make sure the system is sized properly; ducts that are too small or a fan that is too big will create extra noise. Four: make sure your furnace and ducts are properly insulated; this will make the system more efficient (so the fan is on less often) and will cut down on noise. Both plenums and the ducts should be insulated.

All heating systems will make the air feel dry. Radiators. forced air. Gravity. Electric baseboard. Etc. All of them. You can combat this in several ways. Hang your laundry to dry in your heated space. Put a pan of water on the stove on low. Use a mister and spray the air. Get a humidifier and use it.

I suggest you get several bids for heating systems and quiz the contractors about the factors that are important to you. anon

Central Heating product and installation

June 2011

Does anyone have a good recommendation for a company that sells and installs central heating. Ours needs replacing. Also if you know of the best product to install that would be great too. Kim

Anchor Heating, Eric Miller and Josh Maderos,925-263-2311, are great! They are the best in the field, and I have worked with several other heating contractors in the past. I can't recommend them highly enough.

New furnace and old furnace removal

March 2011

We have an old gravity furnace with asbestos covered ducts that are wrapped over with something. I would like to replace the furnace and the ducts with something more practical that is quiet and perhaps even gets a state rebate. I would like to get this all done by one person if possible. I live in the SE part of San Francisco. Does anyone have any recommendations on any part of this? (a person, company, or type of furnace) Thanks, Time to update

Try Cabrillo plumbing and heating. They are SF based, and very reliable! Lisa S

One of the best I've seen in my 32 years as a general contractor is Gioi Nguyen, 510-604-5656. Larry

Central Heating Repair

Jan 2011

Our central heating system (installed in 2003) is leaking water through the attic into the downstairs room below it and doesn't respond to the thermostat controls consistently, so I'm hoping that someone could recommend a reliable and professional heating repair company? Many thanks in advance! Marina

I have used American Air Conditioning Co. several times and have been thrilled! They installed our a/c, fixed our heater, fixed my parents heater and installed a new heater in my brother's house, we have all been pleased with their service and price. They were very polite and accomodating and I would recommend them for any job, large or small. They were prompt, friendly and efficient, and the price was very reasonable. Their number is: 510-417-2955 and think you should absolutely call for an estimate. Good luck.

We've used Atlas Heating and Cooling for repairs and then for a new heater and air conditioner. I can highly recommend them.

I would highly recommend Philip Tao (PT Cooling & Heating) to anyone who needs a variety of heating, ventilation and air conditioning services. He's very friendly, reliable, honest, and professional. He's a licensed contractor and has over 16 years of experience. His phone number is 510-367-1878. Thanks! Nancy

Looking for a low cost heating solution

Nov 2010

I have had quotes from 6 to 9k from local companies (Atlas was one) to put in a heating furnace to heat the ground floor of an old 1908 building

- approx 1600 sq feet in size. I am wondering if i can get it done for less. Currently the apartment has electrical baseboard heaters which are inefficient and cost a huge amount to operate, and they take forever to heat the place, and then only in part. (I don't want wall heaters and while I would love radiant heat or radiators plumbed with water, these options are even more expensive, so open to a furnace

- or low cost alternatives.) I see many licensed contractors advertise heating installations services on Craig's List and wonder if anyone has found someone this way and if so, what the experience was like overall. Also looking for a reasonable cost solution to replacing water heaters at two separate locations. Thanks! Cold in Winter!

I have used American Air Conditioning Co. several times and have been thrilled! They installed our a/c, fixed our heater, fixed my parents heater and installed a new heater in my brother's house, we have all been pleased with their service and price. They were very polite and accomodating and I would recommend them for any job, large or small. They were prompt, friendly and efficient, and the price was very reasonable. Their number is: 510-417-2955 and think you should absolutely call for an estimate. Good luck. Elizabeth

Looking for low cost heating? Let me say the radiant heating is definitely the way to go. I installed the first part of my system in my 110yo Vic here in Berkeley about 10 years ago. The next piece of the puzzle about two years ago, and I'm installing the last section now. Depending on how your house is constructed and if you have a basement space, or a 'taller' crawl space, it is certainly a doable option. You can check out the company Radiantec in Vt. and I did a lot of research and after many hours, decided on their system. I liked it for it's simplicity and efficiency. Also, you don't mention if your house has been insulated or not. If this has not been done, I'd start there before I waste any money on new heating systems. Tim

Heater Installers and Central Heating Systems

August 2010

I am considering replacing my central heating system and want to know if anyone can recommend any of the new energy saving heaters and can share their experiences with these two heating and plumbing companies for an installation of a new heater: Atlas and Harry Clark. Anonymous

We replaced our furnaces (we have two) two years ago. I got bids from Atlas and Kruse. Atlas had the better deal at the time. We also received rebates from PG and the manufacturerer. One of our furnaces is high energy efficient (92.5%). Our PG bills are noticeably lower in the winter, and the furnaces work great. Atlas' crew was very efficient and easy to work with. Good luck! Elizabeth

We had a great experience with Dan Fink of Energy Solutions. He was recommended by a friend, and I believe has some old referrals here on BPN. We got several quotes, including the 'big names', and we found Energy Solutions to give us more for the money - basically, a better quality furnace, ducts, etc. for the same or slightly less than what we were being quoted from others, and he had creative ideas for locating the new furnace in a way that maximizes our usable space in the basement area. I liked that Dan is not only the one who does the quote, but also does the *work* - this seems rare in the industry, most companies sent out a sales guy to give us the quote. Dan was very conscientious about cleaning up after completing the work, following up with us to make sure we were satisfied, and completed all of the permits and rebate applications on our behalf. We couldn't be happier with our new ultra-efficient furnace! He's in Antioch but does work all over the Bay Area. Energy Solutions - (925) 778-1335 Liza

Buying a furnace from Sears

May 2010

We need a new furnace and are wondering if Sears does a good job. We have been happy with them for our appliances but didn't know about their heating/cooling services. Does anyone have experience with them?

We bought a furnace earlier this year. We had a few different companies in for estimates. 3 of the estimates were similar in price, but for some reason the Sears estimate was over twice as expensive, for no good reason that we could discern. So, we didn't really even consider them at that point. We ended up going with RD heating, a small company but we liked their service. toasty

We had a new furnace put in by Sears in March. Our house had an ancient floor furnace that we upgraded to a new central furnace, a process that included adding all vents and duct work. Sears was easy to work with for the actual estimate and set-up --- the guys who came out to do the quote were really nice and happy to come out a second time when we changed our mind about our first furnace choice and opted for a high-efficiency model.

However, Sears uses local subcontractors, so your actual installation experience may vary. The local guy that they sent to us was friendly and good about communicating with us and being considerate of our home. He worked late several days to complete the job on time (took about three days total, mostly because of the duct work). But a few weeks after the work was completed we got a notice from the city that his check for the permit had bounced and hence the permit was no longer valid! We had trouble contacting him afterwards and went through a bit of a headache straightening out the permit mess. Sears was not terribly helpful on this front.

Overall, our experience was mixed. If not for the permit issue it would of been very positive, but it seems to me like the permit was a very basic thing that they should have been able to get right. Cristina

Hi we use AT Mechanical for all our Hvac work, Tony and crew are very professional and respectful. We used them on a couple homes we have had, they do great work. We prefer to use a local company over the big corporation, we like to put a face with our calls. With ATMech we know what to expect. Tonys number is 510 604 5832 Good Luck Tami

Forced Air Energy Efficient Heating System wanted

Feb 2010

Hi: We live in a large Berkeley house that has never had central heat and we would like to install a forced air energy efficient heating system---any recommendations on systems and installers (either to use or not to use) would be very helpful (I looked on the log, but nothing looks very current) Thanks!

Barron McEwing of Albany Heating Contractor dba BMC Mechanical (510) 684-6848 installed our energy efficient forced air system last year. We were very pleased with his work. He was reasonable, reliable, professional and did a great job. Laurence

I saw a post recommending Barron McEwing of Albany Heating Contractor dba BMC Mechanical and I have to disagree. We hired Barron to install a complete new forced air heating system for us. While the work is good, he didn't honor the contract of removing the old heating element from our home. In addition, his work did not pass Oakland inspection and he refused to fix it so that so we could get our permit approved. still waiting

Heating/HVAC person needed

Jan 2010

Hi, I'm looking to have the heating system (furnace and ducts) replaced in my 1926 Albany home. Does anyone have any recommendations for a heating/HVAC outfit that does quality affordable work? Also, I'm already planning on getting bids from Harry Clark and Atlas, so if you have any pros or cons about either one, please let me know. Thanks!

Tim Wright Contracting for Heating systems or electrical. Top notch work, reasonable prices. Nice customer service. 510-459-8438. Warm at home

I recommend Atlas for heating. They helped us to pick a system this past spring and had their contractors install it. We were pleased with the service, and we got a Union Rebate, a PG and E rebate and a $1500 rebate through The Federal Stimulus Package. Our 95.5% efficient York was bought and installed at approximately 40% OFF. Hope this helps.

I just had my furnace installed by Heating Experts. Ron Pringle is a very honest solid person who did a great job. We needed the whole works--ducting, holes in the flooring for vents, etc. Ron and his helper installed the furnace and left the house pretty clean afterwards. We are delighted with having heat again and I would definitely recommend Heating Experts, 510-593-3818. Warm again in Berkeley

2007 - 2009 Recommendations

Need furnace inspected

Sept 2009

I need a furnace repair person who, for a reasonable fee, will come to the home I am renting and give me an honest assessment of the furnace. It is an older furnace and I am concerned about its safety. However, I do not want to approach the landlord with a complaint unless it is truly justified. I need a true professional with lots of experience who will not try to sell me (or my landlord) a new furnace if it is not needed. I just want to know if the one we have is safe for my family. Thanks! Too Scared To Turn It On!

A while back PG provided this service for free. We called and they came out and inspected our furnace and recommended some fairly minor repairs. You should call and see if this service is still available. Jolie

If you just want a safety check, PG will come do it for free. The account may have to be in your name - not sure. R.K.

Furnace/HVAC contractor needed

March 2009

We're looking for a furnace contractor who can design an efficient system to match the unique layout of our house. We're looking at a totally new forced air (with new ducts) or radiant system, but a few big firms we've talked to have sent out employees who just don't seem interested in a thinking through a good design. Our house is not an unusual layout, but I've had the feeling they are going through the motions rather than taking a real interest in finding the most efficient way to make our home more comfortable. (The efficiency rating of the furnace is easy to check, but there are many more design variables that affect overall system efficiency, from what I understand). Many contractors are talking up ''green'' these days -- has anyone found a heating contractor who really understands the issues and can build well? KS

We recommend Advanced Home Energy, 510-540-4860, on Pardee in Berkeley. They can do an assessment of ways to make your home more energy efficient and comfortable, and then work with a number of contractors to do the work. Their email is ahe [at] advancedhomeenergy.com and they have a web site, www.advancedhomeenergy.com kathryn

I highly recommend BARRON MC EWING of BMC Mechanical. He did an excellent job and his customer service can't be beat. He is honest and reliable. Barron can be reached at (510) 684-6848 bmcmech2002 [at] yahoo.com...www.albanyheating.com... Sasha

Last fall we had an entirely new system installed by Keith Johnson Mechanical, and I recommend him very highly. Keith is really into the science of mechanical systems and he is a thorough, patient designer who will work with you to come up with the best system for your particular needs. He is familiar with a wide variety of products -- not just furnaces, but control systems, air filters, radiant heat and just about any component of building mechanics, so he was able to offer some very creative solutions. We've tried to make our renovation as ecologically smart as possible, but on a modest budget. Keith was able to explain the value of certain design choices and products so we could maximize heating efficiency and stay on price. He talked about the long-term maintenance costs of various choices (so there would be no surprises with cheap plastic ducting failing within a few years) and generally took a personal interest in the success of our project. I learned through discussions with him about overall building efficiency that he has also done conditioning/refrigeration on a commercial scale as well as residential. He ran projects for a company with several large office buildings and that exposed him to many advanced technologies for heating/cooling systems. He had so much sidework and missed getting his hands dirty so he left the corporate scene, luckily for us. Most homes are not as involved as many of the projects he's led, but I liked having someone who can look at the building's conditioning/mechanical needs as a whole. He's also a licensed electrician so if your project involves any wiring you won't need a separate contractor. Of course he and his helpers were on time and kept the workspace clean.

If cost is your only consideration, I believe Keith can be very competitive. I found that other firms offer low-ball bids for bare-bones systems, but they don't explain how much these shortcut systems might cost in maintenance, and if you want something a little different they mark the price way up. As our design with Keith evolved, we were able to improve comfort and efficiency at reasonable prices -- we definitely got the best value with him. Of course we passed inspection without a hitch. I can't recommend him highly enough. http://www.kjmhvac.com, or 510-816-4709. Satisfied Customer

I don't know of anybody that does both ''dry side'' (forced air), and ''wet side'' (radiant) really well. For wet side I'm a big fan of Jim Lunt at Lunt Marymor plumbing in Emeryville. He's a real pro - knowledgeable, personable and honest. His counterpart on the dry side would be Tom Harp at Walter Mork Company. neither of these companys tend to be low bidder, but they're not outrageous either, and will spend the necessary time on your project to get it right. Mike K

If you want a Heating, Ventilation and A/C contractor to properly design a new heating system for you that works properly and is ''green'' your best bet is to go to the source that defines ''green''. For houses, that source is builditgreen.org's Green Point Rating System for homes. Like other home energy efficiency professionals such as HERS raters, home performance contractors or California Title 24 compliance pros, the Green Point Rating system recommends, ''The Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) has developed a set of calculation manuals-Manual J, D and S to determine the appropriate size and design of a home's heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system. Design and install the HVAC system according to results obtained from Manual J (the home's heat load calculation), Manual D(ductwork, design and sizing) and Manual S (equipment selection and sizing).'' Any properly trained HVAC contractor should be able to do this for you. However, then you need to get the system tested by a third party (HERS or BPC) to verify the system works as designed. That is how you get a properly designed, installed, tested and ''green'' HVAC system. George

We used Comfy Heating and Air Conditioning a couple years ago for adding an air conditioning unit and zoning system to our existing furnace and for a few repairs to our heater recently. My husband and I found the owner Abel to be very knowledgeable, friendly and a trustworthy person to work with. He went through the crawl spaces with my husband initially to figure out how the duct systems in place worked for the zoning and really took the time to answer all our questions. We shopped around and found him to be the most reasonable too. He returned several times to fix unforeseen problems and always gave us his honest opinion without being too pushy. We have recommended him to our friends as well. He could probably help you with your project. You can call them at (510) 317-7375 or visit their website at www.comfyhvac.com. Sincerely, Christine

Give Freddy a call at Barry Construction (415) 577-6642. I know that he is intelligent, thoughtful, and patient. He will help you find the best possible solution to your HVAC design challenge. He is a general contractor, but is also individually licenced as an electrician and an HVAC contractor. He helped me locate the mysterious source of an electrical failure affecting 30% of my house, and then proceeded to fix the problem quickly and with an elegant and clean solution. Anushka

Sept 2008

Re: New furnace/asbestos abatement
I had American Air Conditioning put in my AC and was very impressed with their work. They were very reasonably priced and the work was done quickly and neatly. The installer was there on time, was polite, and answered all my questions. I found the company easy to work with and would highly recommend them. We also had to have asbestos removed and he advised and helped with that. His name is Anthony and the company is American Air Conditioning Company 510-417-2955 925-705-3800 Elizabeth

Dec 2007

Looking for recommendations on someone to do maintenance (cleaning...etc.) Any names/#s would be appreciated. Also, if anyone's used Comerford's (just got an ad in the mail), and can speak to their experience? Pauline

We just had all our ducts replaced and our furnace cleaned out by Rory McHale's Company. I am completely satisfied with the work they did. It was a big job and they came every day (including a Saturday) until it was done (4 days), did an excellent job, and left everything clean and tidy. Rory McHale 252 Stoakes Avenue San Leandro, CA 94577 work: (510) 714-9100

Oct 2007

Can anyone recommend a good heating repair company that serves Oakland and San Leandro. I have a newish wall furnace that needs a new ignitor. It's a pretty simple job, but I still want someone who will do the job right! Chilly Millie

I would like to _highly_ recommend an HVAC company called ''Energy Solutions'', owned and operated by Daniel Fink. Energy Solutions just finished installing a brand new HVAC system complete with all new duct work in our home. Daniel and his employees are highly professional, reliable, concientious and kid-friendly to boot. Daniel is extremely knowledgeable about both product specific and PG rebates, lowering the total cost of the system by almost 2k. Although we got bids from several larger and better known companies, we decided to go with Energy Solutions because of Daniel's unsurpassed knowledge base and are so happy (and warm!). Please contact him directly at 925-584-5973. Bekki

I would like to recommend Rich Witczak of AirZone Heating and Air Conditioning. I have worked with a great number and variety of trades people while building our house. While most of them generally advanced our project, there are only three I recommend without hesitation. Rich is one. He possesses a thorough knowledge of his trade, is enjoyable to interact with, and hems as honest as they come. Relax and know that hemll only recommend work that needs to be done, hemll do it right, and hemll stand behind his work. His number is 925-829-9401. jls

Oct 2007

We need to replace our furnace and most of our ducts. Can anyone recommend a good heating contractor for forced air heat in a little old Berkeley bungalow from the 1920's? Thanks in advance!

Synergy removed all my asbestos-covered heating ducts last year, which were then replaced by Compare Heating, 925.686.1366. I was very happy with their work and prices and highly recommend them. They are MUCH, much less expensive than either Atlas or Ceridono.

We have had good luck with Atlas Heating. I think they are in Oakland.

Oct 2007

Our furnace was not starting up so we called AC Heating & Air Conditioning. They came out to our place and quoted $475 + tax for a new humidity/water pump. They said it was ''half parts and half labor''. It turns out the identical pump to the one that's stopped working is $48 online and is connected with 2 hoses and plugging it in an outlet. When I told them that I wanted to talk with them about their quote, he said ''my manager said we could do it for $360''... Just reporting the facts.

June 2007

We are going to replace our furnace (circa 1947)...yes you read right. We have already receive a quote from Atlas. Does anyone have any feedback on how Atlas performed....timeliness, came in on budget, addressed concerns and worked to correct them, completed job in its entirety, etc. Do you recommend anyone else. Thank you for your input. -Al Gore is making me do it

We used Atlas and were very pleased with their work. The salesperson was reasonable and the installers were punctual and polite. We replaced an ancient (1920's) gravity furnace with a forced air furnace and it works well. We also had Atlas come back a couple of years later and install AC, which was done quickly and professionally also. Warmer in the winter now

We used Atlas last year and were really happy with their service. They were prompt, on budget, and very easy to work with. We had a meeting to decide which system to go with, and the guy from Atlas didn't push anything on us. He just laid it all out, told us the basic unit we could use for our size house, explained the options from there and let us decide. I would recommend them highly.

We have owned 2 homes and replaced furnaces in both of them. Atlas was recommended to us by a happy customer and I am pleased to be able to also provide a good reference. They were prompt, knowledgeable, courteous, and provided good products. alesia

Hi, We also recently replaced our ancient furnace, and I got quotes from several companies, including Atlas. However, A-1 Guaranteed (thru Emeryville Home Depot) cost much lower for the exact same installation and furnace and a better warranty. They were the nicest, most respectable, cleanest, most honest guys. Good work, too. The company's follow-up and and follow- thru is unparalleled. They happily and promptly came back to do some work (free) in order to pass inspection that wasn't in the contract- like installing a new lighting fixture. I can't say enough good about them. annie

We just got a new forced-air heating system (Carrier Infinity) to replace our useless wall heater. We were delighted with the services of Mike Hassler of Hassler Heating and Air Conditioning in El Cerrito (phone 510 848 3030). One of the heating guys we saw told us we didn't have enough room in our crawl space to install a heating system, but Mike said it was plenty of room. Not only did he give us the lowest quote, he patiently explained various options, and installed the system quickly and efficiently. He was even nice to my fascinated kiddos. We love the new system and we wholeheartedly recommend Mike! Trish

April 2007

We recently had a new furnace installed by A-1 Guaranteed. They were the most professional and considerate workmen that I've dealt with. (and I've dealt with many!) Not only was their bid the lowest by far (for the exact same product and installation as other installers) but they really went above and beyond to make sure I was happy with the job. After the city inspection, they came back quickly and politely to 'fix' a couple of things that weren't even really their fault. One guy made a small scratch in the floor near the heat register, and he promptly got me and showed me. They called several times afterward to see how they could make it up to me, even though i wasn't pushing it. (Sent me a home depot card) Oh, and these are the contractors that the Emeryville HOme Depot subs their work out to. (That's how i found them.) They're wonderful and very responsible! They have the best guarantee for their work long-term, as well. Highly recomend them!!! annie

Mar 2007

I would like to recommend a fantastic furnace guy named Rich Witczak from AirZone Heating and Air Conditioning at 925-829-9401. Our heater would not turn on and we got some other people to come clean out our vents to see if that would fix the problem and to check on what the problem was. They cleaned the vents but spent 5 min checking out the system and said we needed a new circuit board which is like 500-700$. We called Rich on a rec from a friend and he spent over an hour and meticulously evaluated the whole system, informing me about everything along the way and determined it was a faulty thermostat and he replaced that; all for $180. He was honest, very professional and meticulous and just did an awesome job and the best is we now have heat! He said most of the other heater people all say ''replace the circuit board'' without even looking at the system. gabriela

Feb 2007

I have an old gravity-flow heating system. I love the system, but half the burners are currently clogged and they need to be cleaned. It's a rather involved process. Does anyone know someone who does this type of work? I would be grateful for your help. cathy

We found Atlas Heating from the archives and they did a great job on our old furnace. Earlier, I had another company come out (Atlas was busy) and they tried to sell me a new system. Enough said! http://www.atlasheatingandairconditioning.com/ Shirley

Jan 2007

I highly recommend Airco Mechanical for Heating, Air Conditionong and Sheet Metal work. They also do gutter and down spouts. Airco is a small family owned business. They offer both standard and energy saving high efficiency heating and cooling equipment. Their prices are very fair and their staff is profesional. They are fully licensed. Contact: James Loera (707)322-4620

2004 - 2006 Recommendations

Dec 2006

Our home only has central heat downstairs and we are freezing upstairs. Could anyone recommend someone to bring the vents to the upstairs rooms? Is that how it would be done? Thanks again LSG

When we moved into our house, there was central heat on the bottom floor but not on the top. We contacted Atlas Heating, and they told us it was cheaper to put a second furnace in the attic and cut vents in the ceiling, than to run ductwork up onto the second level (as a means of using the downstairs furnace to heat the whole house). We went with their recommendation and now have the advantage of two distinct climate zones. We usually turn the upstairs heater off during the day, which saves a lot of $ warm and toasty

I very highly recommend A-1 Guaranteed Heating. I got 4 bids for a new furnace installation, all of which were on BPN as 'reasonably priced.' They were by far the cheapest, and they were the most friendly, reliable, professional, tidy, and courteous workmen that i have encountered in all of our renovating. (a lot!) One guy put a tiny scratch in our wood floors, and promptly found me to show me and took full financial responsibility to have it fixed, if i wanted. (i didn't, and they sent a gift card instead.) They have placed several follow-up calls just to be sure that we're 100% happy with our furnace/installation, and also give a 5 yr parts and labor warrantee. I ordered the work through emeryville home depot, and they are who they contracted out for the work- i'm so pleased. you could just go directly through them, though warm and happy in Berkeley

When we moved in to our 1910 house, there was a floor furnace in the dining room downstairs, and nothing else. We had central heat installed, using the old floor furnace grate as a cool air intake, and adding vents to the kitchen, living room, and bedrooms upstairs. Your job sounds much simpler, and if your current heater is powerful enough, should require only the addition of vents. You'll need to identify where the new vents can go - ours take up some closet space both downstairs and up, and are also fed through some attic crawl space to get between bedrooms. All of that is the good news. Finding a good contractor may be harder. We used Harry Clarke Plumbing & Heating. There were several things they did that caused additional work on our part:

- Their estimator said we would be able to punch vents into the upstairs rooms with ease, but the installers didn't see a way to do that, and it took an extra day and a visit from the foreman before they figured out how to do it. The way they came up with caused approximately $1000 in plaster damage (that we had to pay a different contractor to repair).
- Their initial clean-up was inadequate, and we had to request a follow-up visit to remove significant amounts of plaster dust.
- They cut one of the heat registers directly under the doors of our built-in, which means the built-in doors are drying out and swinging open because they've shrunk. This was a different spot than we had agreed upon in the walk-through.
- They cut a different heat register without reinforcing the floor planks that were cut. Those planks are now cracking.
- They installed a new thermostat without leaving us an instruction manual.

On another house (the one we sold to move into this one) we had our heater replaced by Superior Plumbing & Heating of El Sobrante, 510-223-6246, and were very happy with the work, although it was a less complicated job. Their bid was almost 30% more expensive than Harry Clarke's for the same work, but, after our experience with HC, it seemed worth it. Heated twice, burned once

Dec 2006

I'd like to recommend Scott Raykiewicz, Air Quest Heating and Air Conditioning, to anyone (in the Contra Costa area) needing a new air conditioner or heater, or service on an existing unit. He has provided excellent service. His phone number is 925-820- 0866. Lourdes

Sept 2006

I'm going to install a completely new central heat (and hopefully AC, too) which means all new ducts and the units. I'd like to get several quotes, and the posted recommendations all seem pretty old. I'm in Lamorinda. Thanks! ~kristi

We live in Moraga and recently used Atlas to put in air conditioning. They are fantastic and I can recommend them highly. Their number: 510-893-1343

I posted this to BPN in November 2004, which doesn't seem that long ago to me -- how ''updated'' did you want?!

From the archives: ''Central Heat Installation -- Last year we ripped out our old forced air central heating system and had a whole new one designed for us. We got many bids and talked to many companies, and ended up with Atlas Heating in Oakland. We were impressed with them and I highly recommend them. They are a local, family-owned business with lots of experience. Ours was not a simple job, but they did a fine job with good follow-up. And the heating works great! You can call them at 800-750 -0074. -- Warm & Happy ''
Still Warm & Happy two years later

Sept 2006

During the my 2001 home renovation project, one of the last subcontractors turned out to be one of my best. I hired RC Air to design and install a new heating and ducting system. One critical element of the design was that I wanted no visible ductwork, even in the basement. Ron accepted the challenge of working within the combined new and old structure, and designed a highly aesthetic, efficient result. All ducts are fully hidden as well as soundproofed.

He recommended a highly efficient (92%) condensing gas furnace, which has lowered our heating bills from our former model, even though we're now heating more space. In addition, we added an electrostatic filter, to alleviate our allergies.

His installation work was extraordinary. He is very fast and efficient, but remarkably careful. He is attentive to the minutest detail. I watched him ensure printing on sealing tape is consistently oriented (who would have thought)? He rotated all PVC pipes so that the purple printing on them pointed away from view. His PVC pipe priming - that purplish dye on white pipes - is crisp and dripless. Every port and duct is labelled clearly with flow and destination.

And it's all covered under drywall and beadboard. And he knew it would be. Ron put extra effort into making his ductwork look beautiful even though he knew it would ultimately be covered and unseen. He told me he didn't want someone 50 years from now, when maybe renovating the house again, to look poorly upon his work. He's clearly concerned with quality that lasts, and he defines his reputation through his craft.

Ron warrants his work, yet we have had no problems. He left us with a clear binder of maintenance and repair information, but I've never needed to consult it. We are immensely pleased to have worked with Ron, and are delighted by (and very comfortable due to!) his work jeff

Sept 2006

We need to have our unreliable central heating repaired (or maybe ultimately replaced). The recommendations on the bulletin board are a couple of years old, and I'm wondering if anyone has more recent experience with any of the following companies: Atlas, Harry Clark, Best Heating, Ceridono, or Walter Mork? Thanks for your help! rachel

Go with Atlas, we've had them replace 2 separate heating systems. They did our first house which had only an ancient floor furnace, they installed a new furnace and all duct-work, very professional and clean, and got the job done in a matter of days. They were so wonderful to work with that we hired them again when we moved into another house that also needed a complete heating system installed. warm in berkeley

I would HIGHLY recommend Val Betti for any heating job. Val Betti scheduled a same-day appointment for an estimate, which was HALF the estimate of the other company I had talked to. Then they scheduled the work for 2 days later. They gave me a 2 hour window in which their workers would arrive, but they arrived at the very beginning of the window and replaced my wall furnace and flu within 1 hour. They cleaned up nicely and did a perfect job on it. They are very professional and great to work with. I know they do central heating, air conditioning and plumbing as well. You can reach them at 232-5593 (in Richmond) warm and happy customer

Feb 2006

I have checked previous postings and nothing seems to be recent. I'm looking for a HVAC specialist in the Lamorinda area. Your recomendations are appreciated. Carole

For the person looking for an HVAC specialist in Lamorinda, we are in Walnut Creek and use LJ Kruse and are very happy with them. We found them on BPN, in fact. You can look them up on the web at http://www.ljkruse.com/. We had them replace both our furnace and our AC, and they now do our maintenance. Jeff Brown is the HVAC manager and he's just great. We've been pleased with the folks whom we've worked with since Jeff's initial evaluation of our project as well. Good luck!

We just finished having a new heating system put in by Kazen Heating and Air. They are a small, family run (father and son) business and they did a great job at a reasonable price. We had our old furnace removed from a hallway closet and a new furnace installed up in our attic so we can use the closet space to make our master bathroom larger. They work anywhere between Sacramento and San Jose. Matt Kazen, the owner, can be reached at 707-689- 7205. laura

Dec 2005

We called AC Heating and Air conditioning (510-271-0771) to come take a look at our two heaters. They have the largest ad in the SBC Oakland Yellow Pages (pg 40). They told us that there would be a $45 charge for the service call to find the problem and if we decided to have them fix it the $45 would go towards the costs of repair. So, the guy showed up, did little more than just re-light our pilots (no parts, laughable labor time) and was done in 15 minutes. He then asked for $120!!! I was shocked. Needless to say I didn't pay him $120. But, the experience wasn't fun and everyone should stay far away from these folks. Almost Burnt

Sept 2005

As winter lurks around the corner, I want to replace my 2 ancient floor furnaces (in a 70-yr old house) with central heating. Any recommendations?

We loved Atlas. They even were supportive of our doing the installation ourselves. Very nice company to work with. Elizabeth

To the person asking who she should call to replace her old floor furnaces, and in support of another person who recently praised their work, I recommend contacting Jeff Brown at LJ Kruse. He may be more expensive, but knows what works in our old homes to ensure efficiency and he is sensitive to maintaining the integrity of an old home. We had a heating and cooling system installed by LJKruse before the Indian summer of 2004, and we love it! (Who knew that you need air conditioning in Berkeley, but I am now a convert.) His crew is professional and courteous and he is a delight to work with.
Comfortable in Berkeley

Sept 2005

I know we haven't had a crazy hot summer so far (2005), but my hubby and I decided to install air-conditioning in our house this year. We hired Ceridono Heating/Cooling. Our 3-4 day job ended up taking 30 days and by the time they left our house not only did we end up with half of the things they promised us, only half of our house is cool. Sadly, it's not the half that needs cooling. Our bedroom on the top floor was 92 degrees the other day with the air-conditioning running. And they are still expecting us to pay in full. We've called in Jeff Brown from LJ Kruse to be our salvation and are just kicking ourselves that we didn't hire LJ Kruse from the get go. Jeff and his team can be reached at 644-0260. (Oh, and several postings from the last couple of years list Jeff Brown at Ceridono - he doesn't work there anymore... now he works for LJ Kruse.)
disgruntled and HOT in Oakland

Sept 2005

We have had great experience with RD Heating & Air Conditioning. They installed a heater for us a year and a half ago and an air conditioner this spring. I would definitely use them again. Their phone number is 1-800-606-6456. Pam

Jan 2005

In response to an inquiry from a member about the ins-and- outs of a new forced-air system for her home, I recommend that you contact my partner Jeff Brown, who heads the HVAC division at LJ Kruse Company. Jeff has over 25 years in this industry in the Bay Area, so he knows all of the HVAC challenges of older homes. He and his crew are thoroughly knowledgeable, professional and will design a system that will truly enhance the quality of your home life. Jeff can be reached at 644-0260 or 549-5314 (direct). Andrea

Dec 2004


Our furnace/heating system just died a few weeks ago! Unexpectedly and in a real bind, my husband called a few heating companys. WE LUCKED OUT BIG TIME and came across a company that is small; family owned for many years and they were a God- send! BEST HEATING AND AIR CO. OWNER JOHN HALSEMA is smart, respectful, pleasant and knowledgable as well as fair and straight! He came over that night, put in a NEW furnace that next day, worked his butt off late into the night to get our heat back on and running! We were SO happy and just want to spread our good fortune to anyone who is in need of help with your heating or cooling system in your home! Relax and call... * JOHN HALSEMA * # (510 ) 530-2092 john AT bestheating.com www.bestheating.com Happy Holidays! Melinda

Nov 2004

Central Heat Installation

Last year we ripped out our old forced air central heating system and had a whole new one designed for us. We got many bids and talked to many companies, and ended up with Atlas Heating in Oakland. We were impressed with them and I highly recommend them. They are a local, family-owned business with lots of experience. Ours was not a simple job, but they did a fine job with good follow-up. And the heating works great! You can call them at 800-750-0074. -- Warm & Happy

Jan 2004

We have an old gas furnace which I was told is not energy efficient. I contacted one heating company and a guy said that my furnace is losing about half of the gas it uses. He then give me an estimate for replacing it to a new, energy efficient furnace. He said that it is almost 95% energy efficient. I can probably save $50 ~ $70/month for gas. However,, to replace it their estimate was $4700. (7 rooms (4 bedroom) house.) It takes almost 10 years to pay off the cost of replacement from the money we save for gas. It seems long,,, but if PG & E keeps raising their price up consistantly we may be able to pay off sooner,,,. Should I replace the furnace or not??? Mom trying to save money and energy

We replaced our furnace last year not by choice but by need. Our old one finally gave out. However, I learned a lot about the process and maybe this will help you. First, now is probably the worst time to put in a furnace. All of the heating companys are busy and you will have little flexibility in the price. We were fortunate that ours went out in April last year. I found that the April-May period is one of the slowest for furnace and A/C work. (Usually the same company will do both). People tend to wait until they have the need rather than be proactive and the furnace companies now this. Definitely get several estimates. We ended up getting the highest rated installer in the area to match the price of the cheapest (and lowest rated) installer. This ended up being almost a 25% price difference! Make sure the estimators do a heating load calculation for your house. I surprisingly discovered that the heater that had been installed previously was double what the house needed and likely had a shortened life because it had to work too hard to force air through our existing ductwork. Also, we ended up not getting the highest efficiency heater as the cost differential was high and would take too long (in our case more than 10 years) to justify the cost savings. Good luck! John

In order to save money and energy, it probably makes sense to insulate and weatherstrip first. Most important is insulating the attic. It is less helpful, but usually relatively easy to insulate the floor. You can get weatherstripping at the hardward store and install it yourself so less cold air comes in around the windows. Then, when your old inefficient heater finally ''bites the dust,'' replace it with something more efficient. sunsolsal

Jan 2004

My typical 1920s Albany bungalow has only a wall heater (located in the hallway, which is useless for the rest of the house). We are looking into getting central heating installed. Has anyone done this recently? Approximately what does it cost? Any recommendation for a company to do the work? Thanks Anon

We recently had central heat installed in our duplex. There was a furnace in the original house but when it was raised and the downstairs flat built about 25 years ago, no central heat source was replaced. After many cold winters in the house, we finally sprung for central heat. We hired a local contactor whose name I don't have handy. It was about $15,000 for 2 units and some extra costs for plumbing contrator (gas) and an electrician. We're still dealing with the aftermath of the work a few months later but it sure is nice to have a warm house when it's cold out! Contact me for more info. Rebecca

I have a typical 1920 bungalow too (Thousand Oaks, not Albany) and installed central heating about 5 years ago. I used Walter Mork, who was fabulous. At that time it cost about $5,000. I expect it's a bit more now, but I highly recommend that company. Very fast and professional. slight

Our central heating was installed by Atlas, a locally owned company. They did a great job. Jim

Our home also only had one wall heater, which was basically useless. We hired Harry Clark plumbing and heating three years ago to install forced-air central heating throughout our 1400 square foot single story home. They put in a new furance, all new duct work, vents, etc. They did a wonderful job. I believe it cost around $5500-6000. happy with Harry Clark

We also live in a 1920s albany home and recently installed central heating which is fabulous - such a quality of life difference especially with a baby. I really liked our heating person, he was hardworking, honest, respectful, knowledgeable and helpful. He and his wife run their own business out of Antioch, but do work in Albany and Berkeley often. His name is Allen Delgado of Delgado Heating. 925 825-5995. You can let him know that Chalyn Newman in Albany recommended him. He can also give you a list of customers to call for more recommendations (that's what we did). It will cost somewhere between 5-6,000 for the whole house and should take about a week to install. His prices are quite reasonable (he does all the work by himself). Enjoy the new heat! chalyn

Hello, After getting three bids, I used the following: JM Campbell 1041 -- 44th Ave. Oakland, CA 94601 510/533-2044 The two men (Mark & Joe) who ARE the company were very agreeable, gave me the lowest quote and did the work quickly and efficiently. They have also come out to cut a new vent in my bathroom when I had it re-done (wow! a warm bathroom, what a luxury!) and will be coming today to check on my condensation drain. They are honest and nice men. I recommend them highly. denise

We had central heating installed in our 1,400sf 1912 South Berkeley home about two months ago. Based on reviews from this site we went with Harry Clark Plumbing and Heating (http://www.harryclarkac.com/), and overall we've been very happy.

For our house, with 8 vents, the cost range was $5,000- 7,000 depending on the furnace you choose. We went with the more expensive (& more efficient) variable speed furnace and love it. (Of course, since we had no heat before that, we probably would love anything). The air feels good, there are no big gusts of air, and the furnace is very quiet.

The installation took about 4 days, and there was about a 4 week wait to get scheduled at that time. The work was very professional & clean. grassygal

2003 & Earlier

Nov 2002

Does anyone have hydronic heat in their house? We need to replace our heating system and I'm interested in hydronic heat. Specifically because my husband has allergies and asthma. I need recommendations of heating companies that can install it. If possible, please email me personally as well as posting on the newsletter. rcohen

We replaced our in-floor furnaces with a central heating system last winter, and used Harry Clark. Absolutely no complaints -- they stuck to their schedule, cleaned everything up, and the job captain was polite and professional. And I'm just absurdly, disproportionately, happy with the benefits of central heating and a programmable thermostat! Anne

Sept. 2002

We need to update heating system in our house-- are having trouble finding contractor/ company who isn't wierd or scary. If you have used someone and it was a good experience please share! Thanks. Maria

Hi, We have an old heating system of two floor furnaces with metal grills. Now that we have a toddler, we would like to move up to the 21st century and get forced air heating (and maybe cooling too).

Atlas (893-1343) installed forced hot air in our house. It was excellent. The estimator explained everything, there were no surprises. The work was very well done. There was one small mistake, but they corrected it well. Jim

I would recommend Walter Mork Co. at 845-0992, 2418 6th Street, Berkeley. They replaced our 30+ year old gas furnace with a new, quiet, reasonably priced efficient model. They did it quickly, professionally and crawled into a very tight space under our house to do it. The owner's son also happens to also be a friend of ours, so I can vouche for his excellent character and high work quality. He does the estimates/bids for the company and specs out the job. His name is Berkeley Choate. Jana

August 2002

We need a new furnace and have already gotten an estimate from Atlas Plumbing and Heating. I'm interested in hearing from anyone who has had them do work, as well as getting suggestions for a company that might give us another bid. Some duct work may also be part of the job. Thanks.

J.M.Campbell Company just installed a furnace system in our house and did a fantastic job. They showed up when they said they would and did the work in the time frame they promised for the price they quoted. AND they did quality work putting in a quality furnace for a reasonable price-- much less than quoted by Atlas and/or Harry Clark. They even cleaned up after themselves! I recommend them highly; telephone 533-2044

Feb 2002

We are installing a new gas furnace and would like any recommendations for gas furnaces. Two well-recommended HVAC companies independently have suggested Carrier furnaces; does anybody have an informed opinion on that furnace brand? Kate

Response to person replacing furnace: We did this and used Roeber's and were NOT happy. We had to call in someone else to fix things. We were VERY happy with them. You could speak to Danny at Lavine Heating and Cooling. I believe they are located in Berkeley. Colleen

March 2002

Can anyone recommend a good heating contractor who could add a vent to our existing central heating system? We felt that the contractor we engaged to do the original installation was very pricey. We live in Emeryville.

To the person looking for a good heating contractor, I highly recommend L.J. Kruse. The service is great, the people are great--couldn't give a better recommendation. Got jerked around by other companies on quotes, not showing up when they said they would, etc. With Kruse, I got efficient and friendly service. The number I have for them is 549-5314.


Furnaces are supposed to be inspected annually. We have ours done by Atlas Heating and Ventilation in Oakland. They originally installed the furnance (before we owned the house) so we just kept with them.

I have no idea how often furnaces should be serviced, but I am confident that it is more often than every 15 years. We had a new furnace put in last year, and used Harry Clark Plumbing and Heating . We thought they did a fine job. Also recommended is Atlas Heating .

Right now Lavine & Co Heating and Air Conditioning, 5933 Foothill Blvd, Oakland, 632-0203 is having a special, I think its about $250, half price. We just had our furnaces cleaned on Monday. They did an excellent job. Its a family owned business. Really nice and professional folks. He told us its good to have it cleaned about once a year depending on use, whether or not you have pets and so forth. I felt they were really honest. We will have them come back to fix one of the pipes.

What ever you do, DO NOT CALL COMFORD. They are a rip off. When I was 9 months pregnant they insisted our funrnace was no good, and that gases were leaking into our home. Their furnace cost was $8. He was really pushing a sell. We ended up calling PGE. They came out right away. And informed us that there were no gases leaking into the home. That our furnace is old but ok. I would not recommend them....

It would be better not to repeat our experience, so here it is. We had an old gravity Atlas heater when we bought our house, and didn't do anything until about 8 years later. We called Atlas and they came out and told us we had to shut it off immediately because it was very dangerous. The combustion chamber had rusted through in places, and we were getting gases into our house, I presume carbon monoxide. I don't know if it was a fire hazard or not. In any case, we got a new heater right away from Atlas.

I can also recommend Atlas Heating, which is also a long-time Bay Area company and family owned. They inspected the ancient floor heater that was in my house when I bought it last year and ultimately replaced it. I would like to caution against relying solely on PG for assurances of safety, particularly with an old unit: Atlas found a leak that PG did not. The second PG inspector acknowledged that it had been overlooked the first time, because the PG technicians did't carry mirrors with a handle long enough to reach down to reflect the bottom of the floor heater, which is where the crack was. I gave PG person #2 a ruler and some tape to extend the reach of his mirror, and then I had to point out the leak, which he did at last observe and confirm.

I get my furnace checked each year by PG They come and check it for free for safety. If you want something more than that, I would suggest Atlas Heating and Air Conditioning.

From: Debbie

I've also used Berkeley Plumbing and Heating to repair my furnace when a cheap programmable thermostat fried it and they were very very nice and did a great job. And they were reasonably priced.


From: Wendy

We have just had a new forced air heating system installed in our small house in Oakland, and used Harry Clark Plumbing and Heating. We have no history with the heater, but Harry Clark's people were very helpful and pleasant to work with. We also got a bid from Ronnie at Atlas Heating; Atlas is more expensive, but it's a union shop and is highly regarded.

From: Tamara

I want to chime in with Wendy on 9/1's Parent Digest regarding Harry Clark Plumbing & Heating. We had them install a new heating system in 2 homes with great success. We also used their plumbing services for both minor repairs and major pipe replacement/installation and found them to be excellent. We also got bids from Atlas Heating -- they are highly regarded and more expensive. However, after having used Harry Clark since 1988, we still have the same plumbers coming to our home and they seem quite satisfied with their shop. Albert Nahman has also serviced us for plumbing, and is equally good.

From: Debbie

My furnace and heating ducts were supplied and installed by Ceridono Engineered Heating in Berkeley. They are in the yellow pages under heaters-sales and service. I had one of those small floor heaters in my downstairs so that the heat never made it upstairs. My furnace is in my attic (the crawlspace under my house wasn't big enough) and the vents are in the ceiling. They were pretty inventive about placing the ducts because I have an old house with few places to hide stuff, but they managed to do it.

The original furnace and installation cost about $3500 10 years ago.