Badly need some AC advice

I know a little bit about a lot of things, but I drop dead dumb about AC units and really need some good advice.
Last night our central AC/heat pump quit cooling and I found the unit was frozen. The unit was installed when we had the house built; it's in its eleventh year. Has generally worked reasonably well, but have had several service calls in the last four or five years.
We had a service man out here today. He seemed to know what he was doing but he bad-mouthed everything about the system. He had several issues: - Inside air handler is not the same brand as the outside unit and he doesn't know if they are matched. - The return air ducts are not big enough, one is 16 inches and he said it should be at least 18 and preferably 20 inches. The other in the master bedroom is 9 inches and he said that was okay. - There is a Freon leak in the inside unit, which caused the system to loose Freon which caused the freezing problem.
His recommendation was to replace both units and install a 20 inch return duct from the hall filter.
He would not put Freon in our unit so it would cool because he said it was not legal. He said he and the company he works for could loose their license. But, if I'd give $2,000 down on a new unit, he would put Freon in for us. I asked if was not legal to put in Freon and he could loose his license, why would he do it if I gave him money down. His answer, which I believe is true was that by giving him $2,000 down, that we would go ahead and put in the new unit. Otherwise, we might not. That is their business policy, which they are entitled to, but as a consumer, it just struck me wrong somehow.
As far as prices go: A Lennox system with ten year parts and labor warranty, the new return duct, a new thermostat and four heat strips was priced at $7,400.
A Merit, a brand I never heard of, was $500 cheaper for the same items but only had a two year labor and five year parts warranty.
A Maytag with a twelve / twelve warranty would run close to $8,000.
Here is what I decided. I somehow didn't care for the attitude of the company, although the serviceman was a heck of a nice guy. I certainly wasn't going to commit to spending that much money without getting some knowledgeable opinions and some other bids. So, I was charged $149 for the one hour service call and he left.
Here are my questions: - Is needing all these items replaced seem reasonable? - Is his explanation of what is wrong sound reasonable? - If I go ahead and get a new unit, what brands are best? - Were his prices reasonable?
Sorry this is so long, but I felt I needed to explain as much as I could so you guys could give a better opinion.
Thanks in advance for reading and any advice you can give.
Bob-tx
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Bob wrote: ...
Overall, sounds about right -- I don't know the exact wording of the rules, but in essence they are prohibited from adding more Freon to a system that is leaking. The "go ahead if have a down payment" is a tactic I've not run into (but then again, I've not replaced a unit in 15 years, either).
I'd get second opinions/bids on the replacement, including asking about the sizing, ductwork, etc. It isn't necessarily a problem w/ the inside/outside units, but it quite possible the previous replacement "went cheap" causing that. It, of course, would be possible to find out how well they're matched by looking up each, but what's the point? You need, in all likelihood at that age, a new system and it's pretty much a cheapout way to do it w/o replacing both.
As for brands, there are many quality units and as has been said here more often than possible to count, the installation is at least as critical as the unit itself. I would avoid the low-end units like Goodman, etc., however, as there is a reason they are what they are and CR reliability data indicates they are at the bottom of the heap.
--
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But, if I'd give $2,000 down on a new unit, he would put Freon in for us.
That is B/S, call out another company.
-- Moe Jones HVAC Service Technician Energy Equalizers Inc. Houston, Texas www.EnergyEqualizers.com
know a little bit about a lot of things, but I drop dead dumb <BR>about AC units and really need some good advice.<BR><BR>Last night our central AC/heat pump quit cooling and I found the <BR>unit was frozen.&nbsp; The unit was installed when we had the house <BR>built; it's in its eleventh year.&nbsp; Has generally worked reasonably <BR>well, but have had several service calls in the last four or five <BR>years.<BR><BR>We had a service man out here today.&nbsp;&nbsp; He seemed to know what he was <BR>doing but he bad-mouthed everything about the system.&nbsp; He had <BR>several issues:<BR>- Inside air handler is not the same brand as the outside unit and <BR>he doesn't know if they are matched.<BR>- The return air ducts are not big enough, one is 16 inches and he <BR>said it should be at least 18 and preferably 20 inches.&nbsp; The other <BR>in the master bedroom is 9 inches and he said that was okay.<BR>- There is a Freon leak in the inside unit, which caused the system <BR>to loose Freon which caused the freezing problem.<BR><BR>His recommendation was to replace both units and install a 20 inch <BR>return duct from the hall filter.<BR><BR>He would not put Freon in our unit so it would cool because he said <BR>it was not legal.&nbsp; He said he and the company he works for could <BR>loose their license.&nbsp; But, if I'd give $2,000 down on a new unit, he <BR>would put Freon in for us.<BR>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; I asked if was not legal to put in Freon and he could loose his <BR>license, why would he do it if I gave him money down.&nbsp; His answer, <BR>which I believe is true was that by giving him $2,000 down, that we <BR>would go ahead and put in the new unit.&nbsp; Otherwise, we might not. <BR>That is their business policy, which they are entitled to, but as a <BR>consumer, it just struck me wrong somehow.<BR><BR>As far as prices go:<BR>A Lennox system with ten year parts and labor warranty, the new <BR>return duct, a new thermostat and four heat strips was priced at <BR>$7,400.<BR><BR>A Merit, a brand I never heard of, was $500 cheaper for the same <BR>items but only had a two year labor and five year parts warranty.<BR><BR>A Maytag with a twelve / twelve warranty would run close to $8,000.<BR><BR>Here is what I decided.&nbsp; I somehow didn't care for the attitude of <BR>the company, although the serviceman was a heck of a nice guy.&nbsp; I <BR>certainly wasn't going to commit to spending that much money without <BR>getting some knowledgeable opinions and some other bids.&nbsp; So, I was <BR>charged $149 for the one hour service call and he left.<BR><BR>Here are my questions:<BR>- Is needing all these items replaced seem reasonable?<BR>- Is his explanation of what is wrong sound reasonable?<BR>- If I go ahead and get a new unit, what brands are best?<BR>- Were his prices reasonable?<BR><BR>Sorry this is so long, but I felt I needed to explain as much as I <BR>could so you guys could give a better opinion.<BR><BR>Thanks in advance for reading and any advice you can give.<BR><BR>Bob-tx<BR><BR><BR></BLOCKQUOTE></BODY></HTML>
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Exactly.
First off, if it was "illegal to put Freon in" and they're offering to do the illegal if you commit to having them replace the whole unit then you can't trust them since they are offering to break the law if you do further business with them.
Secondly, it is not "illegal to put Freon in" as they claimed. It is perfectly legal for them to locate and repair the leak in the system and then put Freon in the system. It is also legal for them to put Freon in without repairing the leak if the leak is very small, so the system only looses a couple percent of the charge per year (there are specific EPA figures for this).
So the company / tech in question is unquestionably lying about the Freon issue and can't be trusted regarding the other claims about the system.
Pete C.
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: I know a little bit about a lot of things, but I drop dead dumb : about AC units and really need some good advice.
CY: There is a small chance you'll get some good advice on this list. Very small. : : Last night our central AC/heat pump quit cooling and I found the : unit was frozen. The unit was installed when we had the house : built; it's in its eleventh year. Has generally worked reasonably : well, but have had several service calls in the last four or five : years.
CY: Ok, so it's had some maint. And so far, not too bad. : : We had a service man out here today. He seemed to know what he was : doing but he bad-mouthed everything about the system.
CY: Any tech who bad mouths, needs to be escorted off the property.
He had : several issues: : - Inside air handler is not the same brand as the outside unit and : he doesn't know if they are matched.
CY: Not very experienced fellow, eh?
: - The return air ducts are not big enough, one is 16 inches and he : said it should be at least 18 and preferably 20 inches. The other : in the master bedroom is 9 inches and he said that was okay.
CY: Based on what?
: - There is a Freon leak in the inside unit, which caused the system : to loose Freon which caused the freezing problem.
CY: Did he check it with his beeper? Check superheat?
: : His recommendation was to replace both units and install a 20 inch : return duct from the hall filter.
CY: Reaching for your wallet, eh?
: : He would not put Freon in our unit so it would cool because he said : it was not legal. He said he and the company he works for could : loose their license. But, if I'd give $2,000 down on a new unit, he : would put Freon in for us. : I asked if was not legal to put in Freon and he could loose his : license, why would he do it if I gave him money down. His answer, : which I believe is true was that by giving him $2,000 down, that we : would go ahead and put in the new unit. Otherwise, we might not.
CY: Reaching for your wallet, again? Incidentally, when I took my EPA test it was legal to add freon to any system less than 50 pound freon capacity. After two grand, you really think he's gonna come back?
: That is their business policy, which they are entitled to, but as a : consumer, it just struck me wrong somehow.
CY: Listen to your instincts about this guy.
: : As far as prices go: : A Lennox system with ten year parts and labor warranty, the new : return duct, a new thermostat and four heat strips was priced at : $7,400. : : A Merit, a brand I never heard of, was $500 cheaper for the same : items but only had a two year labor and five year parts warranty. : : A Maytag with a twelve / twelve warranty would run close to $8,000. : : Here is what I decided. I somehow didn't care for the attitude of : the company, although the serviceman was a heck of a nice guy. I : certainly wasn't going to commit to spending that much money without : getting some knowledgeable opinions and some other bids. So, I was : charged $149 for the one hour service call and he left.
CY: Try a different service company.
: : Here are my questions: : - Is needing all these items replaced seem reasonable?
CY: I really doubt it.
: - Is his explanation of what is wrong sound reasonable?
CY: Who can tell?
: - If I go ahead and get a new unit, what brands are best? : - Were his prices reasonable?
CY: I'd suggest talk with your friends and neighbors, see who they call out.
: : Sorry this is so long, but I felt I needed to explain as much as I : could so you guys could give a better opinion.
CY: Sounds like the guy was reaching for your wallet for quick cash.
: : Thanks in advance for reading and any advice you can give.
CY: You're welcome. : : Bob-tx : : :
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I realized after I sent this, that I didn't mention the unit size. It is four ton.
Also, we have had another bid on a Trane unit. This service man said the 16 inch duct was quite sufficient. Other than that, about the same equipment except this is an R22 Freon while the first bid was on a unit with 410A Freon. The second bidder said they have had a lot of problems with the 410A units due to the higher pressure.
So, I'm a little more confused than I was. I have another company coming out this afternoon. I'll keep you posted. Thanks again, Bob-tx
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I just had a Trane heatpump installed this winter to replace a 20 year old system. I went with the 22 instead of the 401A system. My thinking is the same, the higher presssuer could cause more problems. They are phasing out the 22 systems and may not be making any more of them, not sure. In a few years the 22 gas is going to stop being made just as the r12 for the cars have been. Think I would still like to have the proven 22 instead of the newer 401. I may be wrong about that but just my feelings.
He should have been able to add some gas to your system. Think they are giving you a bunch of BS. It may be all you need is gas for another 5 to 10 years. I sure would not do business with a company that would not gas a system and then want a down payment for a new system and then offer to gas the system.
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Bob wrote:

For a 4-Ton system I would go for the larger Air Return.
Air Filter Rack Sizing: For efficient operation - Gross Return Air filter grille area: 200-sq. ins. or more per ton, is required. Keep air velocities through the filter(s) as low as possible. Filter Grille(s) 350-FPM.
You probably need to eliminate the too small a furnace filter, & maybe setup two Return Air Filter Racks to get the proper FPM velocity through the Return Air Filter(s).
ACCA Manual D specifies a maximum Return grille velocity of less than 500 ft per minute, 350-FPM is better, and "a maximum supply outlet of less than 700 ft per minute, most use 500 or 600-FPM." Filter mfg'ers should print the free air area of their clean filter on the edge of the filter along with the pressure drop data. The wrong kind of filters' as they load, can drop airflow below required levels!

Before doing anything, have a manual J heat-gain heat-loss done so you can size the hat & air equipment to the loads. A 3-Ton AC might do the job, then the 16" Return would be adequate to eliminate the duct retro expenses! http://www.udarrell.com/proper_cfm_btuh_duct_sizing_air_conditioning_systems.html
- udarrell
--
WISDOM PRINCIPLE DIRECTED EMPOWERMENT COMMUNICATIONS -
THE REAL POLITICAL ISSUES and WISDOM BASED PEOPLE EMPOWERMENT
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wrote:

I hope you greated the other contractors with your original set of questions, Please fix my AC, instead of going straight to What will it cost to replace it.
If you don't ask the first question, you'll never get the benefit of their knowledge, and yuou'll never find out how much it is to fix it.
P&M
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1 Re-claim unit charge ( remove refrigerant )
2 Charge system to 150 psi ( 1000 kPa ) with dry nitrogen and leak test
3 Seal leak
4 Evacuate system to 500 microns for five hours and break vacuum with dry nitrogen
5 Evacuate system to 300 microns and break vacuum with dry nitrogen
6 Evacuate system to 300 microns and charge unit ( replace refrigerant charge )
7 The supply and return air ducts would have been correctly sized by the original installer.
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MICRON ( Hg Mercury )
Atmospheric pressure is 101325 Pa ( 14.6959 psi ) and can support a 760.002 mm ( 29.9213 inch ) coluum of Mercury ( Hg ) 1 mm Hg = 133.322 Pa ( pressure ) 0.001 mm = 1 Micron = 0.1333 Pa ( pressure ) 300 Microns = 40 Pa Therefore 40 Pa of pressure remain in the system at completion of the evacuation
Leak Test
There are many forms of leak testing
1 Liquid soap solution 2 Ultrasonic 3 Electronic 4 Ultra violet dye 5 Oil additives 6 Halide torch 7 Etc
Have a nice DAY
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wrote:

Most liars and cheats are nice guys. Would they be able to cheat you if they acted like Louis, the dispatcher in Taxi?
I'm serious.
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wrote:

I hate that style. It really turns me off.

He may not have an encylopedic memory or memorize all the specs for all brands, butthat

Not surprising.

Why not? If he's going to make a big claim like that, he ought to have a good reason.
Because it's leaking? So find the leak.

For 2000 dollars, I'll come there and put freon in it. What city do you live in?

Not the lying part, they're not entitled to.

As an honest person, it's wrong to refuse to fill up something because it's illegal and then fill it up if you put 2000 dollars down on a new one. Is there an exception for that?
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wrote:

By which I meant, There might be an exceptino to that, but I don't think this was it.
He was willing to fill it up now so you'd be comfortable and not call or hire someone else, who might find the leak and fill it up.
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???????????????? SCAM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Report him to the state attorney general's office!

Business policy is not law!

Teh same thing just happened to my daughter. They charged teh FREON system and only charged $90! You got ripped off by a "heck of a nice guy." All part of the scam!

Go somewhere else. The fact that you needed several service calls in the last 4 or 5 years shows you need a new unit. GO SHOPPING! Ask around!

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On Fri, 13 Jul 2007 20:31:34 -0500, "Mike Dobony"

I'd like to know the details of the problems and the service rendered, and the charges. If he had hired the same guy he posted about, or someone like him, to do these repairs, it might have only been one problem never fixed, or made worse.
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wrote:

True. Same repair by same guy is very suspicious. Same repair by many different guys may mean a design flaw. etc. etc. etc.
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