Central air problem - dampers, leak, home warranty, etc...

Alright, here's the deal, and it may end up being long, so bear with me! Quick questions are at the bottom if you don't want to read through all of this :) Wife and I just bought a new house, 2 story, 2100 sq. feet. Master bedroom downstairs, 2 bedrooms, bonus room upstairs. 3.5 ton centrail air unit. Upstairs wasn't cooling very well, and no air was coming out of the vent in the master bedroom. Called American Heating and Cooling. They came out, found the damper for the bedroom was closed. They opened it...nice cold air. The tech didn't feel like the dampers were closed in the upstairs room as he could feel air coming from them. The vents in the upstairs rooms are in the ceiling. The rec room vents (which are on the opposite side of the house from the unit) do blow cold air, but the two bedrooms aren't blowing very cold air. Could this also be a damper issue? Should I have had him go in the attic to check? Where exactly would the dampers be? He went under the house to open the one for the bedroom downstairs....would the upstairs dampers be on the trunk under the house right next to where it comes out of the unit like the downstairs vents? Does each vent have a damper control? I'm assuming so but wanted to make sure.
Now, here's the next problem. He discovered a freon leak in the evaporator coil. The unit (4 year old Bryant) is still under warranty, but the labor was going to be $368. Instead of having him do it, we are going to utilize the warranty that the seller purchased for us when we bought the house last week. The warranty company sent their tech out yesterday, and he did verify that there is indeed a leak in the coil and it would have to be replaced. So we're waiting one the part. Does anyone have any experience with Old Republic Home Warranty? That's who we have. On our last house we had AHS, and had a major problem with them when we had to use it to replace the entire unit in our last house. Hopefully someone can let me know OR is better to deal with. So, in summary, my questions are:
1) Is this unit big enough for the house? Both techs have said yes, but the fact that the return in downstairs and so is the thermostat, I may have problems in keeping both floors at the same temp. Is this true? 2) Would low freon and an evaporator coil leak be the cause of the lack of cold air coming from some of the upstairs vents? The vents downstairs are cold even with the low freon and leak. 3) Are the dampers to the vents all located under the house on the trunk where it connects to the unit, or will I have to crawl through the attic to check on the upstairs dampers?
Thanks for any help!!!
Tom
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Tom wrote:

It is totally impossible to tell from here if the unit is large enough, or even too large, which is equally bad. That must be determined by someone on site who does a survey and all the calculations.

While it is possible, it would also mean that there are other problems however, not just that. Don't expect the leak fix and recharge to fix the problem.

Who knows without looking. However, I don't think dampers are your problem. Without some with the right knowledge and experience (not me) going and doing all the calculations, the only answers you can get are guesses. So here is my guess. You have three problems; leak, which is not the cause of the cooling problem, ducts going through the attic and poor duct design.
The last two problems are connected. I suspect you will find that the ducts in the attic are not insulated as well as they should be and that is why the air does not seem as cold, it is not.. I also suspect that the ducts and returns are not properly sized to handle the cooling loads.
To come up with a fix, you need someone who really knows what they are doing. There are many many options, but which will work and which is the best for your situation depends on a great many factors.
Sorry, I know nothing about Old Republic but I can say, in general, such insurance policies are bad buys and far too often people find that they are poorly supported. Putting a little money aside each payday for future repairs is a much better idea. Almost all the time you will come out ahead. Being your own insurance company means you are not paying all those sales commissions, and paying all those adjuster's pay and paying for the nice buildings they work in or send the insurance companies kids to college.

--
Joseph E. Meehan

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I'm really curious about your AHS experience.
Can you elaborate?
Pj
On 8 Jul 2004 09:57:20 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (Tom) wrote:

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Keep in mind this was 5 years ago, so while I don't remember details I can just remember that their service was absolutely horrible and it took weeks to get a working air conditioner. Not a good thing in the middle of the summer in hot and humid TN. We had basically the same problem I'm having now, except that unit was in much worse shape. Bought an 8 year old house in 1999. In July, the AC quit supplying cold air. AHS took several days to even contact a technician to come out. They arrived, diagnosed the unit, determined the problems, sent it back to AHS. AHS took several more days to evaluate whether or not it would be cheaper to repair the unit or replace. They finally determined it would be cheaper to replace it, which they had to schedule...and that took about another week IIRC. A complete mess.
Now, I can say with the warranty on this house, Old Republic has been EXTREMELY responsive. Called them Tuesday, late afternoon, and they had a technician here first thing Wednesday morning. He concurred with the diagnosis (leak in the evaporater coil) of the prior contractor that we called out Tuesday, and called it in to OR to get an authorization code. He verified that he did have the part in stock locally and would just need the code. Earlier today, OR confirmed everything was covered and even called the contractor and conferenced us in so he could set up an appointment with us to do the work. He'll be here tomorrow. MUCH better service than we got with AHS. Granted, the part is still under warranty, so the only thing OR will pay is labor, so it will be a much cheaper job than what AHS was faced with, and this is 5 years later and maybe AHS has improved. But after that I'll never use them again. I just hope he does show tomorrow and fixes this mess.
Typically, I don't buy extended warranties on anything, and agree that they can typically be a waste of money. I can't complain with this seeing as how the warranty was included by the seller so it didn't cost me any extra.
Tom

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Thanks for posting that. I'm wondering the possibility of paying $300 for warranty and then getting a $4000 unit installed.
Pj
wrote:

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PJx wrote:

???? Not sure what you mean.
If you pay $300 any possible payoff depends on the details of the policy, the solvency of the underwriter and your persistence. You may end up in court, but you should get the payoff IF that is what the policy calls for.
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wrote:

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PJx posted for all of us....

Do a Google search.
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Tekkie

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