Central Air "Top Up" Not Allowed?

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Had a tech out to look over my 20 yr old central a/c today. He said the fluid level was "border line", but that he was not allowed to top up the system as it used the old type of fluid (R22?). He said if the system couldn't keep up with the load it would have to be replaced.
Since we are probably leaving this house in the next year or so, I'm not enthusiastic about a new a/c plant. A new, more efficient setup would not pay us back in time.
A bit of googling seems to indicate that R22 is still going to be around until 2015 or 2020 and that its use in existing equipment is still ok.
Was the tech correct, or just trying to earn a commission?
TIA, Chris
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On 5/30/2011 9:53 PM, WandererFan wrote:

Wouldn't a home inspection by a new home purchaser reveal the problem with the unit? I am very adamant about not selling a home with a ticking time bomb. Then again, with full disclosure of the problem to the buyer, caveat emptor.
All I'm saying is that if you don't replace it now, a savvy purchaser would require you to replace it at sales time. Maybe that's a better time for you, but then you don't get to enjoy the comfort of the new unit for the next year.
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If the new owner wants new air it's HIS problem to fix it, as long as you disclose that the central air is "there and functional for the time being". (Assuming) You are selling the house at the price it would sell for with no AC so if it works it's a bonus.
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That is true, but. . . . . .
How does it really affect the selling price? Let's say the new unit is $6000. What is the difference in selling price of the house with the old unit versus a brand new energy efficient unit? Can you get your money back? Many people seem to want to just move in and have everything perfect, not have to lift a finger. I've watched a couple of TV shows where people rejected a house because of ugly paint in a room. For $15 and an hour labor, you get the color of your choice.
Personally, I'd low ball the bid by $10,000 and choose the brand and installer of my choice but some non-mechanical types just want to set the thermostat and be cool. That 20 year old unit can die tomorrow, but it may go another 20 years too. Bit of a crap shoot.
Any realtors here have a comment?
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On 5/31/2011 5:52 AM, Ed Pawlowski wrote:

Yeah, I sold my house in the Chicago suburbs 3 years ago. The buyers put on a nicey nicey attitude. They finally signed the contract and started demanding. I thought a contract was binding, but apparently in the bad housing market they can demand anything they want. They, through their lawyer, said the furnace was "beyond useful life" so they wanted us to give them a new one. That probably meant new AC as it was older than the furnace (furnaceyo, AC compressor78, A coil=5yo). The system worked quiet well. The AC unit was the highest efficiency unit in 1978. By today's standards, 8.5 is just average. So, I refused, but eventually gave a little. The furnace's secondary heat exchanger still was under the original 25 year warranty, so I offered to buy them 1 additional year home buyer's policy. When they demanded the carpets be completely cleaned (they were installed brand new for the house selling), I dug in and said NO, ENOUGH!. The buyers kept complaining. I kept saying NO. Finally, my real estate agent and my lawyer split the cost just to get it closed .... believe it or not. And, even at the closing (I was on the road to my new location/state) they caused more problems, but finally signed. So, anything is apparently negotiable. My advice, spend as little as possible, as a seller .... but dig in. BTW, the buyer's lawyer said his client was "nuts", but we all knew that.
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wrote:

Once he makes a legal offer on a home, the buyer has tipped his hand that he wants the house. Everything after that is common haggling. Some buyers haggle hard, some don't. You did fine holding firm. Condos may work differently, but homes have a "personality" beyond condition. Not just location, but room layout, yard layout, view from windows, garage, etc. If the home doesn't need expensive repairs and the personality matches the buyer's, that's it. I know realtors say different. To them every damn house fits their client. I've bought 2 houses and never paid attention to the realtor except getting me to houses I might want, paperwork and advice on a counter offer. First one was priced fair and my wife loved it. I really liked it. Cat hair all over, cat smell, clutter, needing rooms painted - didn't matter. Other lookers were coming in as we went out and I asked the realtor if we paid asking price was it ours, and she said "yes." That's what I did. Second house had non-working window units for A/C, a 60 amp service, and a 1959 kitchen. Wife loved it, I really liked it. I was willing to pay asking, but my realtor saved me $8500 on the offering part. I had a 200 amp service and new furnace/central air put in a year later. The OP should note to buyers the A/C is marginal, or just get it fixed or replaced so it's not an issue. But there's no way of knowing if it will affect selling price of the home. That will depend entirely on the market. If I was a buyer, I would haggle on that one, since it's a main mechanical system. If I was the owner, I'd get it replaced due to age/functionality, even if I was planning on selling the house.
--Vic
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I think what he's talking about is that the typical sales contract has an inspection contigency clause. The sellers used that, eg the furnace is past it's life expectancy, to then further negotiate after the contract was signed.
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wrote

Nothing personal Ed but here is how I deal with buyers like you.
No but a multiple property owner does and here is how it goes:
Take your damn silly games someplace else. I don't owe a penny on this house and do not have to sell it.
I would like to sell it to someone who can appreciate the value that I am offering for the money. Put your final offer in writing with all financing and other contingencies defined. I will review your offer and get back to you.
Colbyt
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On Tue, 31 May 2011 05:52:09 -0400, "Ed Pawlowski"

Anyone with any brains would never pay the cost of a newish airconditioner more for a house just because it has a new ish air conditioner. Putting a new one in under their name gets THEM the warranty. If selling the house I'd get an estimate for a replacement and tell the buyer they can have that off the normal selling price or you'll put it in for them (pay to have it done).
I've seen too many cases where a new AC unit is installed, and the new buyer decides they want a different super high efficiency, quiet, or what-ever furnace - and the brand new A/C gets pitched along with the old furnace as the buyer gets a "package deal" on the new system.

Mine is 30 years old and still going. Replacing it is less than $4000. I replaced the furnace several years ago and left the old AC - after talking to the contractor he agreed "they will only go DOWN in price" and the savings between the old and the new for the few days we actually run it, would take twice the lifetime of the unit to pay for itself.

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On May 31, 8:59pm, snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca wrote:

You have evidence that HVAC systems warranties are never transferable? Or even typically not transferable?
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On Wed, 1 Jun 2011 05:26:35 -0700 (PDT), " snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net"

Generally transfwerring ANY warranty is a hassle.. Not saying it's impossible - but it is seldom done without issues - and many warrantees are either to the original owner, or transferrable for a fee
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On 6/1/2011 10:04 PM, snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca wrote:

We just give the supplier the serial number off the equipment and they look it up, even for equipment I didn't install. If it's in warranty, they replace it. They don't usually ask the customer's name unless it's something special.
TDD
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wrote

With Trane, no registration I required so no hassle with a transfer.
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I agree, I think most of them base it off the serial numbers. Sometimes registration will buy you some additional warranty. If equipment sits around for a while the the warranty is supposed to start with equipment start up.
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On Mon, 30 May 2011 18:53:19 -0700 (PDT), WandererFan

He cannot "just" top up the R22 - but if he draws it down and leak tests it, "finds" a leak and repairs it, he can still refill the system - using your reclaimed R22 and whatever is required to top it up.
At least that was the law last year in Ontario.
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On May 30, 10:19pm, snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca wrote:

This is in fact, Ontario, so I guess the tech wasn't really fibbing.
Disappointing to hear the "dissing" of the tech in the replies, though. We've used this local firm for a number of years for furnace and a/c, although they weren't the original installer (gas company promo). Aww well, guess it's like tools, good old names don't necessarily mean good new tools.
Understand the issue about buyers wanting pristine move in condition. Will take it into account of course. Plan was to have the plant "serviced" just before listing so we could say everything works with a clear conscience.
Personally, I'd rather buy the house a bit lower and choose my own equipment. If I buy for the next guy, it's going to be the cheapest package available, not the best.
C.
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On Tue, 31 May 2011 09:17:42 -0700 (PDT), WandererFan

And Canadian buyers, on the whole, have come to expect that. If the unit is 5 years old, the seller likely bought the best he could afford. If it's less than a year old, he likely bought the cheapest he could get.
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I don't believe there is such a thing as a "borderline" charge nor do I think a charge can be "topped off."
It is either properly charged or not.
If it is not, then either it was never charged correctly (majority) or it has a leak. Systems do not use up refrigerant, they are sealed.
If it is not charged correctly, it is perfectly legal to adjust the charge. If he knows how.
If it has a leak, it is not legal to add charge without repairing the leak. At least, when I took the the refrigerant class for the license that was the case; that's been a while.
So if he's saying there's a leak and he's not willing to top it off then he's not only legal but professional.
If there's not a leak, I
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I'm not up on the latest regulations so I won't comment. But there may be other considerations worth thinking about.
True, you won't get a payback on a new, more efficient unit, but the sale next year may go a lot easier if you can show how this nice new unit is expected to be trouble free for the new buyer.
Meantime, what is the real condition of the old unit? Will you get the summer out of it? I'd hate to be pressed to do something mid-August when it is 110 degrees and this thing craps out. That is a great unknown so it comes down to what will you pay for peace of mind? Or are you a risk taker?
If I was buying a house and it came down to making a choice between to likeable houses, the one with a new AC and furnace would get the nod, or I'd lowball the price to the other guy.
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On 5/30/2011 8:53 PM, WandererFan wrote:

Get a new HVAC man. preferably a professional one this time.
--
Steve Barker
remove the "not" from my address to email
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