Heat Pump - Repair or Replace?

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Hi Folks,
My Trane XL1400 heat pump 'died' over the weekend. The repair person from the company that installed it said the "compressor shorted to ground"... and that it was basically time for a new unit.. This unit was installed in 1993 - so - 13 years... He then arranged a Sales call (who said they couldn't get out here for 4 days!!)
Later in the afternoon, I contacted an independent guy, that's been in ac for a number of years and is just recently starting on his own business - he came highly recommended by my electrician (who is a friend that i trust). This second person basically said "This is a Trane - a top of the line Trane - your air handler is in good condition, and the outside unit is in good condition... minus the compressor - i'll be happy to install a whole new unit if that is what you want, but you can just replace this compressor for a fifth of the cost and be fine"...
The 'new' compressor would only have a 1 year warranty on parts and labor.. Several times I kept questioning on if replacing the compressor would be the way to go - and each time he pointed out that the rest of the unit was in fine shape... (even saying he'd be happy to do the job so that he could take the old unit and put it in his home.. lol)
A key factor here is that we've only been in this house 1 year, and the previous owners had a few service calls on the unit - always for tripping the breaker and for putting new start caps on..
Well - the unit was on a 'dual breaker' that controlled both the compressor AND our dryer! Also it's an old 150 amp panel w/ aluminum wiring (running the heat pump, a pool, a jacuzzi, and the whole house).. Even the home inspector recommended replacing (upgrading) the panel before we moved in... That is being done this Friday...
The electrician and the second guy both felt strongly that the way they had this wired could be the main culprit behind the electrical problems this unit has had - and that upgrading the panel could certainly go a long way in alleviating that.
Given that - any second opinions out there?? I'm about sold on just replacing the compressor - granted i know nothing about heat pumps and hvac, but when they took the unit apart, it was verrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrry clean - i was shocked and how good everything looked! Makes it tough to just say 'haul it away' and drop $5k on a new unit - but - am i just asking for trouble by not replacing the whole thing??
I still have 3 other companies coming to give me estimates on a full replacement - just so i'll have some figures (including the original company 4 days from now - ??!!?.)
sorry so long - thanks for any feedback!
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If the air handler and the condenser each look like they are in good shape, I would suggest replacing just the compressor. You'll save quite a bit of $ and at least you'll have a year warranty. As long as it wasn't a burn-out and just a short that killed the compressor, you should be ok. Be sure the tech properly vacuums down the system for at least half an hour before he charges the system.
As for the wiring, obviously needs upgrading. At the least, I would not use the dryer and the air conditioner at the same time. Also, check and make sure the breaker is rated to handle the condensing unit. Are there any available slots on your panel?
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Hi Folks,
Thanks for comments and suggestions...
Just an update - I heard from the guy that was talking about replacing just the compressor - he apologized and said the compressor was a bit more than he expected, so the cost to do that would $1900... That's about $500 - $1000 more than I was anticipating... (He also said he could do an American Standard 14 SEER system for $5350)
Also, I've had a couple companies out already (and a few more on the way) to price out replacing the entire system and I'm looking at a few dollars over $5000 for the Trane 1400XLi system (w/ dual speed air handler).. That approx $5000 is after rebates from Trane and Progress Energy.. ($600 and $150)
So roughly $3000 price difference NOW between replacing just the compressor and replacing the whole system - that's kind of swinging me toward the new system and the longer warranty.. rather than paying $2000 with only a 1 year warranty...
Like I say, more folks on the way w/ quotes - so - hopefully I can beat a few of them down a lil lower than the $5k.
Thanks again for any insight.
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shibumi wrote:

It seems that installer is very important. A correct installation might be more important than the heat pump.
One of our heat pumps (a Trane XL1000) leaked freon for 5 summers since we moved in 6 years ago (new construction). We called him back, initially every couple of months for freon recharge. We finally had enough, and demanded him to completely fix the problem, as builder's warranty expires at 5 years. He finally replaced the compressor, which we asked him to do and were refused.
Every time when he came, he gave a different reason for the freon leak, from O-ring, bad connection, even blamed on us that we did not turn on our thermostat low enough in summers when nobody home, and blamed the electric company's power saver device and disabled it. Things get better with each fix. But still leaks and he need to recharge at least once a year. I suspect he fixed away the problem by reinstalling a new compressor last spring, as we did not need a freon recharge. We are keep our fingers crossed that AC will work this summer, as we have to pay by ourselfs for the fix from now on.
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If you really think your ac guy is not doing things correctly, you should mention to him that you are going to contact the EPA about all the times he's had to add freon to it because of the leaks that he has not properly fixed. I bet that will get his attention and your problem would be resolved rather quickly.
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If you really think your ac guy is not doing things correctly, you should mention to him that you are going to contact the EPA about all the times he's had to add freon to it because of the leaks that he has not properly fixed. I bet that will get his attention and your problem would be resolved rather quickly.
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having trouble repairing a refrigerant leak? Sounds like the guy was replacing items as he found them leaking. "Every few months" sounds like a decent size leak. He's probably got a gripe with the builder or the responsible HVAC company. There really is no issue here that the EPA would be interested in. There's no requirement to fix or replace a "small" system because of leaks. In addition, it sounds like the tech's been making a good faith effort to fix the problem.
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"...even blamed on us that we did not turn on our thermostat low enough in summers when nobody home, and blamed the electric company's power saver device and disabled it..."
These are no reasons for a freon leak - and lying to a customer about why there is a leak is not an indication of a "good faith effort" in any way --- quite the opposite in my book. From what I read here, it just seems like the guy doesn't have a handle on the situation and makes up different excuses for not being able to properly locate and repair the leak. The EPA does have certain guidlines on making proper repairs to a leaking system and not simply adding freon to it every few months. It is the technician's responsibility to properly repair a leak.
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robertp wrote:

I am not sure if the AC installer was lying. I think he just did not know where the problem is. Every time when he visited, he spent a few hours to find where is the leak is, and guess at the causes, like an amature does. He was frustrated that his ultrasonic leak detector was not telling the leak location, and his soup bubble method on the lines in the compressor unit did not work either.
The Trane warranty did notlet him replace the unit unless he locate the exact problem. For 5 years, he and his assistant couldn't locate it.
Anyway, thhe point is the initial installation of AC is very important. If it is not installed correctly, you will have major headache. The installer never answer to our calls. We have to call the bulder for the repair. The builder said we should contact the contractor directly. But the contractor only answers builder's call. It was frustrating to get the system working.
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For a home HVAC unit like this, there is NO issue that would involve the EPA, as long as the tech. is certified, and THE TECH did not intentionally release refrigerant. If a system has leaks, of course they should be repaired, but there is NO EPA provision that forces the repair of leaks on a small system. If the system was leaking that much, the oil alone would have pointed to where the leak(s) are.
Point him/her in the right direction - small claims court (pay someone to fix the leaks, and get reimbursed for the repairs), or the state attorney general's office - consumer fraud, or something along those lines. The EPA would have NO interest in this no matter how much THIS system was leaking, as long as the tech has a card, and was not intentionally venting.
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You also need to consider the difference in efficiency between your old system and a new one with the price of power going through the roof.
Dick
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of a rebate from Trane. I have been on their web site and did not see any mention of one. Could you tell me where you found out about a rebate ?
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On Thu, 02 Mar 2006 03:16:38 GMT, "Ralph Mowery"

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Hi there - Three of the companies that came out actually told *me* about the Trane rebates - for the particular unit that I was looking at - the Trane 14XLi, it was a $600 rebate. (Plus there is a $150 rebate from my power company, Progress Energy).
At that price, it sounds like they've already built the rebate in - if NOT, what part of the country are you in, because that is MUCH lower than any of the quotes I've gotten!
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I am in central North Carolina. The price of $ 5125 is to install a 3 ton XL14i and new air handler with the heat strips and a low end thermostat. They will also haul off the old stuff and clean up. I don't need the programmable stuff as there is someone in the house almost all the time. No rebate was mentioned to me. From the price you have, it seems like they may be keeping the rebate for theirselves and just just giving me the reduction.
Prices do vary all over the place depending on where you are at I guess. Especially the labor. The area I am in has a wage range of around $ 10 to $ 15 for many jobs. The new houses are in the $ 100,000 to $ 150,000 range. This seems much lower than the ones I see on TV on the various programs. It would be nice if there was a place on the internet that had the local prices of the units to compair them in the uninstalled state.
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Gee isn't that funny. Trane is top of the line yet if it were a Goodman 13 seer (or better) unit the compressor would have a lifetime warranty and you would just be paying about 4-500$$ for labor
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Not if he wasn't the original owner. I don't care WHAT you say Kathy. If he isn't the original owner, Goodman will NOT replace the compressor for free.
I know! I just ran into that last week.
So you can just stick your piece of shit Goodman up your purty little ass....
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wrote

Not for nothing Red but,
I recently spoke to Jenny at ext.334 at Goodman in TX about what was required for a warranty to be transferred. Maybe you could call her if you have an issue with a Goodman Warranty. She has been very helpful whenever I have questions. Unless, of course you are just one of those guys that talks shit and likes to trash Goodman. Then a phone call won't help.
have a nice day
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Yes, Kathy, if only I'd had the foresight 13 years ago, to know that I'd be buying this house 12 years later, then perhaps I could have notified the actual owners of the house at the time on purchasing a Goodman instead of a Trane.. Then again, if i had that ability to forsee the future, I'd just by a lottery ticket instead... Thanks for your 'help' though..
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Just another update... Had a Bryant dealer by - $7,200 for the Bryant Evolution (after rebates) - 10 yr parts and labor... 15 SEER 3 ton unit
Sounded like it had some nice features / extras - but - a bit waaaaaaaaaaaay outside my ballpark at this point..
*just posting these updates to also help other folks in the future - one of the most frustrating things to me was that I couldn't find many price references... this business is worse that car shopping when it comes to pricing!!
shibumi wrote:

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