HELP - Central Air Repair Question

I've noticed that over the past year or so that my central air takes longer to cool down the house. Also, after the unit runs for a few hours the volume of air coming from the vents drops by about 40%. Ok, so I called the company that installed the unit and requested a service call. The technician came out and did a pressure test at the outside unit and stated that I have a leak since the pressure is off by about 30%. He also said there was no current need to check the air handler/blower in my basement since the decrease in refrigerant is also the likely cause of the decrease in blower pressure due to a freeze up in the air handler. This 5 minute determination cost $79, and I was then quoted $593.00 to do the leak test and replace the refrigerant: no cost break down whatsoever, just the flat rate. They also refuse to just replace the refrigerant, even though this must be a *really* slow leak. Anyway, I'm wondering if this is an incredible rip-off, and if I should look elsewhere? Any advice, comments or caveats will be greatly appreciated.
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palantir wrote:

It is probably true that you have a leak, and it is also probably true that low refrigerant is the reason that your air handler is icing up (therefore causing the reduced airflow).
You could probably find another contractor who would be happy to add refrigerant (without, of course, any warranty as to how long the system might run after that). OTOH you should get the leak repaired since otherwise you will be back in this same situation in the next year or two...or maybe sooner.
Did the $600 include the cost of repairing the leak, or was that just to find it? If the quoted cost includes fixing the leak then it could be an OK price... especially if the problem is a leaky coil and they will replace it for this price. Otherwise, the cost seems high unless you are in one of the higher-cost areas of the U.S. I'd try to find a contractor who will locate the leak for a reasonable price (about 1 - 2 hours labor worst case) and then decide what to do from there.
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On Tue, 20 Jul 2004 23:58:44 -0400, "CBHVAC"
snip...

BTZ
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palantir wrote:

guy to come out and recharge the unit that was about 4 lbs. low of freon and i cost me about $90. about 6 months later i needed him back as i wanted the a/c unit in the back yard moved over about 5-6 ft. away from a detached garage in the back yard... i poured the cement slab for this and he charged me like $260 to come out and do the wiring, the copper tubing and recharge it as the 4 lbs of freon leaked out due to a rotten filter dryer on the a/c unit in the back yard.... what your guy is doing is trying to sell new units.. they make more money that way.. if they tell all the customers that the price is high sooner or later someone will bite on it and in the meantime they get $70.00 for each stop in the sucker route they are operating......
sorry, but it seems that way to me..
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I just serviced an AC for a customer this afternoon. Checked over the air handler, lubed the motors, washed the condenser coil, and added 1-1/2 LBS of R22. Unit has a slow leak, we add to it every3-4 years. Charge for the service, less than $150. Your area may charge more for labor, but I would not pay over $250 for what they are offering. Call another company, these guys want more than they are worth! Ask your neighbor, friends, people at work who they use. Greg
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Thanks to all who replied! Well, a friend who works for a large mechanical contractor realized that one of their trucks was in my neighborhood for a commercial repair, so they stopped by my house on the way to their next job. It took the fellow five minutes to determine that I probably have a *really* tiny leak, so he added about 1.5lbs of refrigerant. Since I've probably had this leak for over a couple of years, I probably won't need to do this again for awhile. Cost: under $45. Also, they told me if I have another problem because the leak is larger than we thought, they will trace it down and fix it for about 80% less than my previous quote. Anyway, it's 85 and muggy outside, but nice and comfy inside :-)
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On 19 Jul 2004 19:26:51 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (palantir) wrote:

BTZ --------------------------------------------------------- Please doan shoot the messenger
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ds549 , is that Davie
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the volume of air drop indicates your "A" coil may be clogged with dirt. i have seen many coils clogged usually because the air filter wasnt changed enough or was packed with dirt... they freeze up when clogged also.. its not usually hard to clean it.i use a shop vac on the coil inside and a water hose on the coil outside.either one clogged will cut down on the cooling effect..but the one inside would cut down on the air flow . .. lucas
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