hole in bottom coil of condensor coil, can it be repaired


My 5 ton R22 Heil (~5-10yr old) gave up in the form of a hole in the bottom-most condensor coil. The hole is about 1/8" in diameter and there is some oil around it but not much that couldn't be cleaned. Could a professional here in St. Louis solder this -or- do we need replace either the 1. coil itself for $2500 2. or the whole unit $5,000?
It just seems like a really expensive hole.
I ahave a couple picture, but I can't figure out how to get them on here.
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iserge wrote the following:

You can't get them on this newsgroup. Seek out any of the FREE image hosting/sharing services, like Google's ImageShack, Photobucket, Flickr, etc. Post them there and then tell us where to look.
--

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In Hamptonburgh, NY
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responding to http://www.homeownershub.com/maintenance/hole-in-bottom-coil-of-condensor-coil-can-it-be-repaired-485495-.htm iserge wrote:

OK thanks. Here is site for the pics.
http://img816.imageshack.us/i/holeinheiloilstainsept1.jpg/
http://img830.imageshack.us/i/holeinheiloilstainsept1.jpg/
------------------------------------- iserge
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It can be repaired, but it will be costly. Many years ago I worked for a company that built refrigeration coils. To braze the joints, the coil was first filled with nitrogen so there would be no oxidation on the inside. Then the coil had to be evacuated and finally it can be filled.
Doing the job right will be hundreds of dollars.
Before making a decision, check out the real cost of alternatives. How old is the present unit? If more than 8 or 10 years, I'd be inclined to replace it. Look for tax rebates, local or state rebates or low/no interest financing from either the state or the utility company.
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Looks like copper. Did the hole get made by something rubbing on it. Or did the coil just give out there? If the hole just appeared that suggests that maybe you have contaminants that damaged the copper. If it seems possible that the coil is rotten I'd not bother trying to fix it.
If it's copper and something wore a hole in it you can fix it. Clean it real well. Sand it. Go to lowes and get a piece of 3/8" copper coupling. Cut a section out of the coupling with some tin snips. Shape to cover the hole so it will stay on by it's self. Get a small package of stay brite silver solder and flux. Flux and solder with a propane torch. On r22 systems it's ok to use silver solder. Soldering doesn't create as much oxidation inside so you do not really need the nitrogen. The melting point of silver solder is higher. I have repaired and installed r22 systems using silver solder. It would still be a good idea to vacuum it down. That also helps see if your fix is solid. Plus it removes the water and other contaminants. You need gauges and r22 to refill. Got a friend in the hvac business?
Otherwise an hvac tech should be willing to braze a coupling in where your hole is, vacuum, and refill for a few hundred, maybe $300 or so. You probably would need to agree that all bets are off if there are other problems. Try craigs list for "hungry" hvac guys.
A lot of techs are reluctant to fix things because they're not sure that is the only problem. They fix it and then it turns out that there is another problem as well and the customer is all pissed.
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iserge wrote:

I can't really answer your question but I can tell you a story...
I lived in Mexico for a few years in a furnished apartment. When I moved in I plugged in the fridge...it ran mightily but never got cold. Inspection showed someone had punched a hole in the freezer coil, probably with an ice pick when chipping off ice to defrost (old fridge, not auto-defrost).
A call to the rental agent got me a guy who came out and melted what looked like stick shellac into and over the hole. He then added refrigerant. The fridge worked fine for the two years I was in that apartment.
--

dadiOH
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We got hold of a small dorm type refrigerator in the same condition, obvious gash from some version of ice removal. It was an aluminum evaporator coil. Sure didn't want to spend major time, money, or effort on a small refrigerator for the shop. Roughed it up well with sandpaper, cleaned with acetone, applied an epoxy poultice. We do have the luxury of a large HVAC department - none of whom will screw around with refrigerators. Talked one into a super simple dose of Freon on a "try it one time" basis. That was about 6 years ago. We have to defrost the ice out of it about twice a year.
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I presume you don't defrost it with a knife?
I did recharge a ref, one time. The fellow had sanded the area, and then wiped with a lint free cloth. Mixed some epoxy, and covered the hole. I pumped the air out, and charged it up. Must have worked. Didn't hear back.
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On Sep 5, 3:39pm, "Stormin Mormon"

I doubt it. He probably just didn't bother to try again. Epoxy doesn't have the same expansion rate. Epoxy eventually fails on stuff that varies temp.
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The one I described sure does work well and has for quite a few years. We only charged it the one time after the epoxy repair. We did vacuum the system.
I am not suggesting that it will work if you are having to pay for the vacuum and the gas. I have the equipment and it makes it a bit easier to experiment.
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That's amazing. Usually they have enough moisture in the system to stop working.
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responding to http://www.homeownershub.com/maintenance/hole-in-bottom-coil-of-condensor-coil-can-it-be-repaired-485495-.htm iserge wrote:
Thanks for the comments. It really helped.
Update. I was going to try the epoxy (after cleaning it and roughing it really well), then I found some guys I trust. They just soldered up the hole. Even though it was on bottom coil, they didn't have a problem.
Then they relocated the unit to the other side of the house.
They ran a new line-set in from the new location. Whole thing took 3 guys nine hours on w/e. Cost me $2500. Not bad. For me. Or for them.
iserge
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What would a new unit have cost? I hope it works out well for you.
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