Lennox vs. Amana

My problem is all too common this time of year. Our Heil single stage SEER 13 AC unit began making a buzzing sound when the compressor runs and now fails to cool the house. A tech looked at it last night and says that the compressor is bleeding over and needs to be replaced. It's in warranty, but still would cost about $1200 over the warranty. The company sells Lennox and also has access to Amana. If I replace the old unit with the broken compressor, I'd probably want to go to a high SEER unit, since we cool about 9 months of the year here in our state. The furnace is almost never used, but is used more for its fan to circulate the cooled air. They said that with the new high SEER units, they have to replace it all, including the furnace.
For you HVAC people out there, could the problem be caused by a bad filter/dryer? If so, would replacing it stop the compressor from bleeding over and give it more life? Would you recommend the Amana or Lennox replacement. I see Lennox is up to SEER 21, but Amana tops out at SEER 16. What are the pros and cons?
Is there a way to just replace the single speed fan in an existing furnace with a variable speed one from the AC manufacturer? I really don't want or need a condensing furnace here in the desert.
Are the electrostatic air filters worthwhile? My ceiling filters for this unit are 22' up on the ceiling, which makes me long for one on the furnace to eliminate ladder work changing them out.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I would get another well-recommended firm out to get their opinion. Do not tell them what the first guy said, or even mention you have had a first guy out. Sounds very suspicious to me.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

The dryer has nothing to do with it. If the compressor is bad, it's the compressor. If the compressor is under warranty 1200 sounds high to replace it. It's an hour or so labor plus vacuum and recharge the system.
The higher seers cost more. Payback is not usually as high as they would like you to believe. Tax credit might make the difference though. I'd avoid the top of the chart on any brand. They usually don't achieve the ratings anywhere but the lab and they tend to be overly complex.
Goodman still makes 80% efficiency variable and two speed gas forced air funaces. You are right, if your use is limited the higher efficiency is not worth the money.
Since you are in the desert what about a swamp cooler? They require a bit more maintenance but it's pretty simple diy and they are way cheaper than conventional ac.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

It sure sounds high to me too. What the hell good is a warranty if you have to still pay as much as a new unit? Go online and look at prices of whole AC systems. A new 14.5 SEER, 5 ton system can be had for about $1800 for the outside unit, $700 for a cased coil. If you can get a whole outside unit for $1800, I don't see why it should cost $1200 to replace the compressor. It should be a couple hours of labor, plus new filter/dryer, refrigerant re-charge, etc. About 17 years ago I had a compressor replaced and it cost $600. That was with me PAYING for the compressor.
As for new units, efficiency, etc, you have to do the math. I'm in NJ and concluded that paying about $600 more for a higher efficiency unit was not worth it as it would take a long time to recover that cost. There is also no reason that I know of that you have to replace the furnace. You only need a multi-speed fan for an AC that is two stage. If you get a single stage, AFAIK, the key thing is that the existing blower must move the correct CFM of air volume.
With a 13 SEER system that isn't too old, I'd be calling a couple more HVAC guys, starting with ones that sell Heil. If you can't get a price a lot better than $1200, I'd read the warranty, ask for a break down on costs on the estimates, then call Heil and bitch.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.