New A/C: Help with determining fair replacement cost

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Hi, this is my first post so please excuse my lack of knowledge...I have a 10-year old home with builder grade Lennox, 10 SEER. 2-ton unit downstairs, 2.5 upstairs. Over the last 2-3 summers, the downstairs unit has needed refrigerant and the last guy here determined the evap coil has a leak.
The same outfit estimated some items today and as I am very new at this I wanted to try and get some advice, and also ask if these prices are in line. I am in the Atlanta, GA area. My choices: 1) Replace evaporator coil only with like unit, $950 2) Replace evap coil (upgrade 2 ton to 3 ton) plus replace external unit, all taxes, materials, etc, upgrade the 2 ton outside to 2.5 ton (I think I need this as have never been happy with the power) : $2700.
Parts will be Lennox, 11 SEER (13 SEER is about $1000 more so am thinking this will do as it is is till an upgrade from 10).
Should I get more quotes? Or is this a pretty fair figure? The company comes recommended from a neighbor who has been in the construction business (but is not affiliated).
PS Had posted this to alt.hvac and was advised to try this forum. Thanks all!
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First I would consider going up to an efficiency level that gets you the tax credit
http://www.energystar.gov/
Secondly, another poster helped me with this site a few days ago
http://www.hvacopcost.com /
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There's nothing wrong with posting to alt.hvac. No one can properly advise you on prices.

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That's a lot of money. Will the coil be gold plated?

Assuming the furnace can handle 3 tons (and it probably can, even if it is a Lennox), that sounds better, although that much for a 11 SEER is a little high. Do you need 2.5 tons? If you oversize, you may not be able to remove the humidity Atlanta is known for. Will the new cooling system be rated at 11 SEER with the existing furnace?

I'd get another quote, two would be better. Try www.benspost.org or www.kudzu.com Both sites are fairly good.

Funny how they 'advised' you. Imagine, berating people that way in an unmoderated usenet forum.
Good Luck
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He says he's never been happy with the power, but he doesn't say it doesn't cool properly. I think he's going to get less dehumidification with a bigger unit, and (assuming the current duct sizes are correct) where are they getting the additional needed air flow from?

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OP here... by not happy I meant that cooling has been less than expected or when compared to the upstairs unit (which *is* 2.5 ton, for about the same sq ft up v down). For example on hot and humid days, the setting of say 74 when 99 outside might bring it down to 77 and the unit would keep running all day. (this is prior to the leak, when the system was barely a year or two old). This is where I got the idea it was underpowered, but that is just a layman's guess. I have been receiving a couple of pieces of advice via email saying the coil is all I really need to replace; the rest is relatively sturdy stuff save for small stuff like relays, capacitor, fan, etc. The furnace I believe is a 2.5 ton unit already, so yes it will handle the upsize. Also, with upping the coil to 3 ton, shouldn't that translate to more efficiency again? Thanks for all responses so far. I do have a time pressure (yes, I know what that usually means) from the guy as he says he has one or two 11 SEER units left as they are essentially phased out. But I still have at least two months of cool/pleasant weather left before I need to panic... I will be calling a couple more outfits tomorrow.
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You can't go by sq. ft., you have to go by heat loss/gain calculations. Those calculations are subject to the parameters that the person doing the calculations enters. If you have a lot of 99 degree days, then enter that into the calculation. If you only have one or two, then entering a lower figure will give you more comfort and energy savings under average conditions.
One of the major benefits of air conditioning is it's ability to dehumidify. You may not want to keep your house at 74 when it's 99 degrees outside. 77 is probably perfectly acceptable if the humidity is low. After the leak was repaired, did you FEEL comfortable on a 99 degree day? If you install a larger unit, it may not dehumidify properly on days when it's 80 degrees outside. I've seen people insist on installing a larger unit and not feel comfortable on average days. The cold air satisfies the thermostat before other rooms can get cool.
What type of furnace do you have, and what size is your duct work?
Do not be pressured into buying anything, especially if you are only buying a coil.

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Case in point. Here in Atlanta, there are a lot of older homes that have the exact same size cooling systems upstairs and down. The designer seems to have forgotten one major point, that warm air rises. Therefore, the upstairs will always be warmer than the downstairs, unless the system is sized properly.

Not necessairly. Increasing the coil size *may* help efficiency, but not always. Since the coil will be bigger, that will increase the surface area and that should help with the dehumidification.

I'd be more worried about the pressure he's putting on you to buy that unit.

Check out the links I sent you on the other post.
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Thanks again to all. I have contacted a couple of other outfits and have a vist scheduled for Monday. Some nutshells: Firm 2: Trane, $900 coil, $3K for 13 SEER (not certain of tonnage, will talk Monday). Firm 3: Carrier, $1K coil, $2300 10 SEER, $4K 13 SEER (ouuuuch), 2.5 ton. Firm 1: (repeated for convenience): Lennox, $950 coil, $2700 11 SEER 2.5 ton.
Wanted to ask about the extended warranty and maintenance plans. They all seem to want the latter to honor the former. Are either of them a good deal for the consumer?
I will do some more reading over the weekend re tonnage. It seems like the guy coming on Monday is more 'technical' (the first guy was dedicated sales and didn't know much at all except his prices and expiring deals). Maybe I will get better info on Mon.
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If a salesman is a former experienced technician, that's fine. If a salesman has no hands on experience, cross that company off your list. They are trained to tell you what they think you want to hear. My prices for Ruud are lower than Trane or Carrier/Bryant. Call a Rheem/Ruud dealer for a free estimate. Maintenance plans and extended warranties are insurance. Companies are betting that it won't break down, and you're betting that it will. If a company sells enough of them, they make money on them. Better insurance would be to find someone with a good local reputation. It will save you a lot of aggravation in the long run.

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I need to start charging more...
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You can go through all the financial calculations, profit/loss, accountants, etc., but bottom line is you have to charge what your competition is charging for the same quality of work. Send me an email if you want to know what a Rheem seminar said on how to do job costing.

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will
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One more estimate, from a fairly large outfit in the area: The salesman, an ex-technician, determined that I need a 3 ton unit! He took measurements, counted returns, etc. When requested he quoted me for a 2.5 ton but said he would not install it as it would be 'wrong'. Anyway, for a Trane 13 SEER, 3 ton, a job which includes replacing aprx 40 feet of copper lines: $3500.
Note that his position is very different from the first guy, who actually spent more time selling and less measuring, etc. although their total in-home time was about the same. First guy only talked to 2.5 tons when questioned about it.
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Just counting returns won't cut it.
If your DS unit is 2.5 tons and so is your US unit, you are undersized upstairs....

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Count all the doors in your home and divide by 7. Your answer will be how many tons of cooling you will need. Bubba
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wrote:

Wrong, you have to then multiply that number by the number of door frames and then add in the number of piles on he carpet then multiply all that by pi.
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wrote:

Interesting.
If I invite a friend to spend the night, the house will grow an extra door.

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wrote:

I always tell my friends that if they want to spend the night, they have to bring a door.
I don't get much company......
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Plus, the upstairs typically has more load due to the ceiling load, Unless the downstairs has more windows.
Marty

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