Quandry about a/c repair

I have these exorbitantly expensive built in through the wall a/c units. They are so expensive mainly because they are supposed to go on and on and on (and on)
They have virtually no features and are exceptionally old fashioned but the replacement units (made by the same manufacturer or, - only, - one other which will fit into these sleeves) are identical and equally old fashioned
There is a company around me which specialises in coming out free and telling you that you need new units and that they will sell you new units for some extraordinary amount of money. There used to be a guy in our building who would service them EITHER cheaply by doing a quick clean job on them so that 13,500 BThU units which actually give out about 6000 can give out possibly as much as 9000. OR he could do what he called a more appropriate job which we were putting off which involved taking the hwole slip-in unit downstairs and steam-cleaning something underneath them to restore the whole functionality of the unit, which we really need
He has departed for various health reasons. Now I have found a new company which charges a call out charge to clean the units which doesn't actually seem too expensive and an even smaller additional charge to do additional units. But they seem to think that the cleaning process will take about a half hour a unit.
Does anyone know how you steam-clean one of these units PROPERLY, which is the difficult bit to steam clean on the underside, how important it is to do this to get a 9000 unit back to 13,500 and how long it should take to do this (by someone who does this every day)? I am reluctant to pay this company the call out charge merely to be told that I need new units because they want to sell me them. (I have been caught out that way once before when I called the company with the largest ad in the yellow pages only to find that they put this in BECAUSE it imparts credibility to a cowboy who will come along and spin you a yarn about needing a new unit refurbished by him)
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Seems like you're really enjoying hating these (nameless) a/c boxes. You make no mention of their energy-efficiency- which should be a major factor in decision-making IMHO. Not to mention that your in-wall a/c installation is likely a major air-leak.
Are you bound to having wall mounts?
Steam-cleaning? Not likely necessary unless you have lots of crap in the air, or don't use a filter. You might pop the cover, give the fins a spritz with garden hose, and oil the motor bushings. Do check that low-side water drain hole is not blocked.
Presuming that, like most here, you're into DIY.
HTH, J
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"news.rcn.com" <news.rnc.com> wrote in message

Isnt a unit made in the last 35 years that was supposed to go more than 12-15 years, but anyway...

Since you havent given any information, the possibility of more than one unit being able to be retro fitted may exist, but we dont know that.

Nothings free....keep that in mind. It costs SOMEONE. We give free estimates, and normally, they cost between $10 and $20 to ME, not the person getting them.

And you ran the 75 different tests to determine this?

Steam clean? Then you really got screwed. You dont steam clean AC units..you chemically clean them, with a foaming cleaner that gets into the coils and pushes out the crap in them.

For PTAC units, like you describe, that is prob about right to do it properly.

Steam clean...there is that term again.. To properly clean the unit, yes, we know how to do it, and we do it almost daily. How important it is? Well, you obviously are not getting the cooling you need, or want, so, think about that for a sec... How long should it take, all things being equal and since we cant see your installation, where you are located at, how easy it would be to get them out....1 hour to 3..

First, if you buy a REBUILT unit, you are a fool...period. No other way to put it. Sure, many people can tell you stories about how they got a unit thats run for the past 30 years and all it needed was this little part...but why in hell are you buying someone elses shit? Now, that said, you need to know that there are no salesmen in this world, only consumers that do not know how to say no. If you get someone out that says you need, must have, gotta get today and for this low price we can do it now and YOU say yes, when the units are running so so now, well, either one of two things is gonna happen, either you are going to say Yes, do it now, or you are going to say no, just clean the damn things like I asked. Every so often, and its VERY rare, we get a call for service and we get there and they have a 30 year old tank thats barely chugging along and isnt long for this world. Then a real quandry kicks in...we service it and it quits a week later, we get blamed for it as the bad AC company that came out and destroyed their unit..it was running fine till we touched it...or, we suggest a new unit, clean the old one, and its the one that runs for another 10 years and we look like a scam artist for even suggesting that the old one get changed out...no matter that the things costing $500 a month to run when it could be running under $100.... Make sure that if they do clean then, and suggest there are issues, that they document everything..a good company will be able to do that. If they are just PTAC units, service should consist of cleaning the evap coil, the condensor, checking the cold controls for calibration, oiling the motor, checking superheat on the unit since its prob gonna use old cap tubes for metering, making sure you have a clean and non moldy drain, and pan, and the possibility of a anti bac strip or slow disolve tab..something of tht sort. The cleanings should be done with something other than Purple Stuff as well...Mean Green, or the like isnt a coil cleaner, but a legitimate company will use NuCalgon or a similar product that is made for the sole intent of cleaning AC coils.
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Many thanks for your reply Carolina Breeze, which pretty much answers my questions and shows me that the guy who had been quoting about $60 for a peremptory cleaning and a couple of hundred for taking my units downstairs to the basement for this supposed 'steam cleaning' was the one who was not being entirely honest as opposed to these new guys who say they can do the whole job in about a half an hour (assuming proper access to the units). These guys want $120 for a CALL OUT fee to include one unit and $75 for each additional unit which doesn't sound extortionate.

These units are PROBABLY about 20 years old (but I seem to remember when I moved to New York at about that time, everyone was heavily into quoting EER ratings, - especially on things like A/C units so I havent any REAL reason to think that they are using an inordinate amount of electricity. There may have been SOME advances made in energy efficiency in the intervening period I suppose)

They were made by a New York company called Ice Cap which keeps going bust (so I am informed) because they give such lousy customer service. But the only replacement which does heating in the winter as well as cooling in the summer is CrusadeAir (?) whose units I was told are even worse (and have a shorter life span) than the Ice Cap ones

No, I have had Friedrichs units cooling a room properly in a few minutes after turn on and these units just don't seem to cool properly however long you leave them on and I cant believe they need such constant service, - supposedly every year

I think that is the point, isnt it!
But they seem to think that the cleaning process will

That is all I really needed to know: They slip out easily (Is it REALLY not necessary to take the unit out and off of the parquet floor to do this properly?)

Not sure what a cap tube is: How do you check superheat and what do you do if something needs attention here on a 20 year old unit? ( if it DOES use old cap tubes) Can you for example upgrade cap tubes inexpensively with noticeable effect on functionality or dont A/C units work like that?
making sure you have a clean and non moldy drain, and pan, and

Many thanks for this advice
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"news.rcn.com" <news.rnc.com> wrote in message

Nope...thats about right for some areas.

20 year old PTACs are hogs....to be honest. Todays are not too bad, considering, however I still would rather have a mini split ductless over those.

Yup...and trying to keep that from happening again.

Umm..yea..:-) I dunno about you, but I would hate to have about 40 gallons of water that will be used to rinse the cleaner out all over them.

Nope..cheaper to just get a new one, and most of the newer models still use cap tubes..some use expansion valves, but they are on higher end models.

No problem. Just insure yourself a safe and correct service and do NOT allow a guy in your area by the name of Chris Young to service them....ever..for anything....

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I absolutely agree and had been looking to see when a Chinese one was going to surface on the US market with some reliability report somehwere: But wouldnt fitting one of these in a 17th floor apartment which had been fitted with through the wall sleeved units be extraordinarily expensive, both as to labour and cost of buying 4 units?

Now you have REALLY answered my question: This is the answer I was looking for: All I need to ask is whether the company will need to take them out and downstairs where there are facilities to clean them all over with 40 gallons of whatever it is or not. If I can get a NO (out of the dispatcher????) to this question, I can tell that they are going to do a perfunctory job and continue my search for someone to do it properly. (they sound like a reputable company which has taken over from the pathetically inept manufacturer)
do NOT allow

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Look into getting a mini-split ductless heat pump instead.
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But they seem to think that the cleaning process will take about a half hour a unit.

You were right on almost all counts: Firstly they did what seems to have been a good job for a fair price and most importantly for 24 year old units, didnt try to sell me a new unit instead (they implied from an irregular sound I COULD hear that a piston was going on one of the motors which might need replacing on the next year or two: But on cleaning off the gunge from the fans, - including some candle wax, - and reassembling the units, the sound seems to have gone away even though they didn't oil anything). Secondly the units appear to work properly now (except that I have no way of telling how many BThUs they are putting out) but thirdly, they didnt do anything to the coils except carefully brush and vacuum them and didn't seem to intend to Nucalgon them (they didnt ask where they could properly clean them, they just assumed they woudlnt need to). And all parts were included in their price. These 12,500 BThU units have an eer of 8.1. How badly am I doing on power use?
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