Repairing a heat pump leak?

My townhouse has the original York Champion heat pump from 1983. For many years I used the local company which installed it for service. They were pretty good until about 6 years ago when they were bought by another company. Now I have little or no confidence in the people they send.
The last time I had service the guy noticed a leak in a pipe leading to the inside unit. It is in an upstairs utility room. It had been about 18 months since the last service. The leak was obvious because over time it penetrated the pipe insulation. See picture below.
http://i108.photobucket.com/albums/n39/wgdus/Heat-pump-leak.jpg
The service guy had been busy trying to sell me a new heat pump. That's all they want to do. My two closest neighbors in this section still have their original York heat pumps. They were just good units.
"Wow, a leak! This is almost as good as a new unit sale!", thinks the service guy. And he quotes me a repair price of about $1000 to fix it!
The repair would require extracting the freon to a recovery unit. Cutting out and replacing the joint (or repair existing joint). Then replacing the freon. Apparently this would be about a 2 hr. procedure for someone who knew what they were doing.
I told him no. I thought the price was excessive plus I wouldn't trust anyone this company has sent in the last few years to perform a repair like this.
I got a recommendation from a neighbor for an HVAC tech they use who was recommended to them by another neighbor. I'll probably use him in the future. But I still want to avoid an expensive repair if possible.
Here's my $4 solution for your consideration - plumbing epoxy putty. This stuff here from Home Depot.
http://www.pcepoxy.com/puttyepoxies/pcplumbing.asp
I would clean the pipe joint with alcohol then apply the putty to each side of the joint to seal it.
Do you think this a viable repair method? I would really appreciate your opinions since this newsgroup gives such great advice.
PS: If you would like to read something from an HVAC service guy who is willing to admit exactly what happens in heat pump servicing (which is almost as bad as appliance repair) you might want to check out the link below.
http://toad.net/~jsmeenen/heatpump.html
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let us know if the putty works,you didnt say what line is leaking,low or high press... since epa regulated freon,it gave repairmen a lisence to rape customers. none of them want to fix a leak anymore. just sell you a new unit.lucas
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Or buy a few $80 window ACs at WalMart. If one breaks, throw it away, and ignore the HVAC criminals :-)
Nick
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Absolutely not. The thermal expansion differences in the epoxy and copper make it dubious and your abiltiy to prepare a surface well enough for a decent bond under field conditions is the coup de grace. You're trying to contain gas molecules under considerable pressure so get a tech well versed in this kind of work and get it done right. If the tab is $300 or so for the job that would be OK. Maybe a bit more in some communities. Good luck.
Joe
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bubba's attitude proves my point about pompus hvac repairmen who wont/cant fix a leak, just sell new equipment and then dont stand behind it. they hate their job, and customers and live life cheating the manufactrer and customers for their own mistakes .
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Separate from its physical condition, your system is twenty-five years old and likely well past its economic life. The SEER ratings of today's new units are double that of your current system, so your cooling costs could very well be a lot higher than they need be -- ditto your heating costs. Depending upon local climate, your home's heating and cooling loads and utility rates, it might make sense to replace your system now, especially if those rates are steadily moving upward.
Heat pumps have advanced considerably over the past twenty-five years and in the last two to three years in particular. Again, you might want to take advantage of those gains now, especially if your current system is starting to show its age. Whatever you decide, good luck!
Cheers, Paul
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wrote:

the epoxy probably will never work becasue the refrigerent is always under pressure and will force its way out before the epoxy can set...
I would do one of two things
1) find a pro that will repair the leak for a resonable charge by soldering or replacing that section,,,, you might want to check the rest of the line to make sure the rest of it is not also corroded and readay to go....
2) if the leak is slow enough say that it needs refilling once a year or so...buy a set of hoses and adapters and learn how to refill the system yourself... can you buy R22 these days?
Mark
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On Fri, 02 May 2008 21:28:08 -0300, Paul M. Eldridge

Just to expand on my previous point. I don't know what you pay in heating and cooling costs now, but for argument's sake I'm going to assume it's something in the range of $1,200.00 a year. If a new heat pump can cut those costs in half (and a 50 per cent reduction is the bare minimum I would expect compared to a twenty-five year old system), your savings are $600.00 a year.
If the cost of the replacement heat pump is $5,000.00, say, and your first year savings are $600.00, you will have earned a 12 per cent return on your investment. Furthermore, if electricity rates increase at a higher rate than either your cost of borrowing or the return you earn on your other investments, your financial gain continues to improve over time. Also bear in mind that you pay for electricity with after tax dollars, so the $600.00 you spend on additional utilities represents perhaps $800.00 or $900.00 in pre-tax income. And unlike other cash generating investments, your savings in utility costs are not taxable -- this money is all yours to keep or spend as you wish.
Going forward, I expect electricity costs to move sharply higher and an investment like this greatly lessens your exposure to this upside risk. In addition, as someone else pointed out earlier, delaying your purchase by one or more years could hurt you badly -- copper prices have shot through the roof and so too freight and all the other expenses of running a business. These cost increases far exceed the rate of inflation and are ultimately borne by the consumer.
If the numbers I've used above are fairly representative and you delay your purchase by just TWO years, your additional out-of-pocket expenses could exceed two thousand dollars. For example:
1) forfeited electricity savings: $636.00 + $674.00 = $1,310.00 (assumes a 6% increase in years one and two)
2) equipment and labour increases: $400.00 + $432.00 = $832.00 (assumes an 8 per cent increase in years one and two)
The combined two-year loss in this example is $2,142.00 and that number doesn't include the cost of any future repairs.
You say the service guy just wants to sell you a new system, presumably in your mind because he wants to make a quick or easy buck. Well, I can't speak to this individual's motivations, but I can tell you that keeping your current system could very well cost you a lot more than you realize and that rather than dismissing his advice outright, you should explore all options. As a final note, there are members of this group who are far more knowledgeable about these systems than me and would be happy to offer their own two cents; but please don't assume they're steering you in one direction or the other simply because of some hidden or ulterior motive. Again, good luck!
Cheers, Paul
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A 1983 heat pump is the equivalent of a 94 year old person. If it is still living, it is one of the exceptional ones.
Figure it like this. (And I speak from experience.) You can throw money down the toilet on this unit, or just get a new one. The higher SEER ratings on the new one will save you a lot on energy costs. You won't be paying someone to come out and fix various things on this one. It's all the same age ........ compressor ......... fan motors ......... capacitors ....... etc, etc, etc. You fix this one week, and that the next week.
As with any 94 year old, you need to pull the plug sometime, uncomfortable as it is. Or just keep paying for a quality of life or service that doesn't amount to much.
Steve
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Something like this Steve?
The cost of replacing now is $3000 (I have no idea. Just pulled a number out of my a..,errr,...hat). The cost to repair the existing one is say $300. In 4 months another repair for say $350. 9-12 months from now it's diagnosed as terminal and you decide to bite the bullet.
$3000 Replacement cost today $ 300 1st Repair $ 250 2nd repair @ 4 mos. $ 100 Service call when diagnosed as terminal @ 12 mos. $ 250 Price increase of replacement cost 12 months from now $ 300 Aditional 12 month cost for electricity due to low SEER and age     inefficiency
$4200 Cost to do in a year,
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To make it simple and to save you money all they need to do is the following: 1. Have them pump down the system. 2. After the system has been pumped down they can now open and repair the leak on the suction line. 3. After leak has been repairs and leaked checked they only have to run a short vacuum on the line set. 4. They then open up the line set to the refrigerant they had pumped down. 5. Top off the system.
--
Moe Jones
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bubba's attitude makes my point for me. who here would actually hire him ?
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On Sat, 3 May 2008 19:50:07 -0400, snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net wrote:

First of all, you dim wit webtv idiot.......... Id never solicit business here in a newsgroup. It would be quite a waste of time if you knew anything about marketing, WHICH you obviously dont. Second, YOU would never receive my services. You couldnt afford me and Id never attempt working for you. It would only take me about 30 seconds to figure out what kind of cheap asshole you are. Too bad you dont like my attitude but you'll just have to grow some balls and stop waiting for someone to coddle you and blow sunshine up your ass. Bubba
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The epoxy stuff isn't likely to hold. The pressures are a bit too high. Should be possible to redo, with a pump down and rebraze the fitting. But like the other guys say, might not be worth it.
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Christopher A. Young
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"

Huh?
What is supposed to be leaking?
Is the unit still heating and cooling property? When the "service" was done, did the guy measure the high and low side pressures? Did he add any freon (R-22)?
Is the repair guy claiming that the "wet" stuff in the photo is compressor oil? Or is it just a little water the condensed onto the suction line when you were cooling the house?

I strongly suggest that you call in the HVAC tech who was recommended by the neighbor. Get a second opinion and a 2nd bid.
Again, you didn't say why the service call was necessary. Was the unit not heating/cooling as you have come to expect. Did the tech add any freon?
And I wonder about your wording. If a tech finds low levels of freon (R-22) then he FINDS a leak rather than NOTICES a leak. It's sound like when you take your car in for an oil change the tech "notices" that you need new belts, etc.
If there is defintiely a leak rather the condensation from the insulation not being properly placed the the $1000 is a "little" high, IMO but $500 would be in the ball park for a half day of work plus freon, etc.

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