Self-servicing old house AC unit

My house AC unit is near 25 years old, that probably means it uses freon. Every few years I have a tech come out and replenish the coolant for about $135 - $170
What bugs me is that it seems that all techs want so spend all their time selling me a new furnace/AC unit and seem uninterested in just doing the job of refilling the old one which then works fine for a few more years.
I have never concerned myself with servicing AC's other than changing filters and oiling the fan. Is it possible for a homeowner to do this refilling himself and skip the hassle of dealing with technicians.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Not in the USA. Well, you can, if you take the proper tests. You need to be EPA certified to use, and buy refrigerants. Then it is not as simple as just adding some refrigerant, although with some of the techs I see around, you may be able to do just as well! Greg
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

freon.
about
time
the
to
some
Unless the tests have changed they are a joke. It used to be to do the car aircondition all you did is pick up a book and test at the auto parts house. Fill out the forms and send them off with a few dollars. Where I work I I don't deal with the freon part of the refrigeration systems but do with the electrical part. The company sent a bunch of us to a class for about half a day on the legal part of servicing. Took the test and now I can deal with all the refrigeration devices. I don't have the slightest idea of how to charge one or too much of an idea how it work except for the electrical part. I can go to any place that sells the refrigeration gases and toss out my card and gett all the gas I want. Still don't have any idea as how to charge the system.
It is posiable to charge the system yourself. You will need to get a set a guages and hoses and a bottle of gas. There are several kinds of gas but probably the r-22 for the older home units. You should take a course at the local comunity college to know how much and when to put some in.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Blue wrote:

Assuming you are in the US of A:
Unless you can qualify and get the proper license to do such work, you will be breaking the law and facing fines and jail time if you mess around with those older refrigerants.
And, if you do get licensed, you'll need to invest more in equipment than you'll ever save in service costs.
Be smart, don't try it.
Plus, if your system needs "refilling" every few years it has a leak somewhere which the techs should have found and fixed long ago.
Find some new techs.
Plus, your 25 year old system probably is a LOT less efficient than today's units, and with ever increasing energy costs, you might well look into investing a few thousand bucks in newer equipemnt.
--
Jeffry Wisnia

(W1BSV + Brass Rat '57 EE)
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Buy a new unit. They are so much more efficient now that I bet it pays for itself in electric bill savings in just one hot summer.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Huh??
You are automatically assuming that his annual AC opeating cost is how large? You know nothing about his location, personal cooling demands or cost of electricity.
Assume he lives in Toronto. A somewhat typical annual operating cost with an existing SEER 8 system is $267. With a new SEER 12 system, it drops to $178. So, I guess your advise would be sound if he can get a new 12 SEER system plus installation for $89. Buying that $89 new system, he will get total cost payback in one season, just as you stated. :)
Even in warmer climates, his payback period for a typical new install will be many years. The payback period is much longer, if he is ambitious enough to study the fundementals, get a license and purchase a set of gauges and a tank of R-22. Basic maintenance on an older system such as he owns is not rocket science.
Of course, the "buy a new one and save money" logic may be sound after all. My son drives a 17 year-old minivan which is in excellent condition. Still, it gets poor gas mileage compared to today's new vans. Do you believe that he would recover the $30,000 cost of a new van purchase in one year's worth of gasoline savings?
Gideon
=============== Kathy wrote in message ...

Buy a new unit. They are so much more efficient now that I bet it pays for itself in electric bill savings in just one hot summer.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
A couple other folks have written what I woulda wrote. I've been in the HVAC field for several years. I'm sure many home owners could figure out the licensing, etc.
But, there is the "learning curve". Everyone has to make the same old stupid mistakes. As I have made, and everyone else. I've killed a couple compressors. Had stupid moments where I changed the wrong part, under or over charged. Blew up some fittings, leaks in impossible to fix places. Charged systems with big whopping leaks, and didn't notice. Done most of those.
With servicing your own system as you describe, you have the chance to make all the beginner mistakes -- but then you get to pay someone to fix them.
It's a great question, but I suspect it's cheaper to find a good AC company and pay them to do what they do.
--

Christopher A. Young
Learn more about Jesus
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

This is Turtle.
By the time you can get set up to refill the freon yourself, the cost is going to be very much greater than the cost of getting the system filling filled by the company. Also if you don't fill the freon level to the correct level, you can be paying about $10.00 a month extra on operating cost which will make you pay way more than anything that you may save by filling it yourself.
For $135.00 to $170.00 every 2 or 3 years is really not a cost to try to control when other thing can be worked on to control all cost of living expences. How is your gasoline useage lately at maybe $2K a year ?
TURTLE
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Blue writes:

Yeah, but you have the hassle of needing about $1000 worth of tools and significant study and practice to do it right (and I mean just functionally right, not necessarily legally). The EPA certification is the easy part (http://epatest.com /). I do it because I have 6 systems of my own to maintain.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Blue wrote:

It works almost as well as when new, except it leaks today's units use a lot less energy to do the same cooling and don't leak. Actually your's would not leak if you had the leak fixed. You should have had that done a long time ago. Freon is not "used" it leaks.
As noted, it is not just a matter of buy the Freon and filling it.

--
Joseph Meehan

Dia duit
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Assuming away the legality problems, you could buy a small bottles of R-22 'Freon' and a refill hose and fill the unit yourself for about $6 a refill..
Here is a site with a cheap can of 'Freon'. Ask for the hose, too or you can pick one up at the autoparts store for a few bucks..
http://www.republicautosupply.com/subcategory.asp?subcatid=1&catid=1&detail &sp=0
Also another more expensive source. See: http://store.lenzdist.com/section.php?xSecB&xPage=2
R22 in 15oz. Cans Stock No: R22-15 Our Price: $12.99 Add to Basket
If you don't have the certification, don't worry. Certification is available online and it is easy to get. It only takes a few minutes of study time to get your certification.
How much freon? Do a google search on 'Beer Can Cold'. The professionals are no longer allowed to use it or someone will call them a hack. But for the homeowner who only needs to replace the freon that leaked out, it is an excellent method that has worked fine for about 80 years. The only draw back with it is that someone will call you a hack. <grin>
JimL
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Blue,
A lot depends upon your own capabilities. If you are ambitious enough to get some library books and study, then you can learn to do fairly routine maintenance on your own. It also helps to have a mentor who can guide you through the learning process. You'll need to take a test and get licensed to purchase refrigerants and work on AC systems.
The fundemental items that you would need to get started maintaining you system would include: 1) basic homeowner's tool set (you should have this already), including safety glasses and leather gloves. 2) Gauge set for R-22 ($50-$100). 3) Tank of R-22 ($71.20 for 30 pounds of R-22 in my area 2 weeks ago). 4) A decent multimeter, clamp-on style preferred ($25-$50 is adequate). 5) Pocket thermometer ($4 or so). 6) Fin straightening tool ($5 or so). 7) A few expendables such as coil cleaner.
This is most of what you'd need to do very fundemental maintenance and analysis of your system. I'm assuming that you've got a very minor system leak if you have been able to coast 3 or 4 years before you notice that you need the system "topped off." If you decide to locate and fix that leak or if the leak becomes more significant, then you'll need to move beyond the fundamental learning and tools that I mentioned above.
For example, you'll need a vacuum pump if you work on a system whose pressures have dropped low enough that it sucks in air through a leak while the compressor is running. The pump is cheap and easy to construct from a few brass fittings and a compressor pulled from an old fridge or dehumidifier. You'll also need an old, empty refrigerant tank for freon recovery.
And obviously you are going to still potentially need an HVAC pro in once in a while for issues which you can't handle. This is a lot like auto repairs - how much you can do yourself depending upon how smart you are, how much you study and how much you are willing to invest in tools. And equally obvious is the fact that you'll be miserable if you don't recognize your limitations.
Good luck, Gideon
=========== Blue wrote in message ... My house AC unit is near 25 years old, that probably means it uses freon. Every few years I have a tech come out and replenish the coolant for about $135 - $170
What bugs me is that it seems that all techs want so spend all their time selling me a new furnace/AC unit and seem uninterested in just doing the job of refilling the old one which then works fine for a few more years.
I have never concerned myself with servicing AC's other than changing filters and oiling the fan. Is it possible for a homeowner to do this refilling himself and skip the hassle of dealing with technicians.
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.