My daughter had a central air-conditioning installed about six years
ago. It has performed fine until now. Two problems have surfaced which
have caused concern. One involves how much electricity the system is
consuming - even when it is not in operation, and the other involves a
leak of water that has permeated the bathroom wall in her master
bathroom on the second floor of her two story home. These two problems
may or may not be related.
Electric consumption. My daughter's electric bill has for some unknown
time (possibly dating back to when the AC system was installed) been
about twice that of her neighbors who have similar homes. This
recently prompted her to do a breaker test which revealed that the
breaker dedicated to the AC, when turned off, significantly slowed the
rotation of the electric meter disk EVEN THOUGH THE AC SYSTEM WAS NOT
TURNED ON. This seems to indicate that even when the AC system is
turned off it is drawing significant electricity!
Water leak. It has been discovered that a device in the attic that I
will call a condensation device has a defect in the way it is attached
to some sort of piping or ductwork such that water has leaked down
inside her master bathroom wall and over time created a widespread
My daughter called a plumber thinking it was a plumbing problem. The
plumber said that the leak was related to her AC system so she called
the AC vendor/installer. His response was disappointing. He asked why
the plumber just didn't fix the leak. Finally he did send a serviceman
who found a problem with how the condensation device wa attached to
the pipe/ductwork. He applied silicon as a temporary measure but said
that a more permanent correction was needed. I'm not sure if he said
there was a defective installation insofar as the condensation device
is concerned. My daughter seems to be faced with having to rip out the
sheetrock to correct the mold situation. She has no idea what the
warranty is on the AC system and is not confident that the vendor/
installer will correct the problem without cost to her.
Can anyone here address either problem and help us figure out what is
Should she call in some sort of independent professional to evaluate
the situation? What type of professional should she seek?
Sorry if my description os the problem is a bit weak. I hope that
those of you who are HVAC professionals will be able to figure out
from this meager description just what the problem(s) may be.
OK.. it sounds like it was installed by the lowest bidder, and you have had
problems with it since day one, its never been checked or serviced since,
and now that the warranty is expired, you want it fixed for free. Beyond
that, I can't *SEE* it through the computer screen, you need to call
somebody that actually knows what they are doing. Its pretty obvious that
the installing company either doesn't know what they are doing, or wants to
wash their hands of it, or both.
You never mentioned the make or model numbers of the equipment or whare your
located.... I can only assume that the equipment is some low end POS
10SEER(maybe) builders model from Goodman, Janitrol, Coleman, Nordyne, or
BTW... why did the tech(?) only do a temporary fix with RTV on the leak and
not do it right??....oh yeah, I forgot... lowest bidder. never mind.
You don't really supply enough information. There are legitimate
reasons it could be using some electricity when "off" as well as
problems that could cause it. The water leak just needs to be fixed
where ever it is. AC's have condensation at the inside coil and it
has to be drained. We'd really just be guessing. Someone needs to
look at it. If you're concerned that you're not getting a good
service technician then be there and hang around with him while he
works on it. If he's decent he shouldn't have any problem telling you
what he found and what he thinks should be done to fix it. You'll
have to pay him for his time.
first & foremost, you want documentation. Lots of it. Digital
pictures really help. Lots of them. Documentation on the electrical
issues, as well as the mold issues. Armed with such overwhelming
documentation, you might be able to persuade the installing contractor
to face up to his liabilities.
You might also employ another ac company to act strictly as
investigators. Tell them upfront you want a complete, non-biased
report on the installation, and make it clear they will not be part of
any remedial action. Investigation & report only, and they may be
called in as expert witnesses if the case goes to litigation.
Last, it will be really benefitial if you can produce documentation
that the system has been maintained. Personally I would not allow any
repairs to be made by anyone other than the installing company, up to
the point of litigation. Typically we void any warranties if systems
are serviced by other ac companies, as we have no control over the
quality of their work
Some condensing units have compressor crankcase heaters in them that
come on when the unit is off and the outside ambient temperature drops
low enough. If your daughter's unit is equipped with one of those, you
might have checked when the temperature was low and it was heating as it
should or if the outside ambient temperature wasn't low then something
could have failed and the crankcase heater is on all the time and
In any case, you will want to have the unit checked by a competent
service technician to figure out if it is drawing current when it
shouldn't be and to deal with that condensate leak.
Your AC system needs annual maintenance, like your car needs oil
changes, tune up, etc.
If the energy use was high from the beginning, why didn't she
call the guy back? Mighta been any of a bunch of causes.
By the AC breaker, I'd guess you mean the double breaker for the
outdoor unit? Yeah, they typically have a crankcase heater for
the compressors. It's OK to leave those off during the winter.
Just be sure to turn the breaker on a day or two before you
actually use AC.
As to the water leak, why didn't the plumber just fix it? Usually
white PVC. And the heating guy shoulda just fixed it, too. Sorry
about the mold and stuff.
Christopher A. Young
You can\'t shout down a troll.
Okay, you want a guess ? My guess is the electric heat strips in the
air handler are energized even when the unit is off. You give no model
numbers, or anything else even remotely close to an accurate
description of the equipment. Nobody here can diagnose anything
without a lot more information. We can't see it from here ! Call
someone locally to diagnose and correct the problem.
My sincere thanks to those here who have tried to despite the fact
that I provided very little information for them to work with.
I am in the process of collecting more precise details and will post
that information when I finish gathering it
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