A friend of mine lives in NC and his GF just had an AC experience.
Started about a month ago, when the central AC was not cooling sufficiently.
Setup is a condo with a gas furnace in a crawl space, plus 2 ton AC.
AC part is 5 years old. She called an HVAC company, they came out,
diagnosed it was low on charge, never even went to look at furnace
half, probably because it was in the crawl space and they were lazy.
So, they recharged it. In about a month, it was down, not working
So, this time that company plus at least one other, told her it's
leaking, don't know where, not worth trying to find the leak, you
need a new system. So, for $3500 she's getting a new 16 SEER.
My thoughts on this are mixed. On the one hand, you'd think that
they would at least go sniffing for the leak. If it's just the
evaporator, a leaking braze joint, shrader valve, it could be fixed
for what? Less than $1000 I would think. The HVAC guys have big incentive
to sell a whole new system, but I can see other issues too. With
a new system, they know it's solved. If they replace an evaporator,
maybe it still has other problems too, and then what? Who eats
the cost of the failed attempt, etc.....
If it was me, I would have insisted on looking for the leak, which
as significant as it was, I would think would be easy to find. Bad
thing here is that new systems don't seem to last long. As I reported
here a month ago, the fancy ECM condenser fan on my 3 year old system
just failed. Fortunately I was able to replace it with a conventional
motor for $85.
By closing the service valves, you can isolate
the halves of the system. Run it up to some
pressure, close the valves. Wait over night
(system turned off). Connect gages and open
the valves. See if the leak is condenser or
evaporator. Might be a fairly simple repair.
What is it with the AC system that a simple leak can not be found ? Often
traces of oil will be on the lines. Can't some dye be put in that glows
under UV ? There are several kinds of leak detectors. The ultra sonic, and
the chemical sniffer type. That is not including the very old propane
cylinder type for the R-22.
At 5 years old I would think there would be some kind of warrenty.
Guess it is like most anything else, just a general incompenent service
people. I am not knocking all of them as I worked in a plant as an
electrician and instrument man myself. Some of us were good and some were
just along for the ride.
About 10 years ago I bought a house that had about a 15 or 20 year old heat
pump. After 2 years it started freezing up outside in the winter. Called
the man and he replaced the fan and capacitor. Two days later it froze up
again. I don't know why he would replace the fan as it was running when I
checked it. I was at work when he did the work and my wife was at home.
Seemed to me like it was not going into the defrost cycle. Called him back
out and he mentioned something about a board needed to be replaced but the
sysem was obsolete. Ran him off and had the whole unit replaced except the
duct work. Probably will save money in the long run due to a beter heating
and cooling factor.
On Thursday, July 23, 2015 at 1:22:55 PM UTC-4, Ralph Mowery wrote:
I think they typically use the electronic sniffing type that
detects the refrigerant itself. But how well they work, how
easy or hard it is to find the leak, how long it takes, IDK.
If the leak is in an inaccessible part of the evaporator,
will it find it? Lines are not always all accessible either.
If it were me, I would have gone through the options, like
how much will it cost to look for the leak, and assuming
it's found, what are the range of repair costs, etc. But
then we don't have the experience of the HVAC guys either
to know how it typically turns out, the complications, how
long the repairs last, etc.
Certainly the first HVAC guy that never went to look at the
furnace half of the system meet the definition of incompetent.
I think they wound up going with the Trane 16 Seer system.
I recommended they find a Rheem/Ruud dealer and get a quote from
them too, but they were in a hurry.
Yes, there are lots of ways to detect leaks and I would certainly entertain
one of them before I forked out $5K for a new unit to replace one that's
only 5 years old.
Precisely. In reading about service companies that rip people off, it seems
a common practice is to replace a unit like that, take it back, clean it up,
and sell it as new. Here's another excerpt from
<<Still others show the homeowner the contact point on the motor. It is a
spot with a burn mark that stems from the initial start-up. It is normal,
but the scammer will tell the homeowner that the house is in danger of
Then there are the creative flim-flam artists.
''They tell people that they can't fix leaks because of environmental
regulations, that they have to get a new unit,'' Safford said.
The fraudulent companies also specialize in replacing units with old ones
taken off other houses.
''They'll paint it, and people think they're getting a new unit,'' Herrick
In Mount Dora, a longtime customer of Jimmy's Electric fell victim to a scam
last month, said Jane Stoothoff with the Mount Dora company.
The customer, an elderly woman, was persuaded to buy an air conditioner for
nearly $3,000 - even though the unit she had was only five years old. It had
just been checked and found to be in good working order, Stoothoff said. The
parts were still under warranty.
Stoothoff said the elderly customer ''thought it was us.''
''They scare these old people to death,'' Stoothoff said of the phony
Ed Touey, a spokesman for the state Department of Business and Professional
Regulation, said customers should check to see whether the contractor has a
license before hiring him.
''Older people, they come from a generation that was trusting, and it's just
not like that anymore,'' he said>>
Why am I not surprised that you come from a long line of "siccers" who can't
be conned easily (or for long). Good for her. As yes, I have no desire to
go back to the past. It was a whole lot worse in almost every dimension.
Remember the hippie era when so many people took off to live in communes?
I'll bet very few exist because people just don't seem to take to
anarchistic socialism naturally.
In alt.home.repair, on Wed, 22 Jul 2015 07:22:17 -0700 (PDT), trader_4
One would think.
Unless they make a mistake on installation.
Well, only if you have AC skills.
Just talked to a friend who lives in Atlanta now. He used to live in a
co-op on East 57th St. in NYC, until earlier this year. Said the room
AC in the living room had been there since 1965 and was still working.
My thoughts are not mixed. She got screwed. Put some dye in it that
shows up under a blacklight and come back in a couple of weeks. Can't
find it? Put some sealer in it. Only of those things don't work do you
think about replacing the system.
Especially one that's only five years old. I am sure they took into account
that she was unlikely to investigate further or that it was unlikely she
knew, as you and many other do, that leaks can be detected IF you use the
proper equipment. Saddens me to see vendors try to rip people off like
Reminds me of when I went to a different mechanic than I normally went to
and they insisted that to change the fog light bulb on my Honda they had to
remove the bumper. I told them NOT to change the bulb, had my wife drive me
immediately to the shop and yanked my car then and there.
Remove the bumper to change a bulb? I really laced into the shop manager
because such a claim doesn't even pass the smell/common sense test.
Finally, he said "we looked it up and you're right - it takes removing two
Phillips screws from the lamp housing to change the bulb." But by that
time, considering how obstinate the original technician was about needing to
pull the bumper, they could not reclaim any semblance of trust.
Reminds me of the time on the NJ Turnpike where during a gas-up and oil
check I came back to the car very unexpectedly and caught the SOB standing
with a oil can in his hands while he checked under the hood. Seems he was
dribbling oil on the engine to make it seem it was leaking.
Apparently another favorite trick was to take some iron filings and put them
in a place where it looks like bare metal is being scraped away. Or to take
the same oilcan and spray some oil on the shocks to imply they're leaking.
On Thursday, July 23, 2015 at 2:03:53 AM UTC-4, Robert Green wrote:
Suppose you're the HVAC guy, you put all the time into tracking
down the leak, capturing the refrigerant, brazing in a new
evaporator while flowing nitrogen, evacuating for an hour+,
recharging..... and then it turns out there was another problem,
eg the compressor is bad too, and it still doesn't work?
Who eats the $1000? I suspect the HVAC guys have been down
that road before.
On Thu, 23 Jul 2015 12:26:52 -0400, Stormin Mormon
Except for their massive loss of reputation when the word gets out.
My AC was 40 years old and still working just fine when a 5? year old
system was replaced in the house 2 doors down and the unit literallyu
dropped in my lap. Figured it was as good a time as any to change it.
(same age as my "new" furnace (which I had replaced at the same time
the neighbour had A/C installed).
Ends up they had the furnace replaced and the HVAC guys sold him an
"entire system". His loss, my gain.
On 7/23/2015 5:09 PM, email@example.com wrote:
Didn't that hurt, to have a system literally dropped
in your lap? I mean, the outdoor unit has to be 200
pounds or so. Did they drop the evaporator and line
set at the same time, literally on your lap?
Were you at least sitting in a soft chair?
Sorry, no sale. Ed was 100% correct. You have to at least do a leak test.
You wouldn't just toss your car if it developed a transmission leak, would
you? A thousand dollar repair is better than a five thousand dollar cost of
a new unit.
Besides, there are at least some techs out there who deliberately sabatoge
equipement or use scare tactics:
<<"The basic fact: He was telling the techs to sabotage the unit," Rathbun
said. "They're told to do something to the unit to make sure we make money."
WFTV put Bayside Cooling to a test and had a volunteer call for its $39 AC
tune-up, which is yearly maintenance check. We used four hidden cameras in
and around the volunteer's house so we could see everything the technician
First, he spent a few minutes checking the compressor and took the cover off
the air handler. In less than 10 minutes, he called the homeowners outside
for the bad news.
The tech said a rusted part could kill the unit within a year and that it
was low on refrigerant. He also said air handler was choked with mold and
dirt and that repairs were nearly $400.>>
<<Air conditioner repair scams are heating up along with the summer
temperatures, and they are costing Lake County residents millions of
''Next to car repair ripoffs, it's probably the biggest scam in Florida,''
said Chris Herrick, an assistant state attorney experienced in consumer
The typical victim is an elderly homeowner, and the typical crook calls with
an offer to service the air conditioner.
Trouble blossoms from there. Among more than a dozen recent complaints:
An elderly Mount Dora customer was tricked into buying a new $3,000 air
conditioner when her 5-year-old one was in perfect order and still under
A Tavares man bought a $500 air-conditioning service contract from a company
that deliberately sabotaged his unit, then told him he needed a new one.
A Clermont resident hired a company to renovate his air-conditioning system
for more than $2,000. The job was shoddy, and the company wouldn't return to
fix the problems.
The scams not only hurt unsuspecting homeowners but also damage the
reputations of legitimate businesses, contractors said.>>
I can find 100's of other examples if these don't convince you.
On Thursday, July 23, 2015 at 1:05:47 PM UTC-4, Robert Green wrote:
No one *has* to do anything.
No, but the typical transmission leak is just a gasket or hose and
doesn't require the more complex and costly procedure involved with
an AC either. And it's not the right analogy either, it would be
tossing the transmission, not the car.
A thousand dollar repair is better than a five thousand dollar cost of
Try to stick to the facts. The cost was $3500, for a new and higher
efficiency unit. So, using your example, it would be a $1000 repair
versus ~$3000 for a new unit. And IDK what I'd do if faced with that.
A common source of failure with an AC is incorrect installation to
begin with. In this case, they had no history, knowledge of what was
done in the past, etc.
Sure they do, but that's irrelevant. As reported, the unit developed
a problem and stopped cooling on it's own. The tech recharged it and
it worked again for a month. No evidence of sabotage.
Rest of sabotage rant deleted.
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