Heating and Air Conditioning advice needed. - Steve Saunders Goldwing Forums

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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-09-2009, 07:06 AM Thread Starter
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Hello everyone, I need some help please.



I have a heat pump heating and air conditioning system.

My system, approx 10 years old, has failed. I had to replace my compressor about a year and a half ago, (under waranty on parts) and it needs to be replaced again, (still under warranty on parts). But I also have to replace the evaporator "A" coil due to a leak, (not under warranty.)

Estimate is $1100.

My repair guy says this compressor should have lasted longer than a year and a half, but not a lot longer. Once they fail, the system gets contaminated and you can never get it all out. He thinks that 2-3 years is common for a replacement compressor to last. Probably the leak in the A coil added additional strain and caused mine to fail early.

If I fix it, I have a 10+ year old system that will likely fail in the next couple years. (next time it leaks?)

So, he says it's a good repair, and he has no qualms about doing it. But he suggests that I replace the system.

New system estimate is $3800.

Old system is 12 Seer. The new would be 13 Seer.

Old system is a Janitrol, the new system would be a Janitrol.

Some interesting math I was thinking about, $1100 if it lasts 2 years is $550 per year. A newsystem at $4000that lasts about 10years is $400 per year. Broken down per year, a repair is only a little more than a new system.

I'm not particularly impressed with Janitrol. It did the job, but it only lasted 10 years. (The original system in the house was a G.E. and the condensor/compressor unit it lasted10 years, but the evaporator/air handler unit lasted 20 years. My current system makes some noises as the freon flows, not bad but noticable. Other than that the system did a good job.

So I could live with another Janitrol, which is the brand my AC guy handles. But I have a neighbor that has Carrier and loves it. So maybe I should go after the "better" brand? Probably more expensive, but would it be worth it? My neighbor recommends I go with his guy and get a Carrier.

I mentioned this to afriend, and he said right away, 1)replace/not repair, because if I repair, it's just throwing money away. 2) he said go with at least a 15 seer unit so that I can get the $1500energy taxcredit.

So if I go up to a 15 seer unit, I don't have a quote yet, but I am speculating about $5500-$5800 based on what my neighbor paid for his Carrier(s). (he hastwo -2 1/2 ton systems in a two story house, I have one 3 ton system in a one story house. His were $5500 each.) Deduct $1500 for the tax credit and that would put me at about $4000 - $4300. For an extra $2 - $500, it would be worth moving up in the energy efficiency.

But, I'm really going totearup what I have in savings. My house really needs several repairs and upgrades that I have been putting off as it is.

Oh, if I go to the higher seer rating, and use the tax credit, then I can't use the tax credit on replacement windows, which this house really, really really, needs. So in most cases going to the higher rating would be a no-brainer. But if I do that, my windows, when I do them, if I do them next year will cost me $1500 more. (a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush comes to mind.)

Any opinions?

Repair or replace?

Stick with Janitrol or go to the more expensive (but hopefully better Carrier)?

Go with the higher seer to get the tax credit, or go with the less expensive unit and save the tax credit for windows I can't afford, but I really need?

Can anyone tell me how much difference there is between 13 seer and 15 seer?

Thanks in advance.










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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-09-2009, 07:13 AM
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Get the best system you can afford. They are getting more and more energy saving and more efficient. So if you can get a tax break, less cost every month to run it and a better lasting system, you'll be money ahead in the long run. I feel for you.
I have repairs needed too and know that as soon as I start making some money again, its' gone before I see it.

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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-09-2009, 07:29 AM
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My repair guy says this compressor should have lasted longer than a year and a half, but not a lot longer



I would get a new guy and a diffrent brand, my 2.5 ton unit has run 15 years with no issues


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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-09-2009, 08:58 AM
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My home has 2 Ruud 2.5 ton units on it. One of them was installed in 1982 and is still running. The 2nd one is a different shape and style, low profile for some reason and appears newer. But it is still over 20 years old at a minimum per my a/c guy.

10 years is normal? You need a different a/c repairman and brand of unit.

I love the new Trane super high efficiency units. BUT? how long are you personally going to live in that house? It would take an awful long time for this system to break even and start making you money.

My a/c guy told me to forget about the new super high efficiency units, even if the ones I have now go kaput. Why? He says there is NO WAY for me to get my money back even with the lower energy costs for the better units. Either I won't live long enough, or, I will sell the house.

He is right, the house is going on the selling block this year, I can't afford it anymore. I signed my retirement papers yesterday.

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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-09-2009, 09:09 AM
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We bought our home 6 years ago this past October....The A/C unit had been here for a number of years and was working great....With the additions made to this house, All professional done, the unit I had was a bit under rated for this house...So I would cut off or down on the number of rooms not in use....We were on a job site where the home owner was adding about 1200 sq ft to their existing home...Our A/C guys brought out two new 4 ton units to replace the one 5 ton unit that was there.....I asked the A/C guys how old that unit was???? He said less than two years old.and then I asked what they were going to do with it????? I was told that they were going to trash it out for usable parts...So I asked if they would give it to me????

I brought that unit home, set it in my garage, spun the blades on it every couple of weeks or so....It wasn't 8 months later it happened.!!!!!! My unit went totally out...Called the A/C guys that took that unit out at this other home.... He went into the attic, found out that every thing up there was newer than the existing A/C unit.....Every thing in the attic was for a 5 ton setup ????? They took that newer unit installed it and for 4 years it has given me great service....It also cut down on my electric bill some, My cost????? 5 ton unit ....Free.....Labor to install it.....$100.00....

BTW it is a Trane....Carriers are good units and like you to replace my existing A/C with a newer unit just for the tax credits, I had rather use them, if I decided to, change out all my windows...

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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-09-2009, 10:34 AM
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Wolfman, I am a 20 year HVAC Technician. Witht hat said, I will answer a few of your questions....

Quote:
Once they fail, the system gets contaminated and you can never get it all out. He thinks that 2-3 years is common for a replacement compressor to last. Probably the leak in the A coil added additional strain and caused mine to fail early.
False... if you have a knowledgeable tech, he would know that they make a solution that cleans out the system, after a compressor blow out. I have used this "cleaner" many many times, in 20 years and have never had a compressor die after only 1 year of service. If cleaned properly, and a filter drier is put on the liquid and vapor lines, that compressor will last you as long as the original. My bet is, when the compressor was changed out, that is all that was done...a quickie change out.

Quote:
Old system is 12 Seer. The new would be 13 Seer.
That is because the government has mandated that 13 seer is now the lowest rating a manufacture can make. 12 seer is no longer available.

Quote:
So if I go up to a 15 seer unit, I don't have a quote yet, but I am speculating about $5500-$5800 based on what my neighbor paid for his Carrier(s). (he hastwo -2 1/2 ton systems in a two story house, I have one 3 ton system in a one story house. His were $5500 each.) Deduct $1500 for the tax credit and that would put me at about $4000 - $4300. For an extra $2 - $500, it would be worth moving up in the energy efficiency.
Carrier, Bryant, Lennox, Ruud, Goodman (Janitrol).... or any other brand, is just as good as the other. I have installed every brand known to man. They are all equal in the parts department. The difference is warranty, case design and how they were installed, to begin with.

Keep in mind.... MOST compressor failures are not due to the equipment, but due to lack of maintenance or power issues. The number one reason for compressor failures, that Ihave seen, is lack of maintenance by the home owner, or servicing company. Dirty evaporator coils and/or dirty condenser coils makes the top of my list. Next on the list would be power issues in the home...IE: frequent power surges or low power issues. Thermostats have also been an issue a few times. Some people have the old mercury round thermostats (T87) which have no time delay built in to them. Match that with an older system, with no time delay, and you have a disaster waiting to happen when the power surges.


Quote:
Oh, if I go to the higher seer rating, and use the tax credit, then I can't use the tax credit on replacement windows, which this house really, really really, needs. So in most cases going to the higher rating would be a no-brainer. But if I do that, my windows, when I do them, if I do them next year will cost me $1500 more. (a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush comes to mind.)
Not so in Iowa...but Im not sure about Virgina. In Iowa, these 2 credits are completely separate of one another. We install HVAC equipment in new homes, which also have high eff. windows, insulation, water heaters and so on, and they still receive credit for each of these. Remember, there is a federal tax credit, and then there is also your local utility CASH REBATE, for installing high eff. HVAC, appliances, windows and so on.

Not only do you receive a tax credit, but you should also receive a cash rebate from your utility company. Keep in mind... most utility companies require you purchase AT LEAST a 14 SEER unit to qualify for the cash rebate. For the tax credit, it is calculated on the total installed cost...a percentage of it. Read more about the tax credit HERE.


So now my opinion....

Repair or replace? If I had a reputable company that cleaned the system and installed filter driers, I would have no issues replacing. Your unit is 10 years old... life "expectancy" is about 15 years. Its not really a life expectancy, but more of an amount of time that the manufacture considers that the unit will remain at the efficiency it was rated at, when new.

Your 10 year old unit has probably dropped to a 11 or even 10 year seer, just from age.

If you plan to use the same company to replace the second compressor, I would opt for replacement. The one thing I would make damned sure of is that if they install a high efficiency A/C and furnace...I would assume it is both due to the price of the estimate, that they match the system. If not, rebates and tax credits will be denied and you will be left with a dead horse in a few years.

One other thing... the tax credit has a $1500 cap, over 2 years, I believe it is. You can claim 30% of the installed cost for the credit. So, that would be $1140 on a $3800 system.

REMEMBER this though... this is a tax credit!!! not a rebate. This is nothing more than a $1500 "right off" on your taxes...if you are self employed, this is a huge help. If you are an employee, with taxes being withheld for you... $1500 tax credit is not that big of a deal.

I hope I helped a little.... if you have more questions, Im happy to help.


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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-09-2009, 10:59 AM
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Dean,

Thank you very much for taking the time to explain that so well. I just bookmarked your post for my own edification when I need it again.

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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-09-2009, 07:05 PM Thread Starter
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Hi all,
I appreciate the input.

Dean,
Really awsome info. I really appreciate you taking the time to really explain.

devans41793 wrote:
Quote:
False... if you have a knowledgeable tech, he would know that they make a solution that cleans out the system, after a compressor blow out. I have used this "cleaner" many many times, in 20 years and have never had a compressor die after only 1 year of service. If cleaned properly, and a filter drier is put on the liquid and vapor lines, that compressor will last you as long as the original. My bet is, when the compressor was changed out, that is all that was done...a quickie change out.
What do I need to specify to make sure he does? do I just tell him to make sure he cleans out the system?

Also, 2 filter dryers? My system only has one. So If I specify I want two, it's not going to be a problem for him?

Also, I don't think the dryer was replaced when they replaced the last compressor. I can't swear to it, but I think the one on there now is as old as the system. There is rust on it. it's older than a year and a half.

devans41793 wrote:
Quote:
Carrier, Bryant, Lennox, Ruud, Goodman (Janitrol).... or any other brand, is just as good as the other. I have installed every brand known to man. They are all equal in the parts department. The difference is warranty, case design and how they were installed, to begin with.
Called my neighbor's guy today. He is going to come give me an estimate tomorrow morning. He sells the Carrier.

He is definitely a Carrier man through and through. He told me that Janitrol/Goodman was about a 10 year system, and the Carrier was much better built and I could expect 20 years out of it. So I guess I need to take that with a "grain of salt." Thanks for the heads up there.

devans41793 wrote:
Quote:
Keep in mind.... MOST compressor failures are not due to the equipment, but due to lack of maintenance or power issues. The number one reason for compressor failures, that Ihave seen, is lack of maintenance by the home owner, or servicing company. Dirty evaporator coils and/or dirty condenser coils makes the top of my list. Next on the list would be power issues in the home...IE: frequent power surges or low power issues. Thermostats have also been an issue a few times. Some people have the old mercury round thermostats (T87) which have no time delay built in to them. Match that with an older system, with no time delay, and you have a disaster waiting to happen when the power surges.
No hard evidence here, but I lost my dishwasher the same day as my compressor went the first time. It had to be a power surge... I am convinced of that.

This time, I am pretty sure it's the leak. It has leaked down a couple times and been recharged but until recentlythe leak was really slow and we never did a search for it. 2 months ago he came out and this time did a search for the leak and found three leaks. Both of the lock out valves were leaking, so he put some gummy stuff under the caps. And the evaporator coil was leaking. We talked about replacing it then, but with budget constraints, we tried a can of stop leak. The tech said he had had really good experience with it. He had one customer that was leaking down very quickly and they used it and it's been several months that it hasn't leaked down. So I decided to try it.

The first time the compressor went, all the freon went out. This time there is still freon in it, but can't tell how much.

I think that low freon pressure is a contributing factor in this failure.

devans41793 wrote:
Quote:
If you plan to use the same company to replace the second compressor, I would opt for replacement. The one thing I would make damned sure of is that if they install a high efficiency A/C and furnace...I would assume it is both due to the price of the estimate, that they match the system. If not, rebates and tax credits will be denied and you will be left with a dead horse in a few years.
Yes, it would be a matched system, replacing both halves of the system.

I'm wondering about the lines that run from outdoor unitto the indoor unit. Do I need to replace them? They arestill the original ones, 30 years old.










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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-09-2009, 08:46 PM
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Wolfman, Dean gave you some valuable information. I worked in the A/C and Refrigeration field for 35 years and I can assure you that if your A/C man said a system cannot be cleaned up after a compressor loss them you are dealing with the wrong person.

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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-09-2009, 09:14 PM Thread Starter
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LUV2WING wrote:
Quote:
Wolfman, Dean gave you some valuable information. I worked in the A/C and Refrigeration field for 35 years and I can assure you that if your A/C man said a system cannot be cleaned up after a compressor loss them you are dealing with the wrong person.
That's good to know.



In all fairness, I may not have quoted him exactly. Between talking toa couple friends I may be mixing some conversations. What I remember that he did say for sure was that he would have expected that this compressor should have lasted longer, but not a lot longer. They usually didn't last like an original one would. But he didn't say how long. It was one of my friends that was explaining why that was, that told me about getting trash in the system.



That being said, when they put the replacement compressor in a year and a half ago, I don't think they cleaned up the system, although I don't know what that would look like. They could have done it and I didn't see it. I alsodon't knowif they put in a new filter dryer.



But I do know I had a leak, and didn't fix it either. So rather than figuring out blame, I just need to make sure that what ever I do this time, I make sure it's done right. So I will have to ask for specific things to make sure that they are done.



I really feel like the advice I'm getting is going to really help.









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