First post -- thanks for letting residential owners post questions.
I have a five-year old Nordyne split central air system that runs R-410A as the refrigerant.
A few weeks ago, we turned the system on for the first time this year (April hot spell) and noted it wasn't cooling. People I talked to suspected a refrigerant issue and after having out the local "large regional service company" out -- the same company that put the system in five years ago for the house's previous owner -- the gentleman confirmed that the system was "low."
Now I know these are closed systems and they're not supposed to leak and he confirmed as much. Evidently my system takes 264 oz. on a factory charge which I guess is equal to 16.5 pounds total (1 lb = 16 oz just like grade school, right?). Out of that 16.5 pounds, mine was "down 5 pounds." That seemed like a lot. There were no obvious cooling issues last year that I can recall. The sytem seemed to run a lot but it was an obnoxiously hot summer so it's tough to say or remember. But it did cool the house -- even on a day it was 106 it was able to hold the house in the high 70s.
Anyhow, he put in 5 lbs. and tried to find a leak using an electronic detector. He suspected the evap unit inside but couldn't find anything (though he still suspects that's the issue). He half-heartedly seemed to try to detect a leak in the condensor coil outside. I say that because he took off only part of the access area and scanned just the area he suspected it would leak. He also tried the valves, a few joints, switches. He couldn't find anything.
So now my issues. To him, it's "fixed." At least "for now" (quotes are his words). I'm out $xxx (no pricing allowed here, I know) for 5 lbs. of refirgerant at a 3x markup (based on commercial rates I can easily find online) and an hour and a half of service time plus show-up costs. It wasn't cheap. I'm ok with paying for stuff if it's fixed, but this clearly isn't.
So now what? He didn't find a leak. He didn't seem interested in using dyes (I asked) and didn't really want to pursue it further. His basic comments were "it'll eventually get worse and easier to find" but "this will hold for a while" then he upsold the notion of a "service contract" (at $xxx per year) to at least help with constant labor charges? REALLY? That's the answer?
So what do I even do now? Call another place? Should I go back to this "big regional company" and start complaining (politely -- I'm not a yeller or whatever) and see if they can send someone else out?
I mean -- at the least -- shouldn't they try to find the leak? I was really concerned when he basically told me he did mostly commercial stuff but got stuck with some residential now and then, he kept quoting pressures and numbers that weren't even listen in the system ("you should be 100 pounds low and 250 high when on" -- the system states 250 and 550, respectively, so that's way off -- I don't know what I'm doing but I can read numbers). He only seemed to want to be here half heartedly. It just didn't feel good. I'm to the point where I'm wondering if he even got the amount it was 'low' correct (5 pounds seems like a LOT). Did he use a presure gauge or just guess? Another site said sometimes a dirty condenser (it doesn't "look" dirty, but what do I know -- the evap is clean though) can make it seem low on R410 so they'll overcharge it and cause different issues. Frankly, I don't even know if I'm ok with any of this. I have a family -- I don't want sick kids/wife from an indoor R410 leak.
I'm at a loss... what would you experts do or recommend? Thanks.