11 years ago my wife and I bought a new home in Canyon Lake, California. It was a Spec home and we got into it at a point where we could make some changes. The builder was constantly patting himself on the back on what a great home he builds and that we're getting a "custom home." As it turns out this guy used some of the least expensive sub-contractors in the area, and they in turn installed the low end of what is available. The tip off should have been the $1.99 towel rods, but my wife wanted the house.

The area is all electric with no natural gas. We have propane tanks for a pool. The electric provider is SCE and they have Tiered Rates. Tier 1 is at .13 kWh, which goes all the way up to Tier 5 at .32 kWh. Temperature in this area averages mid 90's in summer with highs of 107*F. Humidity is usually 20-30%. Winter time averages mid 40's with lows in the high 20's. Home is wood framing, stucco, concrete roof tiles, attic insulation I believe was R-30 and walls R-13. The insulation was like everything else in this home, the bare minimum. Onto the HVAC which has been a sore spot since the beginning.

The builder had installed a Goodman 5 ton heat pump with a matching air handler. In summer time the compressor would run all day to try and get the inside temp to 82* F. Low to mid 90's this was possible. Above 100, the best we could hope to achieve was maybe 86* F. On the heat pump side of things 68* F was usually the best we could hope for. There were also the times the system would go cool to cold to defrost/de-ice. We rarely used the heater due to that fact and the A/C was used on extreme days. The builders sub-contractor for the HVAC was called out multiple times with no improvement. Multiple parts were swapped out and I was told this was the best we could expect. I gave up.

Over the years we've had the system charged due to leak that has never been found. After the charge we're stuck with what was mentioned above. This summer temperatures the past 1 1/2 weeks have been above 100*. We called a HVAC contractor out that told us the system was empty and that we needed another system. OK, can we charge this to buy us some time? I was told it was a waste of money. He recommended sticking with a heat pump and to not use propane. He gave us an estimate for a 5 ton Rheem 13 SEER heat pump with matching air handler. Works been slow and I'd need a few months to try and save up for this, so I declined replacing it. At the recommendation of a friend I called another HVAC contractor to get a second opinion.

He came out this Sunday. The system wasn't empty, but was low. Static pressure read 50 PSI. I had the system charged. Capacity is 8.14 lbs and he put approximately 5 lbs. of R-22 in. We're back to where we have barely adequate air. He squeezed us in between jobs, and is coming back out to get to the bottom of this when things slow down. A few things he noticed we have 2 vents that have no air flow coming out, the high side was reading 300 PSI, splite splilt temperature was only 15*. I have some questions...

Stick with a heat pump? Or utilize propane. Are the newer heat pumps better on the defrost cycle? Heat strips were also mentioned, but I was told the electric cost skyrockets.

Brands, both guys said Rheem was good. Goodman was on the low end. Carrier was at the top. Recommendations?

Seer rating. The first guy said 13 SEER was fine. The second said that's the minimum and recommended at least a 15 SEER. Thoughts?