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  1. #1

    Did I get screwed? Anything I can do?

    Hi, I live on the sun, aka Houston, TX. A few months ago my 15yr-old A/C unit started smoking in the attic. It was real rusty and other issues so I just decided to replace the whole thing rather than have it fixed and run the risk of my house burning down.

    At the time, I didn't know much about HVAC units and the contractor I was using was referred from a friend so I just decided to trust his judgement (bad idea). His quote was a lot cheaper than the ARS quote that I got and I was (still am) broke so I crossed my fingers and hoped everything went smoothly.

    Since then, I've learned a little bit... I'm not sure if he did a Manual J calculation on my home or not, but he decided to install a 3-ton unit. He says now that is the same size he replaced but I'm not sure. The compressor sits on the concrete slab the old one was on and it is physically way smaller. Here is what I know:

    - It is a 1-story 1600 sq ft home with mostly tile and concrete floors, vaulted ceilings, and horrible insulation in the hottest place on earth
    - The new unit uses the new freon type, old one had the old type.
    - He replaced everything except for the line-set and I'm not sure if or how he cleaned it out.
    - I've lived here 4 years and never once had to add freon to the old unit
    - The freon line froze up after about 2 weeks, his worker came out, defrosted & refilled it, said he couldn't find any leaks, and then said the leak is in the line set and I need a new one (it never leaked before... ).
    - It hasn't frozen up since, but has a slow leak. I've had it topped off twice now and even immediately after filling it up, it runs and runs all day and will only cool about 17 degrees or so from the outside temp.
    - 3 different professionals have told me the unit is just too small
    - The contractor has been ducking me for 2 months now. He has answered one call and a couple texts saying he will come out and look at it but never makes it out.

    I'm honestly thinking about taking him to small claims court if he doesn't do something soon. This is Houston and I have 2 small kids. I need the right size unit.

    Any comments or advice on the technical side of things or on my chances of recovering some of the expenses would be greatly appreciated.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    We have some guys from Texas here, they should be along in a while.

    Please don't ask any questions about litigation, its not allowed here, and those type of threads end up getting closed.
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    How many times must one fix something before it is fixed?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    SW Wisconsin
    There could be a lot of problems, ALL, other than tonnage sizing, causing a 3-Ton system not to cool your 1600-sf home.

    The sizing is 533-sf per/ton of cooling, - even in Houston TX that 3-Tons ought to be enabled to do the job.

    Everything will have to be done to your home & to the entire system to make it work on those hottest days; otherwise tonnage may have to be up-sized.

    Also, using large floor fans or ceiling fans for adequate air movement within the occupied conditioned space will allow temps slightly above 80-F to be tolerably comfortable on those few exceptionally hot day hours.

    Get that refrigerant leak fixed!

    A simple short list of the basic areas of concern:

    1. A messed up refrigerant system
    2. An improperly designed & leaking duct system
    3. An inadequately tight home with a lack of insulation

    A super Tech will know how to check for the problems that tend to exist in the three areas listed above; & will know how to fix everyone of those problems.

    Your biggest task is finding a Tech that meets those standards of competency...

    A manual J heat-gain calc will reveal where your home needs work, along with a manual D for duct & airflow problems; a blower door test can also reveal duct air leaks & air infiltration problems
    Last edited by udarrell; 09-13-2012 at 07:27 PM. Reason: M-J; M-D needed...

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Gulf Coast
    I was just wondering you say you keep calling the guy. Was this a company or just a guy who says he can do HVAC? Here in Houston we have a lot of guys that do side work. Yes they are cheaper the a company but you get what you pay for.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Round Rock
    3 tons isn't too small unless you live in a house made of glass, you have absolutely no insulation or you like to keep the house at 60. Something else is going on. Did you hire a licensed contractor or a side jobber? If you hired a side jobber, you're screwed. Not much you can do to him knowingly hiring an unlicensed person. If it is a legitimate contractor, you can call the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation. All legitimate contractors in the state of Texas are licensed by them. They would be your best recourse. Otherwise, pony up some $$$ to get somebody to fix it.
    I like DIY'ers. They pay better to fix.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Houston Texas
    Jared give me a call and we can discuss your problems and possible solutions which may very well include contacting the TDLR. It could also just require fixing short comings in your home and the new system. I maybe able to help you are recommend someone that can.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Quote Originally Posted by classical View Post
    Jared give me a call and we can discuss your problems and possible solutions which may very well include contacting the TDLR. It could also just require fixing short comings in your home and the new system. I maybe able to help you are recommend someone that can.
    Wow! I sure am glad to see you responded Al, when he said his unit was to small, I immediately thought it might have been you that installed it.
    __________________________________________________ _______________________
    “Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards". - Vernon Law

    "Never let success go to your head, and never let failure go to your heart". - Unknown

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Houston Texas
    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Bill View Post
    Wow! I sure am glad to see you responded Al, when he said his unit was to small, I immediately thought it might have been you that installed it.
    I have a 4300 sq.ft. home new and old construction and I will be putting in a three ton system.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Rochester NY
    Quote Originally Posted by classical View Post
    It could also just require fixing short comings in your home and the new system. I maybe able to help you are recommend someone that can.
    Airflow? Attic duct leakage? Love to see key to this puzzle...
    Which makes more sense to you?
    CONSERVATION - turning your thermostat back and being uncomfortable. Maybe saving 5-10%
    ENERGY EFFICIENCY - leaving your thermostat where everyone is comfortable. Saving 30-70%

    What is comfort? Well, it AIN'T just TEMPERATURE!

    Energy Obese? An audit is the next step - go to, or RESNET, and find an auditor near you.

  10. #10
    Thanks to everyone for the quick replies. Just to answer some of your questions & comments:

    - Sorry, no more litigation questions. I guess I didn't read the rules closely enough.
    - Yes, I have all 5 ceiling fans in the house on high so that does make it bearable on really hot days but with a brand new a/c system you wouldn't think I would have to resort to that.
    - The old unit cooled just fine and had an electrical issue that probably could have been fixed. I really only replaced it because it was a fire hazard. So, that would seem to rule out everything that this guy didn't replace (ducts, insulation, etc.)
    - As far as I knew, he was licensed and registered. It's actually the tenant of a good friend of mine (i.e. I know where he lives). He has a company and a bunch of techs under him that do the work, so I was under the impression that he was legit. Of course, after reading these posts I searched his name on the TDLR website and didn't find him licensed for anything.

    A couple more things... I heard that since he the old unit used R-22 and the new unit uses R-410a, he should have either chemically flushed or replaced the line set. What if he didn't flush it well enough and these 2 mixed? What type of problems would that cause?

    Classical, thanks for the offer to help out. The contractor did tell me the one or two times I was able to get a hold of him that he will come out and look at the system so I'm going to give him a little more time. I may even drop by his house. I'm too damn broke to pay anyone else to fix his mistake right now but if it comes to that I will definitely give you a call.

    Thanks again everyone.


  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    The leak is probably a worker error or in one of the coils, seriously doubt its in the line set. Are you sure he replaced the old evap coil? Leaks just don't appear in linesets without a nail or screw in them. You could also try customer support for the manufacture of the equipment maybe they can send out a rep to overlook the install, Good luck. Your best bet, however, is calling a reputable company to troubleshoot your system properly I'm sure the ultimate fix will not hinder you too much.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    So Cal
    If the same size unit cooled your home before, the new system should cool as well.
    I'm betting on a leak or condensibles in the system.

    Tech needs to come back out & measure TESP, Delta T, SLP & temp, LLP & temp, SH & SC.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Western PA

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