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  1. #1

    1979 GE Weatherton heat pump: repair or replace?

    I have a 1979 GE Weatherton heat pump which services an addition on my home (in MD). The unit has worked well for the the last 30 years that I've live here with minimal repairs.
    I replaced the outdoor unit 10 yrs. ago and had a new blower motor in the air handler 4 yrs ago and that's about it. I had a tech. out the other day who told me
    the compressor in the outside unit is locked up and the unit has to be replaced but due to the fact that it uses the old refrigerant (I don't remember the number, R something)and a new one will use the new refirgerant (R something else) the I will have to replace the inside air handler unit as well. The existing GE Weatherton air handler unit is mounted to ceiling
    in a finished basement and years ago I boxed in all the ductwork and the air handler unit but provided access panels for service, filter changing etc. The salesman came out today
    to look at at replacing everything and says he doesn't know if he can find another unit of similar size with bottom access for service that will fit in the existing space and connect cleanly to the existing ductwork. I dread the fact of having to rip out and reframe/rebuild all the work I've already done to accomodate a new & larger airhandler unit.
    My question is, can I have the old compressor (outside) repaired with the old type of refrigerant and keep my existing airhandler? Or does anyone know of any newer unit that
    is small & ceiling mounted with bottom access that might work? It only has to services 4 rooms. I have never been impressed with the "heat" that the heat pump puts out, but I could
    live with it to minimize the hassel and expense of an entire new system and having to rebuild my basement finished ceiling. I'd appreciate any advice. Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Fort Worth, TX
    Posts
    11,376
    You have a thirty year old air handler with a four year old blower motor mated to a ten year old outdoor unit with a locked up compressor.

    That compressor did not just die arbitrarily. Something about your system's current configuration killed it. You could just get the compressor replaced, but with the material and labor cost (including what R22 refrigerant now costs these days) you will be putting a great deal of money into a ten year old machine. Unless what caused the compressor to die is found and remedied, you're taking a big gamble.

    The thirty year old air handler...does it have its original cooling coil? Does it leak? If it does not leak now, it could start doing so after you've put a lot of money into fixing the outdoor unit. Then you're out money to replace the indoor section, since I guarantee you that thirty year old coil is no longer made. And you still have the old R22 refrigerant which is becoming much harder to get, and more expensive, with each passing year. The EPA is trying to rush the phase-out schedule of this product, and that is driving the cost of R22 through the ceiling.

    Bite the bullet and get an entire R410A system installed. Yes, you may have to tear apart some construction, but honestly you should reconsider enclosing air handling equipment in the manner you did. It won't be there forever.
    • Electricity makes refrigeration happen.
    • Refrigeration makes the HVAC psychrometric process happen.
    • HVAC pyschrometrics is what makes indoor human comfort happen...IF the ducts AND the building envelope cooperate.


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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    PA
    Posts
    68,769
    I don't recall those old G E air handlers having a lot of room between the coil and blower. So I doubt you'll be able to find a new coil to put in it to use with a new outdoor unit. But it may be possible. Ask you contractor to check about Mortex, Superior, and ADP possibly making a coil that will fit in to your air handler. It probably won't be cheap though.
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  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Location
    Indianapolis, IN, USA
    Posts
    34,595
    Just remember that these smaller coils may not work well with a heat pump. They don't hold enough refrigerant for heat mode.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    4,877
    there are no bottom service units that im aware of. My advice is find your exact heating and cooling needs as the less capacity needed the smaller the indoor unit also the lower the seer rating the smaller the indoor unit will be .Ruud /Rheem has some pretty small indoor units .
    We really need change now

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    PA
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    On a side note. There is no reason that a new R22 compressor can't be put in your current 10 year old condenser. And then you just continue on with your current air handler, and keep your fingers crossed it doesn't have any problems down the road.
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  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Portland OR
    Posts
    2,029
    With what we are paying for R22 refrigerant today and with how fast it is going up I would replace. Your system has more than lasted a useful life and at this point you are going to pay high energy bills and just keep band aiding it along until you could have just bought a new system.
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  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Anderson, South Carolina, United States
    Posts
    7,757
    Replace

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Houston area
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    It can certainly be fixed. There is even a good chance the existing R-22 refrigerant can be recovered and reused saving a considerable amount of money. Is it worth it? Probably not.
    The picture in my avatar is of the Houston Ship Channel and was taken from my backyard. I like to sit outside and slap mosquitos while watching countless supertankers, barges and cargo ships of every shape and size carry all sorts of deadly toxins to and fro. It's really beautiful at times.....just don't eat the three eyed fish....

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  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    The South
    Posts
    2,240
    For dlock

    I think it is a very poor use of resources $$$$$$ to repair a 33+ yr old heat pump system.

    I really don't understand why you are contemplating such.

    IMO

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    PA
    Posts
    68,769
    Its a 33 year old air handler. And a 10 year old condenser.
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  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    West Monroe, LA
    Posts
    1,537
    Anything can be fixed!!! The question is it worth it? In my opion NO!!! I belive you would be throughing go money at a system that will at some point need to be completley changed out. That is just my 2 cents.

  13. #13
    Thanks for all the imput everyone. I knew this day was coming. Ther worst part is having to rip out the existing finished bulkhead to fit
    a new unit, then rebuilt, drywall, paint etc in a portion of the house we seldom use. arrrrgh!

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