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  1. #1

    Trane TAM 8, XL 20i having musty odor problem now

    I have just spent the past four or five hours reading and searching this forum and the internet for a problem similar to mine, but could not find one, so here it is:

    We are having another issue with our new Trane 3 ton XL 20 i, TAM 8 air handler, all new duct work, and XL950 Comfortlink II thermostat installed March, 2012. We are located in the Tampa, Fl area, slab floor, single story, air handler in the attic, duct board plenums, flex duct work for intakes and supplies.

    The newest problem started a few weeks ago as the weather started to cool off and the AC was not used very often.

    We have lived in this house for about 25 years and had the original GE system, replaced by a Trane system, replaced by this Trane and never had any issues with musty odor until now.

    Here is the scenario:
    • Cooler outdoor temps result in less AC run time and at slower fan speed
    • AC turns off and does not turn back on for hours or days
    • When AC turns on, musty odor is easily detected throughout the house
    • If AC and fan run on higher speeds for an hour or more, odor goes away
    • AC runs on lower fan speed, odor is back
    • If heat is used, odor goes away after a few minutes and does not return until low speed AC is used again.

    Here is what dealer has done:
    • Made sure water is draining properly
    • Although filter media was clean, replaced 4” thick pleated filter media on air handler return
    • Installed new, updated doors on the air handler as originals were leaking
    • Inspected coil for dirt, mold, etc
    • Cleaned coils even though there was no visible evidence of dirt or mold
    • Spayed “Dirty Sox” on coil

    Results:
    Odor was gone for about three days, and then came back, although not as strong as before dealer did his thing.

    But, odor is back. I am starting to get very frustrated with this system due to all the issues that are related to this expensive Trane system. Slowly, the dealer has been able to work with Trane to partially resolve some of the problems, but for most issues Trane says nothing, or it is a design issue and will not be fixed until the next generation and we will have to buy it to fix our problems.

    Because of the problems we have had, and Trane’s position on them, I am tending to think this musty odor is another Trane design issue, but don’t know for sure. Dealer says they have had to replace a few coils due to various issues not related to odor, and I am starting to wonder if this is a coil material issue.

    Anyway, does anyone have any suggestions on what can be done to fix this odor issue (short of replacing the system with another brand)?

    Why the odor issue now after 25 years of no problem until this new system?

    Has anyone seen this problem on other TAM 8 systems?

    Entire system is new – ducting, plenums, everything except a couple of air vents – even new and additional air returns.

    thank you all for your valuable input.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    7
    This is the Ask Our Pro's forum. In order to post a response here, you must have verified qualifications and have been approved by the AOP Committee. You may ask a question by starting a new thread.

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    Last edited by jpsmith1cm; 02-17-2013 at 09:06 PM. Reason: non AOP member

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Booneville, Mississippi, United States
    Posts
    263
    A very arrogant manufacturer . We been working on the tam7 or dam7 system as we like to call them now. Issues with eevs, second stage compressor failures, all kinda stuff. Needless to say, they dropped out of our offering.

  4. #4
    HarryTheDog, we never had this issue prior the new unit install March 2012, so the answer to your first question is NO.

    The drain line runs across the attic joists, down through an outside wall and exits through the wall in to a J or P trap pvc pipe that empties onto the ground. The P trap is about 12 inches above the ground and flows freely - It was thoroughly cleaned around Nov 2012.
    Indoor coil was not cleaned prior to cooler weather as it was just installed in March 2012. The first cleaning was when they attempted to eliminate the odor. The other systems that were in the house probably had the coil cleaned once every five years if that and had no issues with odor.
    I don't know what product, but they said it was a fugicide and also the "Dirty Sox" would act as a fugicide.

    I think I know where you might be going here, but I still wonder why we never had this issue in the past, just with the new system, and there have been no other changes within the house in probably five years.

  5. #5
    caincompany,

    I can understand. I really feel for my dealer as I have been using them for many years and have purchased a number of systems (not Trane) from them for other houses and they have always done right for me.

    With this one, I wanted something good for my house, so went all out. they are now sorry they ever put it in, and they have also stopped installing this combination.

    They have been here so many times - replace EEV sensor (some electronic expansion valve or something), replaced some other sensor, replaced main control board, replaced air handler doors, loaned me an XL 900 thermostat for two months after replacing the XL 950 comfortlink II once and still did not work, had to move the comfortlink II thersmostat to help with false indoor readings due to design issue with sensor, error 129 or 126 or something like that (I am over it) along with other communication errors shutting the system down, and a few other things.

    The guys definitely did not make a profit on this. They even offered to refund our money and put something else in, but then we sort of got things working and dummy me said we will stick with it. I would not recommend this system to anyone after what we have been through.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    North Richland Hills, Texas
    Posts
    14,915
    Trane, as well as most of the other equipment manufacturers, and many other organizations related to HVAC and IAQ, have been working on the "Dirty Sock Syndrom"(DSS) issue for years.

    The consensus is that it is an environmental issue, not a manufacturing problem.
    There are cases where people had new systems removed due to DSS, and replaced with different brands, and the smell came back.
    There are also cases where equipment was removed from one home due to DSS, and installed in another location, and didn't have the DSS problem.
    There have also been cases where people sold the house, and the new owners didn't have the DSS problem.

    Based on the information I've seen, DSS is usually caused by a bacteria that makes its home in the nooks and crannies of the coil.
    It happens more on newer high efficiency heat pumps because they have significantly larger coils, with tighter fin spacing, usually have more rows of tubing in the coil, and have enhanced fins with slots cut in them, so there are more places for the bacteria to make a home of.

    IMO, If the OP had gone with a different brand of high efficiency equipment it would have been just as likely to develop the DSS problem as the current equipment.
    If more government is the answer, then it's a really stupid question.

  7. #7
    mark beiser, thank you very much for the education on the high efficiency coils and bacteria growth. Your description of how the coild and fins are designed helps me understand more about the mold issues.

    I guess for my case, it might coincidental that we have the odor issue due to the high efficiency system and then all the other problems getting me to look at it as another Trane problem.

    So, assuming it is an issue with the high efficiency system, any thoughts on how to reduce or eliminate the problem?

    Might changes in the fan settings help?

    How about a UV light or something like an Oasis Air nono unit? Although I don't think I would want a UV light due to deterioration issues and other air quality issues associated with UV lights in residential systems.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    7
    This is the Ask Our Pro's forum. In order to post a response here, you must have verified qualifications and have been approved by the AOP Committee. You may ask a question by starting a new thread.

    You can find the rules for posting and qualifications here.

    Additional infractions may result in loss of posting privileges.
    Last edited by jpsmith1cm; 02-17-2013 at 09:07 PM. Reason: non AOP member

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Western PA
    Posts
    25,946
    HarryTheDog

    This is the Ask Our Pro's forum. In order to post a response here, you must have verified qualifications and have been approved by the AOP Committee. You may ask a question by starting a new thread.

    You can find the rules for posting and qualifications here.

    Additional infractions may result in loss of posting privileges.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Booneville, Mississippi, United States
    Posts
    263
    We had an issue where the indoor fan board went nuts and we couldn't
    Even run it on emergency heat. We had to change several parts outside per instruction then had to replace outdoor unit as comp failed. Just over a year old and out over a thousand in labor, no more.

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