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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
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    19

    Question No Freon. Evaporative Coil blamed. Replace only coil, coil & condenser, or full?

    Help,

    My home warranty company sent a company out to diagnosis my upstairs Lennox 4-ton gas heat pump unit. Quick diagnosis showed no freon and leak estimated from the coil. The insurance company states that to repair I will have to pay upgrade fees associated with bringing the system up to new code (different drain overflow pan, disposal fee, city permit, parts for up to code). This is my first option that repairs the problem the least expensive way.

    The technician advised me of other options to change the coil and condenser and keep the Lennox gas furnace but I would only be able to go up to 14SEER unit single stage because of the furnace. This would convert me from R-22 to R-410a. This is the second option that saves me from making a full system replacement.

    I could also replace the entire unit with an Amana 16SEER two-stage unit with 95%?? Furnace. This is the third option that has a tax credit, better financing options but also the most expensive and major replacement.

    I brought out a different HVAC company for second opinion that diagnosed my problem as the coil as well. They have given me a Trane 16SEER quote.

    Questions:

    (1) There was no pressure test done by either company. Should I pay for a pressure test or something to make sure it's really the coil? Could there be something easily welded and expensive R-22 added?

    (2) Should I save money and simply replace the coil and postpone doing this major replacement? I would use my awful America Home Shield warranty and pay that ridiculous up to code fee.

    (3) Should I keep the old Lennox furnace that hasn't given me one problem since building the home in 1999 and do a coil/condenser replacement that matches this furnace?

    (4) Replacing the entire unit is even more difficult. The warranty company offered their AC company a larger buyout amount than they offered directly to me, so going with them I can get a 16SEER Amana unit. If I get my unit replaced by another company the insurance gives me a significantly less buyout amount. The other company quoted a Trane unit. If I replace the full unit, do I go the cheaper warranty route with the Amana, which my research shows is simply a Goodman that used to not have good reviews or go with the better brand Trane? The Amana has a lifetime compressor warranty versus 12-year on the Trane.

    Ideally, I want the Trane with the insurance company's buyout to their company. Is there a way to have America Home Shield use another company?

    As you can see, I need a lot of advice!

    Thanks so much,
    Keith

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Location
    Indianapolis, IN, USA
    Posts
    34,239
    Usually if an electronic sniffer says coil leak, no further testing is needed.

    Yes, home warranty companies are awful! Usually best to get a cash option and find your own contractor. Around here anyway, those willing to take the peanuts they are paid doesn't get you good contractors. There are exceptions obviously.

    Unless you want to spend the money on a new furnace to get more efficient or variable speed, keep the 13 year old machine if it isn't causing you any trouble. As long as it blows the right amount of air, it's fine. Just remember you won't get past about 14 SEER with it so if someone talks you into high SEER or 2 stage, don't bother.

    Amana has premium units (models start with A) and it has Amana Distinctions which is a basic Goodman rebadged. Clarify which is being quoted you.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Posts
    19
    Quote Originally Posted by BaldLoonie View Post

    Unless you want to spend the money on a new furnace to get more efficient or variable speed, keep the 13 year old machine if it isn't causing you any trouble.
    A technician stated that I already have mismatched tonnage. I have a 5-ton gas furnace with a 4-ton coil and a 3-ton condenser outside. He states the Lennox furnace is a basic furnace and, like you, I can go up to a 14 SEER coil and condenser. I am contemplating just doing the coil repair and hoping for the best or would you go ahead and do coil and condenser?

    Quote Originally Posted by BaldLoonie View Post

    Amana has premium units (models start with A) and it has Amana Distinctions which is a basic Goodman rebadged. Clarify which is being quoted you.
    Would you mess with a basic Amana if that is what it is? I haven't gotten the model number yet. I received quotes on a Trane XL16i and a 16 SEER American Standard 4A7A6048 and a 17 SEER Carrier 24ACb748. Is any better than the next? I may have Sears come out too.

    Thanks for your reply,
    Keith

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Tallahassee, FL
    Posts
    6,051
    Don't bother calling kmart or sears.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Round Rock
    Posts
    3,569
    Where do you live? That should determine a lot about what you need. A stage condenser with 95% furnace is a heck of a system and pricey. If you are in a colder climate, the 95'er is recommended but not so much cooling is needed and vice versa if you live where it's warmer.
    I like DIY'ers. They pay better to fix.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    West Monroe, LA
    Posts
    1,535
    I would at list change the condenser and coil on the system. Look at a 14 seer outdoor unit with a matched coil. That is of course if you don't change the furnace.

    The only good thing is if the above listed option is done. If you have probelm out of the furnace it can be changed out at that point.

    It's just decisson time and make a carefull choose as you will live with it for the life of system or as Long as you live in the home.

    Has anyone done a load cal to determine what size is correct for the upstairs? Also as most have stated home warranty companies are just looking for the cheapest way out to correct the problems. I would take the buy out option and choose your on company and system.

    I have worked with so many customers that have done this and all ends well with a buy out! Just my 2 cents. As far as the system selection if chose to go with full system where you live would be great to know to see which options make the most since for you and your home.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Posts
    19
    I live in a little suburb outside Dallas, TX. I'm told that a 95% furnace I won't need and that my little Lennox furnace should last a few more years. The furnace has not given me any problems for the 14 years of use. No load calculation. Well maybe. A technician stated that I have about 1800 sq ft upstairs being served and advised that I need a 4-ton. I don't know if he specifically called it a load cal.

    I believe that I should get the coil and condenser but that gets me no tax credit and gives me 14 SEER step up from 12 SEER that I'm sure I was NOT getting on this old system. Everyone is pushing 16/17 SEER with tax credits , no interest, rebates and warranties.

    The last option that I received today was that if I went with the warranty company make sure that I get a coil that can use both R-22 and R-410a. That way that I can buy a matching R-410a condenser later. He advised me to try to argue with the warranty company that I can dispose of my own coil and sell it for scrap, keep my old drain pain that in have that has 2 drains and one that drains outside so no need for this new pan with a float switch and just pay the city permit fee and the fee for the up to code parts.

    It's nice and cool here for a few days so I have a little time to research like I'm doing now.

    You guys are awesome.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Posts
    19
    Quote Originally Posted by duckman06 View Post
    I have worked with so many customers that have done this and all ends well with a buy out! Just my 2 cents.
    It's amazing but the buy out option is $469. I don't know if I can state the amount. NO company can replace a coil for $469. It's insulting.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    DC Metro Area (MD)
    Posts
    3,371
    With the small amount these home warranty companies pay contractors for work, you can understand why the work tends to be subpar at best most (but not all) the time. There are exceptions. That's why it's often better to find your own contractor. It's a shame really -- all things considered you haven't gained much with the warranty when it comes to change outs, in my opinion at least.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Posts
    19
    A wonderful company came out and did what they called a "Manual-J" load cal. The upstairs shows 32,775 total BTU/h Heat Gain. They had Amana ASXC16 and Trane 16XR units. Sadly, their price was even higher than Sears that I knew would have the worst pricing. What I like is that this is one of 2 companies I've had come out that has been around since 1990. He claims the other has been under a lot of different other names. I really want a mixture of good manufacturer warranty with good installer warranty. This is tough.

    Looks like I want a 16 SEER, 4-ton, variable stage complete unit. I think that's what I have settled on. I would loke some no-interest financing.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Tallahassee, FL
    Posts
    6,051
    And you are getting a four ton when calc shows 3?

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    DC Metro Area (MD)
    Posts
    3,371
    Quote Originally Posted by SBKold View Post
    And you are getting a four ton when calc shows 3?
    X2. We don't know what "total" means in this case -- was it adjusted based on SHR?

    Keith,did you tell him your typical set points in the summer/winter? You're on the right track, but you do not want to oversize 2-stage units. Low stage of a 4 ton dual stage scroll unit would cover your total load, which defeats the purpose. I would clarify why he is suggesting a 4 ton unit? A lot of times the existing ductwork isn't capable of moving the required airflow. A variable speed motor will have a greater ability to move the air against greater external pressure, but the ductwork still needs to be fixed or the system will be loud and energy inefficient. You want to make sure that the ductwork is looked over and any changes needed be made. Big difference between a 3 ton and a 4 ton system.

    What size is the existing system?
    Last edited by RyanHughes; 03-24-2013 at 08:41 PM.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Posts
    19
    Quote Originally Posted by RyanHughes View Post
    X2. We don't know what "total" means in this case -- was it adjusted based on SHR?

    Keith,did you tell him your typical set points in the summer/winter? You're on the right track, but you do not want to oversize 2-stage units. Low stage of a 4 ton dual stage scroll unit would cover your total load, which defeats the purpose. I would clarify why he is suggesting a 4 ton unit? A lot of times the existing ductwork isn't capable of moving the required airflow. A variable speed motor will have a greater ability to move the air against greater external pressure, but the ductwork still needs to be fixed or the system will be loud and energy inefficient. You want to make sure that the ductwork is looked over and any changes needed be made. Big difference between a 3 ton and a 4 ton system.

    What size is the existing system?
    The system is sorta mismatched I'm told. 3-ton condenser, 4-ton coil. It has an old Allstyle coil they say with one huge return duct coming into the furnace with a 16" opening I believe.

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