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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Texas
    Posts
    3

    Arrow Condo HVAC Nightmare - Feedback Needed

    Hello Everyone, I have been just about everywhere trying to figure out my HVAC nightmare, and am just about at my wits end

    I live in Texas, and almost 2 years ago baught a condo. The condo is old, built in the early 80's, and is in a complex. Since I moved in I have had nothing but problems with the A.C. Some of the problems I have been experiencing include:

    Overpowering stale smoke smell that remains constant - although sometimes is worse then others, and EVERYTHING smells like smoke. Often time causes my eyes and nose to be very irritated

    Occasional "rotting food" type smell

    Mold (I think it's mold, it keeps coming back and it's very noticible on the slats of the vents)

    Astronomical Electricity Bills that run upward of $375+ (2 story condo, approx 1200 SQ Feet, 2 thermostats)


    Well it's gotten to the point I can't take it and am about ready to scream. The last several months I have not been able to pay the full amount on my electric bill, so now with late charges/rollover fees my bill is nearly $600.00

    I had the upstairs unit replaced, and AC guys said the downstairs looks good. I have had 2 sets of HVAC guys out here. The first ones just replaced the unit (which was a fire hazard). The second guys came out a couple of times, however the problem has not been fixed. The owner explained to me that he was at a loss of what to do, that there is no drywall or insulation and he didn't want to get up there and do something that may cost alot of money and not fix the problem. He had showed me what he thought the problem was - and when I stuck my head up where the unit is - you could see all the way through to the other side of the building (apparently it shouldn't be like that?)

    So, here I am back to square one, and really don't know what to do. My electricity bills are piling up, the smoke smell has gotten almost unbearable and surely is not healthy for me or my animals, and I'm sure the mold is no good either. I have no idea what to do, or where to begin.. And since I own the condo, am I responsible for all of this financially? I would have never even baught the condo had I known what I was walking in to! And shouldn't the inspector have caught this if it was a problem? I'm beyond frustrated

    I don't understand anything about HVAC really, and could use some advice, feedback, suggestions, etc.

    Thanks

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    DC Metro Area (MD)
    Posts
    3,371
    I hope this doesn't sound arrogant, but how about moving out? You haven't mentioned the condo management; can they do anything? Those electric bills seem high for your place, although I don't know your rates. You could have poor ductwork.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Texas
    Posts
    3

    Hmm To Ryan

    No, it doesn't sound arrogant at all. Quite honestly, I am considering moving out . Although, I don't understand why any of this is happening in the first place. It's frustrating. I don't know why it's happening, if it can be fixed, or if it's even worth it to bother.

    As far as the management goes, I don't even know. We don't have a management company, which I don't understand either. We have a COA (condo owners association) and we have one lady who is the property manager.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Langley, BC, Canada
    Posts
    384
    Wow!. Doesnt sound good at all. Do you know what type of unit it is?, i.e: split system, ducted split, make, model #'s, serial #'s. Where all the eqipment is located etc.
    If its the original system from the 80's its probably, well it is way past due for an upgrade. Unfortunatly you may need to gut the system and start over again, with something more energy efficient.
    Its hard to get rid of mold, its probably in your ductwork, and would need to be completly cleaned, and you need to find out where the water, or moisture is comming from.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Arkansas
    Posts
    292
    Where in Texas? There are some top notch guys on this board from Texas and they may be close enough to help out. You may have both a building problem (moisture management) as well as an HVAC problem. I'll bet $50 now that your HVAC system is way oversized, potentially creating moisture problems. You have 1200 sf, and two units which would most likely be 1.5 ton minimum, so you have 3 tons for 1200 sf, maybe more. Anyway, your problems will probably need to be solved by someone that can come take a look.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Texas
    Posts
    3

    Arrow dcmcm5 & Crazy4thenucks

    Dcmcm5 ~ I am right outside of Houston; I have no idea about sizes of Hvac, heck I don't even know what the terminology means, LoL. I'll take your word for it though

    Crazy4thenucks ~ Umm... No, I don't know. This is what I do know (if it helps any?)

    * My upstairs unit is located in the ceiling above my bathtub. There is a hole in the ceiling where the black tube sticks out incase there is overflow and it can drain. My ceiling at one point actually nearly caved in because it got clogged, so they had to fix that. The upstairs unit was the one that was replaced, about a year ago, which was well over (removed pricing)

    * My downstairs unit is in the bathroom. There is a hole in the ceiling above the sink where the black tube sticks out (same idea as the upstairs); The unit downstairs was not replaced, and the second set of hvac guys that came out said it looked alright, but that there was nothing seperating my unit from the other units (basically they said you should not be able to see to the other side, there should be some type of wall or block there); My downstairs unit comes on whenever it wants - if I close the front door too hard, the AC comes on. If I just tap the side of the thermostat, the AC comes on. The first set of guys replaced the thermostat and said that should fix the problem. But it obviously didn't.

    As far as everything else - I think it's on the roof (but I'm not entirely sure?)

    The condo is completely not efficient at all, basically energy just seeps out everywhere anyway. My ceiling has leaked after the rain, I have had to cauck around windows because of drafts, etc.

    Like I said, I don't know if it's even worth it to go through all this trouble. And I don't understand why this wasn't caught, wouldn't this like not pass inspection?

    I don't even know where to begin
    Last edited by HeyBob; 11-29-2007 at 04:41 AM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Okieville
    Posts
    312
    I never have understood why contractors use those pancake systems and put them OVER A BATHTUB OR SHOWER knowing darn well that all that MOISTURE and HUMIDITY from taking showers etc, gets sucked right into those things when they run. Then you end up with mold all throughout your system. I see those pancake units all too often in condos around my area, and just cant understand (other than cost) why a small AHU isnt used in a closet space instead. Mebbe they figure that 6 sq ft of space is eating up too much area.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Langley, BC, Canada
    Posts
    384
    Im going to have to agree with atticmonkey, the mold is more than likely comming from the bathrooms, the humidity is getting pulled into the units, and forming mold. Very poor install, the new unit should of been re-located someplace else.
    Its to bad you cant go back against the inspector on this, however, it may be to late, (2 years).
    If this was a problem from the original purchase, and the previous owner knew about the problem, then they may be liable. Not to sure what the homeowner laws are like in the states.
    However, this sounds like a lost cause, either get the units re-located, replaced, or get them disconnected and forget about them. Or better yet, move.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Vallejo, CA
    Posts
    154

    Exclamation #1 or #2 ONLY!!!!!

    Only 2 remedies for your situation. #1= Have no more than 3 reputable HVAC contractors give you a free estimate for complete replacement of ducting and any old/existing equipment. #2=MOVE! Try #1 first if you enjoy the location..sounds like you do or you wouldn't have suffered for 2 years there

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    phoenix az
    Posts
    429
    get a home inspector to inspect your home mold is not good for you and the source needs to be completely removed by a qualified abatement tech
    "Do not let what you can't do interfere with what you can do"

    "Do what you can do the best that it can be done and no one will ever know what you can't do"

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Northern Colorado
    Posts
    443
    Do you smoke? Does the smoke smell like cigarettes? If you can see through to other units, you could have a return air leak that is pulling cigarette smoke (or other smells) from another unit. This could be quite difficult to fix, especially if it is finished drywall over the ductwork. In addition to ductwork problems, the units could be oversized as already mentioned. Have a qualified troubleshooting contractor find out what the problem is. Then decide what needs to be done. If ductwork modifications need to be done, replacing just the units themselves may not solve all your problems. Wish you the best.
    Hvac Maniac

    "A negative attitude cancels out positive skills."

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    N.E. Ok.
    Posts
    1,371
    Quote Originally Posted by JesikaBeth View Post
    Dcmcm5 ~



    * My downstairs unit is in the bathroom. There is a hole in the ceiling above the sink where the black tube sticks out (same idea as the upstairs); The unit downstairs was not replaced, and the second set of hvac guys that came out said it looked alright, but that there was nothing seperating my unit from the other units (basically they said you should not be able to see to the other side, there should be some type of wall or block there);
    Some good suggestions on the smell have been offered. I would be concerned that their is not a fire rated wall separating units.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    DC Metro Area (MD)
    Posts
    3,371
    Can anyone explain what kind of unit she has? Is it a split system, mini-split, PTAC, or something else?

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