Should I replace my Central AC? With What?
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  1. #1

    Confused Should I replace my Central AC? With What?

    Hello,
    Been impressed by discussions here, so I thought I would ask:
    1. I have a 20-year-old-plus Central AC. It works Ok, but is old and obviously not energy efficient. But I wonder if I should replace it before it breaks down some hot July and no contractor will see any reason to give me price discounts. Or is it right to wait until it dies?
    So: Should I replace now? Or wait?
    2. I have bids on a Lennox XC13 and a Trane XL 14i. Prices are pretty close. Trane installer would be Home Depot subcontractor. Lennox by a company highly recommended on Angie's list. Lennox guy did a heat load calculation, but is pushy. HD guy eye-balled it, but hasn't pushed me.
    So: Which would be the better choice from the point of view of reliability and repair record: The Lennox or the Trane?
    Many thanks in advance.
    John

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Houston, Texas
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    352
    In my personal opinion, after being in the industry for many years, both would be a good choice if they are installed correctly. However I would avoid buying anything this important from a "chain" like Home depot. This isn't a slam on them, they are a good company and they have their place in the world. If you purchase the system from them, do you think they are going to hire the best people or the cheapest. If they hire the cheap people to increase profits, who suffers?
    When big business gets involved in this manner, I see them much like the new construction industry. Here in Texas many of the new homes fall apart after 7 years. The "corners" are cut because the money isn't in the job and these "corners" show their face right after the warranty period.

    Go to the Air Conditioning Contractors of America.
    http://www.acca.org/

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Lancaster PA
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    67,595
    Not much difference.

    Look at the companies.
    Which one do you feel will give you the better service. Remembe, who ever you choose, that is who you will deal with if their are any issues.
    If a salesman is pushy, do you think he will be concerned if their is a problem.
    Contractor locator map

    How-to-apply-for-Professional

    How many times must one fix something before it is fixed?

  4. #4
    Thanks. Sounds right. What about my other question? Do I spend 4grand now (with discounts and a rebate I found) or wait for the existing unit to break down?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Houston, Texas
    Posts
    352
    If your system is 20 years old, you are more than likely spending the 4grand everytime you use it. It sounds like you have only looked into replacing one component. If it hasn't been done, you may need a evaluation of the entire house. This doesn't mean that you need to gut the house and start over. Everyone needs to know the condition of their system and then you have options.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Round Rock
    Posts
    3,507
    It would probably behoove you to purchase something now if you can afford it. As most on here can attest too. Prices on anything sure aren't going down. You can definitely save on heating and cooling costs. I believe I would shop around a little more. The Home Depot thing scares me. I've done some research on some of the companies that sub for them and they are basically loser/hack companies. Not saying all you out there that do this are. But the ones I've checked licenses on are.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
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    Lancaster PA
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    What kind of heat do you have.
    that has a small bearing on the decision also.
    Contractor locator map

    How-to-apply-for-Professional

    How many times must one fix something before it is fixed?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Location
    Indianapolis, IN, USA
    Posts
    33,824
    Just remember unless you have a Trane variable speed indoor unit, the XL14i is just 13 SEER. Nice unit but pricey compared to other 13 SEER units.

    Where are you? Add on heat pumps can save some healthy bucks on your heating costs in many areas.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Posts
    14
    I wanted to echo the comments of others and share a brief story. We hired the HD to do a carpet install. They and their sub contractor were the worst experience we ever had. We were lied to, mis-directed, ignored, harassed and lied to again. I've bought lots of stuff from the HD. They have a store two blocks from our house. After this experience I came to the conclusion that, if they don’t have it on hand, one should never make any kind of special order to buy anything from them. They are simply incapable of providing professional service on a project. Their subcontractor will deflect everything back to the HD. They will take your money and play stupid. Except it isn’t an act.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Near Chicago, IL
    Posts
    3,317
    In my personal opinion, after being in the industry for many years, both would be a good choice if they are installed correctly. However I would avoid buying anything this important from a "chain" like Home depot. This isn't a slam on them, they are a good company and they have their place in the world. If you purchase the system from them, do you think they are going to hire the best people or the cheapest. If they hire the cheap people to increase profits, who suffers?
    When big business gets involved in this manner, I see them much like the new construction industry. Here in Texas many of the new homes fall apart after 7 years. The "corners" are cut because the money isn't in the job and these "corners" show their face right after the warranty period.
    Your information about the HVAC side of Home Depot is wrong.

    Home Depot does not "hire" their HVAC subcontractors.

    Those HVAC contractors are required to have insurance and licenses in the application process. The employees of the subcontractor are required to pass background checks before the contract is awarded.

    The consumer pays HD, then HD pays the sub. Customer complaints = no payout until it is resolved.

    HD gets their cut right off the top, so the sub needs a really sharp pencil to keep bids competitive on a $$$ level due to the juice HD adds to the top. "Selling HD" can help overcome the $$$ difference. HD does not set the prices.

    A guarantee offered by HD is not worth any more or less than a guarantee offered by a "regular" HVAC contractor that may not be around in the future.

    If anything, a customer has a better chance of picking a corner cutting hack residential contractor by opening the phone book than going with HD. Big companies with well known names does not guarantee quality work. Check out the "bad installation question" thread in this forum. That name brand equipment was installed by a large well known contractor. Yes, they fixed it in the end, but how many others installed by that large and well known company are out there?

    Your new homes are falling apart because they are built to the standards the builder allows in the bidding process. A sub can't do the job "right" if the bid amount results in lost jobs and no more business. A lack of standards or allowed substitutions in the residential market bidding process is to blame. The customer never knows what corners are cut... but the builder made his money.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    SW FL
    Posts
    6,225

    Red face Choice is much more complex than brand

    Quote Originally Posted by jjfried View Post
    Hello,
    Been impressed by discussions here, so I thought I would ask:
    1. I have a 20-year-old-plus Central AC. It works Ok, but is old and obviously not energy efficient.

    So: Which would be the better choice from the point of view of reliability and repair record:
    The Lennox or the Trane?
    Either ..

    20 years old ... HVAC energy bills could ~ 1/2 of existing with a new system
    HVAC energy bills might be 1/2 of your total electric bill.

    Replacement model selection depends on contractor experience,
    locale and Your budget.


    Selection basis should be Life Cycle Costs
    including
    10 Year Parts & Labor Warranty
    Designer Dan
    It's Not Rocket Science, But It is SCIENCE with "Some Art". ___ ___ K EEP I T S IMPLE & S INCERE

    Define the Building Envelope and Perform a Detailed Load Calc: It's ALL About Windows and Make-up Air Requirements. Know Your Equipment Capabilities

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Houston,Tx.
    Posts
    15,777
    Quote Originally Posted by neophytes serendipity View Post

    If anything, a customer has a better chance of picking a corner cutting hack residential contractor by opening the phone book than going with HD. Big companies with well known names does not guarantee quality work.
    Maybe were you are, but in Houston the customer has a better chance of getting a corner cutting hack with HD, seen it "way" to many times here, so maybe it's a territorial thing.

    And as you said "Big companies with well known names does not guarantee quality work" well HD is also a big company that falls right into what you said here.
    __________________________________________________ _______________________
    “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

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Near Chicago, IL
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    3,317
    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Bill View Post
    Maybe were you are, but in Houston the customer has a better chance of getting a corner cutting hack with HD, seen it "way" to many times here, so maybe it's a territorial thing.

    And as you said "Big companies with well known names does not guarantee quality work" well HD is also a big company that falls right into what you said here.
    Could be, as each HD store and region is different.

    I know that HD is a big company, but the subs on the installation side may not be.

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