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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Tucson
    Posts
    19

    Formicary Corrosion

    Has anyone else experienced a high volume of indoor coil leaking in their area? In the last two months we have found 26 indoor coils leaking on units that are in the 4-10 year old age group. It is my understanding that formicary corrosion is the issue. I have been told that all manufactures are experiencing this issue and all taking steps to correct it. I have also been told that different areas have higher concentrations than other areas. We deal with Bryant more than other brands and see this with their units more than others but I believe it is in proportion to the other brands we service. I am in the Tucson AZ area. So my questions are: Is anybody seeing more indoor coil leaks? Is it with certain brands? And what geographic area are you located?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Round Rock
    Posts
    3,652
    If they are Carrier/Bryant box copper coils. Hell yes. They will all leak. Guaranteed. Here in Austin, they started only stocking the tin plated coils because EVERY single coil leaked. They ignored the problem until the big tract builders threatened to start using another brand. We complained for years and they didn't care. We just started selling other brands of equipment if it was a gas system with a box coil. It really hurt them. I'm surprised they haven't been sued for knowingly making these coils that they knew would leak freon. We get fined for "venting" refrigerant, I guess its ok if you're a large corporation.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    North Richland Hills, Texas
    Posts
    14,915
    It's been a problem in my area for as long as I've been doing this kind of work.

    Having to add a pound or 2 of refrigerant a year to a system that is more than a handful of years old is standard practice around here.
    When electricity and refrigerant were cheep, it made economic sense to just add the pound or 2 a year during normal cooling checks and not worry about trying to repair it, since the repair would be to replace the indoor coil.
    As the metals have continued to get even thinner, those 1-2 pound every year or 2 leaks the older systems had are more like 3+ pounds a year with the newer systems. Couple that with the higher cost of electricity, refrigerant, labor, etc., and it no longer makes sense to just gas it up every year or two.

    I just wish I had confidence that an indoor coil I install today will last more than 5 years before developing a leak...

    At least Carrier and Trane are taking positive action to eliminate the problem. Carrier with the tin plated coils, Trane with the all aluminum coils, but neither one has it available in their entire residential product lines.
    I don't know what Carriers plans are with the tin plated coils, but Trane is now 100% all aluminum for their cased and uncased A coils, still nothing on the slab coils and A coils, but supposedly all aluminum versions of both are coming.

    Hopefully other manufacturers will also do something.

    There will always be traditional uncoated copper tube coils because they cost less than tin plating, or otherwise coating a coil, or constructing an all aluminum coil.
    If more government is the answer, then it's a really stupid question.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    TEXAS
    Posts
    1,701
    in our area (ih-35,south of austin),tract homes are everywhere, most have builder grade carriers, which all leak. to make matters worse,they are cooling two floors with one system and it's usually undersized by a ton or more. it's impossible to tell an h.o. who just spent 200 grand on a cookie cutter all these issues and not have them think you are trying to sell them a new unit.
    Last edited by smittyii; 06-07-2008 at 05:23 PM. Reason: spelling
    "When the people find they can vote themselves money,that will herald the end of the republic" - Benjamin Franklin

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  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    North Richland Hills, Texas
    Posts
    14,915
    Quote Originally Posted by smittyii View Post
    in our area (ih-35,south of austin),tract homes are everywhere, most have builder grade carriers, which all leak. to make matters worse,they are cooling two floors with one system and it's usually undersized by a ton or more. it's impossible to tell an h.o. who just spent 200 grand on a cookie cutter all these issues and not have them think you are trying to sell them a new unit.
    We have a few 10ish year old neighborhoods like that in my service area. 2 story house with one system, zoned with some crappy Mustang Controls zone system that has solenoid operated opposed blade dampers mounted in duct board boxes, and VERY badly installed Owlflex duct systems(a failed concept by a failed company). Its even worse if the Owlflex zone system was actually used.

    I kinda feel bad telling a new homeowner that their zone dampers have been stuck in some middle position for an unknown number of years, mold is growing in the ductwork, the duct system, which is mostly buried in duct chases and between the floors, is poorly designed and installed, the system is undersized for the home, and the compressor is now dead and looks like it has been changed before.
    "But the inspection report said the AC was working fine when we bought the house"...
    If more government is the answer, then it's a really stupid question.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    West Coast
    Posts
    18
    We are having that problem here in Portland Or. finding indoor coils leaking on inside of A, just replaced 4 last week alone,

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Columbia South Carolina
    Posts
    53
    found 4 coils last week, 1 a goodman, 1 a ICP, 1 a trane, and 1 a carrier, dosen't really matter what brand, they just all seem to be leaking, all these units were less than 4 years old???

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    4,878
    lot of coil leaks 75 miles south of Austin Tx all brands all ages

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Grundy Co. IL
    Posts
    773
    We tend to find a lot of them where the homes have a high concentation of sulfer in the water, it turns all the copper in the house black and scaly, they usually have a lot of water leaks, and or, a lot of cpvc patch work.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    4,878
    i personly think a copper tubesheet would solve the problem

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    North Richland Hills, Texas
    Posts
    14,915
    Quote Originally Posted by catmanacman View Post
    i personly think a copper tubesheet would solve the problem
    It would prevent the leaks caused by the tube sheet rusting out, but it would do nothing for the leaks caused by formicary corrosion.

    Tin plated and all aluminum coils eliminate both problems.
    If more government is the answer, then it's a really stupid question.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    4,878
    i will rephrase that i beleive a copper tube sheet would help solve the problem and also thicker tubing would help

  13. #13
    I've been working for the same contractor for 20 years. In that time, we've sold Trane and a series of lesser brands; about 6 to 7 years ago, we went to Maytag as our lead brand. Both brands have always, and I mean always, had a problem with indoor coil leaks in that time, but it's gotten 50 times worse in the past 10 years with R-410A systems. Not to mention that finding an R-410A leak was a study in frustration and a complete test of your patience...if you could find it/them at all. It wasn't until recently that we finally found a reliable electronic leak detector that would pick up those hard to locate R-410A indoor coil leaks (Yellow Jacket # 69365, but the same detector sucks on picking up R-22 though, despite it's claims; I still have to use my H-10G for that). Maytag recently came out with a new coil that is supposed to address the formicary corrosion issue. Hmph. We'll see, as the only fair test is a field test, and folks, we are the test bed.

    "Think of it as Evolution in Action."--Tony Rand

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