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Thread: To Punt or Not?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Bucks County, PA
    Posts
    149

    To Punt or Not?

    Hello, Had a couple of questions that I figured that I run past the experts.

    Anyway, my friends uncle is a lead maintenance guy for an apartment complex across the river from me, and wants to hire me on this summer to help him upgrade and repair the A/C units in the complex where he is in.

    The old management staff pretty much let the place is dis-repair, and the new ones are trying to fix it.

    Here is the deal, all the units are equipped with either 1.5 or 2 ton Packaged HVAC systems (looks like a Magic-Pak) and are made by Patco. The complex was build in 1980-81 and has about 425 units in it.

    So far here is the deal, the A/C chassis are removable, and they are getting re-done as needed this year.

    They actually paid for a load calculation (FREAKIN' AMAZING), and it turns out that some are undersided or oversized, and we are correcting this problem.

    What we have are New compressors, coils, and Motors.

    Now, all the units will be from 1.5 to 2.5 tons.

    Here is my delima where I'm wondering to punt or not.

    First off, they are all cap tubes, and they were thinking of installing TXV's in them to increase efficiency. I think this is a Horrible idea as the cap tubes have worked for the past 25+ years, and the current staff does not have a clue what to look for, nor will learn or pay to learn on the maintenace of these things.

    Second, there are no High Side service ports installed. And the low side was only added on maintenance or repair when a system was re-built. They were shipped sealed.

    Thrid, the "Charging Methods" used are not exactly the standard in the HVAC industry. Superheat and Subcooling are not in the Vocab of most od these folks. Charge to 60-70 PSI and stick a thermomoter in the discharge area and get it to 54-58* and it will work.

    Now I used to do this work part time, and still do Vehicle A/C part time. I'm 608 and 609 certified, and the shop is surprising equipped with proper charging and recovey equipment.

    The biggest question is, is it worh it? Now there is some prerry good $$$ involved here, but the level of headaches, espically with those TXV's could spell disaster.

    Now I am sure that it will work, I would feel a lot better if the TXV's were nixed. The big question is, would you put yourself in this situation if given the opportunity, the only reason that I am even considering it is the $$$, that is it.

    Oh the fun this could be.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Austin, TX
    Posts
    1,744
    If you got the time, take the money. I would not add TXVs. Guess they
    all run on r22. Fix what they need, and let them be.

    I worked one summer at a apartment complex many years ago, and they
    were the same way (all apartment complexes usually are). They hired
    me to assist their maintenance tech, who was a nice guy, but did not
    know s**t. I was young at the time, and contracted with them, they
    paid me by what part was changed, plus a flat fee for each day.

    We went throught something like 120+ units. We replaced about 25+
    compressors. I ended up having them as a customer for a few years
    after that until the complex was sold. New owner did not want to pay
    any $$ at all, so by by.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Bucks County, PA
    Posts
    149
    Yea, I was thinking the same thing. The TXV's just seem like they would be a nightmare in trying to install and maintain. Almost the same situation that you were in, the guy is nice and all, but him, and his 4 assistants really do not know Jack about HVAC. Just the bare minimum to get by.

    All of the units are R22.

    We do have a couple of "Test" units that we had with Alternate Referigernats, one Using R422D, R407, and ES22a. All seem to be work, but that seems to work the best in terms on energy costs and Cooling Capablity is the ES22a. I'm very impressed with it. Yea, I do know the components of it, and there are safety precautions with it, but it works with the least headaches.

    I know that next week they are doing at least 6 units, maybe more. And this week will be 3.

    The $$$ is great, but I just don't want the headaches. I'm thinking if they scrap the TXV idea, then it might be worth it.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    PA
    Posts
    68,789
    Did anyone inspect the heat exchangers.
    TXVs are gonna be more of a headache then anything on units like that.

    It may cost more, but complete new units is a better way to go.
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    How many times must one fix something before it is fixed?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Bucks County, PA
    Posts
    149
    Yea, they had somebody else checking the heat exchangers and what not. They just called me in to assist with the A/C side of things.

    I agree 100% that new units would be the key, but management is not going to do that in 98% of the cases that we see.

    At least I feel better about the whole nix the TXV thing, they will just add problems.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Bucks County, PA
    Posts
    149
    Ok, well I have decided to work on an As Needed basis with this guy, the money is not bad, but there is some things that I will not do.

    First off, I'm not that thrilled that there are no high side service ports.

    Second, it's funny watching the looks on peoples face when you have a sling Psych and a thermo on the suction side. They just can't understand that "Beer Can Cold" and charging with a Therm. in the vent just does not cut it.

    And I showed them that the temp numbers on the gauge really do mean something.

    We also have a few "Experimental" systems set up using Alternate Referiferants. I will let you know how they go as we go along.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Central Maryland
    Posts
    246
    Quote Originally Posted by JJ57 View Post
    The old management staff pretty much let the place is dis-repair, and the new ones are trying to fix it.
    We've all seen THAT cycle before.

    Reminds me of an old buddy who was a supe, got a job at a high-rise. Management got bonuses for two years for keeping maintenance costs low. Then owners got on them for not renting the last two apartments out.

    Then they got fired for having stripped the last two apartments of EVERYTHING in order to avoid buying parts to get their bonus. My buddy survived the cut and the owners got to pay 3 years worth of maintenance the following year restoring those 2 apartments.

    -HF

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Location
    Richmond, Virginia
    Posts
    4,264
    Punt.
    There is nothing more frightful than ignorance in action....Mark Twain

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