Hello, I have a 1990 York E2CS03 2.5 ton heat pump system that has been diagnosed with a fairly rapid leak in the evaporator coil.
13 days ago I woke up to poor air flow with almost no temperature drop from the registers. I discovered the evaporator and the lines inside the access panel of the condenser iced over. I check the filter, it was not clogged. (I had a permanent electrostatic filter which I clean monthly, but, after this incident and some research, have switched to a 3-M disposable pleated filter.) I shut the system down, let everything thaw out, restarted it, and found the temperature drop to be only a few degrees. Now beyond my expertise and assuming low refrigerant, I called the local service company.
The technician confirmed the coolant charge was low (none has been added in the 8 years I have been in the home). He felt that it made the most sense to fully charge the system and see what happened before looking for leaks. The system functioned well for at least 5 days. On the 6th day I went out of town for 4 days. Returning on day 10, I found the system not cooling at all, but it was not iced up this time. A different tech came out from the same company. He says that the evaporator coil is leaking and the air handler assembly needs replaced. He is recommending a Goodman 14 SEER air handler with heat kit for $xxxx installed. However, he also commented that the compressor/condenser is undersized.
This leads me to lots of questions.
The home is 1800 sq-ft or 14,400 cu-ft single-story home and is well insulated. It is located about half way between Houston and Dallas. To complicate matters further, I am planning an addition in the next 12-24 months that will add a 360 sq-ft room with a cathedral ceiling for and additional 4500 cu-ft. My complaints with the current system are: Temperature is uneven with noticeable changes when the system cycles off and on in both heating and cooling modes. Also, duct-work does not seem well balanced, as some rooms are always cooler/warmer in cooling/heating modes than others. Some reliability issues, but from reading other horror stories they’ve been pretty mild – 1 new contactor, 1 new capacitor, 2 condenser fan motors over 8 years.
Other than general advice/opinions, I have the following specific questions:
1) I am leaning towards upgrading the entire system to account for the addition next year. Another option would be to add a second system with the addition and split the systems at that time. I’ve had spilt systems on larger 2-story homes and been very pleased with the results, but it doesn’t seem to make as much sense on a smaller single-story - yes/no?
2) Are the top of the line 18-19 SEER dual speed compressor, variable speed air handler systems worth the premium, or, like new computers, is the sweet-spot one step down the food chain so that you don’t end up being a beta-tester. Reliability is, by far, my first priority, followed roughly equally by efficiency, quiet operation, and serviceability.
3) The 2nd tech commented off the top of his head that the unit was undersized based solely on square footage of the house (no Manual J Load Calculation). Is this obvious to someone with experience, or should it be a warning sign regarding the contractor? Also, if the unit is undersized and 18 years old, shouldn’t he be recommending replacement of the entire system rather than just the air handler?
4) What about the Goodman product? Research indicates they have about average repair history, while their high-end Amana line appears to have excessive reliability problems. I’m currently leaning towards sticking with York. Even though I’ve had some problems, they seem pretty minor compared to what I read other people going through. Also York seems to have efficiency, quietness, and warranty that equal or exceed every one else. I’m also considering Carrier/Bryant, Trane, and Rheem.
5) York use a 2 stage compressor, but I have not been able to determine if it is a Scroll, or something else. It appears that the Scroll is the best out there right now, yes?
6) York has a feature they call “Hot Heat Pump”. Are they just employing the aux. heat coils, or is this some advancement in technology?
6) Is there any difference between York, Coleman, and Luxaire other than the name plate (price, warranty, etc)?
7) I’ve also noticed that, to get the best warranty (in some case lifetime compressor), it appears that you need to install a complete, matched system all at once (I can see the importance of this from the manufacturers’ position). Am I missing anything here?
8) What is the best configuration of the air handler? IE: vertical/horizontal, blower & aux heat before/after evaporator.
9) What about options like a second evaporator coil to control humidity, and media air cleaners? (I am already using a Honeywell VisionPro 8000 Thermostat with humidity setting.)
Sorry to be so long winded, but I have to make a decision pretty quick and there is a lot to consider. In closing, let me say that I am a perfectionist who values high quality and durability more than gimmickry and I’m willing to spend the extra money as long as I’m getting a good value.
Thanks for the help.