Who to call for AC service (situational advice)?
I read this forum a lot as a lurker last Winter when I was shopping for a new furnace, and really appreciated the high quality of advice. So here's a belated thanks for that. I ended up combining that advice with ratings from Angie's List in my area (Twin Cities, MN, North Metro) to select a furnace and installer that I was happy with.
I'm hoping I can get some generic advice on who to call for AC service in the following situation:
My central AC unit is a Carrier 3.5 ton installed by the previous homeowner in 2001.
In June 2007 my central AC completely stopped working. I called company A that I had previously used for duct cleaning and furnace liner installation, and a tech diagnosed the problem as a shutdown due to an extremely low level/pressure of coolant. He told me that he couldn't see a leak, but that a small leak was the most likely explanation for such a low level of coolant in 2007 for a system installed in 2001. Since his charge for a fill-up was xxxx and charge for possibly unsuccessful attempt to search for and repair a leak was xxxx, I went for the re-charge option with the plan to see whether the unit retained coolant adequately to late Spring 2008. In late April 2008 I had a different tech out from the same company A to do a "spring checkup" and asked him to see if the coolant level was the same as previously ("41 degree a coil temperature" is what I wrote down) and he reported to me that it was and the AC looked fine. Now in July 2008, the AC is running but it's cooling ability seems to be dropping by the day. The air coming out of the vents is just not that cool.
Some other info that may or may not be relevant: While I was looking over paperwork on my furnace, I discovered that the compressor part in AC unit is still under 10 yr. transferable part warranty from Company B who did the installation for the previous owner in 2001. In May of 2008 the local power company, at my request, had an anonymous technician install a remote controlled power save switch on the AC unit which they use to flip off power to AC at peak periods in return for a 15% overall electric bill discount in the Summer months. I am quite sure that the external unit is running most of the time when I'm asking it too cool and the on/off electrical function of this saver switch is not the problem, but I don't know whether it is even possible that the electrician damaged the AC in some other way, since this work was done after the Spring checkup.
So my question to the forum, is what would you do? Generic options are
Option 1) Call company B that has the compressor part under warranty
Option 2) Call company A back that did the Spring checkup
Option 3) Call some other company that I would regard as the best option in the
absence of any connection between the AC unit and A or B.
Thanks in advance for any advice.
No pricing in post
Last edited by Senior Tech; 07-05-2008 at 03:31 PM.
The compressor is not the air conditioner (it's one part), so unless the compressor is bad, you won't get much use out of that warranty--unless you meant the compressor to mean air conditioner. TSounds like it's time to call a good, reputable firm to come out and diagnose your system.
This power save switch may be cycling the unit off outside and letting your blower continue to run. Any how he is right, the compressor, which is one single component in the outdoor condensing unit, is what your warranty is referring to, and this is not the source of your leak. Have a leak search done by the company you are comfortable with.
Thanks, I was aware that the compressor is just one part of the outdoor AC unit, but I wasn't aware that that the compressor wouldn't be a likely source of a pressure leak. So that is useful info for me.
The blower does run independently of the AC even when it is cycled off, but I can go outside to see if the AC unit is actually running and also hear it (or not I put my ear to the wall near where it is located). The AC seems to be working okay as a dehumidifier but is currently struggling to do any cooling at all - e.g. can't keep the house at 75 when it is 80 and sunny outside, and the inside temperature stays above the thermostat and the outside temperature in the early evening.
If teh tech during the sprint check, just checked the coil temp. It doesn't tell you much about the system charge. During a cool day, a system that is low on charge can have a cold temp.
Although a leak could be in the compressor its self. Its very seldom that it is. Plus, only teh prt its self is under warranty, not the labor to find the leak, or to change out the compressor.
Call the company back that you have servicing it. And eith have them gas it again, find the leak and repair it, or replace the system.
It sounds to me like you're looking for a freebie. Unless you have some sort of maintenance agreement or extended warranty neither company will give you one. The system was installed 7 years ago, so the only warranty is on the compressor itself, not the labor or materials to change it if you were planning to get company "B" to give you a freebie. Company "A" did a spring check, they might come out to give you a free service call, but any repairs to be made will be your dime, they didn't install the equipment and are under no obligation to fix it for free for you. Whomever you call out, make sure that you tell them you want the leak found and solutions provided.
I understood that the warranty for the compressor only covered the labor and not the part. What I couldn't estimate was the likelihood that the compressor was the problem and the evidence that would establish that. I wasn't expecting any kind of freebie, but I am trying to avoid paying for one or two extra service calls beyond the minimum number needed to fix my problem - e.g. if I was going to end up needing to take things up with the company holding the warranty, then it would have made sense to call them first. According to what everyone is saying, that warranty is irrelevant to my situation, so that counts as a helpful answer to my query.
Carrier provides the compressor warranty, not the installing contractor.