I have a builders grade 3-ton Goodman heat pump and air handler that are roughly 8 years old. This summer, I noticed that excessive water was dripping from the coils so I had my system serviced. Three pounds of R22 were added, however, this did not stop the dripping. A second service call to a different contractor revealed that the evaporator coil had a small leak where you could see frost forming on the copper tubing of the coil in one spot. The dripping comes from the frost or hidden ice rapidly melting when the thermostat run the blower for 90 seconds after the heat pump shuts off. The second HVAC contractor also said that the system didn't leak enough after two months to warrant adding any more R22. They then sent a sales "engineer" to my place to give me options on how to proceed.
I basically have three choices, and I would like some advice on what to do, keeping in mind that I am cost conscious.
1. I would think that finding someone to fix the leak in the coil would be the most logical option, and be the cheapest option. The sales engineer did not give me this as an option, or said that it was relatively expensive. It sounds like very few HVAC contractors fix coils, and the general mindset is to replace the whole coil. Should I even consider having the coil fixed as an option?
2. I could have the air handler replaced, which is surprisingly cheaper than replacing just the coil. The new coil would be compatible with both R22 and R410A, however, I was told that once I use R22 with a coil, I would need to replace it when moving to an R410A system. Does that sound correct, or was the sales guy trying to twist my arm?
3. I could buy a new R410A system and coil, which is the most expensive option. The sales guy was telling me that my heat pump had a 10 year life expectancy (it is builder's grade), but I would think it would last around 15-20 years. He said I would be taking a big chance by just replacing the air handler, and noted that the cost of R22 doubled over the past few months. While I know that R22 is getting more expensive, I don't believe it doubled overnight (maybe just their price doubled).
I was also a bit suspicious of the sales guy when he "accidentally" shut off the power to the system by "bumping" the circuit breaker and then immediately flipping it back on. I told him that he was very lucky that my thermostat had a compressor protection safety feature, and he looked a bit embarrassed. I would think that any person in the HVAC industry would have the common sense to keep the circuit breaker in the off position for a few minutes after making such an "accidental mistake."
In the meantime, I'm emptying a bucket of condensate once a week into a flower bed. There should be less dripping in the winter, and I can have the problem fixed in the spring. The drain pan is not clogged, I promise. Thanks for taking the time to read!