Which repair makes the most sense?
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!
Did either of these "contractors" actually find the leak in your coil???
Frost on a coil isn't a sign of a leak in the coil....they are morons.
What part of the country do you live in??
I need a new signature.....
Oh hand to answer your questions....
1. Don't try and fix a coil....it's gonna leak again...replace the coil
2. That guy is a moron...a proper flush of the coil and lineset will allow you to go from R-22 to R-410A...as long as the coil is rated for 410.
3. R-22 has more than doubled in price in the past year or two...he was right about that...BUT...depending on where you live...10 years is NOT a life expectancy....hell, Goodman can give you 10 years part warranties....do you think they would do that if it was only going to last 10 years??
Call a GOOD company....you get what you pay for
I need a new signature.....
i have to agree
Originally Posted by I_bend_metal
seems when all else fails just add more freon till you get the pressure you want.
tis unit may infact be over charged with a slight restriction.
you may also have slightly defective metering devise and an inexpensive repair.
find a differant contractor that is more interested in repairing then selling
why fix it when you can replace it is not good customer satifaction
If you decide to do the coil then get the best (most expensive) coil install you can find. If done correctly a new evap can buy you some time.
On the other had with what is happening with R-22 I think I would bite the bullet and go for a new 410A system.
as some one else said GET MORE QUOTES!
Try to get 3 different companys to give you the same diagnosis then let us know and we can point you in the best direction.
I am not sold on the leaky evap just yet
tell the tech you want to see the leak
If its soap it will bubble, if they use electronic it will make ALOT of noise and may flash lights.
Some times you have to spend money to save money
In a situation like this the more research and time you take the better off you will be.
Keep us posted
we are here to help
I remember my first day,It was fun!
If the coil is leaking it depends where it is leaking at if it would be better to replace or repair.Not always will a coil start back leaking it just depends.The life expectancy also depends on if you have it serviced every year as well.As stated I would get at least 3 quotes before you make a decission.If or when you have another tech look at your system say nothing about what the other tech found until he comes up with his own diagnostic.
Did they happen to check you air flow thru your air handler ? What type of filtering device are you currently using, is it a 4" or 5" media filter or a EAC ? If your getting alot of frost on the coil doesn't necessarily mean you have a leak, rather possibly a air flow problem or even a return air problem !! Get a more reputable company in there to diginois your problems period.
why would you spend more money on a 410 system just because 22 is being phased out 22 will still be around the rest of our lifetime why not get a new 22 system and then in 15 to 20 when it dies get a 410 system when its cheaper? i know 410 is great but you shouldnt buy one just based off of the fact of 22s phase out
but i think cleaning the coil would make the most sense but none of us can tell the right fix without seeing it
Builders grade goodman heat pump- havent seen one last for 10 years- Dont put too much $$ into it. Although I am where winter is a bit harsh. I agree you need more opinions as to what the real problem is there.
The hardest thing is to weed out potential pita customers at first meet. You can save $$ sometimes by not making a sale.
IF, the coil was freezing due to it leaking, and causing the water drip. It loss enough refrigerant to need more added. Sounds like your being lead to a solution you may not need.
You need a third contractor. One that will check out the whole system.
Questions and answers
> Did either of these "contractors" actually find the leak in your coil???
No actual leak was found per se. The first contractor in July figured it was just low on R22, which it was. The system was purchased new in 2002 and hadn't been charged again until July 2008. I went with a second contractor this month who I thought would do a more thorough inspection of the system, but they told me it would be hundreds of dollars to check for a leak. In hindsight, I think they were really trying to push me to buy a whole new system. I will have another contractor or two take a look before I make any decisions.
> Frost on a coil isn't a sign of a leak in the coil....they are morons.
Before the first contractor came to charge the system, I did find a little ice at the top of the coil. I almost missed seeing the ice, except running my finger along the top of the coil felt slick. Once the system was charged in July, I could no longer see or feel ice, but that area of the coil did seem colder and frostier than the rest of the coil. The coil sits at roughly a 45 degree angle with the lower portion of it resting above the drain pan. Water is condensing so rapidly near the top of the coil that it drips off of the coil onto the filter before reaching the drain pan.
Also, the humidity in the house has been higher this year than last year. I've got two humidity readouts in the living room. In summer 2007, they were closer to 45%, and now they're closer to 50%. I can't explain why the humidity is higher now.
> What part of the country do you live in??
> Call a GOOD company....you get what you pay for
I really thought I did. This HVAC company serviced my parent's house for the past 30 years. The service tech seemed young and may not have had much experience. Perhaps I just ended up with the wrong sales guy. In any case, their prices for a new 13 SEER system were relatively high and I will most likely never call them again.
> a proper flush of the coil and lineset will allow you to go from R-22 to R-410A...as long as the coil is rated for 410.
Yeah, I thought it was strange that the sales guy told me that the line could be flushed, but not the coil. Must have been a sales tactic.
> R-22 has more than doubled in price in the past year or two
Yeah, I definitely believe that the price doubled over the past couple of years, and that it may go up another 33% over the next year. What I didn't believe is that the price doubled since June. I think it was a scare tactic.
> hell, Goodman can give you 10 years part warranties
Yeah, I've seen dealers sell Goodman systems with a 20 year compressor warranty. It seems like people either love Goodman or hate Goodman, but then again we can be that way about our cars as well. This contractor was trying to sell me a Carrier system. From what I read, the Carrier name is well known and trusted, but they make better commercial equipment than consumer equipment. I've read good things about Goodman and Trane.
> tis unit may infact be over charged with a slight restriction.
> you may also have slightly defective metering devise and an inexpensive repair.
> find a differant contractor that is more interested in repairing then selling
> why fix it when you can replace it is not good customer satifaction
Hmm a broken TXV... never thought about that, but that could always be the issue. Yeah, I think an 8 year old system is too young to be replaced. I think the sales guy saw that 1/3 of my neighbors had new systems, which led him to believe that the systems were either of poor quality or that most of us were gullible enough to buy new systems when prompted.
> tell the tech you want to see the leak
> If its soap it will bubble, if they use electronic it will make ALOT of noise and may flash lights.
I was told that the only way they could find a leak would be with fluorescent dye and it would cost me a few hundred. If they did find the leak that way, then they would recommend that I get the coils replaced anyways. I got the impression that they just didn't want to take the time to investigate the issue. I'll ask any future contractor to show me the leak if they suspect one.
> The life expectancy [of the coil] also depends on if you have it serviced every year as well.
When I had my system serviced in 2006 by the contractor who installed the system, they plugged a diagnostic device into my air handler and they checked the air temperatures to make sure they were within limits. Everything checked out ok. I don't think they even took a look at the coils and never visually inspected the heat pump. They asked me which company installed the system and I told them that they did. The guy looked surprised and said that he didn't think it was them. I called this same contractor out this past summer to investigate the coil leaking issue, but they were a no show. After trying to get in touch with the technician 3 times, I called a different company.
I made sure to change the filter at least 4 times a year and would vacuum any dust I saw.
> Did they happen to check you air flow thru your air handler ? What type of filtering device are you currently using, is it a 4" or 5" media filter or a EAC ? If your getting alot of frost on the coil doesn't necessarily mean you have a leak, rather possibly a air flow problem or even a return air problem !!
No contractor checked for air flow. When I first saw the dripping in June, I made sure that all of the vents were open. I also kept the HVAC closet door open and even ran the system without a filter for 30 minutes. This did not stop the dripping. I also bought some coil cleaner and cleaned the coils, even though they looked relatively clean, but they still drip.
The filter is 22x22x1" and pleated. It isn't a media air filter.
> why not get a new 22 system and then in 15 to 20 when it dies get a 410 system when its cheaper?
410 is more environmentally friendly and the higher efficiency systems generally use it. I'm not saying that I'm going to run out and get a new system this time around, but if I do, I will pay a bit more for a more efficient system. The cost of electricity will continue to rise, and I figure that by going from a 10 to 16 SEER, I will save roughly $40 a month with the information I have today. Yeah, I will probably never break even, but if the cost of electricity continues to rise, then I might.
> Builders grade goodman heat pump- havent seen one last for 10 years- Dont put too much $$ into it.
The heat pump itself seems to be ok, and if there was a problem with it, I would think twice about putting more money into it.
So thanks for all of the responses and advice so far. I will have some more contractors take a look. If any new details come up, I will be sure to post!
Frost on the coil could mean many different things...worn out fan motor (or needs to be oiled), dirty filter, clogged fan blades, leak, low heat load..
I get weary when "leak" and "I think" are used in the same sentence. If you have a leak they can find it....if not they aren't trying or don't know how.
Your 2002 model Goodman air handler most likely has a piston and not a TXV.
It also may not be compatible with 410a. If it is compatilbe your contractor will need to put a new TXV on it.
If a coil is ordered to replace the old one it too will be a piston coil due to the "builder grade" unit. 10 SEER I've replaced my share of coils, rheem, trane, carrier, goodman, etc...and i'll replace a few more before its over.
Builder grades are built so cheap now days, and 90% of the customers we deal with don't want the upgraded units.
Most goodmans I see only last about 10 years, 12 if you are lucky. And most of those have already had a compressor or coil put in them.
Average lifespan is about 12 to 15 years. That is if it is maintained on a regular basis.
BTW, turning the breaker on right after it was turned off is okay. he didn't hurt a thing, nor did he need to wait.
GEt another quote, or light a fire under the one you want!