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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    San Antonio
    Posts
    5

    Several problems at the same house

    I've owned a business for years, so I understand when many of you say, "You get what you pay for." I usually need to do some homework to make sure I do get what I pay for. I never mind paying a professional, but I hate like hell paying a professional rate and getting amateur service. I bought a 22 year-old house in San Antonio, approx. 3600 sq ft, with 3 split systems: one 3-ton and two 2-ton units. (I could probably save money "in the long run" by replacing all 3, but I don't think I can afford all that savings at one time. )

    The HVAC contractor I used for years appears to have developed a substance abuse problem. I feel badly for him but, without getting into details, I can't have him back here. I picked another (relatively high-end company) from the phone book, and they sent out a kid who was clearly inexperienced. I also called the home warranty company, and their tech was totally clueless. I don't know much, and I tried to give the benefit of a doubt. But it only took a small amount of homework to confirm that they were both way out in left field with their suggestions. I would like to pose a couple of questions, just so that I will know enough to select a good contractor.

    The model information on the 3 units are as follows:
    1) Outside - Trane XE800. Model TTJ736A100B0. Man. Date 9/91.
    Air Handler/Furnace - Trane BLH060E936G0
    2) Outside - Ruud Achiever. Model UAMB 024JAZ. (12 SEER?) Mfg Date 02/00
    Air Handler/Furnace - Trane BLH060E936G0
    3) Outside - Amana. Model RCC24A2D (12 SEER?) Can't find Mfg. Date
    Air Handler/Furnace - Amana. Model CHF24TCC

    Unit 1 is 3-ton and, I believe, a heat pump. Unit 2 has the same air handler, but matched with a 2-ton, higher-SEER, non-heat pump outside unit. It is cooling well, but I'm sure the mis-match is costing me in lost efficiency. Would I benefit tremendously from replacing the air handler/furnace with a matched unit? Enough to be cost effective, considering the outside unit is 12 SEER?

    Unit 3 will not cool the upstairs below about 79 degrees on a hot day. The contractor said that it is simply undersized. But the upstairs area it is servicing is only about 750 sq ft., consisting of a play room, bedroom, and bathroom. I know there are a lot of variables for sizing, but I would think that this 2-ton unit would be able to cool 750 feet, even if it was an un-insulated metal building. Is it possible that a 2-ton unit is insufficient for a 750 sq ft space?

    The compressor is shot on the 3-ton Unit 1. The home warranty company wants to give me a "discounted" price on a new 14 SEER outside unit. Everything I have read says that would be a bad idea, but it would let me shift some of the expense to next season. Just how bad would it be to match a newer compressor unit with this particular air handler/furnace as a temporary measure?

    Would any of you replace a 7-year old 12 SEER unit with a newer one on the basis of increased efficiency alone?

    I appreciate any replies. Rest assured that I have zero interest in taking up any DIY projects, and the work will be done by a licensed professional. I am just looking to know enough to ask the right questions, and do a "reality check" on the answers.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Lancaster PA
    Posts
    68,314
    A new 14 SEER outdoor unit hooked to that old indoor coil won't get you any better efficiency then what you got from the original unit. And could damage the new outdoor unit.
    Indoor coil must be replaced.(Strange how home warranty companies use " its a mismatch system and we don't warranty mismatches", but they try to cheap out by doing it)

    As a rule, a 2 ton should cool that 750 sq ft without a problem.
    Could be several things that are causing it not to be able to.
    Contractor locator map

    How-to-apply-for-Professional

    How many times must one fix something before it is fixed?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    San Antonio
    Posts
    5

    Thanks

    Thanks for taking time to reply. That's what I needed to know. The home warranty company is out, regardless of price. Hopefully I can find someone who can diagnose the cooling problem with the 2-ton, but at least I feel comfortable that it doesn't have to be ripped out and replaced.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    SE PA
    Posts
    183
    Regarding the inability to cool 750 sq ft....seems very odd.

    Where's the air handler located...in the attic??? Perhaps the unit isn't charged properly? Maybe ductwork is failing in some way (losing supply side conditioned air somewhere)?? Maybe the attic insulation is insufficient and/or leaks too much air from the attic to the living space??? If you have attic access (pull down stairs, access panel) sometime's they'll rob a lot of energy....there are easy ways to address that.

    Otherwise, 2 tons should be almost oversized in my inexperienced opinion.

    Just a side note, I had a customer who had a new home built in 05ish. They could not keep their 2nd floor cool at peak load times. The airhandler was located in the attic. A contractor inspected everything to determine the temp in the attic was hotter than normal for that region (VA). They installed a solar attic fan and had no additional complaints. Seems hard to believe, but that's what they tell me.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Alabama
    Posts
    658

    no heat pumps

    Judging by the #'s you posted, non of the three are heatpumps.

    Also, the home warranty comps. I do work for will not authorize a repair on an "improper install", and in my opinion, putting in the 14 seer on an 8 seer a/h is an improper install.

    good luck!!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Posts
    5
    When dealing with my home warranty company I found in the small print that you can cash out a repair. When I first said that I would like cash instead of a repair they acted like they had never heard that, they had to get the manager to approve and blah blah blah, they finally agreed to it.
    I was in the same boat, they wanted to fix the old stuff when it was over half the price of new. I took the money and paid for 60% of the new equipment, then received the energy rebates and came out pretty good.
    Who is the warranty through?
    Chad

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    TEXAS
    Posts
    1,701
    if you have a home warranty you have bigger issues than the price of repairs and replacement. you have bought a home you apparently cannot afford to maintain. my only advice for home warranty customers is, cash out or live with the service you get for your $50(or whatever it is these days). you can't expect a service co. to send out the first string tech for $50!!
    "When the people find they can vote themselves money,that will herald the end of the republic" - Benjamin Franklin

    "Government is not reason, it is not eloquence, it is force;like fire, a troublesome servant and a fearful master. Never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action"- George Washington

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Posts
    5
    My home warranty was included when I bought my home. It actually worked out well as every appliance in the house was more then 20 years old.
    Chad

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    San Antonio
    Posts
    5
    Quote Originally Posted by im4snow2000 View Post
    Regarding the inability to cool 750 sq ft....seems very odd.

    Where's the air handler located...in the attic??? Perhaps the unit isn't charged properly? Maybe ductwork is failing in some way (losing supply side conditioned air somewhere)?? Maybe the attic insulation is insufficient and/or leaks too much air from the attic to the living space??? If you have attic access (pull down stairs, access panel) sometime's they'll rob a lot of energy....there are easy ways to address that.

    Otherwise, 2 tons should be almost oversized in my inexperienced opinion.

    Just a side note, I had a customer who had a new home built in 05ish. They could not keep their 2nd floor cool at peak load times. The airhandler was located in the attic. A contractor inspected everything to determine the temp in the attic was hotter than normal for that region (VA). They installed a solar attic fan and had no additional complaints. Seems hard to believe, but that's what they tell me.
    Thanks. The air handler is in the attic, and it's hotter than I would like. The roof line makes a ridge vent impractical, so I had planned to get a fan or two installed. But I don't have experience to know if it would make a little difference or a lot.

    As I said, I'm just looking for a "reality check". I know my second floor is more exposed than the rest of the house, and has more windows, etc. But when you say "almost oversized", I feel more confident that something else is wrong, and the best solution probably isn't installing a 3-ton unit.

    Again, thanks for taking the time to reply.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    San Antonio
    Posts
    5

    Calm...

    Quote Originally Posted by smittyii View Post
    if you have a home warranty you have bigger issues than the price of repairs and replacement. you have bought a home you apparently cannot afford to maintain. my only advice for home warranty customers is, cash out or live with the service you get for your $50(or whatever it is these days). you can't expect a service co. to send out the first string tech for $50!!
    With respect, Smitty, it can't surprise you to hear that there are people in your profession who charge handsomely for their services and have impressive websites, who size HVAC by square footage and/or by the size unit that is already in place. It may be easy for you to spot them, but not for those of us who aren't in the business.

    I started to lash back at your comment, but I understand the frustration. I owned a group of computer stores "in the old days", and we got our share of people wanting to pick our brains for information and then buy the equipment from the back of PC Magazine. (I had to keep reminding myself that an educated customer was better for me in the long run.) I tried to make it clear that is not what I am doing here.

    I found a local company that actually has in-house engineers. They are coming out tomorrow, and I am going to pay them to do a load calculation and make recommendations. I didn't even know what to ask for until I did my own research.

    For what it's worth, we've paid cash for our house and cars for well over a decade. We actually financed a small portion of this house, because we learned that insurance companies are trying to pass a bill that will allow them to charge higher rates to customers with low credit scores. We literally had no credit score. I can relate to your frustration, but you should probably toning down the comments a little. It would be nice to have customers line up like cattle and pay whatever you ask without question... but it probably isn't going to happen.

    For those of you who replied to my questions, thank you again. (Moderator can close thread.)

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    TEXAS
    Posts
    1,701
    mr. you got it right in your original post"you get what you pay for". as for my customers they are not mindless cattle or un questioning automatons. they are simply folks that know you can't get something for nothing. in my experience home warranties will never give you top shelf service. i stand by my post. google "american home shield sucks" if you think i am encouraging consumers to "line up and pay whatever i ask"
    "When the people find they can vote themselves money,that will herald the end of the republic" - Benjamin Franklin

    "Government is not reason, it is not eloquence, it is force;like fire, a troublesome servant and a fearful master. Never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action"- George Washington

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    San Antonio
    Posts
    5

    I'll remember you, Smitty

    Quote Originally Posted by smittyii View Post
    mr. you got it right in your original post"you get what you pay for". as for my customers they are not mindless cattle or un questioning automatons. they are simply folks that know you can't get something for nothing. in my experience home warranties will never give you top shelf service. i stand by my post. google "american home shield sucks" if you think i am encouraging consumers to "line up and pay whatever i ask"

    Smitty - I'm sure you actually believe that the reason you keep losing customers is price. I'll give you back some free advice: insulting and talking down to people is a habit that gets easier the more you do it. Most people don't like it.

    We're replacing the 3-ton unit with a new Trane, and replacing the mis-matched air handler on another. There was a duct problem with the upstairs, and we're getting a couple of solar fans installed in the attic.

    The truth is, you may or may not get what you pay for. But you definitely pay for what you get. I said from the beginning that I don't mind paying. I just wanted to be sure I was getting the right thing.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Fort Worth, TX
    Posts
    11,358
    Quote Originally Posted by scott7264 View Post
    With respect, Smitty, it can't surprise you to hear that there are people in your profession who charge handsomely for their services and have impressive websites, who size HVAC by square footage and/or by the size unit that is already in place. It may be easy for you to spot them, but not for those of us who aren't in the business.

    I started to lash back at your comment, but I understand the frustration. I owned a group of computer stores "in the old days", and we got our share of people wanting to pick our brains for information and then buy the equipment from the back of PC Magazine. (I had to keep reminding myself that an educated customer was better for me in the long run.) I tried to make it clear that is not what I am doing here.

    I found a local company that actually has in-house engineers. They are coming out tomorrow, and I am going to pay them to do a load calculation and make recommendations. I didn't even know what to ask for until I did my own research.

    For what it's worth, we've paid cash for our house and cars for well over a decade. We actually financed a small portion of this house, because we learned that insurance companies are trying to pass a bill that will allow them to charge higher rates to customers with low credit scores. We literally had no credit score.
    Off topic, but that's amazing to me. Folks who are fiscally responsible, paying their own way, keeping debt low or non-existent will get zinged by insurance companies if they get their way. As if insurance companies don't already have enough fingers in the pie. Yes, I can understand they have likely been burned by deadbeats...who hasn't? Just don't think it's right to stick it to those who handle their financial affairs above board.
    • Electricity makes refrigeration happen.
    • Refrigeration makes the HVAC psychrometric process happen.
    • HVAC pyschrometrics is what makes indoor human comfort happen...IF the ducts AND the building envelope cooperate.


    A building is NOT beautiful unless it is also comfortable.

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