First time poster. Long-ish story, but I tried to highlight the important points. Basically, I'm looking for advice on whether I should allow a contractor to come into my home to finish a job which I believe he's royally messed up. FYI - This is not any type of DIY post.
Ok. I purchased and installed a Sanyo ductless mini split heat pump unit (24k outdoor unit and multiple indoor units) in September of 2006. Although I installed the unit (tore down the walls, ran the tubing & electrical, etc), I had a professional HVAC contractor come to do the system startup for me as this piece obviously requires some level of technical compentency compared to the other aspects of the install. They did a great, professional job in vac'ing down the lines and performing the initial startup of the system. Unit was running fine (with one recharge in summer 2008). One of my indoor units did need to get swapped out due to a damaged fan blade (in Sept 2006 - unit covered by warranty), and this contractor did the job in about an hour's time (1h 2mins to be exact).
FYI - This unit I installed uses R410A refrig.
This winter, it has seemed like the coil/evaporator on one of the indoor units was starting to get corroded/rusty. I had an extra indoor unit lying around (got it free under warranty and I replaced the broken fan blade), and I wanted to get the rusting indoor unit swapped out. The company which I had hired originally to do the system startup, although great, was a bit pricey, so I tried to find someone with a bit cheaper rates. I found someone who is a licensed HVAC contractor in Connecticut, and we agreed on the terms to the job and what had to get done.
On the day he was supposed to come, I called him to remind him that my unit was a R410A unit, and that he would need an adapter for his gagues to work on my machine (I had told him it was R410A earlier, but i figured i'd call to make sure he was aware of the required adapter as the previous contractor back in 2006 had forgotten it). He said that he did not have one on his truck, but that he was going to come anyway, and that he'd do half the work today and half tomorrow. I didnt fully understand this (as the first thing I thought you needed to do was pump down the affected line) but I went along with it as I'm not the professional.
So he gets to my house. He tries to identify the affected unit, and identifies it as "unit A". He says that R410A is environmentally friendly, and therefore you dont have to recover it properly. He proceeds to close off the line for "Unit A", and open up the flare connection, releasing all of the pressurized refrigerant into the atmosphere outside. Is this standard practice? If not, it gets worse.
So he comes inside to work on "Unit A". When he opens up the lines in the back of the unit, ***PPPOOOOOOFFFFFF***, another massive refigerant release, this time indoors. Apparently the unit which needs to be swapped out is "Unit B". So, he closes the flare nut to stop the release, goes outside and closes off the lines for "Unit B" now, and then comes inside and re-opens the flare, releasing all of the R410A in the lines going to indoor Unit B into my house INDOORS. He again says the gas is inert and is no big deal and he does this all the time with R410A and not to worry. This piece kina pissed me off as I have my wife, kids, and pets all in this room when this chemical is getting released.
He completes the swapout of Unit B, and leaves me for the next 2 days with a non-functioning system, as he did not have the proper equipment (adapter) to vac down the 2 busted lines and perform a system startup. His plan was to come back Monday at 5:30PM (yesterday) to finish the job.
He arrives yesterday (Monday) at 7PM (about 1.5hrs late, but this doesnt really bother me). He now says that he'll need to open up all of the lines and "measure out" the proper refrigerant.
At this point in the story, I start to lose track of exactly what he was doing.
Basically, he first connects an open-ended hose to each of the 4 service valves on my outdoor unit, and vents them all to the atmosphere outside. Next, he tries to vac pump all of the refrig out of the system -- I am not sure how sucessful he was on this piece and/or what state the spindels on the wide/narrow valves were in (i think they were all open!!!)
Then, he vacuum pumps down each line, and then does something I thought was odd. He connects his tank of R410A to each of the service valves, and lets the vacuum'ed tubes (and pressurized R410A) suck out the refrig until they're pressure balanced with the R410A canister. He says that "at least we're putting some refrigerant in the lines prior to startup."
Then the system startup. We flip the power on. The thing starts up -- seems to be normal. About 30seconds later, he says "ya know maybe we should really talk to tech support before letting this thing start up as I wouldnt want to damage your compressor". And so he flips the breaker switch for the unit, and says he'll come back the next day (today).
What I need to know, is... is this a normal way in which a professional would go about troubleshooting and swapping out a unit? As i said earlier, I had a previous contractor do this same work in 1h2m, and this guy is going on 4+hours, all the while venting my R410A outside and inside my house. I think I can draw my own conclusions, but just want to get some outside reassurance.
Please advise. He is due back tonight or tomorrow. Sorry for the long story, but thanks for any advice.
Also, I'd like to know just how screwed up my system may or may not be right now based on the description of work done above. If you could also comment on how each of the work items above may have been hurtful and/or no big deal, I'd appreciate it.
Mike D, from CT