Hot in Dallas!
I have a home that was completed in 9/2003. I have had nothing but problems with the heat and A/C since it was built. We have a damper system on our home. Our home is approx 3100 sq ft and has one 5-ton Amana unit. Our first troubles happened when we weren't getting heat to our upstairs bedrooms. Turned out that the damper was bad. The builder warranty covered this repair--and the original company that installed our system did the warranty work. Here is what has happened to us since we bought our house:
7/4/04: we had water coming from our return, they found that the downstairs damper was not opening, they disconnected it and opened it manually, told me that they needed to come out and replace the motor.
7/7/04: they changed the damper motor and said everything checked out ok.
7/9/04: called them because our downstairs thermostat wasn't working, they found when they removed the t-stat cover that there was a red wire broken and touching a yellow one, they rewired the t-stat and said that the damper was working, they recommended that we leave our bedroom doors open all the time to get more air curculation or to cut the bottoms of our doors off to get more air flow (this suggestion went over really well with us since the house wasn't even a year old yet!).
4/12/05: once again the damper wasn't working, my warranty ticket says that the orange damper motor was bad for the upstairs, they relplaced the motor and cycled the unit, they alro replaced a rusted screw that they used omn the outside unit since they didn't use a rust-proof screw when they installed the unit.
4/26/06ish: the didn't date my warranty slip so I don't know what date they came, but their notes mention that the compressor is bad and that they would be back out on 4/28 to replace.
4/28/06: the compressor was bad and they replaced it, but then found that there was not enough power to the unit to charge it up, needed an electrician to come out and change the disconnector.
4/28/06: electrician came and did their thing.
4/28/06: a/c tech back to my house to start up and charge my unit.
8/12/06: my upstairs a/c was constantly running, you'll never guess what it was...a bad damper motor!!! they replaced it and cycled the unit and it checkout out ok.
1/24/08: our upstairs bedrooms are freezing, they came out and told us again to leave our bedroom doors open 24/7 and to turn up the t-stat--I should note that we cranked the heat and the only room that ever warmed upstairs was the gameroom, there was about a 10 degree difference from the gameroom to our secondary bedrooms.
6/3/08: our a/c just stopped working, it was soooo hot and the compressor kept turning on and off every 5 seconds and just blew hot air, they came out and told us that the coil was 90% clogged, that we needed to pull and clean with acid wash, and that it was a maintenance issue and that the repair was not covered due to lack of maintenance. They quoted a high price to clean the coil so I told them I would shop around for prices.
6/15/08: met my first honest a/c man this day (hired someone independent of my builder's company), he looked at my unit and said that the coil was a little dirty but not dirty enough to make any difference to the operation of our a/c, he hooked up a couple of hoses to a meter on my outside unit and discovered that we were 3lbs low on refrigerant and that there was probably a leak somewhere, he charged me up with 3lbs of R-22 and immediately my a/c started to work again. So now I was really mad. The builder's a/c people had told me that this was my fault and they never even checked the levels of freon!!!
6/30/08: honest a/c man's fix lasted just a little while (there was a leak) and the a/c went out again, builder's a/c people came out again and sure enough...the discharge trap was cracked and they charged me up with freon again so that my a/c would work until they could fix it. I didn't even ask them to reimburse me for the $170 that I had spent on my independent guy, didn't feel like putting up the fight.
7/7/08: they replaced the discharge trap, charged me up with freon AGAIN, and cycled the system.
5/1/09: I swear I am about to give up on a/c in TX...I called the builder's a/c company again and told them that we had no a/c again and that the compressor was turning on and off just the same as it did the summer before when we were low on freon, they told me that they would not warranty their work from the summer before since it worked from July of 2008 to now, my builder warranty had expired in 10/08 and so I was out of luck and they wanted nothing to do with me unless I wanted to pay them for a service call, and they still would not warranty anything they had ever done to me. So I called a/c company #3 that was recommended by the Amana distributor, he came to look and found that the builder's a/c company never replaced the caps on the valve stems after they charged it up with freon, so the system was low on freon AGAIN, he charged it up and replaced the caps that he found on the ground next to the unit, also replaced the fan motor which had gone bad, Amana paid for the part and I paid for the labor and freon. My a/c worked once again.
6/24/09: a/c is out again, compressor just not coming on, checked the circuit breakers and they were fine, called a/c company #3 back again and he had to bypass the high pressure switch to get it to come on and stay on, he explained to me that my single 5-ton unit was not big enough to cool a 3100 square ft home on a damper system.
7/14/09: well it was probably 106 degrees out today and has been for the last couple weeks, the compressor is making a high pitched whining noise, the a/c has been working overtime but it's not getting cool upstairs again, can't get it below 82 degrees when we go to bed at night, called #3 again and he looked things over, said that our freon levels were fine but he added some anyways, while he was there the compressor overheated and stopped working, said that it is probably doing that for hours a day and so the inside unit is just moving the hot air around the house until the unit kicks back on again, said that there may be oil in the line to the inside unit and that they could use a vacuum to suck all the freon and oil out for about 4-5 hours and then replace the freon but this would cost around $1000.
The end result is that my a/c keeps going out, and that the a/c guy says it can't be fixed. He said that even if he replaced the whole unit inside and outside that it would happen again because my house needed 2 units on the outside. He recommended that I get a "manual j" or heat load test done on my home by an engineer and then to get an attorney if that didn't check out. He said that it would cost many many many thousands of dollars to put in 2 units and to completely re-run the ductwork in my home to fix it right.
Any suggestions? Can I sue the a/c company or the builder if they did put in a bad system? Where can I find a company to do a heat load test? Is there any way to fix my current system?
Sounds like none of your contractors did the right thing for you. You don't add refrigerant unless a system needs it and it may just be overcharged now. You need to take some time and find a good tech that can completely diagnosis the system and find out what is really going on.
Damper systems can and do work well, but only on a properly sized and installed duct system. We have installed alot of these systems with very few failures.
Once again, find a tech that knows what their doing. Have them check the static pressure, get the unit charged properly with superheat and subcooling and inspect the overall installation. Make sure that the company you have out knows what you want checked so they send over the right people to do the tests.
Its a good Life!
Talk to your builder. Show them everything you have here. Tell them to fix it, or you'll have it fixed and send them the bill. The system was never working properly, and the installing company is incompetant.
"Hey Lama, hey, how about a little something, you know, for the effort." And he says, "there won't be any money, but when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness." So I got that goin' for me, which is nice. - Carl Spackler
The builder just says that I'm out of warranty and S.O.L. I did call the new a/c company that they use for help. They can't come out to my house until Tuesday!! My biggest concern is finding an a/c contractor that works with Amana systems, knows what they are doing, and isn't trying to overcharge me. I think the last guy out was a little lazy. He just said that the system will never work the way it's set up, which is hard for me to believe since the builder built several homes just like mine in the neighborhood and all of them have just 1 unit and the damper system. Plus, my system does work between break-downs. And advice on how to make sure the a/c people I hire really know what they are doing?