Heatpump compressor vs whole unit replacement
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  1. #1

    Hmm Heatpump compressor vs whole unit replacement

    I have an 8 year old Rheem 2T heatpump and the compressor is bad. The technician (who I have found to be very truthful in the past) tested it with a new capicitor to check the loads and the compressor apparently has overheated and is pulling too much of a load and won't fire up (my words, not his).

    Anyway, the compressor alone would cost about $ to replace and I questioned why I wouldn't just replace the entire outside unit vice the compressor alone. He said that due to the refrigerant in my system, I couldn't just replace the outside unit but would have to also replace the inside unit (air handler) too to be compatible.

    He opined that since my system was only 8 years old, i would probably be fine just replacing the compressor for now since the life of the system "should" be about 15 years.

    A friend of mine thinks that I am being duped and gouged since he personally replaced just the outside unit of his system (same refrigerant as I have but his is a 2.5T system) two years ago for about $.

    I would like to know if in fact I can get the outside unit alone in my application is it true that I cannot find the outside unit for this setup any longer and would in fact have to change out the entire system Thanks.
    Last edited by beenthere; 03-26-2011 at 04:10 AM. Reason: prices

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Your 8 year old unit is probably only a 10 SEER. 10 SEER hasn't been made since 2005. All new units will be a min of 13 SEER, and your indoor coil won't be big enough for a new 13 SEER condenser to work right.


    PS: No prices please, I already removed them from your post.
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  3. #3
    beenthere,

    Thanks, that makes a lot of sense. This also confirms my trust in my technician. Sorry about the prices thing. I guess I need to re-read the guidelines. I thought it was relevant to the discussion. Thanks again. Great forum.

  4. #4
    Just a follow-on question: I note there are new 2 ton 10 SEER units still being advertised via various sites. Would there be a likelyhood that another unit (maybe not a Rheem) would be compatible with my existing Rheem inside air handler or is this looking for trouble? Thanks,

  5. #5
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    You won't find a new 10 SEER unit. It would have been made before Jan 1 of 2006.
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  6. #6
    Join Date
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    South Carolina
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    A lot depends on availability of the equipment in your area also.
    Whenever you replace a compressor or an outside unit instead of the complete system its always a gamble & whether the cost savings are worth the risk is your call. One thing to consider is a replacement compressor usually only carries a year warranty & the contractor normally does not give any more than 90 days for labor. A new condenser should have a five year compressor warranty & depending on the contractor you may get a full year labor warranty on the condenser. Some manufacturers are starting to only warranty matched systems so you need to be clear about the warranty on anything you purchase now a days.
    I do a lot of work on the ocean front & mismatching & changing out just condensers is common place here. It may be frowned on but its just another option to get up & running.
    Another thing to consider about what your friend said about being duped is that up to Jan. 2010 manufacturers were allowed to make units with R-22 in them. Things have changed.
    Gary
    -----------
    http://www.oceanhvac.com
    An engineer designs what he would never work on.
    A technician works on what he would never design.

  7. #7
    Gary,

    Thanks for that. My technician is actually looking for a compressor with at least a year warranty as he said that 90 days is common with a lot of them now. I didn't know the R22 cutoff was Jan of 2010. That's good to know since he got his two years ago that explains why he could do a full replacement and I can't even setting aside the SEER factor.
    I have settled on getting just the compressor and hopefully get another 6-8 years out of the system at which time, I'll replace the who thing.
    Thanks again for your collective insights.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
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    I would have your tech go through the condition of your evaporator before running your new compressor and make sure it gets a crank case heater. There could be a cause to your compressor failure left in your system. Might be good to install an accumulator for a little added protection as well. Perhaps its just one of those things and it just broke,but it could be likely the compressors failure had a cause that would be avoided with the early replacement.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by frost View Post
    I would have your tech go through the condition of your evaporator before running your new compressor and make sure it gets a crank case heater. There could be a cause to your compressor failure left in your system. Might be good to install an accumulator for a little added protection as well. Perhaps its just one of those things and it just broke,but it could be likely the compressors failure had a cause that would be avoided with the early replacement.
    Agreed. It is very likely that the failed compressor is actually the "symptom" of the actual problem with your system....
    Technical incompetence is NOT a sales tool....

  10. #10
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    If you aren't in a hurry might want to have an audit done. Look at how the numbers flush out. Full warranty and major energy savings might tip some scales...
    Which makes more sense to you?
    CONSERVATION - turning your thermostat back and being uncomfortable. Maybe saving 5-10%
    ENERGY EFFICIENCY - leaving your thermostat where everyone is comfortable. Saving 30-70%

    DO THE NUMBERS! Step on a HOMESCALE.
    What is comfort? Well, it AIN'T just TEMPERATURE!

    Energy Obese? An audit is the next step - go to BPI.org, or RESNET, and find an auditor near you.

  11. #11
    Join Date
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    Your tech should be able to get you a 4 year extended warranty giving you 5 years total.

  12. #12
    I think my problems were self inflicted. He said the lettering on the compressor was faded (he showed me) which indicated it had been overheated. I do know that i didn't change the filters as often as I should have so the air flow to the handler in the attic didn't get as cooled as it should. Apparently the dryer exhaust vent on the house is pushing lent up into the outside unit too. Both bad since it affects the units ability to cool down the oil but both something I can do something about.

  13. #13
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    The amount of work involved to change a compressor properly isn't much different from the amount of work to change the entire condenser in a residential application.

    You also have an 8 year old reversing valve in your heatpump, which is a labor intensive part to change.

    Unfortunately, you are stuck in 8 or 10 SEER limbo, so you just can't switch out parts.

    As others have mentioned, it is possible that you have other problems.

    As your compressor failed, it may have sent junk circulating in the system, which is now in your evaporator coil, waiting for the new compressor to filter out if the replacement isn't done properly... suction line filter dryer, follow up visits to check and finally remove... and you need a biflow filter because of the heatpump, or you can't use the heat portion until the filter is removed.

    I would lean towards evaluating the rest of the system and correcting any deficiencies there first, which includes proper filter maintenance (no 1" pleated filters).

    I would also suggest replacing the whole system, including the lineset. Size and install it properly, and you will be money ahead in 8 years.

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