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  1. #1
    I apologize for the length of this email. Let me set the scene. I’m a financial planner; my mechanical abilities are limited at best and I have regularly had “maintenance agreements” with a local service company rather than trying to be an AC “do it yourselfer”. I live in San Antonio, TX. I have a split level 3,300 sf home with three Carrier split system AC/heat pump units (all 10 SEER). One 2-ton for upstairs only, one 2-ton for our large master BR and one 2.5 ton unit cooling the rest of the lower level of the house. All were builder installed when we had the home built 8 years ago. No problems at all until now.

    The upstairs unit was not maintaining temp so I called our service tech. He says we have a leak in the evaporator coil but can’t determine specifically where without pulling the coil. He stated his company’s preference is to replace rather than try to repair. He gave us the option of just replacing the coil or replacing the entire unit.
    In doing my research, it seems like this system should have lasted at least 12-15 years. Is it unusual for this problem to surface after only eight years?

    The tech provided the following:
    1.R-22 was to be phased out by 2020 but recent legislation has accelerated that date. I can’t find anything to substantiate this claim. As time goes on R-22 will get progressively more expensive.
    2.There are numerous rebates being offered by Carrier, our local utility company and his company for installing high efficiency AC units.
    3.The replacement coil has a 1 yr warranty while the new units have a 10 yr warranty.
    4.He gave us a “Repair vs Replacement Score Card” that evaluated 8 areas. A score of 61+ indicates replacement. We scored a 90 of which 30 points was for estimated repairs exceeding $1,000, 10 points for R-22 and 10 points for a SEER rating of 8-10.

    I was leaning towards replacement but after reading the forums I’m not sure what to do and I’m more confused than ever. The financial planner in me says it doesn’t make sense to spend 1/3 the cost of a new system to just replace the coil. Some of my questions:

    1.They seem to push higher SEER systems (15-18). I understand the higher the SEER, the more efficient but at what point am I paying for overkill?
    2.Is a variable speed system really that much more efficient than a single speed system?
    3.In my research, I’ve read that Goodman systems are relatively good systems at a lower price. I’ve read pros and cons but that is to be expected. (Ask any Chevy owner about Fords.)
    4.From my research, it appears all the major brands are about the same and the critical issue is the quality of installation. True?

    I’m at a point of “paralysis by over analysis” but know I need to make a decision. This site is the best I’ve found. I sincerely appreciate any advice you can provide.


    [Edited by isc (i'm so confused) on 07-04-2005 at 11:11 AM]

  2. #2

    No prices please

    Get a second opinion on the repair, may be leaking on service valves or shearder cores. Most new carrier coils have a 5 year warrenty. But at 8 years old the coil would be a good possibility. Variable speed will improve comfort and reduce operating cost. The carrier equipment is a higher level than goodman, but the quality of the system is in the installation.

  3. #3
    Senior Tech Guest
    #1) WE CAN NOT DISCUSS PRICES ON THIS FORUM, PRICES VARY AS TO WHAT REGION YOUR IN, WE CAN NOT SEE YOUR SPECIFIC APPLICATION, TO DISCUSS PRICE WOULD BE UNFAIR TO BOTH YOU AND YOUR SERVICE PROVIDER.

    #2) Find the leak, if it's in the coil, they should be able to find the exact spot, the "it's in the coil area" doesn't fly.

    #3) R-22 is not going anywhere soon, it will be around long after your systems are gone.

    #4) 15 years is average life of system that is properly installed and maintained.

    #5) Repair vs. Replace card...in all fairness I can't see the card but it sounds like smoke and mirrors.

    #6) Yes, all major brands are similar, some have "extras" that others don't, in my opinion the largest amount of failures are caused more by improper installation then quality of equipment.

  4. #4
    Sorry about the price thing folks. I must have missed it in the rules page. I removed references to prices. Sorry.

    [Edited by isc (i'm so confused) on 07-04-2005 at 11:11 AM]

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Posts
    340
    Originally posted by isc (i'm so confused)
    He says we have a leak in the evaporator coil but can’t determine specifically where without pulling the coil.
    How did he determine there was a leak in the evaporator coil? By ear, with a bubble solution, an electronic leak detector?

    I'd get a second opinion. Confirm with the contractor's dispatcher that the tech will come with an electronic leak detector and the skills to use it. If s/he doesn't have one when they get out of the truck, tell them that the dispatcher must have made a mistake and send them on their way.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Suppy NC
    Posts
    4,517
    first find the leak. its in there someplace doesnt fly. if it can be fixed have them fix it and take the gun away from your head for now. maybe get a second guy to look at it. as far as seer what can you afford is how you should look at this. 13 or 14 seer will save you all the way arround. r-22 will be arround for some time yet and beyond
    r-410a is the replacment and is proven to be just as good
    one thing to remamber once the system is in operation and is installed properly recharging it should not be nessarry unless something happens. there for what type refrigerant you have does not matter. if you like this company then ask for a differant tech to come out and talk to him. you own the unit and ask him to find the leak and see if it can be fixed. forget the punch card. you know it is old and a new system will save. you know what it is worth to you in the short run and the long run. even if the fix is temp at least it will give you ac till you can your new system

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Posts
    340
    Originally posted by isc (i'm so confused)
    They seem to push higher SEER systems (15-18). I understand the higher the SEER, the more efficient but at what point am I paying for overkill...
    The breakeven point depends on the cost of the installed system, the number of hours that the A/C runs, and your energy costs. In my experience in west central Florida for most homes anything over 13.0 SEER won't pay for itself during the expected lifetime of the system. YMMV, but you can do the calculation for yourself. Note that this calculator doesn't take into account the opportunity cost of the investment, and the 10% annual rate increase for utilites is ....aggressive. If a strict financial analysis would make you feel more comfortable then you might want to do your own calculation.

    http://www.alltemp-hvac.com/calc/seercalc.html

    [Edited by travisfl on 07-04-2005 at 11:50 AM]

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