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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Posts
    7

    Question

    Hello! I am a homeowner with a really tough problem involving a 3 1/2 year old Goodman/Janitrol system that nobody seems to know how to fix. I'm heading into my second month with no A/C here in the Wash. DC area, so your opinions and feedback about this situation would be greatly appreciated.

    I'll try be as brief as possible:

    On June 1 I turned on my A/C for the first time this season. After a few hours I noticed the house got warmer because I closed all the windows only to discover that the A/C was running but not cooling. To make a long story short I found out that the evaporator coil has sprung a leak so the system lost all it's freon. I had a friend who was visiting from SC help me find the leak using Nitrogen. (My friend owns a Electrical Contracting Co. and has now started doing some A/C repair work so he had some A/C repair tools with him in his truck). It was very easy to find: the leak was in one of the six capillary tubes in front of the coil and we found the leak because it was sitting in the condensate water bubbling away. At first we thought it could just be brazed but I was later told (by local A/C service companies) that doing so would diminish the coil's cooling capacity. Since the system has a 5 yr. warrantee on parts it was suggested that I might as well get the coil replaced.

    After several weeks of misery I finally found a local A/C company here who was willing to get a replacement coil from Goodman under my warrantee. I paid for the labor to have the coil put in, and thought that I would soon have A/C again. No such luck...

    After the coil was put in the service tech proceeded to purge the system. (He also added a line drier which seemed like a prudent thing to do). After nearly an hour the vacuum pump still had not been able to get below 1000 microns and in fact the pressure started to go back up! The tech. replace the pump's oil but at the end of the day he said he would just have to come back with a new pump and more oil. He did recharge the system with freon but when I ran the A/C for nearly 12 hours the house only cooled to 79 deg. over night.

    The next day we started again to try to pump down the system, (after reclaiming the freon of course). Again after an hour of pumping the system still would not drop below 1050 micron. He put nitrogen on the system and pumped it up to at least 150 psig to look for possibly another leak but found none. The technician was also continuously changing out his pump oil. I asked he why he was doing that and he said it was because the oil was being contaminated with moisture; he said it was easy to see since the oil starts off as a light golden color and then turns a milky white color once it's contaminated. The oil being contaminated is also the reason why the pressure starts to go back up after a while.

    Well we did this for nearly five hours. The tech. pumped up the system twice with Nitrogen, and went through nearly 2 gal of pump oil, but we were never able to get below 970 microns. Before you ask, yes we checked the pump's lines for leaks, and several other places by closing the valves on the manifold, and the vacuum went down to under 100 microns. But while pumping on the whole system we could never get below 1000 microns apparently because there is a lot of moisture in the system.

    The technician eventually gave up trying to pump down the system and just recharged it. The A/C does seem to work a little better than before but after just a few hours the coolant gas return hovers in the mid 60 deg. F. range (it's supposed to be in the mid to low 50 deg. F range I was told). Even worse, after about three or four hours the compressor starts to make a very loud hum that is significantly different than it's usual operating sound, and finally the compressor/condenser trips my 40A circuit breaker. I have not run the system since.

    The company that "fixed" my system says that I have water in my compressor and/or condenser but that they can't get it out so they say that I need to replace the entire unit. Unfortunately they won't go to Goodman to get a new unit under my warrantee so I'm stuck now with no A/C and a labor bill that accomplished nothing. I called Goodman customer service and they say its up to the repair company to work with Goodman to diagnose what to do next. This is now just adding insult to injury.

    The bottom line is this: It seems fairly obvious that when the coil leaked out all its freon the system then pulled in the water that the capillary tube was sitting in (stupid design) which then contaminated my condenser and probably my compressor. This water contamination is probably significant which might explain why the system can't be pumped down, and also why the compressor makes a lot of noise and eventually overloads the circuit because its struggling to compress water vapor and not freon.

    So what can I do about this? Can the water contamination be removed or do I have to replace the condenser and compressor? Is there now water contamination everywhere in the system including the new evaporator coil so the whole bleeping system is now shot? Even if I have to buy a new compressor and condenser, would it be worth it to put more money into this Goodman/Janitrash system, or just get a whole new system from Carrier or Lenox?

    Thank you very much for reading this sad story, and thanks in advance for your help!!

    mas6700




  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Posts
    3,400
    The fix would have been to change the oil in the compressor.

    It's probably too late for that now.
    The tripped breaker does not bode well.
    My guess is that the compressor is toast.
    Goodman should still have to warranty at least the compressor, IMO.
    You most likely will get to pay the labor, shipping, etc.

    Get several bids on a new system, so that you can make an "educated decision" on whether or not to pour money into this turkey.







  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Posts
    7
    That's a good point about the compressor oil. I didn't think about that but it would make sense. Curious why the technician who spent the whole afternoon changing the oil in his pump didn't think about the compressor oil either.

    Yeah, the system never tripped the circuit breaker before now and the noises the compressor makes definitly isn't normal. I think the compressor may still work but if I try to run the system in its current state it will be toast for sure.

    Trying to get anyone around here to do Goodman warantee work is a challenge to say the least, but its either that or buy a whole new system. I wouldn't mind if it was a little older but I would have expected the A/C system that came with my new townhouse to last a little longer than 3 1/2 years...

    Thanks for your input. It helps!

    mas6700

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Fort Worth, TX
    Posts
    11,338
    Moisture is the culprit, here. You can proceed with a compressor change-out if indeed it is toast, but it needs to be followed up with a thorough evacuation and perhaps a replaceable core suction line drier in addition to a new liquid line drier so at least one or two core changes can get any remaining moisture out of the system.

    Just pray your system isn't full of green slime. If that's happened, you're in for new EVERYTHING.
    • 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.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Location
    Urbandale IA. USA
    Posts
    4,934
    Who put your system in?
    Are they still in business?
    Call them, they should be able to do you right.
    A new system in ANY brand is going to cost, don't give up because of one repair.
    Would you go buy a new car because of a flat tire?
    I believe a new compressor (under warrenty for 5yr-10SEER or 10yr-12SEER) should solve your problem, if done properly.....


    Those who dance, appear insane to those who do not hear the music.
    Those who believe, appear ignorant to those who do not know God.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Posts
    7
    The system came with the town house that was new construction. You know builders... they give you the cheapest possible equipment and materials they can legally get away with.

    The subcontractor who put in the system I believe was also the company who did the electical work. Curiously I just last week got a post card from them offering a discount on a new A/C system. Gee, whatta amazing coincidence. The electical work they did on my town house was really pathetic so I've been hesitant to call them, but you have a point since they were the original company who put in the system in the first place. If nothing else they may at least get me a replacement compressor from Goodman whereas this other company I think doesn't want to deal with this lost cause any more.

    The only reason why I've been contemplating replacing the whole system is that I figure the whole thing is so screwed up now that I might as well put in a quality furnace and A/C unit a few years earlier and then not have to worry about it. But your point about that being a real waste is well taken. I agree but it's getting difficult going week after week with no A/C and no one willing to try to fix it unless I just buy new replacement equipment.

    to shophound: I appriciate your input about putting in an additional replaceable core suction line drier in addition to a new liquid line drier. No doubt this mositure has been circulating thoughout the whole system which is probably why it runs OK for a little while and then starts cavitating or whatever else its doing that causes the compressor to exceed it's current rating and trip my circuit breaker. I can picture a "bubble" of water vapor being pushed around and then causing my compressor to have problems when it circulates back. G-d what a nightmare....

    Thanks for your input!

    mas6700

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Posts
    7,680
    First I would go changing the compressor unless a megohm test is done. If the insulation on the windings is damaged then replace it (compressor). Also test the oil with an acid test kit. Then the correct thing to do would be change the oil in the compressor (unless replaced). If the compressor is replaced the coils should be purged with nitrogen. An acid clean up drier such as a Sporlan HH reier is needed. A suction line drier can also be used but it needs to be removed at the end of the service.

    A triple evacuation needs to be perfomred using Nitrogen to break the vaccuum between evacuations, not refrigerant. This will chase out any moisture or non-condensibles. Finally the last vacuum needs to get to 500 microns. If it will not, you either still have moisture or a leak. Once it is down to 500 microns and holds. Virgin refrigerant should be used and weighed in. Run the system for an hour or so and pump it down or recover the refrigerant, remove the suction drier completely and repipe. Replace the liquid line drier with a new clean up drier and open the valves or recharge (preferably with virgin refrigerant).

    Your system should be back to normal. I would anticipate this taking the better part of a day to complete properly.

    By the way, I commend your technician for changing his vacuum pump oil the way he did. It sounds like other than the not perfromaing the tripple evacuation he was doing the right thing. I also like to use 1/4 copper tubing with flare nuts on the gauges for vacuuming the system in such a condition.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Posts
    7
    Thanks docholiday for taking the time to explain some of the details of what really needs to be done. I agree with you that the system probably can be fixed with a lot of work and testing and patients, but trying to find a company here in the Wash DC area who would do all of this is next to impossible. And even if I could they would no doubt charge me a fortune for labor especially if it really requires what you're talking about where it'll need practically a whole day's worth of work. Plus, who knows what else I'm going to find is wrong with this POS system once all this stuff is done and I've paid for hours and hours of labor.

    I'm leaning towards just cutting the whole system loose and putting in a new Lennox or Carrier. By the time I have to pay for a new system with their deferred financing my current system's warantee will be gone, not that the manufacturer seems to care anyway. The bottom line is that I just will have to bite the bullet and throw a whole lot of money at the situation so I can get on with my life... and get some sleep.

    If you or anyone else out there has a better idea I'd be happy to hear it. Thanks!! mas6700

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Posts
    501
    mas6700, I agree with you that they will probably charge you a lot in labor. Just as docholiday said, it will take the better part of a day to complete it properly. You'll get 7-8 hours worth of labor charges, plus virgin refrigerant, driers, maybe torch charge, nitrogen, vacuum pump oil, etc.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Posts
    7,680
    Its your call.

    As a footnote, I am sure the mfg of your equipment offeredan optional labor warranty. Since you had a new construction job it was probably not offered as you apparently had no relationship with the contractor. 3/4 of a day labor at 80 bucks an hour is 600 bucks plus some materials, a far cry from the cost of a new system. 3.5 years is awful early to give up on it. You could ask for an estimate or a quote.

    The warranty is just that. If a part fails, you will be provided a replacement part. A leak would generally only require a repair but if the coil was covered then a coil could have been given. An extended or optional warranty may offset the costs of parts and labor for up to 10 years. Unlike the ones offered by automotive dealers, the ones in this trade are usually worth every penny. Generally one or two failures pays for the warranty. For those who want this kind of coverage, they should select the complete coverage. It generally is too late to ask for it when you need it later.

    If you do rip it out, find a compitent contractor in your area. Im not sure where you live but consider someone like the Nugent brothers who take the extra step to insure you are happy. Last time I checked, they offer a 100% satisfaction garentee.

    [Edited by docholiday on 07-07-2005 at 08:38 PM]

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Fort Worth, TX
    Posts
    11,338
    to shophound: I appriciate your input about putting in an additional replaceable core suction line drier in addition to a new liquid line drier. No doubt this mositure has been circulating thoughout the whole system which is probably why it runs OK for a little while and then starts cavitating or whatever else its doing that causes the compressor to exceed it's current rating and trip my circuit breaker. I can picture a "bubble" of water vapor being pushed around and then causing my compressor to have problems when it circulates back. G-d what a nightmare....
    You can bet good money that when that leak in your evap sucked in moisture, it also sucked in non-condensibles with it. This is more than likely causing high head pressure, which strains the compressor, which could in turn trip the breaker.

    Before proceeding any further with this compressor I'd put a megger on the windings to see if there's any hope. If that passes muster you might get by with this compressor after a thorough cleanup but I'd be leery of it.

    If you go for a compressor changeout (vs. a new system), the only way I'd have any confidence this system might live to fight another day is for the tech to do everything doc mentioned. Triple evac, change out suction drier at least once, acid and moisture tests. Thing is, it's a sad state of affairs that the resi tech able and/or willing to be this thorough is a rare bird. Many times they have the will but a boss that says "hurry hurry" so doing things the right way gets shelved in favor of the big mad rush.

    Even sadder still is the risk you run, if you go with a new system, of getting a crew of attic monkeys that slap it in rather than the careful attention to detail this form of work demands.

    <shaking head> Folks, it shouldn't be this bad. And yeah, that goes for cheap coils that leak, too!
    • 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.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Posts
    7,680
    So we let him reaplace the unit and leave the same lines installed?

    What happened to service techincians, why do they have to sell equipment? Its no wonder the new guys dont learn how to service anything, all they see is the lead guy sell.

    So next year how do we handle this? I mean the price difference between a replacement and a repair will be higher and descisions may be made to repair versus replace.

    Glad I didnt throw my big screen away, 300 bucks to reapir it properly saved me 1800 for a plastic version of what I have and would only have 1 tuner and 1/2 the watts. I tipped my service guy.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Nov 2000
    Location
    Waco, Texas, USA
    Posts
    6,153
    mas6700, has your contractor been compensated for the work he has done so far? Not by you but by the manufacturer?
    "And remember my sentimental friend......that a heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others" - Wizard of Oz.

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