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Leak in the central air/heat unit


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#1 of 29 Patrick Sun

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Posted August 27 2006 - 02:19 PM

I noticed I had a leak from my central air/heat unit inside my house. Well, I thought it was my condensation pump going bad, so I replaced it, but then I noticed that I still had a leak, so I took off the cover and took out the air filter, and saw that there is water leaking from the turbine-looking fan unit just underneath the furnace portion of the air/heat unit (I think the leak is from higher up in the cooling system and the water is just draining downward). For now I have some pans collecting the water, but I was wondering if this is going to be an expensive repair (as in having to replace the entire unit), or something where a repair guy could locate and repair the leak without me having to do take out a second mortgage or something. Heh.
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#2 of 29 JoeyR

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Posted August 27 2006 - 03:21 PM

Patrick,

I do commercial HVAC for a living, you could have a few things going on.

1st your drain line may be stopped up, if you have a wet vac there should be a vent in the drain line as soon as it comes out of the unit, pull the other end of the drain line out of the condensate pump, either purchase a 3/4" pvc cap and cap the vent and suck the drain out from the condensate pump end or have someone cover the vent with their hand and try to make a seal as best as possible.

********************PLEASE REFRAIN FROM TOUCHING ANY PART OF THE UNIT/ANY METAL TIED TO THE UNIT BECAUSE YOU DONT KNOW WHAT ALL IS BEING LEAKED ON***************************************

2nd the unit could be freezing up, you want be able to figure the reason out without a certified technician(dirty evaporator, dirty blower, low on freon)

3rd you didnt state the age of the unit, the primary pan in the evaporator coil may have a hole in it, you probably will have to change the coil and that opens a new can of worms.

As of Jan. 1st of this year the new federal law is all a/cs must have a SEER of 13, so guess what, if your evaporator leaks you have to change the heater, evaporator, condenser and maybe the duct work, if the condenser goes out/leaks you have to change the whole system also to reach the proper SEER rating. If you have to do this be prepared to spend some $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

#3 of 29 Patrick Sun

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Posted August 27 2006 - 03:42 PM

Thanks for the suggestions. I've heard about SEER 13, and since my HVAC unit is about 15 years old, I'm guessing option 3 is going to hurt me in the wallet.

For option 1, the drain tube that feeds the condensation pump has a couple of short elbows from the housing, but I see no easy way to get to a vent if it's there, so I'm stuck on that one.

Posted Image

For option 2, I might have to beg a co-worker to check it for freeze-up possibilities. He's got some HVAC experience too, so maybe he could offer some advice as well.
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#4 of 29 Chris Lockwood

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Posted August 27 2006 - 03:48 PM

I'm no expert, but it sounds like conditions may be right for a mold infestation, which is bad.

#5 of 29 Patrick Sun

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Posted August 28 2006 - 04:19 AM

I got a well recommended Air/heat guy to come out and look at my central air/heat unit later this afternoon, hopefully it's just a blockage, and not something that's been worn out yet.
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#6 of 29 Patrick Sun

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Posted August 28 2006 - 10:07 AM

Ouch, it looks like I'll be eating ramen noodles for a while. I'm getting a new compressor and AC coil installed tomorrow afternoon for the [sarcasm]low low price of $2700.[/ sarcasm]
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#7 of 29 JoeyR

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Posted August 28 2006 - 01:14 PM

Hold on a second Patrick, I can see if the coil is bad, what did he say is wrong? Did he get a 10 seer coil? Are you getting a coil and condenser or coil and compressor? Please respond ASAP

#8 of 29 Patrick Sun

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Posted August 28 2006 - 01:50 PM

It's the Trane XR13 air conditioner (probably the smallest model - 1.5 ton, my house isn't that big, slab, ranch-style), and an AC coil section that was rated SEER13 (it's a self-contained unit that'll sit on top of the furnace section). The repair guy advised that if I replaced just the AC coil section, my existing Rheem compressor would work harder, but mating the new AC coil section to the Trane XR13 compressor is the more ideal solution.

The water buildup appeared to be caused by freeze-up at the coil laboring with the lack of refrigerant from the compressor outside. He could have juiced up the outside compressor with more refrigerant for the service visit, but with water leaking out of the coil section eventually, the problem would have returned (if not this season, probably next season). But with the age of the parts in question (15 years), I just decided to get both replaced at this point.

I think he quote about $1400 for replacement/installation of the furnace section. I suppose that's another thing that'll be done one of these winters.

I am probably paying a little too much, but the timing is horrible for me, I have a guest staying at my place over the Labor Day weekend, and the lack of AC would make it a not-so-pleasant place to be.
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#9 of 29 JoeyR

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Posted August 28 2006 - 02:03 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Patrick Sun
It's the Trane XR13 air conditioner (probably the smallest model - 1.5 ton, my house isn't that big, slab, ranch-style), and an AC coil section that was rated SEER13 (it's a self-contained unit that'll sit on top of the furnace section). The repair guy advised that if I replaced just the AC coil section, my existing Rheem compressor would work harder, but mating the new AC coil section to the Trane XR13 compressor is the more ideal solution.

The water buildup appeared to be caused by freeze-up at the coil laboring with the lack of refrigerant from the compressor outside. He could have juiced up the outside compressor with more refrigerant for the service visit, but with water leaking out of the coil section eventually, the problem would have returned (if not this season, probably next season). But with the age of the parts in question (15 years), I just decided to get both replaced at this point.

I think he quote about $1400 for replacement/installation of the furnace section. I suppose that's another thing that'll be done one of these winters.

I am probably paying a little too much, but the timing is horrible for me, I have a guest staying at my place over the Labor Day weekend, and the lack of AC would make it a not-so-pleasant place to be.

Ok I just wanted to make sure that your getting a whole unit(condenser) and not just a compressor outside. I hate to add to this but you would be better off replacing the furnace now, so you will have a matched system, also changing the furnace at a later time, the new coil would have to be lifted, I dont know these people so dont take this the wrong way but one OOPS and you have to change the coil again, just something you may want to take into consideration.

Prices sound about right, just wanted to make sure you were getting a complete unit outside dont like seeing people get messed over.

#10 of 29 Patrick Sun

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Posted August 28 2006 - 02:20 PM

I'd love to replace the furnace at the same time, but I like to eat on a regular basis (as the expanding waistline can attest).

IIRC, The guy measured about 200 psi or less for the refrigerant pressure, which I guess is low for the outside AC unit. The repair guy was recommended by the building maintenance guy at my office, and the repair guy also handles the maintenance guy's HVAC issues, so I wasn't too worried about getting jacked up, but also wanted the job done right. Thanks for letting me know the price was in the ballpark for this type of job.
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#11 of 29 Patrick Sun

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Posted August 29 2006 - 06:26 AM

The repair guys showed up and are in the process of installing the 2 components, but in the meanwhile, I'm sweating off 15 pounds or so, so far...

They did show up with a huge 2.5 ton unit from Trane XR13 line, I thought I'd be getting the 1.5 ton unit, so that was a plus.
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#12 of 29 aaron campbell

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Posted August 29 2006 - 07:54 AM

Patrick, If they brought you a 2.5 ton, the coil would have to be minimum 2.5 also. Are you sure the coil will fit in your furnace? Going from 1.5-2.5 doesn't sound good. Was your unit having a tough time keeping your comfort level? Did they do a 'j' manual calculation for heat gain/loss?

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#13 of 29 Patrick Sun

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Posted August 29 2006 - 08:30 AM

I was assuming it would be a 1.5 ton unit, but turned out to be a 2.5 ton unit. The coil is an American Standard/Trane unit 2TXCB031AC3HCA, which is a 2.5 ton-rated coil (according to the website I found). I'm not sure if calculations were done, perhaps he was going by his experience. My house isn't all that big, so it's not like it was going to need a higher-rated (in tons) compressor unit.

Anyhow, the coil did fit in the space that was occupied by the former coil after a bit of finagling, so that was good news.

It was actually cooler outside my house (85 degrees or so) than inside the house (93 degrees) while the new components were installed, but the AC is now operational, and I had no idea what all that money felt like until now, much more cooler ...
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#14 of 29 JoeyR

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Posted August 29 2006 - 10:42 AM

Patrick could you post some pics of the install, plus you need to get the model number from the evaporator and condenser, the system should be matched, I have heard of people having a half ton difference but if there is a 1 ton difference that is a potential problem, if he upsized your unit without doing a load calc your looking at another potential problem.

#15 of 29 Patrick Sun

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Posted August 29 2006 - 11:03 AM

There's no 1 ton difference, both are 2.5 ton units (I didn't have the specifics yesterday, just my assumptions - I don't replace this stuff everyday, so it was a learning experience):

The coil is an American Standard/Trane unit 2TXCB031AC3HCA.
The condenser is a Trane unit XR13 2TTR3030A

The new coil was "spackled" into place using the original insulation panels to house the coil that didn't have any housing, so the original contractor for the house just built a box around the coil (to save some money for the builder). I'll post some pix when I get a chance.
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#16 of 29 JoeyR

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Posted August 29 2006 - 11:33 AM

According to the nomenclature I came across, that was originally a cased coil and it was a heat pump coil, not a straight cool coil, I'm not a residential matching expert so I'm not sure if that is ok or not will wait to respond until pics are posted.

#17 of 29 Patrick Sun

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Posted August 30 2006 - 04:40 AM

Here are the photos.

I pretty much froze my butt off last night, it was so cool and nice. Now it's a nice 78 degrees and much more comfortable. My cats are actually lucid today, they were all sprawled out, tired and fatigued from the temperatures yesterday afternoon.
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#18 of 29 JoeyR

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Posted August 30 2006 - 10:57 AM

Ok Pat I'm not trying to freak you out or anything(dont know how much you know about units) on your furnace(blower part) there is a pipe leaving the top of the unit going through the roof, I notice there is a bigger pipe around that one, I need you to pick up the outer pipe and post some pics of where the pipe going through the ceiling is connected to the unit, I want to make sure your flue pipe is connected.

#19 of 29 Patrick Sun

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Posted August 30 2006 - 03:25 PM

Fear not, it's all screwed back into place. The bigger pipe is just a shield of sorts.
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#20 of 29 JoeyR

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Posted August 31 2006 - 10:01 AM

Ok just wanted to make sure that was sealed off completely and they didnt just stick back in loosely