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May Need a New A/C (1 Viewer)

Johnny Angell

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Several times now our a/c has frozen up this summer in the past week By that I mean that the compressor on the outside has visible frost on its interior and on the pipes leading into the house. When this happens the a/c continues to run (until I shut it off) but produces no cold air.


We had an a/c company out and they found a faulty part and also cleaned and serviced the unit. We hoped that would take care of the problem at least for a while. Nope, this weekend it has happened several times.


I'm having the company come out again to diagnose the problem. I'm concerned they'll say it's time to replace the whole thing. This is a nearly 10-year-old unit and we have since discovered that the builder did everything a cheaply as he possibly could.


Anyone been through replacing/installing an a/c-heating system? This is a forced air system with an outdoor unit and a unit upstairs. All ducting leading to the air vents is this cheap, you could cut it with scissors piping. Looks like the shiny side of aluminum foil.


Anyone have any suggestions or questions I should be armed with when the company comes out? I know this is going to be a major expense, but I'm not sure how much it will be. Our house is a single story, about 2300 square feet. We live in central Arkansas and it gets hot and muggy here. This will have to be fixed before it gets into the worst part of the summer.


I appreciate your advice.
 

schan1269

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Don't question an AC installer.

Furnace is one thing...AC is another. I had to replace the one at the 2nd house two summers ago.

We use the same company at both houses...and they only have 1 AC guy. The 1 guy that knows how to do everything.

I could be "wrong"...but there should never be a "stupid AC installer"(based on, at least in Indiana, having to be certified to use refrigerant reclamation equipment).

By the way...just the condensor(outside) or the internal furnace as well?

Ours was just the condensor(most common failure...as it sits outside...and most people never clean them. I cleaned ours, at both houses, back in April).
 

Clinton McClure

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I also live in central Arkansas and I have our central AC unit serviced every spring and fall. That's a big reason why our last unit lasted 20 years. The blower fan finally started locking up and the condenser coil would freeze. The unit was so old that a replacement fan was almost impossible to get so we had a new energy efficient unit installed.

Johnny - If your house is single story, why do you have a unit upstairs?
 

Alf S

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Make sure you don't get a condenser that's made of copper. They corrode too fast, especially in humid areas. That's what happened to our 10 year old Carrier system. We switched to American Standard due to top ratings and they utilize SS instead of cheap copper.


Our old unit would have that ice build up too and it was due to leaking freo from the copper condensor.
 

schan1269

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SS AC condensors still use aluminum for the core.

Copper is more efficient and easier to service.

Aluminum lasts longer but the coils are, almost, impossible to repair in the field.

Conversely, automotive condensors are pretty much exclusive aluminum.
 

David_B_K

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I had my outside unit replaced last year with a Carrier. Tomorrow, I am having my coil replaced in the attic. The guy who does my A/C work does the work at the company where I work; so I get good service and pricing. He's putting a Trane coil tomorrow.
 

Alf S

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Yeah Trane is part of the American standard family so they use the same coils.
 

Johnny Angell

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schan1269 said:
Don't question an AC installer.

Furnace is one thing...AC is another. I had to replace the one at the 2nd house two summers ago.

We use the same company at both houses...and they only have 1 AC guy. The 1 guy that knows how to do everything.

I could be "wrong"...but there should never be a "stupid AC installer"(based on, at least in Indiana, having to be certified to use refrigerant reclamation equipment).

By the way...just the condensor(outside) or the internal furnace as well?

Ours was just the condensor(most common failure...as it sits outside...and most people never clean them. I cleaned ours, at both houses, back in April).
Dont queston an AC installer because I can assume he knows what he's doing or because....


Not sure if the problem is only the condenser or the furnace.

Clinton McClure said:
I also live in central Arkansas and I have our central AC unit serviced every spring and fall. That's a big reason why our last unit lasted 20 years. The blower fan finally started locking up and the condenser coil would freeze. The unit was so old that a replacement fan was almost impossible to get so we had a new energy efficient unit installed.

Johnny - If your house is single story, why do you have a unit upstairs?


Clinton, what company did you use? Were you happy with them? Did you have the condenser and furnace unit replaced? Can you give me a ballpark of what that cost.


The furnace unit is in the attic because of the way it was originally installed. Bought the house new and the unit was downstairs in a closet type area right next to our living room. When ever it was running it was like there was a windstorm running thru the house. Spent a couple grand to move it upstairs, it bothered me so much.


What made your unit energy efficient?


From the comments here I gather that copper is more efficient but doesn't last at long as stainless steel, especially in humid areas and we are humid. Since this stuff is so expensive, I'm thinking lasting longer beats out efficiency.
 

Alf S

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Yeah I'd stick with the top rated American Standard or Trane.
 

Johnny Angell

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Alf S said:
Yeah I'd stick with the top rated American Standard or Trane.
I think the company coming out for an estimate carries only Trane, but not sure. I guess that might indicate they want to do quality work.
 

schan1269

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Johnny Angell said:
Dont queston an AC installer because I can assume he knows what he's doing or because....

Not sure if the problem is only the condenser or the furnace.
.
AC people are the smartest HVAC people. When your houses were built(assuming subdivision)...any and every jackass can put the furnace and AC lines in.

Then once every 5-7 houses were done(can't install AC till the house is done...cause it has to be ran/tested) one person comes and does all the AC.

There is no home builder or HVAC repair service that can afford to have everybody AC certified(from a payroll standpoint).

An HVAC peon can make as little as $9/hr. The furnace guy makes $15-$20. AC guys make $35+.
 

Stan

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My central A/C croaked about two years ago. Grandparents had it installed so I'm guessing it's at least 40 years old.


Friend of mine moved up from California and he said with the issues I was having, could easily be something called a capacitator (hope I spelled that correctly). I will have it looked at. Figured it was toast and would be several thousand $ to replace, but maybe not.


Luckily I only need the A/C maybe a month or two in the summer. We also cool off a lot at night, so open all the windows at night, close them during the day, not so bad. We can hit 90 during the day, yet drop to 60 at night, so a fan in a window, blowing outward, cools things off fast.
 

Aaron Silverman

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A capacitor should be a cheap fix; probably a couple hundred bucks. It's just an electrical component that needs to be swapped out.
 

Clinton McClure

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Johnny - I sent you a PM. To add on to it, both my old unit and the new one are 4 ton outside units. The gas furnace and condenser are both housed in the same body. It cost a bit over $5k installed. I say it is more energy efficient because my old unit was 20 years old and it is costing me $20/mo less to cool compared to this time last year.
 

Stan

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Aaron Silverman said:
A capacitor should be a cheap fix; probably a couple hundred bucks. It's just an electrical component that needs to be swapped out.
Thanks for the advice. We're supposed to hit triple digits this weekend, not looking forward to it.


Oiled the outside fan yesterday, A/C worked for 19 minutes then stopped. The fan spins freely, so will definitely have the capacitor looked at. Freon and everything else seems to be fine, I was getting cold air.


Wish I'd done this two weeks ago, but weather wasn't that bad and we rarely go beyond the low 90s. Open the windows at night, close up the house during the day and it's survivable.
 

Aaron Silverman

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If the capacitor is burned out, then it shouldn't work at all. If you got it working for a little while, then it's likely (but not definitely) something else.
 

Stan

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Aaron Silverman said:
If the capacitor is burned out, then it shouldn't work at all. If you got it working for a little while, then it's likely (but not definitely) something else.
I'll have somebody who knows what they're doing take a look, I'm lost right now.


One thing that really surprised me is how simple they are inside, yet we're charged thousands of dollars for the equipment. Kind of like your basic stove/oven, not much to it but a bunch of sheet metal and some wiring, but you certainly pay for it.


I took the cover off and all I saw was the freon tank, lots of copper tubing winding back and forth, and a small electrical "section". If I had any idea what I was doing, I'd fix it myself, but not your basic hardware store repair.
 

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