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  1. #1
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    Home A/C Question

    So I'm having some issues with the A/C at our townhouse. Specifically, it has a leak that keeps causing the part of the unit near the furnace (I don't know the technical name) to freeze up. I'm on a maintenance contact with a company who came out and did a quick check for leaks and couldn't find anything egregious and is now recommending a $400 leak test. My concern is that they were just out to fix another leak a month ago and in that time it leaked 2 pounds of refrigerant. It seems like a leak that significant would be rather obvious. My concern is two fold: first, is the $400 reasonable for a leak check and secondly if the unit leaked 2 pounds in a month I would assume it would be leaking rather significantly from someplace.

    In a related note part of my frustration is that during my spring check up in late May everything was in good working order per their tech and checklist.



  2. #2
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    Re: Home A/C Question

    $400 you could just go buy a new A-Coil which is what is freezing up due to the leak.



  3. #3
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    Re: Home A/C Question

    If there is a leak in the coil it might cost that much to do a leak test (I've never been heavily involved in the business portion of plumbing, simply the manual labor aspect). If the leak were in the line set (piping between indoor coil and outdoor unit) it would be a simple find and fix.

    Coil leaks are usually a sign to move on. Depending on the age of your a/c system you might want to look into getting a new indoor coil. Your hvac company can find get a coil that will fit your system and it really isn't too bad to replace.

    The fact that your line is leaking somewhere repeatedly isn't good. Freon isn't cheap, and...well...its been hot out, a/c's are nice to have.


    Last edited by clone319; 07-25-2011 at 09:50 AM.

  4. #4
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    Re: Home A/C Question

    The Seer rating is what is going to be important, companies won't install an A-coil or condenser unit that don't have matching seer ratings. If it is an older unit it will be pretty hard to get a matching A-Coil. I had this happen a couple years ago and used the opportunity to upgrade the condenser and A-coil to a more efficient unit. In the long run a couple thousand dollars now saves money after a couple years.



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    Re: Home A/C Question

    I do this for a living, dont have a plumbing company do anything with an AC (you wouldn't have an HVAC guy take a look at your toilet), have an HVAC company come out to deal with a leak in a system. I do mainly commercial work now but used to do residential. The leak could be ANYWHERE in that system, condensing unit, lineset, Evaporator coil, virtually anywhere. Residential HVAC and Plumbing companies are VERY expensive always have been, they seem to sell more than fix.
    The leak test is going to be one of a few things, are they going to shoot dye into the system, or are they gonna load it up with nitrogen and see if they can find it. My guess is they will use dye since your system isn't completely flat. They will put dye into it and come back usually 48 hours later with a UV light and try to find where the leak is at. If it is on the Condenser or the Evaporator coil, they most likely won't want to fix it and will recommend you replace the problematic coil.
    And thats the gamble of it all do you pay 400 dollars for them to find the leak? What if its a leak that cannot be simply repaired or repaired at all?

    BTW if they came out to fix a previous leak they should have caught this leak, it isn't rocket sceince to pull a vacuum on a system and tell if its holding or not, I would try and get the dye for free due to failure to find all leaks in a system previously. Worth a shot anyhow



  6. #6
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    Re: Home A/C Question

    Another problem, if it is an older system, is the type of Freon. R-22 is being phased out and replaced with 410-A. If your system is using R-22 still, then you will need completely new system if you go that route (that is unless your hvac company can wrangle up a used R-22 indoor coil for you).

    But like ISUcyclone said, in the long run it would probably be best to go new with the problems you are having.


    Last edited by clone319; 07-25-2011 at 09:50 AM.

  7. #7
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    Re: Home A/C Question

    Quote Originally Posted by clone319 View Post
    Another problem, if it is an older system, is the type of Freon. R-22 is being phased out and replaced with 410-A. If your system is using R-22 still, then you will need completely new system if you go that route (that is unless your plumbing company can wrangle up a used R-22 indoor coil for you).

    But like ISUcyclone said, in the long run it would probably be best to go new with the problems you are having.
    FALSE you can still buy R22 refrigerant, you can still buy R22 Evaporator coils and R22 Condensers, all tonnage and sizes, the phase out is only for production purposes, meaning they cant sell you an AC with R22 in it, they sell dry units (And all evaporator coils are dry anyhow and most of them are dual rated for R22 or 410A depending on orifice and metering devices).

    NEVER put in a used coil you don't want that headache.

    PLEASE don't use a plumber to do AC work.

    But agreed depending on the systems age you may want a new system anyhow. Then 410A will be the route to go) however if your system is under 8 years old I don't know if I would scrap the whole unit because of a leak.



  8. #8
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    Re: Home A/C Question

    Quote Originally Posted by GoClones123 View Post
    FALSE you can still buy R22 refrigerant, you can still buy R22 Evaporator coils and R22 Condensers, all tonnage and sizes, the phase out is only for production purposes, meaning they cant sell you an AC with R22 in it, they sell dry units (And all evaporator coils are dry anyhow and most of them are dual rated for R22 or 410A depending on orifice and metering devices).

    NEVER put in a used coil you don't want that headache.

    PLEASE don't use a plumber to do AC work.

    But agreed depending on the systems age you may want a new system anyhow. Then 410A will be the route to go) however if your system is under 8 years old I don't know if I would scrap the whole unit because of a leak.
    How much longer will r22 be available? I thought it was pretty soon here that the only r22 hvac companies could get would be recovered and recycled. 2010 was "officially" when r22 would not be available for new equipment. Getting ahold of r22 for servicing existing equipment must be later.

    And yes, plumbing =/ hvac, I've always used plumbing as a blanket term.



  9. #9
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    Re: Home A/C Question

    Quote Originally Posted by clone319 View Post
    How much longer will r22 be available? I thought it was pretty soon here that the only r22 hvac companies could get would be recovered and recycled. 2010 was "officially" when r22 would not be available for new equipment. Getting ahold of r22 for servicing existing equipment must be later.

    And yes, plumbing =/ hvac, I've always used plumbing as a blanket term.
    It will stop being commercially produced or imported in ~2020.

    I work in the commercial HVAC business. I would recommend getting multiple quotes. Some companies may offer free leak testing if the further repairs are through them. Check BBB websites to see who is good/bad.

    Good luck



  10. #10
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    Re: Home A/C Question

    Quote Originally Posted by clone319 View Post
    How much longer will r22 be available? I thought it was pretty soon here that the only r22 hvac companies could get would be recovered and recycled. 2010 was "officially" when r22 would not be available for new equipment. Getting ahold of r22 for servicing existing equipment must be later.

    And yes, plumbing =/ hvac, I've always used plumbing as a blanket term.
    Yeah, there is still so many things that use R22 which was the official replacement for R12 way back in the day, however India and Mexico make R22 and ship it into the supply houses, I think the official cannot use date will be in like 2020, however residential and commercial fall off dates are different. Alot of R22's uses is on the commercial refrigeration side of it all, the residential market is only a piece of the pie. (Heads up, in order to sell more units, I bet R410A will be deemed hazardous in like 15 years and a new replacement will be out)

    I was just ribbing you about the plumber/HVAC name thing, but plumbers are sometimes the last people you want riding an AC problem, just as an HVAC guy is the last person you want on a water issue.



  11. #11
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    Re: Home A/C Question

    Quote Originally Posted by GoClones123 View Post
    Yeah, there is still so many things that use R22 which was the official replacement for R12 way back in the day, however India and Mexico make R22 and ship it into the supply houses, I think the official cannot use date will be in like 2020, however residential and commercial fall off dates are different. Alot of R22's uses is on the commercial refrigeration side of it all, the residential market is only a piece of the pie. (Heads up, in order to sell more units, I bet R410A will be deemed hazardous in like 15 years and a new replacement will be out)

    I was just ribbing you about the plumber/HVAC name thing, but plumbers are sometimes the last people you want riding an AC problem, just as an HVAC guy is the last person you want on a water issue.
    I don't doubt that at all. A new "safer for the environment" refrigerant will come out and new protocols will ban the use of 410A.

    And in my defense I worked/work during summers for a plumbing AND heating company. So I've grown up being a "plumber" and working on hvac, water, sewer, etc.



  12. #12
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    Re: Home A/C Question

    To clarify the coil inside is freezing due to a lack of refrigerant. They are going to do a leak test for me next week however the technician was saying he thought the leak may be around some coil in the exterior unit as he said there was some corrosion built up on one of the pipes.

    It is indeed an R-22 unit and it is ~10 years old. At this point it is leaking 2 pounds of refrigerant approximately every 6 weeks so it would seem to be a rather large leak.

    And yes, if it comes down to replacing the unit I'll certainly be getting multiple bids/opinions. My plight is that its a townhouse that I don't intend on living in for more than two to three more years so its somewhat painful having to sink appreciable money into such repairs. I've got my fingers crossed its a leak that can be addressed without replacing the unit.



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