Install A/C by myself

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  #1  
Old 03-12-04, 06:05 PM
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Unhappy Install A/C by myself

I am living in Bay Area. Usually it is getting hot in Summer for 1 month. So I decided to install a split A/C in my home.

Since I just replaced Furnace 2 years ago with 3 Ton coil and upgrade air ducts, it is A/C ready now - just need install an outdoor condenser unit.

I contacted a couple of local a/c contractors, the average quote that I got for Seer 10 Trane XB10 3 ton unit was $2500- $3000, quite expensive. However, when I checked some internet sites, the cost of same model is only $800 including shipping.

My questions:

1) Am I able to install that A/C myself as an amateur w/o license? Besides condenser, copper pipes, circuit brakers, what materials and tools I need to do so? Is there any step by step instruction for DIY?

2) What if I buy the unit in my own and hire a licensed contractor to do the job - is it feasible?

Thanks in advance your advice,

John
 
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  #2  
Old 03-12-04, 08:26 PM
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First of all... 3ton for the Bay Area? That sounds like alot for as cool they are along the bay.

Has a heat lost/gain done to the home for the right sized system?

I am for DIY, but when you get your hands into A/C system. It is NOT a DIY thing. Spend the money and have the Pro do it and have it done right. Chances are you will not get any coverage from warrenity on DIY install.

Most of the tools that are used for the A/C install are not everday tools that you'd have in your garage. Vaccume pump, Micron gage, ect ect..

Most company will not install a system that is not from them.
 
  #3  
Old 03-12-04, 09:19 PM
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John:

Due to environmental concerns diy a/c installation is not allowed.

It's fine to try to save a dollar but in this case the EPA has more of a concern that the installation is done properly than it is about consumers being able to save money.

Shop around to see if you can get a better deal on the complete install.
 
  #4  
Old 03-13-04, 10:37 AM
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Hello: John

Air Conditioning must be charged by licensed installers and or serviced persons under and by California law and per EPA rules and regulations. That part is not a do it yourself task.

The 3 ton unit size is the best size to have for that area. Reasoning is the removal of humidity and moisture more than likely. Much of course depends on square footage and floor plan.

Buying should be done locally, in my opinion. That would help when it comes to initial startup service and future services and or repairs needed.
Doing business locally, from a well known authorized dealer and or serivce agent for the brand has multiple benefits and more than just a price should be considered.

Regards & Good Luck. Sharp Advice.
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  #5  
Old 03-13-04, 06:25 PM
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although in fact the regulations disallow a homeowner from installing their own a/c or heat pump systems, they are readily available online. you will probably not get any warranty, however, despite what you are initially told. if one is purchased by a homeowner, he would be best off setting it, running the electrical (if qualified) pulling the lines and tstat wire, then calling a pro to finish it up.
 
  #6  
Old 03-13-04, 11:05 PM
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Thank you for your advice

After reading all your comments and asking around the friends, I decided to find a licensed contractor. Thanks for your advice!
 
  #7  
Old 03-14-04, 08:27 AM
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Be sure and get 3 bids for the job. ED
 
  #8  
Old 03-14-04, 10:37 AM
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The only problem with A/C DIY is dealing with the freon at the end. You can't buy the stuff (freon) from a reputable dealer and/or supply house without a license. It would also be wise to have a gauge set to check pressures when the installation was complete. Most DIY'ers don't have what they need. However, when I lived in Texas I bought a new place that included A/C. A couple of guys came out and hooked the whole thing up. Everything came precharged with Freon (if I remember correctly) and all they had to do was connect the lines between the evap inside to the condensing unit outside. I really wasn't into A/C at that timet so I didn't pay much attention to what was happening. That would be an ideal way for a DIY'er to complete his/her own installation. Perhaps the rules have changed in the last 10 years making precharged equipment illegal. Back in the early 90's one of the leading illegal imports across the Mexican border was R12 in one pound cans for automotive use. Of course, R12 in one pound cans was illegal in the US and all you could buy was R134. If you knew who to ask, you could get the R12 in the Houston area when you needed it. I eventually converted all my vehicles to R134 and still keep a 30 lb can of the stuff around so I can service my own stuff.
 
  #9  
Old 04-01-04, 06:36 PM
5angel5
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I saw your post and had a similar question myself.
I had come across these sites and not sure if they are helpful or not,, but I thought I would share with you:
www.hvaccomputer.com
www.smartairsolutions.com
www.genieac.com
www.alpinehomeair.com
www.hannaberry.com/doit.shtml

I was considering the smartairsolutions site mostly and not sure what exactly I would be getting myself into, or how much money I could save yet...

Good luck to you
 
  #10  
Old 04-02-04, 10:15 AM
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I looked at some of the sites that you posted. The idea they are selling is that you can install 90% of the system yourself and save some of the money that a Pro would charge. Also stated on at least one of the sites is the fact that you should engage a contractor to do the final inspection of the system and to do the initial turn on. There are a few questions you have to ask yourself before doing the job. Is the system I am buying big enough to do the job, or is it TOO big and will be a waste of my money? Can I do everything necessary to complete my part of the job or will the contractor have to tear out something I did incorrectly and reinstall it the proper way. The whole idea of installing an A/C system yourself is indeed interesting and it can be done, but it may or may not save you any money. Unless you are sure that you can complete each an every task necessary to complete the job properly it may be in the long run cheaper (and easier) just to engage a contractor to do the job for you.
 
  #11  
Old 04-03-04, 04:38 AM
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permits

Don't forget the permits!!! If the town, during their property assesment see an AC unit installed without a permit, can site you for an illegal installation...It's a good money making scheme ,especially when the inspectors are required to establish a justification to the town for their job. If the town brings in more money in fines than their paid salary, it's job security! You'd do the same if you were he/she.
The cost of tools to do the job is too cost prohibitive, and as mentioned, you can't even buy the refrigerant for the line set charge. I know of no contractors that would do the job, and the ones that would, will charge you the same weather you get the condensing unit or not.
If your condensing unit is too large, the temp will come down to set point quickly BUT it will be clammy as hell, .... we have run into this problem before where the customer had a 50% fresh air makeup on a kennel and they decided to close the fresh air damper to save money but this made the place cool and clammy and suppoerted mold growth....sometimes customers get too frugal and shoot themselves in the foot, or higher someone cheaper that don't understand the system, condem it, and confuse the hell out of the customer.
Higher a local company that has been around for more than 20 years.... Check with neighbors that have AC they are a good bet.
Try stay away from companies that are plumbers, they tend to try to do too much, specialize in plumming, not so much in AC....IMO

 
  #12  
Old 04-03-04, 08:19 AM
pagerboy
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Definitely not a DIY job, I took A/C and even though some of the brazing is not that hard there are a few calculations that you need to know.
Plus you would need to rent alot of specialized tools to do the full job and a licence.
 
  #13  
Old 04-03-04, 01:41 PM
5angel5
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Thank you for all the replys... I have decided to have a professional do it...
I sometimes am too positive minded for my own good.
Thank you for your time in answering.

I had someone come out today. They said I should have the duct replaced for a round flex duct, made from metal with plastic coat. we now have the rectangular metal, and he said we will lose efficiency with this type. I am going to see about putting the heater in the attic and give us our hall closet for storage space. He said it will not take too much, new ducting. Our windows lose a lot of heat, we have a back add on with eight aluminum slide windows. We will change them out for dual pane over the next couple years. I am now going to have to determine the SEER size we want to go with. Between a 10 at about 800$ or a 19.5 goes to about 5000$. Not sure what the cost difference will be over time. We will probably be staying in this house for at least another 10 years. He is coming back with the estimate on the 5th, monday...
 
  #14  
Old 04-03-04, 04:57 PM
pagerboy
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Well tell us what he thinks.
 
  #15  
Old 04-12-04, 03:55 PM
binford
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Replacing metal ducts for flex ducts??? Metal ducts are smooth and the airflows very good through them, they can be easy cleaned.

Flex ducts are not smooth and can't be cleaned. Get a 12 seer unit , the 12 will get you the bells and whistles, but not the extra cost.
 
  #16  
Old 04-12-04, 06:02 PM
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Its all in how long do you run the AC there as to what seer you should get. If you run it 6 months or more Id go for a SEER of 14 to 16 and put a hot water recover unit on it. This will kick up the seer for you and give you free hot water at the same time. while the AC is on .

ED
 
  #17  
Old 04-14-04, 07:12 PM
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My 2 cents

I live in TX and just last week I had a new system installed. Two old ones torn out and a new one installed.
Here is what was done crew of 5 came at 7 am with the new stuff.
They removed all old flex ducts air handlers(2) outside units(2) old cement pads(2)and everything else.
Next an electrician came to change breakers and install new boxes or disconnects.
Catwalk was installed in attic before anything 3/8 plywood so workers could move around without falling thru ceiling.
Air handler was fit thru a small access to the attic I don't know how but they did it.
Everything new even the drain pipe for the pan going to the under sink drain.(PVC).
It took 5 guys from 7 am to 7:30 to do the work. I can tell you there is no way I would want to have done what they did.
Today the inspector came out for the company and checked everything out from freon to duct temps the whole 9 yards.
I bought a Trane XL14i with the dual speed air handler and a Honeywell thermostat that I have yet to figure out.

It was nice just to sit back and have the pros do it no muss no fuss no mess.
Sure it cost a lot about 9 grand but now I know it was done right.
 
  #18  
Old 04-16-04, 10:04 AM
binford
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As for your t-stat, just play around with it, once you have done that, next it's time to read the manual. look for some cool feature, ok I know, how excited can one get about a t-stat. For Texas, you might want to check to see if your t-stat is set to use Cooling Droop. The installer should have marked your manual with the options set.
 
  #19  
Old 04-16-04, 12:16 PM
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michael van There in TX I think it would have paid to have a hot water recovery unit put in with this new set up .free hot water when the AC is on is hard to beat .


ED
 
  #20  
Old 04-18-04, 04:11 PM
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What is that

I have never heard of such a thing what does it do?I guess it might be too late now.
 
  #21  
Old 04-18-04, 05:09 PM
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Using a hybred air/water condenser is a reasonable idea. When your A/C system rejects heat to the atmosphere you are just throwing that heat away. That's heat you paid for and you will see it on your electric bill. Why not collect some of the heat and save it in your hot water heater. After all, if you don't, you will have to pay, again, for that heat as well.
 
  #22  
Old 04-18-04, 05:59 PM
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Yes they can still put on on for you . It will make hot water for you as long as the AC is running night and day. Im in florida get about a 8 month run with the ac. I have had my water heater turned off and had all the 140o water I need for 3 in the home all that time. It also helps kick up the SEER on your unit.

Go www.jacobhac.com/hottap.htm


ED
 
  #23  
Old 04-18-04, 07:22 PM
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I am going to check it out

Thanks for that info I am going to look into it. I am into saving electricty.Just like you in Florida we use the A/C a lot here in Texas.
I wonder if it only works when the heat pump is in the cool cycle or does it work in the heat cycle?
But I promise it will get looked into.
Thanks for the tip.
Michael
 
  #24  
Old 04-23-04, 09:21 PM
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Wouldn't it be simple to hire out the AC install itself, but run all the ductwork yourself. That should save a bundle.
 
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