AC condenser leaking oil?

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  #1  
Old 10-14-07, 11:51 AM
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Question AC condenser leaking oil?

We have a local plumbing/AC/Heating company inspect heating and AC units each fall and spring. The technician said our AC condenser was leaking oil and was a little low on freon. He recommended a AC service technician come out and do and "electronic freon check" costing $200 just for this check. Does this sound reasonable? If the condenser is leaking oil, should it not just be replaced if unit is about 10 years old?
 
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Old 10-14-07, 02:04 PM
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If you see the oil thats where the leak is. Why could that guy not make the repair? Ten yrs old!!! Id see what needs to be done to the old unit before I replace it. If over 500 id go for the new one.
 
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Old 10-14-07, 03:16 PM
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It really shouldn't cost $200 if you can see where the oil is from. An electronic leak detector should pick it up right away.

What part is leaking? If it's from the valve, a repair would be appropriate. If it's from the coil, get advice from a good tech. Sometimes they can be repaired easily. Other times, a copper line rubbing against another part will leak. This type of leak is usually repairable too. If it's from the compressor, forget it.

Good luck and keep us posted.
 
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Old 10-14-07, 04:14 PM
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Originally Posted by jim-connor View Post
It really shouldn't cost $200 if you can see where the oil is from. An electronic leak detector should pick it up right away.

What part is leaking? If it's from the valve, a repair would be appropriate. If it's from the coil, get advice from a good tech. Sometimes they can be repaired easily. Other times, a copper line rubbing against another part will leak. This type of leak is usually repairable too. If it's from the compressor, forget it.

Good luck and keep us posted.
So oil could be coming from either the condenser or the compressor? I think the tech told me freon was leaking from the coil, but he just stated he saw oil near the condenser and the AC specialist from the company would do any repair. The AC is cooling our house fine, so all this is confusing.
 
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Old 10-14-07, 04:54 PM
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Let me explain a little further. Oil is mixed with the freon and flows throughout the system (the oil is there to lubricate the compressor). So, if you see an oil leak, you have a freon leak. Since, freon immediately turns to a gas when it leaks, it gives no visual indication. But, the oil left behind from the leaking freon will stay and be a good visual indication.

In summary, a freon leak is in fact an oil leak too.

I assume the technician add freon at the last visit. The system will cool fine until enough freon leaks to effect performance. I can't say when that will be because I don't know the leakage rate and the capacity of the system.
 
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Old 10-14-07, 05:29 PM
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Originally Posted by jim-connor View Post
Let me explain a little further. Oil is mixed with the freon and flows throughout the system (the oil is there to lubricate the compressor). So, if you see an oil leak, you have a freon leak. Since, freon immediately turns to a gas when it leaks, it gives no visual indication. But, the oil left behind from the leaking freon will stay and be a good visual indication.

In summary, a freon leak is in fact an oil leak too.

I assume the technician add freon at the last visit. The system will cool fine until enough freon leaks to effect performance. I can't say when that will be because I don't know the leakage rate and the capacity of the system.
OK, thanks very much--your info helps the confusion. I assume the electronic freon leak check was to either pinpoint the leaking spot or look for other sites of leak in the system. Either way, I won't pay $200 and will try to negotiate.
 
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Old 10-15-07, 03:15 PM
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Originally Posted by msowada View Post
OK, thanks very much--your info helps the confusion. I assume the electronic freon leak check was to either pinpoint the leaking spot or look for other sites of leak in the system. Either way, I won't pay $200 and will try to negotiate.

That sounds more like a quote to inject dye into the system in order to pinpoint the leak. It's not necessary if the oil can be seen in the unit, simply trace to the source.
 
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Old 10-15-07, 08:13 PM
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Originally Posted by daddyjohn View Post
That sounds more like a quote to inject dye into the system in order to pinpoint the leak. It's not necessary if the oil can be seen in the unit, simply trace to the source.
Injecting dye makes sense to find a leak; the "electronic" component is the confusing part. Gut feeling is the company wants to charge alot for some new equipment they have purchased.
 
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Old 10-15-07, 08:19 PM
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Originally Posted by msowada View Post
Injecting dye makes sense to find a leak; the "electronic" component is the confusing part. Gut feeling is the company wants to charge alot for some new equipment they have purchased.
A special lamp is used to highlight the dye. There are also electronic leak detectors [different from the dye setup] which every technician should have on the truck.
 
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Old 10-16-07, 07:18 AM
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Originally Posted by daddyjohn View Post
A special lamp is used to highlight the dye. There are also electronic leak detectors [different from the dye setup] which every technician should have on the truck.
I guess the bottom line question is: Is it reasonable to charge an additional $200 to "diagnose" a freon leak when oil is seen on the condenser coils? I have already paid $60 for the semiannual inspection and there should have been no "trip" charge included since the tech was already here. We declined the electronic leak check because we thought $200 was exorbitant. We have a long term relationship with this company and just over the last few years it seems they try to find something else to charge for when they come for the maintenance visit.
 
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Old 10-16-07, 07:58 AM
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My 2 cents on this.... I would say $200 is excessive if the technician is pulling out the electronic leak detector to just sniff only the suspected area. This should only take a few minutes.

If however, the tech is examining every part of the system for leaks, then the charge may be more in line. Also, if they are using the dye method that Daddyjohn mentioned, the charge would be appropriate. This method requires two trips. One to inject the dye, and a follow up to look for the leaking dye (with the special light).
 
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Old 10-16-07, 10:24 AM
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Originally Posted by jim-connor View Post
My 2 cents on this.... I would say $200 is excessive if the technician is pulling out the electronic leak detector to just sniff only the suspected area. This should only take a few minutes.

If however, the tech is examining every part of the system for leaks, then the charge may be more in line. Also, if they are using the dye method that Daddyjohn mentioned, the charge would be appropriate. This method requires two trips. One to inject the dye, and a follow up to look for the leaking dye (with the special light).
Thank you to JC and DJ for your input. One reason I questioned the $200 charge is that elsewhere on this site I read R22 billed to customer at $16/lb, whereas my company charges $38 for the first and $31 for each subsequent lb. And that is a "good customer" price.
 
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Old 10-16-07, 01:59 PM
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Id find another company for sure. Any company that sends a tech out and he cant fix any and all that the unit needs.Is a bad bad tech Id say. WE get $16.00 a lb on freon R22
 
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