Central A/C Question - Help!


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Old 04-10-08, 02:18 PM
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Central A/C Question - Help!

Hi everyone.

I'm new to this forum, and I should preface my questions by saying that I don't have a lot of "do-it-yourself knowledge". I live in a 963sf condo with a package unit (A/C and heater all-in-one) on the roof. It's still the original unit and is now 17 years old. An A/C tech just came out to inspect our unit as a "courtesy call" (unsolicited). He says that we need a whole new unit. We live about 30 miles north of Los Angeles and summer temps can get above 100.

I know nothing about this stuff. I've been reading online that 12-15 years is a typical life expectancy, so maybe the tech is right. I'm suspicious because of the unsolicited nature of his visit. He says we need a new 2-1/2 ton 13 SEER unit, and the price installed (including him getting a crane to put it on the roof) is $5200. He said the unit would be a Carrier. He said that our old unit is a 2 ton 10 SEER unit, but he thinks a 2-1/2 ton would be better.

Is this price reasonable, or can I do better? He said that I needed to let him know very quickly or that the price will go up due to the coming hot season. It just seems very high to me, but frankly, I just don't know. Any other bits of advice for me? Thank you in advance for all of your help. I really appreciate it. I am willing to pay a fair price for what I need, but I just don't want to be ripped off.

Doug
 
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Old 04-10-08, 02:54 PM
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Doug
most of your email seems okay as we just replaced our unit 2 yrs ago and paid around $6000 installed (NY area)

however, your "combo" unit puzzles me as my neighbor had that and meant he had main a/c unit PLUS 3 separate heat "blowers" as well .....

did i read this right that you have Central A/c AND FORCED AIR .... same unit?

and they are saying nothing about the heat pumps/blowers ? something seems strange .......

my first question is who do you have maintenance contract with now? have them come out and do a yearly maintenance (for us just over $100 ) and have him review the system and get ready for summer time..... if all checks out then make sure you have your maintenance contract up to date... much cheaper than replacing full unit ... and if they are servicing and checking out the equipment why would you replace then? THEY would have to pay for parts/service if they go bad (pending the type of contract you have) so i would go that route first before replacing anything.....

just my opinion
rf
 
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Old 04-10-08, 03:11 PM
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Doug...is it working ok? If not then call someone to give it a checkout.

The 'courtesy inspection" is most likely a scam, scam, scam. (JMHO) I'm no HVAC guy, but you don't just stop by and ask to do an inspection. If yer a good company, you already have plenty of work. From my reading on here and elsewhere, you don't just guess at the size of a unit. I have a 2 1/2 ton 18y/o Lennox package on the roof of my 1700 sf rancher here in AZ (108 F last August) and it keeps the place plenty cool and warm. (Fingers crossed til the fall) Can't believe you would need as large.

Don't fall for it! Esp that call me now or the price will go up.

Run, don't walk to your phone book or PC and call a few good companies for both an inspection and a replacement estimate if req'd.
 
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Old 04-10-08, 03:37 PM
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Thanks to both of the above respondents.

Robert - by "combo unit" I mean that the heater and A/C are all-in-one. So we would be replacing both the heater and A/C in one single unit. We don't have a maintenance contract with anyone. We just call them out of there is a problem.

Gunguy - Honestly, we haven't used the A/C for several months now since the temps have been so nice. I did turn it on today for the tech and it seemed to be blowing cool enough to me. However, it's a cool day (68 degrees) today, so it's hard to tell. The tech said it was blowing at room temp only. I thought it was blowing colder than room temp.

I should mention that over the past 5 years we have had to have our A/C charged 3 times. Seems as though we have a freon leak somewhere, but the tech told me that it would cost a minimum of $1200 just to find and fix the leak! It could cost up to $1800 he said! Makes no sense to spend $1200-$1800 to fix a leak on a unit that may need a compressor shortly.

In summary, a leaking system is the only problem we've been experiencing. It seems to be getting worse every year though. I was just sort of hoping that we could just fix the leak for 2 or 3 hundred bucks and then just run it until the compressor dies. $1200-$1800 was not what I was expecting to hear to fix a leak!

Thank you again Robert and Gunguy. I appreciate your help. Not sure what I'm going to do yet, but my wife has Multiple Sclerosis, and I need to make sure that I keep our home as cool as possible in the summertime.

Doug
 
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Old 04-10-08, 03:50 PM
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Ahhh Doug, new info

Yes, you seriously need to look at replacement, but call around. You may get some sort or tax break or rebate from your power company, or even low cost financing from the power company. A good new unit will lower your bills and their costs.

Trying to fix it would be putting a bandaid on a ruptured dam, most likely. Might not be as expensive as he said, but likely not cheap. Fixing units that old is pretty problematic from the little I know.

Good fortune to you and your wife.
 
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Old 04-10-08, 08:00 PM
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Run, don't walk away from a door to door a/c salesman.
If they need business bad enough to make cold sales calls I would reject them even if you did need a new unit.

Turn the a/c unit on again and measure the temperature with an accurate thermometer.
It should be about 10 to 15 degF colder than the room temp.
 
 

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