Potential leaks in AC - replace or not


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Old 03-30-10, 07:34 PM
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Potential leaks in AC - replace or not

I have a service plan for our HVAC so last week was the Spring tune-up of my AC unit.
The technician found that the system needs about 3 lbs of freon, but no real leaks where found.

He did show me two potential leaks:
1) At the line dryer. He showed me a dark spot on the line dryer and according to him this was oil from the inside about to come through. He held a freon detector against it which started beeping near that spot.
2) At the evaporator. He showed me a similair black spot, although it was very hard to see.

In the condensor unit I noticed a corroded joint from the copper thin tube to the aluminum coil. According to the technician is was nothing to worry about and it was not a leak.

I received 3 quotes:
1) Replace line dryer and evaporator coil, replace R22 for R410.Total of $2,300.
2) Replace whole AC system for new Goodman Seer 13 system. Total $5,300.
3) Replace whole AC system for Trane Seer 13 system. Total $7,500.

My questions:
1) Are the black spots true potential leaks or just sales talk?
2) If I chose to go with the repairs, how many more years can I get out of my AC system? It is a 10 year old American Standard system, Seer 10.

Any comment is welcome.
 
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Old 03-31-10, 05:38 AM
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1) Are the black spots true potential leaks or just sales talk?
After locating leak with leak detector. ALWAYS confirm with bubbles. Doesnt take much to set off a good leak detector.
1/2 OZ per year.
You can mix up some dish detergent and water and spray on area if you like. Use a mirror to look at areas that you cant directly see. For very small leaks i will use a magnifying glass.
Bottom line you need to bubble verify before attempting to repair leaks.

2) At the evaporator. He showed me a similair black spot, although it was very hard to see.
It could be, but unless he bubble checks it , its nothing more than a black spot. leaks usually are on near the U .bends of the coil.

2) If I chose to go with the repairs, how many more years can I get out of my AC system? It is a 10 year old American Standard system, Seer 10.
No way to tell for sure but rough life expectancy 20 some longer some shorter. Is this the first time someone had to add refrigerant or is there a history of it?
Personally If a good faith effort was attempted to find the leak, and no leak could be pin point located, I would have the system properly charged , and monitor system.

If i where to replace my unit i would be sure to at least meet the minimum requirement for tax rebate ( may need to verify that its still in effect) I think its 16 seer AC 15 seer heat pump.
PS If your system was flat meaning no refrigerant in your system prior to charging. THe tech should have replaced your drier evacuated and weighed charge in.
 
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Old 03-31-10, 06:42 AM
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Originally Posted by dejongmc View Post
I received 3 quotes:
1) Replace line dryer and evaporator coil, replace R22 for R410.Total of $2,300.
This is a huge red flag for me. You CANNOT replace the leaking components and simply substitute R410 for R22. The entire system must be engineered for R410A.

You CAN replace the leaking components (make sure to locate the leaks as LukeP has described) and go back with R22, but considering the age of the unit, I don't think this would be cost effective if you have to replace the coil. Replacing just the line dryer (if that is the only leak) and recharging with R22 might buy you a few more years.
 
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Old 03-31-10, 01:51 PM
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Thanks.

I bought this house last year in June and part of the deal was to service the HVAC by seller before closing. So they did but the leaks were not reported. The repair slip did say that they charged the system, but it did not specify with how much freon. The heating unit needed replacement and was replaced.

Also during the home inspection the potential AC leaks were not reported.

Let me look tonight if I can see bubbles.
 
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Old 03-31-10, 05:05 PM
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quote #1 isnt right. You cant just add 410a.

I would use soap bubbles.. and wait a year.. Have that same tech come out and see what happens... You never know if a tech fumbled the gauges and lost a pound or to. Maybe the tech over charged your unit... Its really hard to say.. I use to over charge units I knew had leaks that the home owner couldnt afford to repair to help them a little.

But I would make up some soap bubbles and check for your self.
 
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Old 04-01-10, 07:42 PM
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Originally Posted by LukeP View Post
1) Are the black spots true potential leaks or just sales talk?
After locating leak with leak detector. ALWAYS confirm with bubbles. Doesnt take much to set off a good leak detector.
1/2 OZ per year.
Some good info in this post. The only thing I don't agree with is the bubbles by the drier. I have replaced many leaking driers that my leak detector found and unless its leaking on a joint which it usually isn't bubbles haven't found it. And they were decent size leaks.
 
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Old 04-01-10, 07:53 PM
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I could not find any leak yesterday.

Today I asked another HVAC technician to come by for a 2nd opinion. He confirmed that the 2 spots noticed by the other technician were not leaks, not even potential leaks on the short term.
He did found another leak in the evaporator coil tube sheet. A very small leak though.
So I decided to charge the system with another 3 lbs of R22 as the temperatures are going up here in Texas pretty soon. In the mean while I have to decide what to do.

This technician offered a Carrier system, Seer 13, for $3,800. This is way cheaper that the 2 other systems (see my first post). How does Carrier compare to Goodman and Trane?
 
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Old 04-02-10, 03:58 AM
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Originally Posted by dejongmc View Post
I could not find any leak yesterday.

Today I asked another HVAC technician to come by for a 2nd opinion. He confirmed that the 2 spots noticed by the other technician were not leaks, not even potential leaks on the short term.
He did found another leak in the evaporator coil tube sheet. A very small leak though.
So I decided to charge the system with another 3 lbs of R22 as the temperatures are going up here in Texas pretty soon. In the mean while I have to decide what to do.

This technician offered a Carrier system, Seer 13, for $3,800. This is way cheaper that the 2 other systems (see my first post). How does Carrier compare to Goodman and Trane?
I would seriously consider getting quotes for 16 seer a/c unit. Tax Credit:
30% of cost up to $1,500
Expires:
December 31, 2010
Details:
Must be an existing home & your principal residence.
border
Requirements

Split Systems:
SEER ≥ 16
EER ≥ 13
 
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Old 04-02-10, 07:20 AM
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Originally Posted by dejongmc View Post
). How does Carrier compare to Goodman and Trane?
Everyone has their favorites, but I'd rank Carrier much above Goodman and either on par or a bit below Trane in overall quality.

But you should be aware that every manufacturer makes a good/better/best series of furnaces and A/C units, so make sure you're comparing apples to apples. A top of the line Goodman may be a better buy than a bottom of the line Carrier. The 13 SEER is not indicative of the overall quality of the unit, just the energy efficiency.
 
 

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