central ac leaked

Old 06-23-10, 05:12 AM
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central ac leaked

We just moved into a new house with a carrier model: 38ckb042300 central AC. It passed the inspection last fall and the inspector said it was prob about 10 years old and had some life left in it. This spring we had a patio installed and the installer accidently broke the ac line when moving the compressor and the coolant leaked out. My father came over the next day and quickly soldered the line back together and replaced the line filter. He used silver solder which is what was originally used and was recommended by AC shop that sold him the filter.

I am now calling around to get the system tested for leaks and to get re-charged. A few that I spoke with said it should have been braized on instead of soldered. Is this true?

the cost of testing and charging is coming in around $500.
the cost of new AC is approx $5000

old AC has a rating of 10, new AC has rating 16-18.

I would like opinions on whether I should repair this one or go with a new one.

How long a central AC last? is 10years still relatively young?


Old 06-23-10, 05:53 AM
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Yes unit should have been braized. Silver solder will work but brazing is best.
Average life is about 14 years. If you have 5 grand id get a new unit.
Old 06-23-10, 06:44 AM
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Shop around, $300 may get you a few more years unless you have 5k sit there you don't know what to do with it.
Old 06-23-10, 07:10 PM
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Originally Posted by clocert
Shop around, $300 may get you a few more years unless you have 5k sit there you don't know what to do with it.
I agree.

Every market is different but $300 is more than fair for this easy job. Try and get a good recommendation from a friend or neighbor.
Old 06-26-10, 12:01 PM
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Honestly, 500 is reasonable for this job if they are competent.

Having your father work on this unit will probably work against you.
A contractor who takes a job that someone else started is facing a liability before they even start.
They are also in business and if busy would take the job where they could make a markup on the parts without the hassle of working with a diy'er.
Most companies would have had a drier in their truck and a simple job like this would have not taken much more time to braze in a drier.
If I were to quote a price for a small job like this I would have included the parts that were replaced to offset the risk.

As far as the difference between silver solder and brazing they could be essentially the same thing as the term is often misused.
The process most refer to as silver solder is actually silver brazing and uses similar high temperatures that silfoss or copper brazing uses.

The term silver solder refers to soft solder (400-500 degF melting) that has a small silver content to give slightly more strength to the joint and it stays shiny.
Silver brazing uses a higher silver content and melts in the 1400-1500 degF range.

At one time low temperature silver solder was used on suction lines only but here it is no longer allowed to be used for anything.
It is often necessary to use silver brazing on components like driers as many of the fittings on them are steel and sil-foss for copper brazing won't stick to steel.
If low temp silver solder was used on your drier which would have been done with a soldering torch rather than an acetylene torch, it should be redone.

Regardless, $500.00 would be well worth getting it fixed.

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