Fed up with central air, wondering if window or wall units would be best?

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  #1  
Old 04-21-12, 09:12 AM
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Fed up with central air, wondering if window or wall units would be best?

We have a 2300 sq ft UBC modular house ( on a foundation ) in the Denver area.

We've been through 8 years of hell with trying to keep our central air working. We bought a $4000 Carrier with this house when it was new in 2005 and have spent an average of $500 a year getting it working each and every spring since then. It kept leaking gas and now has other problems and the company that sold it and serviced it is now out of business and we don't even know if it can be cost effectively fixed.

We looked into splits and with installation, they apparently cost even more than central air. I'm not a do-it-yourselfer when it comes to AC, unfortunately. We're broke and disgusted by the central air experience and will never buy Carrier again.

So now we're wondering about window or wall units. I see they're less than $500 for about a 9000 btu unit at Home Depot, and run on 115vac, so they'd plug into the wall instead of needing a line run. We don't use most of the house anyway, and would just need one in two of the bedrooms to cool the few rooms we use and care about.

But we're wondering, do the more modern ones use zero sine cycle electronic switching for the compressor so they don't clunk off while you're sleeping?

And I see that some of the splits units are 20+ SEER, do window or wall units come that high too?

And are they well enough sealed and insulated where they wouldn't let cold air in, in the winters?
 
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Old 04-21-12, 09:40 AM
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Have you ever contacted Carrier about the warranty? There is no reason you should have to dump $500 a year on a new unit.

Why not just replace the the A/C condenser outside? Sure you can't DIY it but is should perform better than a window shaker and cost less then any mini split. Also, window units will draw about 12 amps. Can your current circuit handle that load and any existing load that is on it now?
 
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Old 04-21-12, 11:50 AM
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Depending on insulation in the walls and ceiling more then two rooms would probably be a stretch. You'd do best with probably with small ones (~8000BTU) in the bedrooms and a 12-15000 to cool the rest of the house. Two reasons for separate bedroom units. Bedroom doors are often closed for privacy and at night you can just shut off the main unit and save some bucks on cooling. Also during the day you can save by shutting the bedroom doors and just cooling the rest of the house. You would need dedicated receptacles but that should be an easy DIY if you have a crawl space.
 
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Old 04-21-12, 01:52 PM
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Sorry to hear that you have to go through all those troubles. My feeling is the installation was never done right to begin with, and then they don't really want to fix it right after. Shame of that company. no wonder they are out of business. Anyway, My suggestion is to find some one fix it, and fix it right this time. Window unit has no comparison to central air in terms of comfort level.
 
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Old 04-21-12, 02:06 PM
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Have you ever contacted Carrier about the warranty? There is no reason you should have to dump $500 a year on a new unit.

Why not just replace the the A/C condenser outside? Sure you can't DIY it but is should perform better than a window shaker and cost less then any mini split. Also, window units will draw about 12 amps. Can your current circuit handle that load and any existing load that is on it now?
Yeah we contacted Carrier lots of times along the way. They basically sounded like they didn't care. It was often a gas leak somewhere - not covered. They kept filling the gas every year, for hundreds of dollars plus trip charges, claiming they found it, then the next spring it was not working again. Over & over... 2 years ago they replaced the coil. We don't know that it's the compressor, no one seems to be able to find & fix the leak. We won't replace the compressor because we don't know the cause, and we cant afford to keep doing this. We don't know if the wall sockets can handle the current.
 
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Old 04-21-12, 02:11 PM
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Sorry to hear that you have to go through all those troubles. My feeling is the installation was never done right to begin with, and then they don't really want to fix it right after. Shame of that company. no wonder they are out of business. Anyway, My suggestion is to find some one fix it, and fix it right this time. Window unit has no comparison to central air in terms of comfort level.
Yeah ok. Well we're so disgusted with this, and we hired a guy a month ago, who charged $120 to come out and "diagnose" it, said it was the control board in the compressor unit out there, then messed around for a whole month and never came back and finished it! Now we have another guy who came here Friday and he says for starters that the motor capacitor was blown. I have some electronics background and check it with him and he was right. So I went and got one now ( he said I could save some money by getting it myself ) and will put it in and see if it works, but we may be out of gas again, AND the control board MAY be bad, like the other guy said. We're disgusted. We will NEVER buy Carrier again, EVER!
 
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Old 04-22-12, 09:23 AM
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Man! It sounds like there is a lack of knowledgeable techs out there.

I guess maybe cut your losses since you out of freon and price out a new unit and line set. Get many bids and discuss warranties. Not just the manufactures warranties, but the shops. Basically, will they come back and fix it if it fails in XX years?

I still think you would be better off getting the central AC working rather then going to mini splits or window ones.

I am not an A/C tech but the only "boards" I have seen inside a condenser is the power relay. The furnace board has always done the controlling of the outside unit.
 
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Old 04-22-12, 10:30 AM
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Man! It sounds like there is a lack of knowledgeable techs out there.

I guess maybe cut your losses since you out of freon and price out a new unit and line set. Get many bids and discuss warranties. Not just the manufactures warranties, but the shops. Basically, will they come back and fix it if it fails in XX years?
No one will do that. I've asked. One guy on another forum, said that when he was in AC tech school, they basically told the students that this was a "license to steal".

I still think you would be better off getting the central AC working rather then going to mini splits or window ones.
Me too, being we don't have $4000-$12000 for splits. ( yes, one company quoted us $12,000! The central air system only cost $400 new! )

I am not an A/C tech but the only "boards" I have seen inside a condenser is the power relay. The furnace board has always done the controlling of the outside unit.
No, this Carrier compressor unit has a control board and it costs $375 WHOLESALE, I priced it. Hopefully that's not the problem.

That's one thing that fries me about Carrier ( they all probably do it ) I was an electronics R&D technician from 1969 to around 1995. That board probably costs $15 from China! Ok, I know they need to make a profit, and I'm a capitalist too, so double that to $30 for the distributor, and again to the consumer when the tech installs it. ( remember he's charging for labor too! ) So $60? But $375?! Give us a break!
 
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Old 04-22-12, 12:03 PM
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No one will do that. I've asked. One guy on another forum, said that when he was in AC tech school, they basically told the students that this was a "license to steal".
You can't get anybody out to give you a price for installing a new A/C condenser, line set and A coil?
Furnace is only 7 years old. I don't see what the problem is. I know it doesn't seam the right way to go but Craigslist has pretty much taken the place of the yellow pages. I just searched the Colorado Springs listings and found quite a few hits. Maybe check that out.
 
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Old 04-22-12, 01:48 PM
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The circuit board for the condenser... thats what the guy said was bad? I cant think of any reason why your condenser would have a circuit board unless it is a heat pump. And if it is a heat pump then it is understandable why everything is breaking down. because it may be 8 years but heat pumps run winter and summer. making them twice as likely to break down. Circuit boards on the condenser are incredibly easy to bypass and I shocked your tech didnt do that.
 
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Old 04-22-12, 03:17 PM
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If you can post a few pictures of your condenser, control board, and show model numbers, that will help.
 
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Old 04-22-12, 04:09 PM
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The "heat pump" thought crossed my mind but I checked the OP's title and it says "air conditioner" so I let it go. That would make much more sense about the circuit board if it is a heat pump.
 
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Old 04-22-12, 05:21 PM
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You can't get anybody out to give you a price for installing a new A/C condenser, line set and A coil?
No, I meant that the warranties are garbage. Even with the compressor warranty, we had to pay for the freon every year. We had the coil replaced 2 years ago, because they said that was the cause of the leak, finally, then needed gas again in spring of last year!

And NO ONE will give us a warranty that covers parts AND labor and freon if it goes bad again by next year. All the "warranties" ever cover is the equipment, NOT labor and freon.

Furnace is only 7 years old. I don't see what the problem is.
Furnace?

I know it doesn't seam the right way to go but Craigslist has pretty much taken the place of the yellow pages. I just searched the Colorado Springs listings and found quite a few hits. Maybe check that out.
Craig's List? I tried that and got guys who come out and charge $120 to look at it, then never show up to finish the job. And Colorado Springs is 80 miles from Denver.
 
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Old 04-22-12, 05:26 PM
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The circuit board for the condenser... thats what the guy said was bad? I cant think of any reason why your condenser would have a circuit board unless it is a heat pump. And if it is a heat pump then it is understandable why everything is breaking down. because it may be 8 years but heat pumps run winter and summer. making them twice as likely to break down. Circuit boards on the condenser are incredibly easy to bypass and I shocked your tech didnt do that.
No heat pump, just a circuit board in the compressor unit. The Carrier compressor is a 4204E43554.

The board has several number sets: CEBD 430439-03E, 3304N005437, CEPL 130439-01, and the guy at a parts place said it was essentially a HK 38EA013.

I don't know about photos here guys, I'm barely awake right now, haven't slept more than 5-6 hours a night in a week and it's getting even hotter in here now...
 
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Old 04-22-12, 05:56 PM
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the number you gave is a serial number, not a model number. The only thing we can tell from it is that your unit was made in 2004.

Per the control board info you listed your unit is a high end 2 stage communicating unit.
 
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Old 04-22-12, 06:13 PM
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Adding refrigerant is NOT part of normal maintenance.

You need to find a good technician who knows how to find leaks.

Fixing the current system should cost you less than mini-splits.

It's possible to isolate the outdoor unit to determine if the leak is in the evaporator/lineset or condenser. (they close the service valves and pressure the lineset/coil with nitrogen)

----------------------------
If you decide to replace rather than repair, consider a simple 14-15 SEER unit without a expensive control board.

Go with a manufacturer which offers a full parts and labour warranty.
 
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Old 04-22-12, 06:16 PM
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the number you gave is a serial number, not a model number. The only thing we can tell from it is that your unit was made in 2004.

Per the control board info you listed your unit is a high end 2 stage communicating unit.
Ok, just went out and looked. Model 38TDB048300. Is that better?

And we were told that they installed an oversized coil with it, which supposedly raised the SEER.
 
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Old 04-22-12, 06:21 PM
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Furnace?
You know, That thing that makes heat when you need it. Also has the A Coil and a fan to move the air. I assumed you have a furnace but maybe you have just an air handler?

I mentioned Colorado Springs just Cuz. Your header only states your in CO.

Humm, down on Craigslist too. How about Angie's list?
 
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Old 04-22-12, 06:22 PM
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Just out of curiosity, if I didn't hire some big company to do it, how much should I be able to get a couple of 2 head mini split units ( AC only - not heat pumps ) for? ( two units, each with a compressor and two heads, around 1 ton each? ) Then if I subcontracted out on my own, for the mounting, drilling and electrical. I'm wondering, but probably cant afford to do it. We can barely afford to get this thing fixed as it is.
 
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Old 04-22-12, 06:27 PM
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Adding refrigerant is NOT part of normal maintenance.
You need to find a good technician who knows how to find leaks.
These were all big major companies since 2005, that were doing this every year. They knew how to find leaks, supposedly.

It's possible to isolate the outdoor unit to determine if the leak is in the evaporator/lineset or condenser. (they close the service valves and pressure the lineset/coil with nitrogen)

----------------------------
If you decide to replace rather than repair, consider a simple 14-15 SEER unit without a expensive control board.
Doubt we can afford to replace either. We're broke. The economy stinks. We're barely paying the bills.

Go with a manufacturer which offers a full parts and labour warranty.
Apparently NOT Carrier.
 

Last edited by Tolyn Ironhand; 04-22-12 at 07:37 PM. Reason: fixed quote
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Old 04-22-12, 06:32 PM
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You know, That thing that makes heat when you need it. Also has the A Coil and a fan to move the air. I assumed you have a furnace but maybe you have just an air handler?
Yes, we have a Coleman natural gas furnace, just couldn't figure why you mentioned it.

I mentioned Colorado Springs just Cuz. Your header only states your in CO.
When I signed up, I thought I said Denver area, not sure...
Humm, down on Craigslist too. How about Angie's list?
Pretty discouraged with lists, though looking for big companies is pretty discouraging itself. These lists seem to have large populations of people looking to rip others off. One handman who came out a couple of years ago, said he had 1000 some domain names and worked them so that no one could ever tell who he was, or how to find him. He was bragging to me about this. Whew...
 
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Old 04-22-12, 07:36 PM
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mini split systems will cost you about 1800 each. Mini splits can be a pain in the arse. If the lineset is more than 25 feet you might as well forget that idea because the compressors die left and right. I know you want someone here to recommend a mini split, but its not going to happen. FYI My company I work for gives a 1 year parts and labor warranty so no matter what goes wrong. We have got you covered, then most manufacturers give 5 or 10 years on the compressor. Of course freon leaks are not covered and is pretty much the "pre existing condition" of the hvac business.
 
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Old 04-22-12, 07:45 PM
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I mentioned the furnace because it is not that old so it should be not tough to get an A coil that fits and will work with your furnace.

I am not sure if you have an Angie's list in your area but it is pretty much a referral service. Contractors get rated by users. If you do a bad job, people will let you know. I have never used it and do not know much about it other then what I posted here. I'm just trying to find you a way to get your cooling up and running. Have any friends that can point you to a good HVAC shop?

Back about 15 years ago I installed a new condenser, ran the line set, and installed the A coil in my furnace. Then the shop I bought the A/C from came out to solder the lines and get it going. Only cost me about $800. I know things are more expensive now but maybe you can go that route?
 
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Old 04-22-12, 07:55 PM
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I mentioned the furnace because it is not that old so it should be not tough to get an A coil that fits and will work with your furnace.
They replaced the coil less than 2 years ago, for almost $900, and it still didn't fix the leak.


I am not sure if you have an Angie's list in your area but it is pretty much a referral service. Contractors get rated by users. If you do a bad job, people will let you know. I have never used it and do not know much about it other then what I posted here. I'm just trying to find you a way to get your cooling up and running. Have any friends that can point you to a good HVAC shop?
Nope.
 
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Old 04-22-12, 07:58 PM
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There may have been more than 1 leak. You really need to find a GOOD contractor. In the mean time go and buy a $100 window shaker to put in your bedroom so you can sleep.
 
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Old 04-22-12, 09:07 PM
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I agree with hvactechfw - window units are your best option.
 
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Old 04-22-12, 09:10 PM
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I mentioned the furnace because it is not that old so it should be not tough to get an A coil that fits and will work with your furnace.

Read more: http://www.doityourself.com/forum/ai...#ixzz1spj0Zo3U
Furnaces don't have evap coils in them.

You're probably thinking about an electric air handler with a coil and blower that can accomodate heating elements.
 
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Old 04-23-12, 07:38 AM
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I disagree, window unit make so much noise, if you are not used to it, you still can not sleep.
 
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Old 04-23-12, 08:14 AM
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They replaced the coil less than 2 years ago, for almost $900, and it still didn't fix the leak.
The Inficon DTEK Select is a great electronic leak detector. If your tech shows up with one of these you will probably find any leak that is not in the lineset (wall).

I'd recommend isolating the evaporator coil from the lineset, and isolating the condenser from the lineset and pressurizing the evap and lineset with nitrigen for 24 hours if a good electronic leak detector cannot prove the leak is at the condenser (king valves often leak) or evap.
 
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Old 04-23-12, 04:30 PM
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Furnaces don't have evap coils in them.
What do you call an A-Coil then?
 
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Old 04-23-12, 05:32 PM
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Muggle's point (I think) was that an A coil does not come with nor is it in the furnace. It is an add-on.
 
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Old 04-23-12, 06:29 PM
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Ah, That would make sense.

My point was that it is a newer furnace so getting an A coil that fits would be no big deal.
 
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Old 04-25-12, 11:48 AM
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Does anyone know if Frigidaire is a good window unit? Lowe's has great prices on them ( A 5000 BTU : 317014 for $99. ) and we're thinking of getting a couple, so we can sleep, just to hold us until we resolve this central air issue.

Home Depot only had GE and we WILL NOT BUY GE.
 
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Old 04-25-12, 02:10 PM
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My personal experience has been that a 5000 BTU wouldn't cool an uninsulated 10X12 bedroom during the heat of the day but maybe it was a bad AC.
 

Last edited by ray2047; 04-25-12 at 03:24 PM.
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Old 04-25-12, 02:39 PM
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Here's some helpful advice. Everything made at Home Depot and Lowes is made in china. I would avoid making any purchases at these stores. Their stuff is so cheap and breaks easily.
 
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Old 04-25-12, 02:44 PM
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All window units are made in china - can't get away with that without purchasing something made 20 years ago.
 
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Old 04-25-12, 04:57 PM
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My personal experience has been that a 5000 BTU wouldn't cool an uninsulated 10X12 bedroom during the heat of the day but maybe it was a bad AC.
This is all insulated fine.
 
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Old 04-25-12, 05:01 PM
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Here's some helpful advice. Everything made at Home Depot and Lowes is made in china. I would avoid making any purchases at these stores. Their stuff is so cheap and breaks easily.
What isn't nowdays?

Is anyone old enough to remember the term "cheap Japanese junk" from back in the 60's and 70's?

That was when Japan was coming up in the world and shipping us cheap crap.

But the Fridgidaire gets 4 of 5 stars in the reviews, from what I see.
 
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Old 04-25-12, 05:17 PM
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Update

We've had another guy look at this system now. He teaches HVAC at a tech college here and looked at it, put some gas in ( it was low again ) and says it looks like the control board after all, and says that this compressor unit may not be worth fixing. He recommends a new one - the kind without the control board ( single stage, not 2 stage ).

And what kind? A Carrier.

He seems to know what he's doing, he teaches it after all, but could he also be wanting to sell us something new?
 
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Old 04-25-12, 07:01 PM
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Whats the damage for a new one? What size and other specs? I agree with skipping the two stage.
IDK if I have ever seen a 2 stage in a residential setup.
Did you tell him your experience with this Carrier?
 
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