Air handler R-22 AND R-410 compatible? Leak testing with dye?


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Old 03-09-13, 11:53 PM
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Air handler R-22 AND R-410 compatible? Leak testing with dye?

I have a failed Carrier compressor located on the twelfth floor rooftop and a First Company air handler in our first floor condo. Over the past three years, we've added 3-6 pounds of refrigerant each year, even though we repaired a leak at the low side service port of the evaporative coil on the indoor air handler in 2011.

Electronic leak detector testing shows no leaking on the indoor air handler nor outdoor condenser unit. One contractor is willing to do an isolated nitrogen pressure test to see if there is a leak in the line set (or the equipment) for about $800. If it's the equipment that's leaking, they will replace both the condenser unit and air handler with Rheem and First Company R-410 equipment for about $5300. However, if the line set is leaking, they don't want to replace the line set nor do they want to relocate the equipment to our first floor balcony (if we could get HOA permission). That doesn't leave me with a viable solution, as far as I can tell.

A second company said they'll do a dye leak test for free to see if there's a leak, and once we know where it's leaking, repair any leak, and then replace the condenser unit (since the compressor's failed) with a dry Payne condenser which they would fill with R-22 (for about $3K-$4K) so that we'd only need to replace the condenser unit and not the air handler as well. He hasn't addressed yet what to do if there's a leak in the line set.

A third company said that if we could get HOA permission to move the unit, they'd relocate the system to our first floor balcony for about $7300. However, the bid says that our existing First Company unit model 18UC-HW can be used as R-22 or R-410 refrigerant so they would only provide a Bryant condenser unit model 113ANW018.

I've got a few questions I hope you can help me with:

1. I've read both good and bad things about dye tests. Is there a downside in terms of manufacturer warranties or future equipment performance if a dye is used, and is it effective? Our warranty runs from February 2008.

2. It makes sense to me to try to find the leaks before we start replacing or relocating equipment. My understanding though is that the dye test won't show a leak in the line set -- it's housed in the walls so you can't see it. Since leaks are more common in the equipment rather than the line set, is the idea that we try to find equipment leaks first? Can the isolated nitrogen pressure test be done as part of the equipment installation so that it's not necessary to pay an additional $800 to test the line set? If not, should the isolated pressure test be done before we make a decision to buy new equipment, even it costs an extra $800?

3. Can a First Company unit model 18UC-HW be used with both R-22 and R-410 (even if it has already been used with R-22)?

4. Does installing a Payne R-22 unit still make sense with the switch to R-410?

Thanks so much!




I
 
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Old 03-10-13, 07:05 AM
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1.) Dye will not work if there is nothing pumping it through the system (compressor).
2.) You need to find the leak... How the contractor does that is up to them. But it must be found.
3.) Look on the data plate located on the air handler. See if it says that it is 410A compatible. It can be used for both if it is rated for both refrigerants as long as it is flushed. Personally I would choose not to use it with 410a if it was used with 22.
4.) No, it does not make much sense because R22 has doubled in price again and is going to go much higher.
 
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Old 03-10-13, 09:21 AM
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Wow, you will see more compressor failures if you try to make a compressor pump 12 floors.

This is why chill water air handlers or water source heat pumps are often used in high rises.

Move the condenser to the lower location.
 
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Old 03-10-13, 09:36 AM
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I agree with houston, moving it to a lower location makes sense if you can get it approved by the HOA.
 
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Old 03-10-13, 10:06 AM
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It might help you to confront them with this request if you contact an engineer and get some documentation to help them understand.

R22


R410
 
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Old 03-10-13, 03:45 PM
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Looks like the existing air handler has a hot water coil. It's too bad that the building didn't provide chill water as well.

 
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Old 03-10-13, 10:04 PM
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Many thanks for your answers. I'm not sure what size lines I've got -- will check, and if we relocate will discuss this with engineer (I've got one lined up). Am I reading the chart correctly to mean that the rise can be higher with R-410a?

If, by chance, I can't get HOA approval to relocate, any recommendations on what equipment or modifications to make in order to have the system function from the 12th floor?

Thanks!
 
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Old 03-11-13, 01:41 PM
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I recommend a selenoid valve and an extended 10 year parts and labor warranty if someone will sell it to you. You will lose more compressors.

That chart does show 55 feat rise with R22 and 90 with R410 when your length is 225 feet. You would want to refer to he condenser specs for the unit that you will install. I'd still say that you are pushing your luck beyond 4 stories.

How many years did you get from the old compressor?
Was it a scroll compressor or a reciprocating compressor?
 
 

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