Need advice on A/C problem

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Old 06-29-13, 02:38 PM
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Need advice on A/C problem

I have a 21 year old two ton Bryant central A/C unit. It has a scroll compressor, and at the time I purchased the system, it had one of the highest SEER ratings. It's been working fine up until last year, with nothing done to it other than routine cleaning of the condenser fins.

It still cools (although I don't think the air is as cold as it used to be), however the system is noisy. If I'm in my bathroom (just above the furnace), I can hear what can be best described as a gurgling sound coming from the evaporator. My hunch is that the system is low on refrigerant (R22). While I haven't called a tech to look at the system yet, I wanted to get some opinions on whether it's worth repairing or not. I spoke with someone I know who owns a refrigeration company (A/C dealer/installer). He agreed that it was likely low on refrigerant, but he indicated that the system would need to have the existing refrigerant pumped out, and recharged with an R22 replacement. He indicated that the cost to do this would be in the $500 range. Is there a reason why more R22 refrigerant couldn't be added to the system?

Assuming that the system is low on refrigerant, does this imply that there is a leak in the system somewhere, or is it not unusual to lose a little refrigerant in 21 years? I don't know the details of a scroll compressor, however it seems that there must be some seals of some sort that, over time, could leak a small amount of refrigerant.

As I see it, I have 4 options: do nothing and run it until it dies, as it is still cooling albeit not as efficiently as it used to be; have more R22 added to the system (assuming that is the problem); have the refrigerant replaced with a newer refrigerant; replace the entire system.

Thanks, and I'd appreciate any advice you guys can give me.
 
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Old 06-29-13, 03:51 PM
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Welcome to the forums.

Your AC guy said "You can just pump the old out and put the new in"

I'd look for a second opinion. I would just add the little that should be needed to bring your system back up to normal operating condition.

We don't actually discuss freon issues or prices here but that would be the most economical way to go.
 
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Old 06-29-13, 04:28 PM
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Thanks for the advice, that's what I was leaning towards. Is it not unusual to have to add a small amount of refrigerant after 21 years, or is it indicative of a problem (leak somewhere)? Also, do you agree with my suspicion that the "gurgling" noise (for want of a better description) is likely caused by the system being low on refrigerant?
 
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Old 06-29-13, 08:31 PM
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Gurgling can be a sign of low freon.

I would say that after 21 years it's not unusual to have to add a little freon. If you add and then have problems again in the near future then you may have sprung a leak which will need to be addressed.
 
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Old 06-30-13, 05:05 AM
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A refrigerant system is a SEALED system and you should NEVER have to add refrigerant unless there is a leak. (leaks can develop over time)

You can absolutely top off the system with R22 without changing to an alternative. In your case I would recommend doing just that if it is low. Have it topped off and then see how long it is before it goes low again. (be prepared it may be quickly...no way to tell without a leak search) At the age of your system, IMO, a leak search is a waste of money. Topping off will get you cooling again quickly and give you some time to make some decisions on replacing your aging system.
 
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