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Have some sort of refrigerant leak, new dry r22 condenser vs whole new 410a sys?

Have some sort of refrigerant leak, new dry r22 condenser vs whole new 410a sys?

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Old 05-28-14, 02:58 PM
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Have some sort of refrigerant leak, new dry r22 condenser vs whole new 410a sys?

The HVAC guy (that gave me many helpful suggestions last month) was back again to start/inspect/test my system today. There must be some leaks because he ran it and his gauge dropped to 20psi (or around there). He ended up adding 6lbs of r22 freon. I mentioned that I had seen a "burned out, oily" spot on the fins on the inside of the condenser. So without verifying there is a leak there, I'm paranoid it will be.

Am I better off replacing just the condenser (he gave me a rough estimate of $2000) or installing a whole new 410a system (condenser and air handler unit I guess?), which he rough estimated to be $6000?

I'm a little hesitant to go with a 410 system if the epa is going to start phasing that out in the near future for something "newer and safer." It wasn't like he was trying to sell me on either. He's going to need to return since today was relatively cold unfortunately (high 50s) and he couldn't properly check the system pressure. I'm hoping to run it on a few hot days between now and when he returns to check the speed of the leak...

For background, my second floor always got cold (needed blankets to sleep), but the first floor was always want to the point where we needed fans. This is the first year someone has serviced the AC system in at least 7-8 years.

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Old 05-28-14, 03:31 PM
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R-22 is getting phased out and going up in price very fast. 410 will be around for the life of new. Your condenser may be fine, but the coil may be bad. I'd suggest going with new 410 coil and condenser if the air handler isn't too old. A dry 22 unit without a new coil is going to cost more bucks than it's worth.
 
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Old 05-28-14, 03:47 PM
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Sorry, some of the terminology is lost on me. You're saying I may be able to save the air handler unit and only replace the evaporator coil inside of it and the condenser outside? Would that be significantly cheaper?

It might be all for naught though, the condenser was manufactured in 1997. I'm not entirely sure about the AHU but there's a good chance it's the same. (It does look like it's in decent condition but that's probably just because it's been protected in the attic all these years.)
 
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Old 05-28-14, 04:00 PM
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With a newer high efficiency system, I'd recommend having all the equipment matching. For that kind of investment, I would get a second and a third opinion. Yes, if it's just an air handler and not a furnace, then you might be ok. If it's a gas furnace also, it's time to think about a new one.
 
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Old 05-28-14, 04:50 PM
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I'm a little surprised that a "tech" added refrigerant to a system that was obviously pretty low.
Did he make any attempt to find the leak before recharging ?
Technically he's not supposed to recharge a known leaking R-22 system.
 
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Old 05-28-14, 04:59 PM
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Hmm, not really, there is/was a service port that was leaking. Before he got here I had loosened the cap on it and could hear gas escaping so I closed it down right away. One of the first techs that showed up said it wasn't a normal schrader valve or something (maybe something different from 1997?) that he couldn't just tighten down, so after adding the freon they doped/teflon paste/something the cap I think to ensure it sealed better.

The one thing I asked him a couple of times, and seemed to get a straight answer for...was if there is/was a leak, would there be any pressure left in the system? I thought it was a good sign that I was even able to hear gas escaping after loosening the cap since I figured it meant it was still pressurized.

Please let me know if I'm "flying too close to the sun" with my questions about freon systems...
 
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Old 05-28-14, 05:02 PM
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if there is/was a leak, would there be any pressure left in the system?
Depending on the size of the leak and how long it was leaking..... there could be pressure in the system.

If it was as low as you stated the compressor shouldn't have even started.
 
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Old 05-28-14, 05:05 PM
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As I said, last summer we needed blankets on the second floor because it was so cold, and fans on the first floor because it was so warm. But (I think you replied to some of my other threads), alot of the first floor problems I think (/hoped) were due to poorly insulated (and even disconnected completely) ductwork. Plus a badly, balanced system with the dampers in the attic.

I'm interested to try it next week when it gets up in the 80's again, and see if it's the same (or hopefully better than) as last year.

Edit: and I forgot to mention to tinmantu, yeah the heat is a separate boiler and hot water radiators systems.
 
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Old 05-29-14, 12:42 PM
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The problem with the first floor, like you said could be resolved by properly balancing the system. (are there still disconnected ducts?)

As for replacement, a dry r22 condenser on an old air handler won't run near rated capacity or efficiency. The indoor coil could also spring a leak shortly.

Replace the entire system unless it's relatively new; if it's the latter, you could probably get away with a dry unit and a expansion valve on the coil. (a expansion valve is an add on which regulates the flow of refrigerant to the indoor coil -> a must for mismatched systems)

To me even $2000 is high for a low end condenser replacement.
 
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Old 05-29-14, 04:54 PM
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The problem with the first floor, like you said could be resolved by properly balancing the system. (are there still disconnected ducts?)
I just spent a lot of time, energy and money redoing *all* of the duct work properly and upgrading the insulation from r4.2 to r8. Unfortunately, when I called the HVAC guy out the first time the system was completely taken apart. I had already removed all of the duct wrap/sleeve insulation as well as the flex ducts, so he didn't test my system (it was about a month ago, and he didn't charge me for that visit). Oh yeah, and I bought a new motor for my condenser fan to boot. I had wanted him to test it before I invested (time/energy/money) in the system but when he told me he wasn't going to charge me I told him not to bother putting his gauges on, I really didn't think there was going to be any problems since it worked last year.

Yeah, I can handle the fact that I need to upgrade the entire system to 410 (as I said, I think the system was originally installed in 1997 based on the condenser manufacturer date). My OP was about my concern that there would be a new "environmentally safer" standard out in the next few years. But if the recommendation is that 410 will be here for a while, that's what I'll do.
 
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Old 05-29-14, 05:06 PM
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If you do change to 410, make sure that you get a new line set also if possible. If not, make sure it's properly flushed.
 
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Old 05-30-14, 11:13 AM
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I think 410a will be around for a while, but with today's politicians who want to ban everything that causes global warming (except for fossil fuels, which can't be banned because we need them) - nothing is certain any more.
 
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