A/C compressor fried. Replace compressor or whole system?

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Old 04-08-19, 07:35 PM
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A/C compressor fried. Replace compressor or whole system?

I have a 12-year old 13 SEER rated American Standard HVAC system that uses the older R-22 refrigerant, and the service technician just diagnosed that the compressor konked out.

I'm not planning on living in my condo for more than another 3 years, maybe less. I will be selling or renting out the condo by then.

The service tech said this is the last year they can use R-22 refrigerant. He recommended that I go with a whole new system which uses R-410

No surprise, his quote to replace the compressor was about 50% of the cost of a whole new replacement system -- $2,700 vs $5,500. It seems like they prices this to get you to buy a whole new system! "Hey, for twice as much you get a whole new system with a 10-year warranty!" Yeah, yeah...

I'm leaning to just getting this working with the compressor-only option and the older R-22 refrigerant. If it konks out again or something else breaks, I will most likely have already sold the condo by then or I'm getting rental income from tenants to offset the cost.

I'm sure someone's "been there, done that". I'd like to hear what you have to say about it, maybe help me make a decision or change my mind.

Paying an extra $2,800 is nothing to sneeze at. I pay cash, so it hurts.

I'll be getting 2 more bids, but I'm sure that with competition in this area that they're all going be about the same.
 
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Old 04-08-19, 08:38 PM
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Can't help you much. I'd be steering away from R22. A new system is a plus during a home sale.
 
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Old 04-08-19, 09:03 PM
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If failure is do to condenser corrosion or coil clogs, then replacement compressor life may be short. Something undiagnosed caused the failure. Hence buy complete new system.
 
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Old 04-08-19, 09:45 PM
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Sorry, I should have added that the service tech did diagnose the problem.

I asked the service tech about what caused the compressor to go bad. He said the compressor coils grounded to the unit (or something like this). I asked why. He said it could be just that the insulation eroded over time.

The notes on his work order say, "Found compressor short to ground."
 
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Old 04-08-19, 10:01 PM
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That often means a contaminated freon system. Make sure if keeping piping to have it flushed and with good filters. I would have told you to get new condenser 20 years ago not just a compressor It's just easier, also agree on new system.
 
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Old 04-08-19, 11:23 PM
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Thank you. I'm learning! Yes, the service tech said that anytime they replace a compressor, they flush out the freon and charge it with new freon. He said this would be the last year to do it with R-22. After this, I would have to go to a new HVAC with R-410.

I would like to have a new system, but money is tight. My credit card does not even go high enough to buy a new HVAC system. I'm not financing things anymore. I have to pay cash and these numbers hurt, even for the compressor-only.
 
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Old 04-08-19, 11:42 PM
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If failure is do to condenser corrosion or coil clogs, then replacement compressor life may be short.
Thanks. How short of a life to expect? I may be selling this condo in the next 1-3 years.
 
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Old 04-09-19, 09:05 AM
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A short to ground is evidence of a bad compressor but it is not proof of the underlying cause of failure. The answer remains the same. Without knowing the exact nature of the failed compressor the new compressor could die in as little as one season. Your enemy here is not knowing the exact cause of the premature failure. Saving yourself money in this scenario will be a gamble.
 
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Old 04-09-19, 09:46 PM
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What about the capacitor?

One of the thoughts I had was that the capacitor that starts the compressor is bad. I have a RV which has a "hard start capacitor" which starts the compressor on the air-conditioner, so I was thinking there must be something similar for a residential heat pump.

I don't know enough about electronics to test it (it will probably be dangerous if charged). So I had to rely on the opinion of a professional HVAC service technician. But someone was pointing out to me today that "usually the first thing to fail on a heat pump is the capacitor, before anything else. But HVAC contractors always want to sell you a new system".

Besides a failed compressor, could it be the capacitor that failed if it trips the circuit breaker almost immediately when I switch the thermostat to Cool or Heat from the Off position?

So now I'm wondering if it's the capacitor. If that's the case, is probably a less than $100 fix for the part.
 
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Old 04-09-19, 10:00 PM
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Wishful thinking. Short to ground is a short circuit. If you ignore the tech report, then it could be anything at fault. No reason to suspect a bad cap based on your reporting.
 
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Old 04-09-19, 10:09 PM
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Short to ground is a short circuit. If you ignore the tech report, then it could be anything at fault.
I understand, but I think there's the possibility that the HVAC service technician is lying and would just like to sell a brand new HVAC system instead of replacing a $30 cap.

Not saying that's what's going on, but I think I'm going to have to take the panel off my heat pump tomorrow and at least test the capacitor myself and put that question to rest.
 
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Old 04-10-19, 06:04 AM
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I may be selling this condo in the next 1-3 years.
And to echo something PJ posted earlier, a 12 year old R-22 system would not be a prime selling point.
 
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Old 04-10-19, 06:30 AM
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On second thought, a bad capacitor would just prevent the compressor from running. It wouldn't cause the circuit breaker to trip. A short would cause the circuit breaker to trip.

I'm getting quotes for a new R410 system.
 
 

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