Need advice on options for R22 system repair

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  #1  
Old 09-09-19, 05:49 AM
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Need advice on options for R22 system repair

I have a 15 yr old 5 ton Carrier split heat pump system. It stopped cooling on Saturday. I had a repairman come out. He confirmed my thought that a capacitor had failed. While checking out the system, he checked the pressure and the gauge read 0 lbs. He then discovered a cut in the refrigerant line which he said was the source of the loss of the freon. This wasn't a tiny knick in the line but a slice wide and deep enough that it would allow all of the freon to escape in less than 30 secs.

The system was working fine and then it just stopped blowing cold air because the compressor wouldn't kick on. The condenser fan was working and the air handler was working. When I lowered the setting on the thermostat, it would click as if it was trying to turn on the compressor to lower the temp. All of this plus a quick visual inspection of the capacitor which had a domed top led to my opinion that the problem was indeed a bad cap.

When the tech arrived, I took him to the condenser in my back yard and went back inside. 15 mins later he came got me and showed me what he found and explained that he would need to weld the hole in the line, replace the bad cap and then replace the 13lbs. of R22 at $120 per lb. or replace the entire system.
He qouted me $2500 to repair the system including the freon and all the other charges or approx $8K to replace it.

I have no way to prove that the refrigerant line was deliberately cut but based on the location of the cut and its size, I can't believe it happened over time and allowed the freon to leak out slowly.

Are there any other options for repairing the system for less than the $2500 quote I was given?

I'm in PHX by the way, so my house is 100į currently inside and I don't have the money for a repair bill that big let alone the cost to replace it.

I welcome any and all advice.
Thanks for reading.

Steve
Chandler, AZ
 
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  #2  
Old 09-09-19, 06:18 AM
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There are other options for recharging the system with R22 substitutes.
Where exactly is the leak? Can you post a photo of it?
 
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Old 09-10-19, 08:36 AM
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find another company. Repair should come with a dryer. R22 isn't that expensive now.
 
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Old 09-10-19, 12:54 PM
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As mentioned, R22 is not that expensive. market price is around $20 per lb. Of course they will charge you more, but should not be $130. Capacitor is around $20, dryer is also cheap. you have to pay a couple of hours (3 hours the most) labor. So, go figure yourself.
 
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Old 09-12-19, 01:07 AM
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As requested, here is a pic of the cut in the copper line.


Regarding the price of R22, everyone I've talked to and everything I've read says the price has skyrocketed due to its phase out and it becoming illegal at the end of this year. If anyone knows where I can get it for $20 lb. I'm all ears!

Does anyone have any experience with or knowledge of this stuff
ecofreeez Drop in replacement for R22 & Superior Cooling

Lastly, how much should I expect to pay for a replacement coil for my system?

I appreciate all the advice.
Thank you!
 
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Old 09-12-19, 02:27 AM
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can still buy a 30lbs of r22 on ebay for like 375 last I looked, that equals out to 12.50 a lb
you should call around more places ask them how much there r22 is per lb cause its not expensive yet it likely will increase in price after this year but there is probably a large stockpile to sell.
you would probably see reduced efficiency with any drop in replacement so not really a good option in my opinion especially with r22 being so inexpensive.
 
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Old 09-12-19, 06:32 AM
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Hi, thatís an interesting spot for a leak, almost looks like shiny copper there.
Geo
 
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Old 09-12-19, 08:39 AM
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So what is on the access panel that rubbed and caused the leak there?
That’s a cut. Something rubbed there or cut the pipe and caused that. Copper pipe isn’t going to do that by itself.
R407C is a good R22 substitute. But it used POE oil.
 
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Old 09-12-19, 02:18 PM
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I agree that opening looks deliberate. Having said that, I recently had to change my 3 ton condenser that was 20 years old. I bought a 407 c compatible condenser with a solvent in it that mixes with either mineral or POE oil. The vendor said the solvent inside was universal. I ordered the unit on a Wed, got it on a Fri, installed it on a Sat using 407 c. I kept my air handler, piston type, because there was no leak. The old condenser has seized. I put it in with a friend's help. He had the vacuum pump, and he bought the 407 c, disposable tank. The thing is if you are a homeowner, it may be possible to talk an installer into installing "your" condenser but that is unlikely. It does make sense to get a new system but I only did the condenser because I have a friend in the business who told me not to get an air handler. If I were to get a new air handler in a few years, I could get a new one with a valve on it and recharge the system. My understanding is if you go down 50% or more of refrigerant when changing an air handler, it is another total evac and recharge. What I am trying to say is if you are contracting the work, no one likes to stand behind equip they did not get from the supply house. You can't get it from the supply house because the premise is a homeowner will goof up an install. So you may have to go for new 410 c stuff. You must have some 3500 square feet or so to need a five ton.
 
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Old 09-12-19, 03:03 PM
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The location of the hole is so easy to reach, it will take only a few minutes to patch it. Call another repair shops (show him the hole) may save you lots of dollars.
 
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Old 09-12-19, 05:44 PM
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The access panel hasn't been in place for years so it couldn't have been the cause of the cut in the line which makes it even more suspicious.

The coil does have the valve on it so it can be recharged separately from the condenser.

In my research, I've learned about a process of dumping the oil out of the compressor and replacing it with POE. The premise is that as long as the amount of POE is at least 15% it is able to combine with the mineral oil left in the system allowing the use of 407c. Replacement of the coil is still required but the rest of the system remains in place. Those who have done it report no issues after months of use.
407c is obviously much cheaper that R22 and will allow top ups should it need them down the line without having to search for R22 being sold on some dark web site.

The house is 1550 sq. ft. single story with a slab foundation in the Phoenix metro area. That's why the unit is a 5 ton.

How/where can I find out what coil/air handler I have so that I can look for the correct, compatible replacement? Is there a label on it? If I post a pic of the equipment in my attic, will that help?

The difficult part of this project is going to be finding an installer who is willing to do the job using the parts I've purchased and them pretty much just providing the labor. I don't even know where to find someone who is an independent repairman.

Thank you for the advice. I'm a week into this situation so I need to start putting together a plan of attack immediately.

CORRECTION:
The system is actually a Trane, not a Carrier.
 

Last edited by JRNYMAN78; 09-12-19 at 07:39 PM.
  #12  
Old 09-12-19, 06:06 PM
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I wouldnít buy a new system online and have someone install it. The only way Iíd suggest such a thing is if you were installing it yourself. Otherwise you could get in a bad spot concerning warranty coverage, or lack thereof. And youíd still have no labor warranty.
Equipment should be matched to an AHRI standard, and have a match number.
Iíd just fix the leak you have there.
Recharge with R22 or a mineral oil comparable replacement. I could braze that closed in less then 2 minutes.

Thereís a lot of misconceptions about R-22 and itís use and availability after 2020.

R22 will NOT be illegal to use after next year.
R22 will NOT disappear after next year.
R22 parts will still be easily obtainable.
R22 will be plentiful. I can walk in a supply house and buy a bottle just as easily as I could 15 years ago. It will be the same next year.
This is the early 90ís and R-12 all over again. And you know whatís still available to buy? R-12. In fact itís gotten really cheap because demand is almost nonexistent these days.
 
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Old 09-12-19, 07:59 PM
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What are your thoughts about scratch-and-dent components from a reputable place? Another option I've found is purchasing the condenser and air handler from a place at a huge discount. They're 10 years newer, have a higher SEER rating, and use 410A. They also carry used equipment that costs even less.
Here's an example:
Like new condenser

New air handler

Shipping is $199.00

I HATE being such a novice at this kind of stuff. I'm definitely out of my element here. If I had $10,000 in the bank, I'd get a few quotes and replace the entire system. Unfortunately, I don't have that luxury so I have to spend my money wisely. However, making the wisest of decisions is impossible when you are so unfamiliar with AC components et al. For that very reason, I am so grateful to those who participate here and lend their knowledge and expert advice.
 
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Old 09-12-19, 08:08 PM
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Fixing what you have is cheaper.
Used equipment, maybe if you can work on it yourself. But if your paying someone to install and service it, then it’s too much of a risk. I’ve seen many a consumer get burned by used stuff.
 
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Old 09-12-19, 08:17 PM
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Ok, so if I opt to repair it, what else do I need parts wise?
Capacitor
12 lbs R22
Drier
all of this is assuming a tech will be vacuuming and charging the system, repairing the hole in the copper line, and welding in the drier. Anything I'm missing?
 
  #16  
Old 09-12-19, 08:25 PM
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That cut can be brazed shut easily.
New drier put in.
Pressurize with nitrogen to ~250 PSI for an hour or two.
It’s been open to the atmosphere so a triple evac to below 500 microns. Recharge and your off and running.
 
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Old 09-12-19, 08:36 PM
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OK, last question (hopefully)
How do I go about buying the R22 without an EPA cert. number? Obviously, I can't buy it so do I find an EPA certified tech to do the work and have him purchase it?
 
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Old 09-12-19, 08:39 PM
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You don’t, legally.
The tech will have to supply it. Or an acceptable alternative refrigerant.
 
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Old 09-12-19, 08:53 PM
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Thank you!
I will post back as this progresses and let you know how it goes.
Thank God for portable air conditioners!
 
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Old 09-13-19, 11:48 AM
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Just keep in mind...... we don't discuss charging details on this DIY site.
We have teetered into gray area...... DIY-policy-charging-your-A/C

I have a question.... what is that gray "shroud" behind the damaged line ?
Is that factory installed ?
Looks like it has cuts in it too.
 
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Old 09-13-19, 12:36 PM
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It's just a shroud of some sort made out of some type of fabric.
 
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Old 09-13-19, 12:46 PM
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I called a place this morning that was recommended by lots of people as being very fair and honest. I explained the situation and he said he wasn't going to be any cheaper because his price is $153 lb for R22.
i asked him why and he said because it's in such short supply. I argued and provided links to websites that had it readily available to purchase for $320-375. I pointed out that the $375 for a 30 lb tank equates to 12.5 lbs for $30 lb. I said if that's not gouging then what is?
He had no reply.
 
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