shopping for new system

Old 06-12-03, 02:01 PM
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Unhappy shopping for new system

No more repairs, it's time to replace the system. I'm getting estimates and getting confused. San Antonio, 1977 sq.ft., single floor, 25 year old house with 25 yr old AC, 4 yr old (in attic) gas heater, not sure of the age of the coil unit. The current AC is 3 tons.

I don't simply want to replace exactly what I have, I want the coolness level I need at the best efficiency/engineering. (I know, we all want that!)

The city public service has measured and suggested a 3.208 tonnage for the size, shape, vaulted ceiling and windows, etc.

I am still waiting for the estimates from two AC reps. Neither one has measured. I expect one to estimate on a 3.5 the other on a 4.0 ton system. A third company is coming next week. I don't intend to replace until late fall.

I'm learning what I want but I am not learning what I don't need. I want a system engineered to be efficient but nobody seems to want to do that. Apparently it is too much work, they want to charge to do what I thought should be done as an estimate for the system.

I'm concerned about oversizing because of humidity problems. But 4ton man says that the inside unit is the exact same for a 4 ton ac as it is for a 3.5 and he highly suggests going 4 ton for the ac. Maybe it is true only for the brand he is used to.

Also which brands have the best "endurance". Efficiency ratings I can find and compare but so far info on which brand is built the sturdiest eludes me, other than comments which seem much too subjective.

At worst I replace like for like & get a 3ton (with variable speed), new coil ,& programmable thermostat.

At best it is upsize and get the whole shebang with a new grill/air return (it is an impossible offsize, currently.)4ton even suggested a second air return in the ceiling on the far side of the house.

Any suggestions?


Old 06-12-03, 03:01 PM
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good questions

do not deal with an havc company that does not do a heat load. they will distinguish themselves as the pros for this reason. VS is great, you will love it. any returns added are a good thing. at this time upgrade your filtration system. a media (spaceguard or air bear is what i recommend). this will improve indoor air quality at a good price since they are into the ductwork at this time. in south texas i would think there would be a lot of "degree days", and the a/c will really get a workout. this is where the SEER comes in. a lot of use indicates a need for a higher SEER, 12 plus. as for brands of units, you will get opinions across the board. get a good warranty by a recomended contractor (who do your friends use?) properly sized, and professionally installed. see following thread for other info.
good luck
Old 06-13-03, 04:44 AM
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B W,
Listen to the advice of hvac4u. Do NOT even consider a HVAC bid if they have not each done a professional load calculation on your home!
I made the great mistake of trusting the large HVAC company that had been doing the repair work on my old 1977 system to put in a new "top-of-the-line" system when I remodeled in 1998.
I didn't even get a bid against them, which was my second mistake. I basically gave these rip-off jerks a blank check.
(Because they are the only ones in this area that offer 7-day-a-week repair service, which is important where I live.)
They installed a 4-ton high efficency heatpump with dual zone controls and programmable thermostats for $6,500.
I had just replaced all of my old leaky sliding glass windows and doors with all Andersens prior to this installation. They were aware of this major change, but did not do a load calculation. They repeatedly assured me that what they were installing would work just fine.
It immediately ruined (mold and mildew) my new interior 3-coat painting job for starters, and it has been a nightmare ever since.
I've since had manufacturer reps and three other HVAC companies do load calculations, and they all came up with the same conclusion...the first company should have done a load calculation and installed a 3-ton max.
At this point in time five years later, I now have over $8,700 in initial installment and repair costs trying to get this system to function better, not to mention house damage from excess humidity.
It has included everything from replacing the compressor, coil, fan motors, zone control motors, excessive utility bills, etc.
The latest was replacing (third one) the evaporator fan motor control module ($328 for the part with no warranty on it), which I had to do myself yesterday because I couldn't get a HVAC technician out here in less than a week or more (it was out 5 days in a high humidity heat wave - NO AC).
Bottom line - no load calculation, no business with them.
(Sorry about dumping my bucket, but you get the point. After all of this expense, I'm probably going to have to replace this with a 3-ton sooner than later. Why haven't I sued them? I'm a real estate broker, and I have already cost them FAR more than $8,700 in profit from commercial and residential business in my area, and that's going to keep on. "The payback is hell." LOL)
Good Luck!
Old 06-13-03, 01:22 PM
Thomas W.
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I agree make sure they do a heat load.
My brother lives there and I think he was pretty satisfied with
ARS. He said they spent the time and went over a number of options.
I would stay with name brand like, Carrier ,Trane or Lennox.

But the number one thing is they have to install it the right way.

Go with a person you like and make sure they give you options.

I would also look into adding an air cleaner I have a Space Gard 2200 and it has really help with allergies and dust.

Good Luck and go with your gut feeling not not just because someone talks a bunch of technical stuff
Old 06-13-03, 01:45 PM
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New AC

For where you live take a look at
See what they have there for down in TX. Also a lot of companys now use a thermidistat with variablespeed air handler. This works out very good. Like hvac4u said make sure and get a SEER of 12 or better and also you can look into a heat recovery unit to go on the AC there. I'll bet you can get lots of free hot water there with it and kick up the seer on the AC unit also ED
Old 06-13-03, 02:01 PM
Thomas W.
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I lived in Houston and had many problems with Central City Air Please stay away from them

I know of 3 good companies there, First ARSn then Hallmark then John Moore services.

Go with the person you like the best and make sure they give you a comfort guarrantee, meaning they assure you it will cool correctly or they will change the system for 5-10 years if it doesn't.

I had a 18seer Trane 2 speed condenser with a variable speed furnace when I lived there put in by ARS and if worked great and lowered my himidity to under 45% and reduced my electric bill 50%. It was amazing.

Also look into a good air cleaner not electronic.

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