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Old 04-29-2013, 07:08 PM   #21
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EPA has declared war on R-22, it supposedly has tripled in the last year to 70-90 /lb. I replaced a compressor in '11 and the whole job was ~$1300, hope it last another 10 yrs...

Supposedly there is R422D which is a direct replacement for R22

Yet I can look on Craigslist and people are selling 30lb canisters of R22 for $400.

I've also found and talked to several licensed A/C techs this afternoon after verifying their license on the TACL website - all of them are around the $1500 mark for supplying and installing a replacement 4 ton 13 Seer R-22 unit (including freon).

And I've been able to find new Goodman/Rheem/Ruud units online for around $1000, so $1500 installed with freon rings true to me.

Now I want to know why my "buddies" are quoting me twice that. I'll find out tomorrow when they are supposed to call and give me a firm quote after they've run the serial number to see if the unit still qualifies for warranty replacement.
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Old 04-30-2013, 07:33 AM   #22
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Lake Travis,

Has any contractor tried to tell you you need to replace the inside unit also, due to changing from "old" freon to "new" freon, and there being a compatibility issue?

Just curious, because I heard some of that talk a few years ago when I was researching replacement cost for my outside heat pump / ac unit.
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Old 04-30-2013, 08:06 AM   #23
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Lake Travis,

Has any contractor tried to tell you you need to replace the inside unit also, due to changing from "old" freon to "new" freon, and there being a compatibility issue?

Just curious, because I heard some of that talk a few years ago when I was researching replacement cost for my outside heat pump / ac unit.
The current system was installed in 2003 and uses R-22, which will no longer be available after 2020.

The freon that replaces R-22 is R-410a, and moving to R-410a would require that both halves of a split system (outdoor condenser/compressor unit and indoor evaporator coil) be replaced.

I don't plan on owning the property more than a couple of years so replacing the existing R-22 condenser is fine with me.

What I'm finding is that there is an incredible markup on HVAC equipment which has created somewhat of a cottage industry on Craigslist of licensed HVAC techs who sell equipment directly on the side at steep discounts and offer installation.

I've had several bids come in now to replace the outdoor condensing unit, all of them $1500 or below from licensed HVAC techs who post on Craigslist, compared to the $3000 bid from the service company.
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Old 04-30-2013, 08:43 AM   #24
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The current system was installed in 2003 and uses R-22, which will no longer be available after 2020.

The freon that replaces R-22 is R-410a, and moving to R-410a would require that both halves of a split system (outdoor condenser/compressor unit and indoor evaporator coil) be replaced.

I don't plan on owning the property more than a couple of years so replacing the existing R-22 condenser is fine with me.

What I'm finding is that there is an incredible markup on HVAC equipment which has created somewhat of a cottage industry on Craigslist of licensed HVAC techs who sell equipment directly on the side at steep discounts and offer installation.

I've had several bids come in now to replace the outdoor condensing unit, all of them $1500 or below from licensed HVAC techs who post on Craigslist, compared to the $3000 bid from the service company.
Sounds like things are looking up!
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Old 04-30-2013, 11:51 PM   #25
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After January of 2010, it was illegal to sell systems that used R-22 in the USA. But replacement R-22 compatible condensing units and evaporators are still available, they are just charged with dry Nitrogen when shipped. The dry nitrogen is purged and the system is evacuated with the vacuum pump prior to charging with R-22.

R-410a is a totally different animal. It is an azeotrope, which brings a whole 'nother set of problems when determining system charge after a leak, and charging. It also runs at significantly higher pressures, and requires a different gauge set and hoses, etc.

And yes, for a while AC places were trying to push people into replacing the total system, saying they needed a new system "with the new freon" rather than just replacing the R-22 condensing unit if that was all that was really needed.
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Old 05-01-2013, 07:16 AM   #26
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Wow, I'd get a second opinion. I had a situation twice with a local HVAC company. Both times they recommended a new unit. At the last minute I called another company. They fixed my unit both times for less than $250.00. It's still running 7 years later. If memory serves me correctly both times the first HVAC company said it was the capacitor and or condenser. Very disappointed as the owner of the first company lives across the street from me and I have known him since high school. Turns out, he gives his service techs a commission if they can sell a new unit. I'm sure other companies do the same.

Find a "trusted" HVAC person if you can.

Oh...and when I called the owner of the original company to cancel the order of a new unit and I told him why...he cussed me out. He called and apologized the next day but damage was done. I don't use him as my HVAC company anymore.
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Old 05-01-2013, 09:40 AM   #27
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...........Find a "trusted" HVAC person if you can. .........
+1. My dealings with HVAC techs and parts sales has convinced me that they are running a racket under the guise that HVAC is so "dangerous". Any nitwit can replace their own automobile brakes, but try to buy a furnace part and you'd think that you were asking for bomb making materials.
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Old 05-01-2013, 10:26 AM   #28
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+1. My dealings with HVAC techs and parts sales has convinced me that they are running a racket under the guise that HVAC is so "dangerous". Any nitwit can replace their own automobile brakes, but try to buy a furnace part and you'd think that you were asking for bomb making materials.
+2. A lot of it is the parts warehouse won't sell you the part unless you are a licensed whatever ( plumber, electrician, HVAC...) and you can't buy the service manual unless you are an "authorized service center". I can usually dig up the service manual with google.
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Old 05-04-2013, 06:45 AM   #29
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Lake Travis,

I'm on the edge of my seat here! Was it still under warranty? Did you have the work done yet? How did it go?

JG3
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Old 05-04-2013, 09:40 AM   #30
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Sorry guys, I was out of town Tuesday thru Friday with limited internet access.

So I found a bona-fide, licensed HVAC company with an actual web site and physical street presence (as opposed to the Craigslist techs who do after hours and weekend work on the side). They quoted a new Goodman 4-ton 13 SEER R-22 unit for $1,800 installed with a 5 year parts warranty and 1 year labor warranty.

I called my previously-preferred shop because they had not called me back. She told me she was still working on three possibilities: replace just the condenser coil, replace the condenser unit, replace the entire system. She said she ran the S/N of the existing unit and it was only covered by a 5 year warranty that had expired.

I told her about the above quote for $1800 and she told me that they couldn't even replace the condenser coil for that because her cost for freon would be over $1000 alone. I talked to her about that for a second, told her I could show her where to buy R-22 all day long for $15 a pound, and then she switched to how she has to pay Worker's Comp and Insurance and make a profit and has never replaced an entire condenser unit for less than $3500.

It was a sad conversation overall. I'm sorry if they can't manage their costs and margins better but I'm not going to pay a premium because they can't compete.

So I called the other outfit back, told them where I would leave a key to the house for them, they are going to replace the unit this coming Tuesday and then call me back for payment arrangements.
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Old 05-04-2013, 10:28 AM   #31
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LakeTravis did they quote you over the phone or did they come out and check everything out first? Or just relying on the previous HVAC company info with regards to the problem?
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Old 05-04-2013, 10:32 AM   #32
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IMHO, R22 is a losing proposition. Living for 23 years in a now aging Florida community that was built in 1987, I've seen more than 3/4 of the 355 homes have their A/C's repaired or replaced. Repair seems to be more like repairing an aging car... fix one part, and another goes wrong.
Sadly, I've also learned not to trust most companies that are in the business.
This, after a two hour conversation with an old timer who was open to discuss the "tricks of the trade".
Between leaving valves cracked open to cause second failure in a month or two, or giving a too quick diagnosis of leaking... which test requires involved sophisticated equipment... or the more common replace-not-repair components policy... a suspicious mind.
After being hit for more than $1500 for multiple topping-off and trip charges, it became a lesson learned.
And buying new?... You all have it right. Trust, but verify. Equivalent units including installation can vary by 100%. Proprietary companies are often much higher than individual contractors.
Am not expert in this, but have watched dozens of replacements, and talked with many techs... and have seen tens of thousands of dollars paid for overrated equipment and installations.
Just my opinion...
You're on the right track for best end result.
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Old 05-04-2013, 04:13 PM   #33
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LakeTravis did they quote you over the phone or did they come out and check everything out first? Or just relying on the previous HVAC company info with regards to the problem?
I asked them for a specific quote. I trust the original diagnosis, as I removed the cover of the condenser unit and checked it myself - I could see where the coil is leaking as evidenced by the oil and grime collected in one particular area, and I removed the valve caps from both the hi and low side freon lines and pressed in on the valve to find no pressure at all.

The previous tech had put nitrogen into the system (rather than R-22) to determine where the leak was and pinpointed it to the same area.
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Old 05-04-2013, 04:23 PM   #34
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IMHO, R22 is a losing proposition. Living for 23 years in a now aging Florida community that was built in 1987, I've seen more than 3/4 of the 355 homes have their A/C's repaired or replaced. Repair seems to be more like repairing an aging car... fix one part, and another goes wrong.
Sadly, I've also learned not to trust most companies that are in the business.
This, after a two hour conversation with an old timer who was open to discuss the "tricks of the trade".
Between leaving valves cracked open to cause second failure in a month or two, or giving a too quick diagnosis of leaking... which test requires involved sophisticated equipment... or the more common replace-not-repair components policy... a suspicious mind.
After being hit for more than $1500 for multiple topping-off and trip charges, it became a lesson learned.
And buying new?... You all have it right. Trust, but verify. Equivalent units including installation can vary by 100%. Proprietary companies are often much higher than individual contractors.
Am not expert in this, but have watched dozens of replacements, and talked with many techs... and have seen tens of thousands of dollars paid for overrated equipment and installations.
Just my opinion...
You're on the right track for best end result.
All so very true. One only needs to read the state requirements on how to obtain an HVAC Refrigeration License and it quickly becomes obvious how the industry has lobbied over the years to protect itself by having the laws written/constructed a particular way. Much like electricians and plumbers have done - apprenticeships are required for all, and good luck finding one willing to sponsor.

If I planned on keeping this property I would definitely had gone the route of replacing the entire 10 year old system with a complete new unit.

But the markup on furnace/air handlers/evaporator coils/condensing units is outrageous. I would have taken my time researching manufacturers, ordering the units thru eBay and having them shipped directly to me, having a low-bid contractor lined up and ready to do the install, and save myself 75% in the process.

Kind of like what I recently did for an alarm system on our other home - forget monthly monitoring, I ordered a complete Honeywell system online and installed it myself. Total cost was under $200 and no monthly monitoring fees.

In fact, residential HVAC repair is not all that difficult, a good set of gauges and a vacuum pump can be had for less than $100 on eBay, and there are plenty of sources for refrigerant that don't require a license to purchase.
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