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Central A/C Died; "Feels Like 110" Outside
Old 07-10-2009, 03:53 PM   #1
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Central A/C Died; "Feels Like 110" Outside

UGH, it's hot. Anyone have advice for replacing central a/c? I'm a total goober and I don't know SEER from a hole in the ground. I've been getting quotes on high-efficiency systems that are making my eyes bug out. Sheesh.
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Old 07-10-2009, 03:58 PM   #2
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I hope you're posting this from your car in the driveway. Get thee to a hotel room - ASAP!
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Old 07-10-2009, 04:01 PM   #3
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I hope you're posting this from your car in the driveway. Get thee to a hotel room - ASAP!
No kidding! BTW, we have a Trane and have had great luck with it.
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Old 07-10-2009, 04:18 PM   #4
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We also have a Trane heat pump - 11 years old.

The bad news: The coil (inside unit) failed at 7 years due to corrosion (a manufacturing defect according to the service tech).
The good news: The unit came with a 10 year parts and labor warranty and the $2,500 bill cost me a total of $35.

With the exception of that, it has worked well.
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Old 07-10-2009, 04:29 PM   #5
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The bad news: The coil (inside unit) failed at 7 years due to corrosion (a manufacturing defect according to the service tech).
Gee, I would have thought wiring chewed up by scorpions or something...
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Old 07-10-2009, 04:41 PM   #6
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My hubby made an emergency trip to Walmart at 1:00 a.m. last night to purchase a window unit, lol. (Thank God for 24 hour Walmart.) So, at least we have one room to live in until we get a new system. We currently have a Trane that's 14 years old; it has been a good system but word around the HVAC forums (lol) is that Trane's technology isn't keeping up with the other major brands. I'm considering Carrier but this is all so confusing. :gah:
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Old 07-10-2009, 04:56 PM   #7
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Trane is big in our area. We have 2 Trane central A/C systems installed: one for the upstairs and one for the downstairs. When one was destroyed by lightning, we just moved into the other half of the house. Replacement was reasonably cheap as well though quotes were from $2400 to $6500. Needless to say, the $2400 guy got our business. There appears to me to be absolutely no correlation to $$ and the quality of the work.

Same crew repaired the other unit when it stopped working a year later. It turned out a roach got fried between the contacts of a relay and prevented the flow of current. Very cheap repair.
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Old 07-10-2009, 05:56 PM   #8
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Lennox has the best reputation around here. My house had Lennox when I bought it, and it gave me nothing but trouble even though it wasn't that old. It broke every year or nearly so.

Three years ago my A/C guy finally replaced it with a Goodman (which was what he had in stock, so I wasn't going to argue even though I wasn't familiar with them). The Goodman has been great and has not broken yet.

I would say that if you can find a good, reputable A/C guy, he might steer you in the right direction.

Unfortunately, getting your AC replaced right now is going to cost you an arm and a leg because it is so hot. It's a lot cheaper in January...
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Old 07-10-2009, 06:55 PM   #9
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UGH, it's hot. Anyone have advice for replacing central a/c? I'm a total goober and I don't know SEER from a hole in the ground. I've been getting quotes on high-efficiency systems that are making my eyes bug out. Sheesh.
It would feel like 110 inside here...

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Originally Posted by ziggy29 View Post
Gee, I would have thought wiring chewed up by scorpions or something...


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Same crew repaired the other unit when it stopped working a year later. It turned out a roach got fried between the contacts of a relay and prevented the flow of current. Very cheap repair.
Why would anyone leave a perfectly good roach laying around?

In my decidedly uninformed opinion...

I had a Trane 3-ton 12 SEER-rated unit installed in 2002 for $3300, plus later I had them replace the leaky plenum for $400. No issues. As I recall, to make the move to a 14 SEER would've been $7k-ish. The dramatic price differential was attributed to having to install a whole new system, since my old furnace and one-speed fan were not compatible.
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Old 07-10-2009, 07:02 PM   #10
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Unfortunately, getting your AC replaced right now is going to cost you an arm and a leg because it is so hot. It's a lot cheaper in January...
Yeah, but for some reason, A/C units don't seem to die in January...
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Old 07-10-2009, 07:05 PM   #11
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We had 20+ year-old furnace and ac (Trane) replaced in 10/06 with Trane, but we've run the AC only about 20 days (one day so far this year) so can't really comment on the quality. Furnace has stood up well to Chicago winters, however!
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Old 07-10-2009, 07:14 PM   #12
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Another thing to remember about SEER is that increasing numbers see diminishing returns in energy savings.

If you need to use X BTUs to cool your home, for example, a 10 SEER unit would take X/10 units of electricity whereas a 20 SEER unit would take X/20. That is, a 20 SEER uses half the energy of a 10 SEER.

Doing a little algebra on this concept, moving from 10 SEER to 12 SEER is an energy savings of (12 - 10) / 12 = 16.7%.

From 12 to 14, the savings are (14 - 12) / 14 = 14.3%.

From 14 to 16, the savings are (16 - 14) / 16 = 12.5%.

And finally, from 16 to 18 it's (18 - 16) / 18 = 11.1%.

So in reality, the higher up you go the less you save AND the more you have to pay for the next step up. So usually, the "sweet spot" in choosing efficiency may depend on where the first huge price jump occurs.
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Old 07-10-2009, 07:45 PM   #13
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My hubby made an emergency trip to Walmart at 1:00 a.m. last night to purchase a window unit, lol. (Thank God for 24 hour Walmart.) So, at least we have one room to live in until we get a new system. We currently have a Trane that's 14 years old; it has been a good system but word around the HVAC forums (lol) is that Trane's technology isn't keeping up with the other major brands. I'm considering Carrier but this is all so confusing. :gah:
Can't offer much in way of advice on AC units, but I just had to give kudos to your hubby for the 1am trip to Walmart. Yea, many of us gripe about Wally World, but dang, thank goodness they were open!
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Old 07-10-2009, 08:07 PM   #14
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Are you sure your present system is really "dead?" If the compressor is shot, then you'll probably want to invest in a new unit, but if it is just the condenser fan or a relay you might be able to get things working again for under $200. At that point you could pay for the repair and then maybe replace the AC unit in the late fall when you'd get a better price on labor and will have time to do some good comparison shopping. The tax credits (on high efficiency models) are good through Dec 31, 2010.

Goodman is the "plain vanilla" brand. It has a good reputation among institutional users, and the compressor is made in the same factory and carries the same warranty as some of the heavily advertised brands. The brand is often derided by salesmen for the more heavily advertised consumer brands who make a much better markup by selling you on one of these brands. I bought and installed a Goodman furnace, and I'll probably go with a Goodman AC unit when my Lennox finally dies.

If you want to go "all in" and you have the right situation, you might consider a geothermal unit (more properly called a "ground source heat pump"). It costs a lot more to install, but these things save a lot of energy year-round and they have a 30% tax credit through 2016 that takes some of the sting out of the price.
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Old 07-10-2009, 08:37 PM   #15
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I had a Heil unit in a 20 year old house I sold once. It was the original unit. And I had very little maintenance during the 12 years I owned it. I ran into the guy that bought it a couple of years ago and he said the a/c was still running well. So the unit is close to 30 years old and still running. That's pretty amazing.

Tempstar is used a lot in my area which I believe is a division of Heil. That's what I used when I built a house a few years ago.
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Old 07-10-2009, 08:59 PM   #16
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My air system died last year in late august in Florida . I went with a Comfortmaker air system and it has been great . My electric bills are down by $100 a month . In my old house I had a Trane unit that had several problems even though the house was new .
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Old 07-10-2009, 09:39 PM   #17
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my condo association (which is still the developer) in florida is strongly advising us to get a service contract on the central ac units which i suppose are a couple of years old, but are on snowbird cycle which means 85 degrees with dehumidifier running during the summer

is this something I should do?
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Old 07-10-2009, 09:56 PM   #18
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my condo association (which is still the developer) in florida is strongly advising us to get a service contract on the central ac units . . is this something I should do?
Does your condo association explain why they think this makes sense? Have they negotiated some sort of special deal with a particular company? In general, service contracts (like extended warranties and other insurance) are not a way to save money.
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Old 07-10-2009, 10:18 PM   #19
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Only one problem with our Rheem units. The original installer didn't solder the joints well enough between the compressor and the furnace...it kept losing the refrigerant. He worked on it a few times and never found the leak. We eventually called a guy we know to come check it, and he was able to find the leak and fix it. In the meantime, lack of sufficient refrigerant (including lubricant as I recall) caused the compressor to burn out...so we had to get that replaced but somehow the warrantee must have covered it, because we only paid a couple hundred bucks to to get the second guy out, find the leak, fix it, and come out again to install the replacement compressor. Will never use the original installer again though.

I think our units are SEER 14, but with our PV system and being gone most of the time, we generate more electricity than we use. Going more efficient at this point would just be wasteful for us right now.

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Old 07-10-2009, 10:36 PM   #20
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CFB had some good insight on this last year.

http://www.early-retirement.org/forums/showpost.php?p=709396&postcount=7
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