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Central Air Conditioner
Old 10-17-2006, 11:39 AM   #1
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Central Air Conditioner

My 25 year old AC has no coolant in the system - repair guy says its flat and would cost $665 to do a leak test!
That cost $99 to find out, but he was happy to tell me the $99 would be subtracted from the bill if I got a new AC.... smells kinda fishy...so the sales guy is due in 30 mins to take a look at the beast...the box is behind the house while the compressor and whatever is in the attic...

Does anyone have an idea what a new one installed typically costs?

I did have the utility out for a quote - $5500!!

Hoping for half the price from this next outfit...wishful thinking?

Are there tax credits still..expire this year?
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Re: Central Air Conditioner
Old 10-17-2006, 11:45 AM   #2
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Re: Central Air Conditioner

Get 3 quotes, if you can.
How many tons is your current unit?
Is it oversized or undersized for the load, do you think? Or do you want to replace it with one the same tonnage? Is it a Heat pump type unit?

Sarah
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Re: Central Air Conditioner
Old 10-17-2006, 11:50 AM   #3
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Re: Central Air Conditioner

Quote:
Originally Posted by mclesters
Get 3 quotes, if you can.
How many tons is your current unit?
Is it oversized or undersized for the load, do you think? Or do you want to replace it with one the same tonnage? Is it a Heat pump type unit?

Sarah
The first quote was for a 2 ton....don't see anything on the AC that tells me what size it is...not a heat pump type..thks
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Re: Central Air Conditioner
Old 10-17-2006, 11:53 AM   #4
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Re: Central Air Conditioner

Friends had "middle tier" Heat Pump installed two weeks ago.
3 tons, $4100 installed in Atlanta, GA


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Re: Central Air Conditioner
Old 10-17-2006, 11:54 AM   #5
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Re: Central Air Conditioner

I believe 1 "ton" is the equivalent of 12000 btu...

I had my 2.5 ton unit replace with a 3 ton, 12 SEER unit (compressor and evaporator) about three years ago for $2700...

The 14 SEER unit with the two-speed fan and flute-proof kneuter valve was over $7k...
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Re: Central Air Conditioner
Old 10-17-2006, 11:56 AM   #6
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Re: Central Air Conditioner

Tax credits for high-efficiency models:

http://www.energy.gov/taxbreaks.htm

"This is effective January 1, 2006 through December 31, 2007."


The condenser is in the box behind the house; the evaporator coils are in the attic.

$5500 seems high for a 2 ton unit.
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Re: Central Air Conditioner
Old 10-17-2006, 12:04 PM   #7
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Re: Central Air Conditioner

The utility quote was for 15 seer, so the higher the number the more costly?......I'll ask the guy what size I got...thanks for clearing up where the compressor & evaporator are - I'll try to impress this guy that I'm not totally clueless thanks and thks for the tax info
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Re: Central Air Conditioner
Old 10-17-2006, 12:22 PM   #8
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Re: Central Air Conditioner

I had one replaced last year. The higher the SEER the more effeicent the unit. I looked at many different brands and found out the Trane and the American Standard are made by the same company. They were way expensive, but the American Standard was a couple thousand less than the Trane.

I went with the low bidder and bought a Frigidaire. It had the two speed air handler fan which threw the inspector off when I sold the place. Anyway the total cost was about 3100. After the installation the owner asked if he was the lowest bid, of course he was. He said he forgot to add labor. A woman I worked with also used the same company and her bill was a little more for a lot less of a unit.

When I compared the amount of money we were spending on a/c and heat form the old unit to the new one and added in the electric company rebate I would have broke even in two more years for a total of three years of ownership.
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Re: Central Air Conditioner
Old 10-17-2006, 12:56 PM   #9
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Re: Central Air Conditioner

Well.....
$7200 for a 2.5 ton 13 seer Bryant...we use ac maybe 20-30 times a year so 15 seer(another $1000) wouldn't pay...actually there is no way this would payback in my lifetime - I'm thinking of just repairing my old lennox - he says it's a 3 ton 8 seer...can't believe the prices...
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Re: Central Air Conditioner
Old 10-17-2006, 01:09 PM   #10
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Re: Central Air Conditioner

3 ton seems to be on the large side, but then I don't know all the details. As for the coil, I put mine just above the furnace, in the duct work, so I'm surprised about it being in the attic, again I don't know the details. I ended up with a Trane 2 ton unit 20 years ago, I came with precharged lines and the cost was approximately $1,200.00 for materials, including electrical supplies, I installed it myself.
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Re: Central Air Conditioner
Old 10-17-2006, 01:19 PM   #11
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Re: Central Air Conditioner

There are 9 duct ceiling outlets on the second floor...said need 1 ton for each 4 outlets - 2.5 ton to handle..yeah he thought the old 3 ton was big too...pipes from compressor go up side of house to attic...thks
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Re: Central Air Conditioner
Old 10-17-2006, 01:21 PM   #12
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Re: Central Air Conditioner

Dan, the prices you've been quoted so far seem very steep. I would definitely get several estimates.

It's been a while since I replace an entire unit, but I would expect a 3 ton 12 SEER to run around $5,000 installed. I did have to replace a coil in a unit this size (located in my attic) 6 months ago, and the bill was around $2,200. Lucky for me it was still under a 10 year parts and labor warranty...
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Re: Central Air Conditioner
Old 10-17-2006, 01:33 PM   #13
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Re: Central Air Conditioner

Quote:
Originally Posted by REWahoo!
Dan, the prices you've been quoted so far seem very steep. I would definitely get several estimates.

It's been a while since I replace an entire unit, but I would expect a 3 ton 12 SEER to run around $5,000 installed. I did have to replace a coil in a unit this size (located in my attic) 6 months ago, and the bill was around $2,200. Lucky for me it was still under a 10 year parts and labor warranty...
REW - yeah I will, got to be somebody out there at my price point...otherwise will repair or if too much I'll shoot it and will just install window units!!
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Re: Central Air Conditioner
Old 10-17-2006, 01:45 PM   #14
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Re: Central Air Conditioner

A ton for each 4 outlets? Never heard of that method. The most accurate method is the Manual J but most contractors won't bother. The Consumer Reports sizing worksheet might help.

http://tinyurl.com/kaot3
http://tinyurl.com/y6lgc8

A SEER 8 unit is hugely inefficient; in fact, the building codes for my city require a SEER 10 for new units.

Remember that the tax benefit is a tax credit. Does your utility offer a low interest loan option?
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Re: Central Air Conditioner
Old 10-17-2006, 01:59 PM   #15
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Re: Central Air Conditioner

Should be able to replace with same size, assuming the original machine was correct. Additionally, costs go up for higher SEER. But some of the higher SEER have pretty good tax rebates available. Daughter paid approximately $4,000 for a new SEER 10 (could not talk SIL or her to go better). The house was approximately 5,500 SF. Same symptoms and the leak was found (in the outside unit) in about 5 minutes where the copper and brass or aluminium meet so it could not be repaired for much less than the cost for a new system. Labor to repair these things are costly (at least at the rates they quote).
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Re: Central Air Conditioner
Old 10-17-2006, 04:18 PM   #16
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Re: Central Air Conditioner

Dan, I don't think you want to be paying someone to work on a 25 year old air conditioner! If it were something like a simple controls problem, or switching out a blower motor, and you were doing it yourself, that would be different. Even then, the mortality table would say she's overdue for the scrap heap!

As of January 2006, no more split-system A/C systems with an SEER of less than 13 are to be manufactured for sale in the USA. Any sale of a SEER 10 unit today is a leftover one from a warehouse somewhere. Most manufacturers switched over last year, as they did not want SEER 10 or 12 units languishing in warehouses. And the distributors are smart enough not to want them in their warehouses!

Do not buy an A/C system solely on price. Number one importance is quality of installation. Find someone you know who has had a system put in a couple years ago, and find out whether they are happy with it, were there any problems, were problems fixed promptly, etc. Focus on the installer.

The source of your information is very important. A recommendation from some newb is worthless. In fact, the info from many people is worthless. You have to filter it.
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Re: Central Air Conditioner
Old 10-17-2006, 04:24 PM   #17
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Re: Central Air Conditioner

$665 for a leak test is outrageous, as is $5500 for a new system. He's trying to rip you off. Tell him to take a hike.

Where is the leak? Might be able to just fix the leak and recharge the system. Also, since you have a split system, you should be able to just replace the unit that is malfunctioning, saving quite a bit of money. For instance, my condensor unit fins corroded and the unit would not cool properly. I had that half replaced for $1,550, including labor.

The piece that's in the attic (the air handler) will be the most expensive to replace because of the labor for removing the old one and installing the new one in that space. Luckily, it's usually the condenser section (the piece outside on the ground) that goes out. If you're mechanically inclined, you can order one of these from an online seller and hook it up yourself (as someone else said they did). Also, some of these places will sell you the unit, then put you in touch with local contractors that will install it for you for a nominal fee.

I think 13 SEER is the minimum that can be manufactured now, but there may still be some 10 SEER systems out there for sale. These should be cheap.

Here are a couple A/C outfits that will sell to you directly:

http://www.acwholesalers.com/shop/index.asp#

http://www.1source2buy.com/index.html

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Re: Central Air Conditioner
Old 10-17-2006, 05:23 PM   #18
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Re: Central Air Conditioner

Quote:
Originally Posted by eridanus
A ton for each 4 outlets? Never heard of that method. The most accurate method is the Manual J but most contractors won't bother. The Consumer Reports sizing worksheet might help.

http://tinyurl.com/kaot3
http://tinyurl.com/y6lgc8

A SEER 8 unit is hugely inefficient; in fact, the building codes for my city require a SEER 10 for new units.

Remember that the tax benefit is a tax credit. Does your utility offer a low interest loan option?
Yeah, he did the sq ft. measure and figured how much sun exposure, etc...thks for the links...yeah they have low cost ..
Quote:
Originally Posted by Old Army Guy
Should be able to replace with same size, assuming the original machine was correct. Additionally, costs go up for higher SEER. But some of the higher SEER have pretty good tax rebates available. Daughter paid approximately $4,000 for a new SEER 10 (could not talk SIL or her to go better). The house was approximately 5,500 SF. Same symptoms and the leak was found (in the outside unit) in about 5 minutes where the copper and brass or aluminium meet so it could not be repaired for much less than the cost for a new system. Labor to repair these things are costly (at least at the rates they quote).
I'm thinking the leak is outside, probably where you're indicating too...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Telly
Dan, I don't think you want to be paying someone to work on a 25 year old air conditioner! If it were something like a simple controls problem, or switching out a blower motor, and you were doing it yourself, that would be different. Even then, the mortality table would say she's overdue for the scrap heap!

As of January 2006, no more split-system A/C systems with an SEER of less than 13 are to be manufactured for sale in the USA. Any sale of a SEER 10 unit today is a leftover one from a warehouse somewhere. Most manufacturers switched over last year, as they did not want SEER 10 or 12 units languishing in warehouses. And the distributors are smart enough not to want them in their warehouses!

Do not buy an A/C system solely on price. Number one importance is quality of installation. Find someone you know who has had a system put in a couple years ago, and find out whether they are happy with it, were there any problems, were problems fixed promptly, etc. Focus on the installer.

The source of your information is very important. A recommendation from some newb is worthless. In fact, the info from many people is worthless. You have to filter it.
I'm going to keep getting quotes and also going to explore the fix option..I don't trust myself to not fudge it up..thjks
Quote:
Originally Posted by Patrick
$665 for a leak test is outrageous, as is $5500 for a new system. He's trying to rip you off. Tell him to take a hike.

Where is the leak? Might be able to just fix the leak and recharge the system. Also, since you have a split system, you should be able to just replace the unit that is malfunctioning, saving quite a bit of money. For instance, my condensor unit fins corroded and the unit would not cool properly. I had that half replaced for $1,550, including labor.

The piece that's in the attic (the air handler) will be the most expensive to replace because of the labor for removing the old one and installing the new one in that space. Luckily, it's usually the condenser section (the piece outside on the ground) that goes out. If you're mechanically inclined, you can order one of these from an online seller and hook it up yourself (as someone else said they did). Also, some of these places will sell you the unit, then put you in touch with local contractors that will install it for you for a nominal fee.

I think 13 SEER is the minimum that can be manufactured now, but there may still be some 10 SEER systems out there for sale. These should be cheap.

Here are a couple A/C outfits that will sell to you directly:

http://www.acwholesalers.com/shop/index.asp#

http://www.1source2buy.com/index.html

yeah, $665 sucks then they stick you with a bill for the fix! - I'm going to find someone else and see what their approach is..the thing that gives me pause is these folks that cam today are the top rated by Angies List - a consumer rating forum...if I get new it will be a 13seer...I do have the luxury of time to get a solution...I am in Minnesota...so won't need it til aug maybe sept! and then its time to cover it beofre the first snow...for the amount of use it will get I can think of lot more things I can spend money on!
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Re: Central Air Conditioner
Old 10-17-2006, 05:50 PM   #19
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Re: Central Air Conditioner

A system that old uses the now banned refrigerant, which might explain the cost. I would opt for new.
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Re: Central Air Conditioner
Old 10-17-2006, 05:58 PM   #20
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Re: Central Air Conditioner

Quote:
Originally Posted by HFWR
A system that old uses the now banned refrigerant, which might explain the cost. I would opt for new.
HFWR - so they can't use the latest refrgerant anyway if they did plug the leak?
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