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Old 11-25-2013, 08:27 PM   #1
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My six year old air conditioner' s coil is leaking . The good news is it is covered under warranty but the labor is not . The labor because my house is elevated so my air conditioner is also elevated is very expensive and involves a crane . The company is trying to encourage me to buy a new unit but I am not convinced .The new unit would be just about $6,000 with installation and the repair will cost $1,800. This is the first repair this unit has had and it has been maintained .What would you do ?
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Old 11-25-2013, 08:39 PM   #2
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I wouldn't spend the $ to replace it at this point. My experience says a central air system, unless it is a heat pump, should last 15 - 17 years.
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Old 11-25-2013, 08:59 PM   #3
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I'd go out and replace the $12 capacitor myself and enjoy the chill for a few more years.
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Old 11-25-2013, 11:53 PM   #4
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I'd go out and replace the $12 capacitor myself and enjoy the chill for a few more years.
How is she supposed to get to the AC? She says it requires using a crane?
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Old 11-26-2013, 05:38 AM   #5
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How is she supposed to get to the AC? She says it requires using a crane?
If you are only taking a small part with you, an extension ladder would probably reach, but you'd need a crane to lift a new unit or any large parts to the platform.
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Old 11-26-2013, 06:39 AM   #6
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I'd think about it for a bit, but likely would spring for the new A/C unit. By doing the repair you have a 6-year-old A/C that you just spent almost $2k on. Murphy's Law dictates that some other expensive out-of-warranty part will then fail.
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Old 11-26-2013, 08:32 AM   #7
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If you are near the ocean, then perhaps the advice to replace is warranted. Can you see the unit yourself, is it rusted out? If it is, you are likely not rinsing it periodically. (you might need a small pressure washer to reach it if it is too high up) We rinse our ac unit once a month just to cut down on the salt build up. You might want to get another opinion, the repair could be quite minor and $1800 seems high. I'd go to angies list and select up a few of the top rated ac companies to give you an estimate.
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Old 11-26-2013, 09:10 AM   #8
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Thanks everybody ! The crane is needed to lower the air conditioner so they can work on it . We are solving this by enlarging the stand so in the future technicians have more access to the unit . We are on the bay so the salt water probably contributed to this problem. After thinking about it I do think the $1800 estimate is high . $700 is for the crane so that leaves $1100 in labor . I am going to ask for a detailed quote and get a second opinion before moving forward .Luckily we are getting into cool weather .
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Old 11-26-2013, 09:11 AM   #9
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When you say "coil" I hear refrigerant coil, which is not a trivial repair, as opposed to an electrical component.

If the damage is identified as salt air environment damage, I would lean toward a new unit, because other components may soon quit from the same cause. If from mfg. defect or other non-corrosion cause, I might look harder at the repair scenario.

I am guessing the repair only does not require a crane, but a new unit would.
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Old 11-26-2013, 09:24 AM   #10
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Another consideration towards replacement may be the type of refrigerant your system uses. If its the older type refrigerant (R22), maybe that might sway going to a newer system, since the R22 has been phased out by the EPA, and remaining supplies will only get more expensive each year.
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Old 11-26-2013, 12:02 PM   #11
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Rock and the hard place...
Understand the crane cost as our willow tree fell into the lake, and no near access, so needed a tall crane... nearest 75 miles @ $4 mi. plus $400 crane rental...
Tough call on the total cost... coil replacement is labor intensive, but the estimate does seem high. A 6 year old unit... very unusual for corroded coil. Wonder how it was diagnosed if access was difficult... My A/C guy only does this at night... looking for the leak with a special gas analyzer where the gas changes color. It's common for many A/C companies to do a "quick" refill..with the R134 refrigerant... then wait to see how long the cooling lasts.

This site has multiple pages of Q & A on A/C repair.
Whole House A/C Freon Leak - Help Please - DoItYourself.com Community Forums
I think I'd call one or two other companies, for price range esstimate
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Old 11-26-2013, 12:13 PM   #12
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Sorry to hear about your AC coil leaking. I think that getting a second quote is a great idea.

IIRC usually you have money left over at the end of the year, so if my understanding is correct then it's just a matter of not getting ripped off, not a matter of not being able to fit a new air conditioner into your budget.

You have a beautiful large home, and correspondingly higher maintenance costs (such as the cost of the crane operations) seem appropriate because of that. I think you are justified in spending the money to go ahead and replace the AC if the repairs alone are going to cost $1800.

Besides, having a brand new AC could be a plus if/when you put your home on the market to move closer to your grandchildren, if that is still the plan. You might even recoup some of the costs at that time.

But still, I agree with you and others on this thread, that second quotes both for replacement and for the repair are in order before your final decision.
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Old 11-26-2013, 12:28 PM   #13
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I'd get another estimate. It is possible to just replace the evaporator coil, or sometimes even to simply braze a hole and recharge the unit.
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Old 11-29-2013, 02:03 PM   #14
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I found my original paperwork and the air conditioner is only five years old so I'm going with the repair . I am also having the stand enlarged so they will be able to get easier access to the unit .Luckily I have ended the year so far with almost $30,000 left in my budget despite my refrigerator ,pool pump & automatic pool cleaner all needing either repairs or replacement .
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Old 12-02-2013, 02:58 PM   #15
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I wouldn't spend the $ to replace it at this point. My experience says a central air system, unless it is a heat pump, should last 15 - 17 years.
My vote, too, though neither REW nor I live near the ocean...
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Old 12-02-2013, 04:35 PM   #16
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I found my original paperwork and the air conditioner is only five years old so I'm going with the repair . I am also having the stand enlarged so they will be able to get easier access to the unit.
Hopefully the new coil will do the trick, and you'll find someone who can do the work without need for using the crane. But, if the unit does need to be lifted, consider moving it to a more accessible spot at the same time (if it's just a matter of some additional refrigerant lines and running power to the new spot). I see units 15 feet up in the air hanging off the sides of houses all the time, with plenty of real estate at ground level right below them, it's crazy. I guess it reduces the chance of a copper thief hauling it off, but aside from that it doesn't make much sense.
If you are planning to sell the house soon, do the minimum required. Not one person in 10 will care that the AC condenser is a nightmare to service, and a 5 year old unit will be considered nearly new, so you won't gain much by replacing it.
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Old 12-02-2013, 07:11 PM   #17
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Hopefully the new coil will do the trick, and you'll find someone who can do the work without need for using the crane. But, if the unit does need to be lifted, consider moving it to a more accessible spot at the same time (if it's just a matter of some additional refrigerant lines and running power to the new spot). I see units 15 feet up in the air hanging off the sides of houses all the time, with plenty of real estate at ground level right below them, it's crazy. I guess it reduces the chance of a copper thief hauling it off, but aside from that it doesn't make much sense.
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My house is elevated since I live on the water so the air conditioner has to stay on it's perch but we are enlarging it so technicians can service it without moving the unit .
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Old 12-02-2013, 09:36 PM   #18
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I found my original paperwork and the air conditioner is only five years old so I'm going with the repair . I am also having the stand enlarged so they will be able to get easier access to the unit .Luckily I have ended the year so far with almost $30,000 left in my budget despite my refrigerator ,pool pump & automatic pool cleaner all needing either repairs or replacement .
If you are $30,000 under budget I would get the A/C repaired and made more accessible as you have decided. It just means you will be $28,200 under budget at the end of the year. That's still a huge difference. My curiosity is piqued as to how you did it - or was your budget simply too big to begin with?
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Old 12-03-2013, 06:40 AM   #19
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I'd get another estimate. It is possible to just replace the evaporator coil, or sometimes even to simply braze a hole and recharge the unit.
+1

These people can't climb a ladder with their Freon tank?
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Old 12-03-2013, 09:41 AM   #20
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If you are $30,000 under budget I would get the A/C repaired and made more accessible as you have decided. It just means you will be $28,200 under budget at the end of the year. That's still a huge difference. My curiosity is piqued as to how you did it - or was your budget simply too big to begin with?
I was $20,000 under budget last year so I rolled that over into this year with the intention of remodeling the bathroom . Never got to do the remodel so that is why I have such an access .I could cut my budget down but why ? Maybe one of these years I really will spend it all ! It is not like I do not try .
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