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Old 07-12-2015, 10:17 AM   #41
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And the labor is not that difficult, if everything is easily accessible. I've got a simple setup (evap coil in abasement room with good access, outside compressor/outside unit at grade level just outside) and when my unit crumps out I'll definitely be looking for an HVAC tech who wants to make a few hundred dollars on a side job to come out and hook up the refrigerant lines and check out the operation of the units after I get everything else in place and hooked up.
My hp is on a slab at ground level. Inside unit at ground level also, copper lines just go right through the wall. I keep hearing that the installation is the most important thing in making the unit last a long time. So I'd be wary of hiring an independent tech guy unless I was sure he was completely competent. My first HP (Trane) that came with the house new, lasted 10 years before compressor went out. Next one, a newer model Trane, has now lasted 19 years and I have not had anything done to it. I just clean the leaves out of it every few years, and keep the snow away from it in Winter. Apparently the company that installed my current HP did it right. And I paid only about $1,200. Of course that was 19 years ago. Outside unit only. My guess on why installation is so important would be keeping contaminants out of freon, keeping proper pressures on various parts of system, doing things in proper order, etc. If I get a new HP I'd let the same company do the install since they did it right before. But I'll definitely be trying to get the price down somehow. Rebates, discounts, cash, whatever.
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Old 07-13-2015, 04:52 AM   #42
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We'll almost surely be replacing our units early because of poor installation along with builders' typical economizing on quality of the physical units. Our home inspector cited several issues with the installation, some of which we had resolved (at least temporarily) before we closed and other were factored into the negotiations. There are apparently so many ways to cut corners, making the installation less onerous but degrading the finished product. Sigh.
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Old 07-13-2015, 10:11 AM   #43
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My HVAC guy came out last night to look at my unit. The compressor works fine, but it wasn't getting cold. He added a couple of pounds of freon for $150, and it started working great again. Only problem is when he opened up the unit, there was so much corrosion that the grate was literally flaking apart just from touching it.

A new unit will cost $2,400, plus $500 to replace the coils above the HVAC. Since the current unit seems to be working now, I'm inclined to just wait until it completely dies and then replace it with a new one.

The units I'm looking at are made by Trane, Rheem and American Standard. All made in the USA, all right about the same price for their entry level SEER 14 models. Consumer reports says the reliability on all of these units is pretty close, so it probably doesn't matter which one I go with.
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Old 07-13-2015, 10:53 AM   #44
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My HVAC guy came out last night to look at my unit. The compressor works fine, but it wasn't getting cold. He added a couple of pounds of freon for $150, and it started working great again. Only problem is when he opened up the unit, there was so much corrosion that the grate was literally flaking apart just from touching it.

A new unit will cost $2,400, plus $500 to replace the coils above the HVAC. Since the current unit seems to be working now, I'm inclined to just wait until it completely dies and then replace it with a new one.
If the units are older and near the end of their expected service life in for your area, and if you saw the corrosion yourself, you might want to start shopping for a replacement. The refrigerant left the system somehow, and if it stops cooling again within the year it means you've got a serious problem and it's probably not economical to do repairs on an older unit with corrosion issues. It'll be cheaper and faster to get this done in the fall than to wait until it breaks in the summer.
The evaporator coil normally lasts a lot longer than the outside unit, and often don't need to be replaced unless the refrigerant type is changed.
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Old 07-13-2015, 12:28 PM   #45
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My HVAC guy came out last night to look at my unit. The compressor works fine, but it wasn't getting cold. He added a couple of pounds of freon for $150, and it started working great again. Only problem is when he opened up the unit, there was so much corrosion that the grate was literally flaking apart just from touching it.

A new unit will cost $2,400, plus $500 to replace the coils above the HVAC. Since the current unit seems to be working now, I'm inclined to just wait until it completely dies and then replace it with a new one.

The units I'm looking at are made by Trane, Rheem and American Standard. All made in the USA, all right about the same price for their entry level SEER 14 models. Consumer reports says the reliability on all of these units is pretty close, so it probably doesn't matter which one I go with.
Ready, Do those prices include labor for installation? New outdoor unit plus inside coils is about $5,000 here in Pa. For a Trane heat pump/ac. Wonder why it's so much less expensive in southern Ca. Are you getting any rebates/tax credits, discounts, etc?
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Old 07-13-2015, 01:02 PM   #46
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I've taken to ordering units from the internet and having them drop shipped to the house--whether my home or a rental unit.

When an AC gives me trouble and the tech (I've used the same one man business for years) says its time to replace I have him pump it out and disconnect. I haul off the old unit for scrap, place the drop shipped unit, and have him do the hookups. WAY cheaper than any of the services that come out and do it all for you with a unit they MAY have in stock. Takes about a week to get the new unit delivered.

Also did one house with a mini-split I ordered online. Did the rough in myself and had the AC guy do the hookup and charge. Did have a small leak that shut the unit down after the first year but since then its been great. Renters loved the reduced cost of operation and two zone control.
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Old 07-13-2015, 02:00 PM   #47
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When an AC gives me trouble and the tech (I've used the same one man business for years) says its time to replace I have him pump it out and disconnect. I haul off the old unit for scrap, place the drop shipped unit, and have him do the hookups. WAY cheaper than any of the services that come out and do it all for you with a unit they MAY have in stock. Takes about a week to get the new unit delivered.
This is what I plan to do. The hard part is finding someone to do the pump-out of the old unit and hookup of the refrigerant lines. I suppose they have to be accredited in some way for the warranty to be valid (it was that way for my gas furnace--I did the same thing). And, it helps to have a small window unit or portable unit to keep some areas of the house comfortable while waiting for the parts to come in and to do the installation. You end up with the equipment you want at the right price, an installation you can trust (because you did it yourself). De-linking the installation from the equipment sale also removes conflicts of interest.
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Old 07-13-2015, 03:14 PM   #48
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Ready, Do those prices include labor for installation? New outdoor unit plus inside coils is about $5,000 here in Pa. For a Trane heat pump/ac. Wonder why it's so much less expensive in southern Ca. Are you getting any rebates/tax credits, discounts, etc?
We don't need the heat pump a/c here. I think those do cost more. If you look up the price of my unit at some online resellers, a 4-ton 14 SEER unit from Rheem or American Standard costs $1,800. My HVAC guy is charging me $2,400, so I guess the $600 is labor. The cooling coil is extra, about $500.

No rebates or tax credits that I'm aware of.
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Old 07-13-2015, 03:16 PM   #49
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If the units are older and near the end of their expected service life in for your area, and if you saw the corrosion yourself, you might want to start shopping for a replacement. The refrigerant left the system somehow, and if it stops cooling again within the year it means you've got a serious problem and it's probably not economical to do repairs on an older unit with corrosion issues. It'll be cheaper and faster to get this done in the fall than to wait until it breaks in the summer.
The evaporator coil normally lasts a lot longer than the outside unit, and often don't need to be replaced unless the refrigerant type is changed.
Agreed. I've never serviced either unit, so I figure if I can extend the life just a bit longer by adding $150 worth of freon, it's worth it. But I definitely won't spend any more money on these units. I'm not that concerned about the unit breaking in the summer, because by the beach where I live it rarely exceeds about 76 degrees in the summer, and the evenings are usually about 68. It does get a bit warm in the house, but not so bad that I would suffer if I had to wait a week or two for a replacement unit. Many homes in my neighborhood don't even have a/c, although there about ten days per year where it's pretty brutal without it.
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