With a sweltering heatwave washing over us this week,it was not a good time for both A/C units to go out. In truth, they’ve been somewhat on the decline for a few weeks, in fact the unit that controls the downstairs air has never really worked properly, but it has never really caused an issue until we started hitting the 90+ degrees with 80% humidity.
I called a local A/C maintainence and repair company and had them come out and examine our units. Like the house, they are only 5 years old, but they are “builder grade”. Never the less, they are the proper sizes for the house. The tech came out and determined we were low on freon (duh). He said that there must be leaks somewhere, probably in the evaporator coils. The coils were frozen up from being run with low freon, so he could not get any more freon to pump in the system. Normally they charge $80/per unit to defrost the coils. I asked if they would defrost on their own, given time, and he said yes. Then he told me we should consider … replacing our complete A/C system. Yes, we went from a system low on freon to one that needs to be replaced en totale that fast. The reasons he gave me were as follows:
$159 charge for service visit
$80/pound for freon
$250 per unit for leak detection (yes, I know I can buy a leak detector for about $150)
As much as $1,300 each to replace the evaporator coils, if that is where the leak is.
Freon is phasing out, and soon we won’t be able to recharge a system that is “builder grade” and almost certainly is going to crash again.
Thousands of $$ in wasted electricity from a poorly operating system.
Those are the things he could name off quickly. Fortunately he could call a “comfort specialist” and have him come over and explain all the benefits of having my current system ripped out and a new one installed, not the least of which would be respite from the broiling heat. Since we had to wait for the system to thaw anyway (no, I did not let him thaw my system for $160) I let him set up an appointment for that evening.
The guy that came over at 6pm walked around and measured our ducts and went into the attic. His prognosis was predicatbly grim. Our system was a mismash of generic pieces, and one was leaking water. I told him they were thawing but he said it was indicitive of a cracked evaporator coil drainpan. “What causes that?” we asked. “Oh, it could be anything, there’s no way to predict or know what causes it.”
I mean, tornadoes and earthquakes and volcanos can’t be predicted, but failure of a critical piece of air conditioning equipment?
At the nitty-gritty he gave us a quote for a system that cost $7,500, all installation included. Joyfully we were qualified for financing if we wanted to go that route. It would be a new puron system, with 10 year warranty on all parts and 2 years on labor (we currently have none on our system now). We told him this was something we would have to discuss.
While we are discussing it, S. suggests we get Myron to come over and look at the system and see what he thinks. Why Myron, I want to know. “Well, he works on A/C’s all the time,” she tells me. “So why didn’t we call him first?” I ask.
That is what a pregnant pause sounds like. We get Myron on the phone and tell him what we are experiencing. When we tell him the name of the company that came out and looked at the system, we get a long, quiet,
He agrees to come over that evening, and we spend about two hours checking out the system and recharging the freon. Turns out the reason we had trouble with our downstairs unit was because we had a burned out capaciter on the compressor. Once charged and filled, we fired up the system and what do you know… we had cold air on both levels. Myron agrees we have a leak, but thinks it is unlikely both coils failed. He suspects faulty welding, but he has to come back another time to do a leak search. He also helps me figure out why my backyard spigit hasn’t been working. We go to settle up at the end of the evening and he gives me the grand total:
So far through this weekend we’ve been holding a steady 75 degrees and it has been kewel.
Having a company come over and try to take advantage of our desperation in the overheated environment… not kewel.