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Old 07-12-2012, 05:51 PM   #1
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Default Need some help from the HVAC guys...

If any HVAC guys are bored and have a couple minutes...


I came home last night to find the house pretty warm. We have a "split" style Central A/C system/gas furnace where the exterior unit holds the condenser, compressor, etc. It's a 2 ton unit made by Gibson.

Anyway I went around the house and there was warmish air coming out of all the registers. I went out to the unit and felt that the air coming out of the unit was far cooler than normal. At the time I did not know to feel the lines.

I called an local HVAC company first thing in the morning and got setup for a late afternoon appointment. In the mean time I called another company to see if they could get out earlier.

Here were the results -

HVAC company 1 - Check the capacitor and found it to have failed due to leaking. Replaced the cap which did not solve the problem. Further investigation found the compressor had mechanically failed. I was quoted $1800 installed (minus the $80 I paid for the diagnostic) to replace the entire exterior unit with a similarly speced Gibson unit. This tech suggested that 2 tons was underpowered for our 2 story, 2 bed/1.5 row home and that a 2.5 ton unit would be better. They did not have a 2.5 ton unit in stock however and it would be an additional cost.

At this point I decided to keep the second appointment for a second option.

HVAC company 2 - Followed the same course of troubleshooting and arrived at the same decision - bad compressor. This tech said that 2 tons is perfectly adequate for the size of the home but quoted me a 2.5 ton unit made by Everest for $2400 installed (minus the $90 for the diagnostic) as well as a slightly more expensive unit that apparently runs on a newer form of coolant.

I have a call into the first company to get an apples to apples comparison quote on a 2.5 ton unit as well as the second company to quote me on a 2 ton system.


1) I know this is hard to extrapolate without seeing it but do these prices seem in line?
2) Again, without seeing, can anyone comment on 2 ton vs 2.5 ton? The house is a 2 story, 2 bed 1.5 bath corner row with appox 930 sq feet total which includes a basement. The basement is not served by the HVAC system so I'd say 820ish feet of actual living space.
3) The third option, which both discussed, was to completely re-do the whole system. I am hesitant to do so, it's from 2008 and we barely use the heat at all. I am far more concerned with the AC. Plus it's a major expense that I just can't make at this point.


Any advice or insight is appreciated.
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Old 07-13-2012, 07:55 AM   #2
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Default Re: Need some help from the HVAC guys...

I havent been active in HVAC for a couple yrs now but yes those prices seem reasonable.

Before I got my certification i had to replace the outside unit on my house (4-5 yrs ago) and it was a 3 ton unit and had it all done for $2400 in the summer time so i was happy.

There are 2 ways to figure how much of an AC unit you need..there is the Load on the unit and then there is the general 380-400 sqft per ton.

the 1st you can look up here--http://www.ehow.com/how_4883462_calculate-air-conditioner-size-house.html

a 2.5ton unit given the sqft of your house will work better then a 2 ton unit in my opinion.


as for changing out the complete system...eh..thats a judgment call..its not a bad idea to have it all replaced at one time so that there are no worries and everything is designed to work together but thats not always an expense we can handle.


One other option--call local tech school(s) and see if the HVAC instrutor will have his students change out the Compressor...or if another Company will..

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Old 07-13-2012, 09:09 AM   #3
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Default Re: Need some help from the HVAC guys...

Andrew, replacing "the whole system" really makes no sense.
Your cooling side is the condenser (the unit outside), refrigerant piping, and the A coil (or flat coil) at the furnace. It generally sits directly on top of the unit, it's not tied in, or a part of the furnace.
Then there's simply some low voltage wiring that runs between the furnace, your thermostat and your outside unit.

Other than saving some coin as a "package deal", there's absolutely no benefit to your AC system in replacing your furnace. Zero, none, nada.
The thought of replacing your furnace shouldn't even be crossing your mind unless it's prone to failure, rusted out, very old, etc. For someone to just try to sell you a furnace in this instance is simply ridiculous. It should have never been brought up. I mean really, replace a 4 year old furnace just because? (I'm trying to make nice and it's really hard, I'm genuinely pissed at these guys trying to take advantage of you.)

There are a lot of flags concerning the two outfits you are dealing with. From replacing the capacitor (which is an inane, borderline retarded rookie move that guys do before they understand how to troubleshoot a system) to these guys trying to sell you a big job that you don't need done. Even replacing the compressor is cheaper and I doubt that was discussed?
I know you probably don't want to deal with yet another hvac company, but both of these assholes are trying to take advantage of you, loud and clear.
See if you can find an old mom and pop outfit who will treat you right. They won't have the great big ad in the Yellow pages. The guys who can afford those ads are the guys that sell people lots of stuff they don't need.

I can explain all the parts and pieces of your system and likely help you diagnose the failure over the phone, if you like. You should be educated before you make the move, regardless of how you choose. So far the hucksters are slinging at you pretty hard and fast. Maybe we can save you some money if we talk about it. I'll pm my number, brother.
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Old 07-13-2012, 12:45 PM   #4
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Default Re: Need some help from the HVAC guys...

Thanks guys.

Neither pushed the whole system idea at all. They just kind of threw it out there.

They both did discuss just replacing the compressor. The first company just said "not worth it" and the second company actually sort of broke down all the components of the outdoor unit that need addressing (the coils needing a cleaning, bad cap, an issue with corrosion on a switch - all of which I saw with my own eyes - and the numbers did say it wasn't worth it.

Also, re: the cap - they both replaced it, found the system still did not work and then removed it. I was charged nothing for that so it seems like it's just part of working through the potential issues. The second one did say that he though the compressor was fine based on electrical readings, until he put the cap in and it still didn't work...

Scott, I had the first company come out first thing this morning and put in a new outdoor unit (before I saw your message otherwise I would have given you a call). They did a 2.5 ton Gibson, which matches the rest of my system, for $1900 total. My wife said the air conditioning is working better than it ever has so I'm happy.

Thanks again guys.
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Old 07-13-2012, 01:20 PM   #5
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Default Re: Need some help from the HVAC guys...

Ya done good, Andrew. Condensing sections can get pretty cruddy pretty fast and they sure don't make them like they used to. Ours is only a couple years old and I wonder how many years we'll get out of it.
I don't think they beat you up too bad, either. You didn't let them.
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