AC Not Cooling Like It Should...maintenance Guy Gives Up...help! - HVAC - DIY Chatroom Home Improvement Forum


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Old 08-08-2011, 04:16 PM   #1
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AC Not cooling like it should...maintenance guy gives up...help!


Hello,
stumbled across this site on google and it seems up my alley. I've recently moved into a new apartment. The apartment itself is only 20 years old, and the AC unit (I'm told) is a 4 year old 3 ton unit (for a ~1300 ft loft apartment). Please bear with me as this is kind of a long story...


For the entire month of June, the AC ran no problems. We like to keep it cold in the apartment, usually set around 72 during the day and 68 at night. The AC had no issues keeping up with that (with temps outside in low-mid 80's). After I got my first electric bill, I went and got a programmable thermostat, which I installed myself. it seemed to work great.

About a week or so later, we started noticing it was having trouble getting the temps we wanted. At one point it wouldn't even get below 79 deg. So we called our apartment complexes maintenance team. The supervisor came out to look at it. He said the compressor had frozen over due to lack of freon, and recharged it. He also replaced the air filter. Checked the freon levels over the next couple days to make sure there wasn't a leak, and said we were all set.

This helped a bit, but ever since then the AC has not been able to get the apartment below 75 deg. I had the maintenance guy come check the unit inside the apartment out a couple times, but he swore up and down that the unit was working, and the extra heat was because of how hot it got in July (it was 100+ for a couple days, and in the 90's for a couple weeks). We put up with it, since I know AC units can't usually do much more than 20 deg differential, but i was still annoyed.

For the past couple weeks now it's only been in the 80s, yet still, my AC refuses to consistently go below 75. usually it's 77. There was one day last week when it worked great and kept the place at 73 all day long, but the next day we were back to 77-78.

The maintenance guy still says there's nothing wrong. he's checked the temperatures of the air coming from the vents, and they're at 60deg (he showed me the readout). I thought maybe it was the new thermostat causing problems, so I reinstalled the old thermostat, but this didn't seem to help.


one of the things I tried pointing out to him was an odd noise I'd begun hearing on the opposite side of the wall behind the AC unit. I could hear the furnace fan/blower motor/whatever you call that thing that spins up and vibrates the house as it starts. Every 10-15 seconds I would hear it sound like it's starting up, but then after 2-3 seconds it would sound like it's turning off.

At this point I thought it was maybe a loose wire in the thermostat, and I figured if I was having the same problems with or without the new thermostat, I might as well get the programmable feature. So I reinstalled the new thermostat. The fan has since stopped making that sounding-like-its-dying noise, but when it starts up I still dont hear the full vibrating sound I used to (and that I heard all the time in my old apartment).


The maintenance guy says the sound was probably just being noticable now because I didn't have freon in the system before (which is a load of crap answer if I ever heard one, since the system worked before). the temperatures outside these last couple weeks have only been in the mid-low 80s (actually only high 70's today), and we're still not seeing it go below 75 deg unless it's middle of the night when the outside air is really cool.


The maintenance guy is sick of dealing with the situation and has told me that all he can do at this point is hire a contractor, but if he's right and the system is fine then I have to pay for the inspection. I'm worried that he'll hire someone he knows who'll just agree with him, but I can't imagine, unless this new thermostat just has a REALLY inaccurate thermometer, that there isn't a problem with the system.


Is there anything I can check myself in terms of the furnace fan that I could maybe point out to him? I've never seen him open any panels or do anything to check the system besides feeling the copper pipe to see that it's cold and that there's fluids flowing through it, though in his defense, I haven't always been home when he's inspected it.


This is a higher end community in my city and I don't think he's maliciously or lazily trying to do anything poorly, and I'd like to remain on good terms with him and his crew, but I'm sick of not getting what I pay for.

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Old 08-08-2011, 06:50 PM   #2
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AC Not cooling like it should...maintenance guy gives up...help!


To start off there are a few things I agree w/in that the 20deg rule is true..for the most part if 100deg out 80deg in,however,rh%,and indoor load can factor into this equation.

now w/ that said,you can check the temp. Diff. Across the coil and you should read 16 to 18 deg...so if return air is 72deg. Then supply must be 54deg.or there IS a problem,in addition,the condensate drain should be draining indicating that you are removing the humidity.

also idk about the fan moving the air or intermittently turning off or making noise...what I do know is 3 tons should move 1200cfm of air.

although you can't measure this unless you have a velometer but you can...walk around w/ your hand and "feel" the air flow.

But you can tell your maint. Guy that you want him to get an independent contractor to check it out....you won't be paying a dime

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Last edited by SAMCRO; 08-08-2011 at 06:52 PM. Reason: left out a word
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Old 08-08-2011, 07:14 PM   #3
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AC Not cooling like it should...maintenance guy gives up...help!


The thing that's weird is that the system acts like it's fine. It's pumping out cold air, there's a fresh filter, I can hear the drain dripping, the place just isn't getting cool. He says it's because I have a vaulted ceiling b/c of the loft, but that doesn't explain why the apartment can't be cold right now when it's 78 outside and 77 inside. :-/
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Old 08-08-2011, 07:50 PM   #4
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AC Not cooling like it should...maintenance guy gives up...help!


Quote:
Originally Posted by b1ackcat View Post
The thing that's weird is that the system acts like it's fine. It's pumping out cold air, there's a fresh filter, I can hear the drain dripping, the place just isn't getting cool. He says it's because I have a vaulted ceiling b/c of the loft, but that doesn't explain why the apartment can't be cold right now when it's 78 outside and 77 inside. :-/

Dumb question: Are the filters clean? Can you actually verify the duct work is all good or are there parts hidden in a wall?
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Old 08-08-2011, 08:04 PM   #5
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AC Not cooling like it should...maintenance guy gives up...help!


The air filter was replaced, and he hosed off the compressor outside, although i don't know for sure about the furnace fans filter. Is that the same one that's typically replaced, or is there a 2nd filter? I don't know much about HVAC unfortunately :/
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Old 08-08-2011, 08:39 PM   #6
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AC Not cooling like it should...maintenance guy gives up...help!


With all do respect...you are paying to live in an upscale townhouse /apt. Then IMHO you deserve to have the a/c working as efficiently as poss.

This is not the case...I don't mind giving advise,but if your measurements are accurate they indicate the sys. Is working and doing what it should...

maybe inefficient compressor,coil icing-up(partial)who knows?

check that all the windows are closed the oven is off...

and have a pro check it....there is nothing you can do unless you have a set of gauges and an ammeter.
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Old 08-08-2011, 08:52 PM   #7
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AC Not cooling like it should...maintenance guy gives up...help!


Oh...just wanted you to that I have done hvac/r for 25plus yrs. Have had my own business ..I now do supermarket refrigeration.

I'm speaking from experience....and if you need any more help I'm here.
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Old 08-09-2011, 07:33 AM   #8
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AC Not cooling like it should...maintenance guy gives up...help!


Buy a thermometer and place it on top of your thermostat and compare the temps. How does it feel in the Apt? Sometimes we get caught up in the numbers. Not picking on Apt Maintenance guys just saying, their not the cream of the crop of the HVAC Industry because they specialize in everything not just HVAC..
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Old 08-09-2011, 09:46 AM   #9
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AC Not cooling like it should...maintenance guy gives up...help!


I do have a meat thermometer that is reporting the same temps as the thermostat, but I've been meaning to get a real one designed for air temps to doublecheck the thermostat. Thanks all. I may have an HVAC person come out.
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Old 08-09-2011, 10:34 AM   #10
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AC Not cooling like it should...maintenance guy gives up...help!


That meat thermometer meter is fine. What did you get on it at the vent?

We know that copper line is frozen up, freon is leaking. Recharging it will not fix the leak. Low on refrigerant might not be the only reason it frozen up

Condenser and evaporator coil might need some good cleaning, not just hosing off with water on the outside.
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Old 08-09-2011, 10:58 AM   #11
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AC Not cooling like it should...maintenance guy gives up...help!


Quote:
Originally Posted by max2k View Post
That meat thermometer meter is fine. What did you get on it at the vent?

We know that copper line is frozen up, freon is leaking. Recharging it will not fix the leak. Low on refrigerant might not be the only reason it frozen up

Condenser and evaporator coil might need some good cleaning, not just hosing off with water on the outside.

The copper pipe inside the house leading into the unit is cold, but not iced over, and you can feel liquid flowing through it. The meat thermometer reads 60-70deg coming out of the vents, depending on the day, so I know there's cold air coming out. The day he read the meter, it was coming out at 60deg, but on days when i can tell it's not working right, the air is only 70deg. The flow also seems to vary. Some days it feels strong, others it's a trickle out of some vents while forceful out of others.
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Old 08-09-2011, 02:02 PM   #12
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AC Not cooling like it should...maintenance guy gives up...help!


ok, do this: on the hottest part of the day get that meat thermometer and place the tip of the thermometer
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Old 08-09-2011, 02:22 PM   #13
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AC Not cooling like it should...maintenance guy gives up...help!


sorry, pressed "send" accidentally: get that thermometer and place the tip of it on the return grill of the inside a/c unit (the area of the a/c where you can feel the air rushing into it) and hold it there for about a minute (or until the reading is stable) and record the reading.

do this on the hottest part of the day if you can.

then, if ur a/c unit allows, use that same thermometer and punch a hole with it on the piece of duct (aka, plenum) that comes out the top of the unit and get the temperature reading from there as well.

then subtract the return air temp from the temperature reading that u got after you punched a hole in the plenum.

as mentioned earlier, if the temperature difference is around 16 or 18 degrees, that unit is working fine.

if it is less than that, ur unit is working inefficiently and something is TRULY wrong with the system.

if the difference is a little bit HIGHER than 16 - 18 degrees then that unit is PERFECTLY FINE and cooling at peak capacity.

chat back in and tell us ur results!
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Old 08-09-2011, 05:37 PM   #14
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AC Not cooling like it should...maintenance guy gives up...help!


Good chance you have a dirty indoor coil. And if he didn't use cleaner on the condenser coil, it may still be dirty also.
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Old 08-09-2011, 06:20 PM   #15
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AC Not cooling like it should...maintenance guy gives up...help!


Any chance there is an "offset " on your new thermostat?

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