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Old 04-14-2010, 07:35 PM   #1
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Central A/C repair ... or replacement?


We have a leak in the system (blowing warm). Had some guys come out to fix it and they suggested we locate the leak.

It looks like we may be going down a slippery slope with the evaporator possibly being the culprit to be replaced.

They hooked up pressure hoses with nitrogen to the evaporator, as well as the line going to the attic from outside, and the compressor outside, and said he'd come back in a few days to check the pressure again.

I asked him how much it cost to replace the evaporator and he said the last one he did was a Carrier and cost $3k in total (parts, labor to find the leak and replace the evaporator, freon) which sounds nuts to me. He said York will be a little cheaper but labor is the same.

This sounded quite high to me and I wondered if this was getting pretty close to the cost of replacing the entire system ? Ours is a 2004 XR80 furnace with the A/C built in. We want to physically relocate this thing anyway (eventually) to finish the attic. If it is 3k to fix, or another 2k (5k total) to get us a new install , installed correctly and 15% more efficient is this something we should consider?

We also will get 400$ rebates for NJ for energystar for the furnace plus 30% tax credit from the fed. So that is to say that $5k cash to an HVAC contractor is more like $3k out of my pocket. Unsure if we can use the same old compressor outside or if we'd have to upgrade that as well. That one is an XR12. Here in NJ we use the heat a lot more than the air.


Last edited by pcampbell; 04-14-2010 at 07:40 PM.
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Old 04-14-2010, 08:26 PM   #2
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Central A/C repair ... or replacement?


We don't really do install prices here.

But. Your in for a shock. A furnace and A/C that qualify for the tax credit will cost more up front then you think.

Get a second opinion on the coil replacement cost.

And several estimates on new systems.

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Old 04-14-2010, 09:04 PM   #3
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Central A/C repair ... or replacement?


Obviously hard to give a quote online but I read 6k for 95% furnace including new AC (From someone also in NJ) . Not sure if that was before tax credits and rebates here or not (About $300 each for A/C and HEAT from NJ plus $1500 tax credit from federal).

I hate to replace a 5 year new system but $2500-3000 just seems nuts just to replace the condensor on an avg efficiency 1 stage Trane?

Somewhere there it is going to make sense to replace. There are other state programs I don't even quite understand fully yet. More money if the change will net you 25% efficiency gain.

Overall does $2500-3000 seem out of line for evaporator replacement including the parts, service call, labor to find leak, and refill with freon (They said 5-6# @ $30/#)?
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Old 04-14-2010, 09:32 PM   #4
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Central A/C repair ... or replacement?


Don't panic yet. The leak might be simple to fix and only end up costing a few hundred including freon.

I'm guessing 3K is for a whole new outside unit and not just the coil of it. Either the evap coil or condensing coil will be much cheaper to replace then the whole condensing unit.

Last edited by Marty S.; 04-14-2010 at 09:40 PM.
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Old 04-15-2010, 05:54 AM   #5
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Central A/C repair ... or replacement?


I will wait and see but I just don't want to make a bad decision on the spot (may have already done that.......). They said the outside unit is fine.

If he comes in and says it the evaporator after all I want to know my options because they're probably going to want to fix it right then and there.

The other thing is that - if and when we finish the attic, the system is going to have to be moved entirely and possibly replaced but this is really 5 years down the line.
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Old 04-15-2010, 05:59 AM   #6
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Central A/C repair ... or replacement?


Makes little to no sense to replace the condenser now. If your just going to do it again 5 years later.
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Old 04-15-2010, 06:16 AM   #7
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Central A/C repair ... or replacement?


We fully expect customers to weigh their options before doing any expensive repairs. You can't do that untill the source of the leak is found. If they come back and say the evap coil is leaking in a non-repairable spot and it's going to be $2000 or more to replace it simply tell them you want to wait untill getting other bids.
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Old 04-15-2010, 01:16 PM   #8
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Central A/C repair ... or replacement?


We charge them for finding the leak (time consuming and expensive) and if they decide not to repair it we usually give them 50% or more credit towards the price of a new unit.
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Old 04-15-2010, 04:00 PM   #9
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Central A/C repair ... or replacement?


The money you spent on the existing system is a sunk cost.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunk_costs
It should be irrelevant to your present decision.

Spending $3K now [vs. $5K now] makes sense if the chance of the repair lasting 5 years is 100[3/5] = 60%, or more.

Now that you know specifically what you need you might be able to get phone bids on this particular task.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flat_rate
and beat the $3K. It depends on how scattered the bids are.

New system cost
http://www.costhelper.com/cost/home-...ditioning.html
Read the comments to get the whole picture as to prices. The avg. price shown in those comments is $7K.

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Old 04-16-2010, 07:32 AM   #10
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Central A/C repair ... or replacement?


they took out the evaporator and still could not find any leaks... pretty odd.

here is what someone sent me as an example replacement system:

http://www.hutchbiz.com/energy_star_home_audit.html

that this is not just heating and air but a "whole house" approach where they also insulate and seal, and replace the water heater too.

replacing the water heater with one that direct vents is also necessary to get rid of the chimney running through my attic.

basically about 5k out of pocket for the whole deal

a few other pluses are - 0% financing, more comfort of course (let's not forget that.....) and putting the system in the correct place in the attic so we can finish the attic into living space (currently ducts just cris crossed all over the place).

Last edited by pcampbell; 04-16-2010 at 07:59 AM.
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Old 04-16-2010, 11:39 AM   #11
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Central A/C repair ... or replacement?


In their example. Don't forget that its 6450 out of pocket, not 4950. Until you file your taxes.

How good of a deal it is. You'll have to check into yourself.

Look for hidden cost.
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Old 04-19-2010, 01:36 PM   #12
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Central A/C repair ... or replacement?


If it's really $6450 ($4950 after tax credit) for $15,000 worth of improvement, you can't argue with that. Just make sure you qualify for all these concessions. There are usually multiple layes of qualifications/catches associated with anything that sounds this good!

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Old 04-21-2010, 08:25 AM   #13
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Central A/C repair ... or replacement?


First off they decided the coil has a leak, and total price to replace is a little under $2k including R-22 and this also includes the work already done (searching for the leak, service call) - which I have been told is going to out of style by 2010 and pretty much illegal by 2015. So basically next time this thing breaks I'm going to have to re-do the system... If that is in 10 years then the new system would have already paid for itself. If it's in 5 years I'm going to find myself in a jam for R-22 and a R-22 evaporator right?

The contractor said I should act quickly because if I don't I might not be able to get one of the last remaining R-22 evaporators that fit the Trane XR80... which really made me feel like he just wanted me to NOT weigh my options.

With this whole state rebate thing, if you gain 25% in overall heating efficiency the state writes you a check for 50%, plus $1000 for air sealing, plus $1000 from Carrier , plus $1500 tax credit from the govt. So if you subtract that from 18k it really is only $5500.

The state 50% thing is not a scam, it just has it's requirements, and its a lengthy process. The # of contractors who are allowed to do this work in NJ is surprisingly small - they have to be "BPI" certified.

So you need to have someone come in and say "how can I make this 25% more efficient". They probably have a static figure about what % of your heating bill is water vs. conditioning of air. The furnace alone will be 17% of conditioning of air, and water heater-- honestly unsure of the difference off hand... but apparently water heater replacement is a standard part of the program.

My goal here is really to 1) be more comfortable for wife and baby on the way and fix the HVAC system 2) use this as an opportunity to re-position ducts and air handler to open up the room, and insulate the attic so that it can be finished. Elimination of the use of the chimney also (which runs through the center of the attic).

Right now there is R-13 in the walls and R-11 in the rafters (it's a cape cod). The first BPI guy I had come in was talking about doubling up the R-11 rafter insulation with some kind of insulating board, only where the knee wall would be and lower down to the eaves, but leaving the rest alone.

Anyway I've got a few other BPI certified guys coming and hopefully I can make some sense of all of this.
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Old 04-21-2010, 12:10 PM   #14
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Central A/C repair ... or replacement?


Quote:
Originally Posted by pcampbell View Post
First off they decided the coil has a leak, and total price to replace is a little under $2k including R-22 and this also includes the work already done (searching for the leak, service call) - which I have been told is going to out of style by 2010 and pretty much illegal by 2015.

New units are no loner produce that use R22.
How ever. The coils are still rated for both R410A and R22.
R22 will still be available in 2015. It will not be produced in this country. But reclaimed R22 will still be available.


So basically next time this thing breaks I'm going to have to re-do the system... If that is in 10 years then the new system would have already paid for itself. If it's in 5 years I'm going to find myself in a jam for R-22 and a R-22 evaporator right?

The contractor said I should act quickly because if I don't I might not be able to get one of the last remaining R-22 evaporators that fit the Trane XR80... which really made me feel like he just wanted me to NOT weigh my options.

Since the new coils are still rated for both refrigerants. That is a BS statement.
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Old 04-21-2010, 01:01 PM   #15
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Central A/C repair ... or replacement?


Thanks. I just looked at the tag on the door to my coil and it says it will take either type.


So basically so long as the the coil fits inside the AHU and the coolant and suction lines are right, and it's the right capacity--any coil will work?


Last edited by pcampbell; 04-21-2010 at 03:19 PM.
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