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Old 09-30-2012, 11:00 AM   #1
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Getting New A/C System


I bought a small house late last year and the A/C that came with it is original. It has a 20yr old 2 tonne nordyne system installed. The house is 1100sq ft and has high ceilings. The a/c installed still works but struggles to effectively cool the entire house evenly. Actually I've hotspots in areas and ice cold areas right off the handler. The outside unit is heavily rusted as is the inside unit.

I had the a/c system checked out before I bought the house and it was recommended that i "replace asap". I've recently had 4 a/c companies stop by and look over the system and provide quotes on a replacement system. 3 out of those 4 companies recommended 2.5 tonne unit as they explained the original was done bare bones and wouldn't have taken into account the high ceilings in the house. The price difference between a 2 tonne and 2.5 tonne unit is less than $100 difference.

So far there's little difference in prices between each a/c company. The prices are as follows for a 13 or 14 SEER 2.5 tonne unit:

Carrier $3,500
Trane $3,200
Goodman $2,900

I'd appreciate any constructive comments, recommendations or suggestions from anyone with experience before I purchase.

Thanks

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Old 09-30-2012, 11:23 AM   #2
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Getting New A/C System


Increasing the tonnage will most likely NOT solve your hot spot problem. Duct work is most likely the remedy for that type of problem. This does not mean that you should not increase the size of the unit, however the ONLY way to know what size your home needs is to have a load calculation done. Oversizing an a/c system will make you a very unhappy homeowner. Price and brand matter much less than proper installation.

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Old 09-30-2012, 11:35 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by aidan80 View Post
I bought a small house late last year and the A/C that came with it is original. It has a 20yr old 2 tonne nordyne system installed. The house is 1100sq ft and has high ceilings. The a/c installed still works but struggles to effectively cool the entire house evenly. Actually I've hotspots in areas and ice cold areas right off the handler. The outside unit is heavily rusted as is the inside unit.

I had the a/c system checked out before I bought the house and it was recommended that i "replace asap". I've recently had 4 a/c companies stop by and look over the system and provide quotes on a replacement system. 3 out of those 4 companies recommended 2.5 tonne unit as they explained the original was done bare bones and wouldn't have taken into account the high ceilings in the house. The price difference between a 2 tonne and 2.5 tonne unit is less than $100 difference.

So far there's little difference in prices between each a/c company. The prices are as follows for a 13 or 14 SEER 2.5 tonne unit:

Carrier $3,500
Trane $3,200
Goodman $2,900

I'd appreciate any constructive comments, recommendations or suggestions from anyone with experience before I purchase.

Thanks
A common error was made with the original duct work installation. Until that is corrected a larger or new unit won't help the hot and cold spots but a new unit does sound like a reasonable plan.
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Old 09-30-2012, 02:17 PM   #4
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Getting New A/C System


Thank you both for responding. I did funny enough read that additional tonnage is not recommended and read that before the a/c guys came out. I asked that question to the 3 that suggested an additional half tonne and they said the same thing more or less. When the house was built almost 20 years ago the load calculations wouldn't have taken into account the long wide single pane windows, high ceilings, type of insulation in the attic etc. Now the good news is they all included checking and repairing the ducts with the quote that is assuming no ducts need replaced. From looking in the attic the ducts were clamped together and not sealed. To me, the untrained eye I didn't spot nor feel any air leaking up there that is not to say there isn't a leak. The thing about the hot spots is this... the further I get from the air handler the hotter it gets. I did also read about the importance of having the unit installed properly and correctly that is a priority along with getting a unit that will last and won't cost me my first born in parts later down the road should it break down.
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Old 09-30-2012, 02:56 PM   #5
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Getting New A/C System


it is likely that you dont have enough return further away from the air handler. IOW, you need additional duct/s.
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Old 09-30-2012, 03:34 PM   #6
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Getting New A/C System


The main reason for rooms being warmer the further away from the air handler, is because the duct work is under sized. And increasing the A/C size won't stop this. And will actually increase the effect.

An the load calc done originally would have included the high ceiling nd large windows. unless that was done after the house was originally built.
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Old 09-30-2012, 08:35 PM   #7
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Getting New A/C System


agree with bt and tech126 cold spots are from improper duct work only by doing a load calc for proper size and distribution will you get a good system install....
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Old 09-30-2012, 09:12 PM   #8
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Getting New A/C System


One of the techs that checked the house and system did recommend an additional return in the area where it gets hotter. That guy well the company he works for came highly recommended. I plan to use them to do the install. Thank you all for you advice so far. I'll be sure to inquire about the ducts. I'm hoping it's just a leaky duct up there somewhere that I didn't find and an additional return with the new system that will fix the issue.

Either way this entire process is being very educational for me. I'm just a home owner and prior to this all I knew was set the thermostat to 78 and it cools down, replace the filter regularly etc. I'm looking forward to having the new system installed.
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Old 09-30-2012, 10:37 PM   #9
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While your return system is probably under sized. So is your supply, and it must be addressed also.
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Old 09-30-2012, 10:49 PM   #10
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I can't believe I am saying this.....but all of the contractors need to do a manual J and d and must address your "hot spot" concerns. Now of course if it's an insulation problem, the hot spots won't go away.
Another thought is that perhaps your blower isn't working as it should. Poorly insulated or leaky ductwork would also be a cause of that issue. And there are 18 seer units available...more initial cost, more savings in consumption. By the way, those installation prices are very reasonable.
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Old 10-06-2012, 03:53 PM   #11
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I can't believe I am saying this.....but all of the contractors need to do a manual J and d and must address your "hot spot" concerns. Now of course if it's an insulation problem, the hot spots won't go away.
Another thought is that perhaps your blower isn't working as it should. Poorly insulated or leaky ductwork would also be a cause of that issue. And there are 18 seer units available...more initial cost, more savings in consumption. By the way, those installation prices are very reasonable.
The thing with the hotspot or hotspots is the temperature increases the further i get from the air handler. I'm hoping it's either leaky ducts but I think it could well be the air handler which is old and worn. It makes some funky sounds when it stops running lol. It's almost 20 years old and rusted. The person I bought this house from wasn't big on maintenance at all. I thought about going for an higher SEER unit but the up front cost vs the long term savings isn't going to work out for me at least. This is my first house so I'm hoping I can eventually rent this one out and buy another.
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Old 10-06-2012, 08:29 PM   #12
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All you can do is shop around. I wouldn't doubt there is somebody reading this who lives in your area that may be able to do the install for you. You never know. But as I said earlier, you already have some pretty good numbers to choose from. Just keep in mind that a new hvac unit may not solve all the problems, like hot spots and excess stratification.

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