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Old 11-07-2012, 06:45 PM   #1
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Heat Pump toast?


I have a 24 yr old Trane heat pump that is not running. It is buzzing quite loudly from the compressor and the fan is not running either. Before it quit, it would buzz and then slowly start, sometimes buzz after it stopped for a few minutes. This happened yesterday during the day and by the time the election was finished, it was just buzzing. Up to this point, the unit has been flawless for the past 20 yrs.

I have read it could be either the contacter or a starting cap. Since it's been raining, I haven't had a chance to get out there. So, I have the breaker off and emergency heat on instead.

Does anyone think this may be a contacter or cap?

I am thinking that I need to replace it. But, not sure if the premium for Trane is worth it or if there are other brands that will perform as well for less. Research suggests the XL15 may be a good price point but if anyone has any ideas, I would appreciate it.

Thanks.

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Old 11-08-2012, 08:20 AM   #2
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Heat Pump toast?


Contactors and caps are pretty easy to troubleshoot so it's probably worth a bit of your time to see if it is something simple. But yeah, it's probably a good time to start thinking about a replacement. I'd go with the best contractor you can find in your area based on friends and neighbors feedback and be less focused on the particular equipment brand, he will be able to offer you good/better/best type options with any brand.

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Old 11-08-2012, 03:17 PM   #3
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Heat Pump toast?


It sounds like it's just a capacitor.
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Old 11-08-2012, 04:50 PM   #4
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Heat Pump toast?


Sounds to me like the symptioms mine exhibited when it was stuck in defrost mode. I replace the defrost circuit with one I found on ebay. Not sure if your unit even has defrost mode...
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Old 11-08-2012, 05:46 PM   #5
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Heat Pump toast?


Thanks for the replies. I have had a few bids for new systems. I want to be prepared since the unit is 24 yrs old. I will probably go play with it tomorrow and see if the issue is a capacitor or defrost board (I had one go about 10 yrs ago).


The most interesting bid I had was for a geo-thermal system. The one guy that bid my system, actually showed me a geo-thermal system that is SEER 28. The cost is really expensive, but there are both state and federal rebates that cover almost 60%. This leaves the system a couple of thousand more than a heat pump SEER 15 system. Does anybody have any experience with these systems? I am really thinking about going for it.
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Old 11-08-2012, 07:44 PM   #6
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Heat Pump toast?


if you are planning on staying in the home for a long while geo thermal is great, make sure they do a complete room by room load calculation
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Old 11-09-2012, 08:43 AM   #7
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Heat Pump toast?


So far, I have had 3 contractors out with two more scheduled for today. I have found a wide variation in the up front evaluation work. All the reps were very nice and mostly informative. I have to say I liked every one of them. Only 1 of the three did what I think would be a complete job. Only one inspected the entire system, ran a manual J before recommending the system. I have not called a big box store, but might just to round out the experience. When I did the siding, the salesman from HD was rude and lost the sale even before they bid. The house is brick and the first floor is 1900 sq ft (using the perimeter measurements), with new low E, argon filled windows. The second floor has it's own heating system.

Contractor #1 - Lennox dealer - He was first and arrived on time. He informed me I had a 3.5 ton unit (I was told by a repairman years ago it was a 3 ton). He went into the crawlspace to look at the air handler, write down he model and look at the duct work. He only went into the crawl space about 10 ft and you can move comfortably in that area, almost stand. He could see 3 of the 11 runs for the ducts and neither of the 2 return runs.

His recommendation - New Lennox 13 seer package unit. Eliminate the split system altogether and the air handler under the house. He also wanted to replace the duct system with a solid metal tube duct, wrapped to meet R8 code. The cost was $190/run. The package unit was approximately $1k less than a slit system for a SEER 13, SEER 15 package was not practical since it actually cost more than a split SEER 15 system. He said SEER 13 was all I needed because the payback on my house would be only $50/yr savings to go SEER 15. That didn't seem right to me.

Contractor #2 - Trane - This rep inspected everything including the duct system. He also found a leak that sprung in my plumbing last year had gotten inside on of my returns and was weighing it down. He also did a manual J load calc using the perimeter measurements. He was also the one who suggested Geothermal. The only issue I see is with the manual J. His manual J calc said a 1.5 ton unit was sufficient, he is suggesting using a 2 ton. He also said that by turning the house (as a test) 90 deg from north facing, a 2.5 ton would be needed. I am a little nervous that dropping from a 3.5 ton to a 2 ton may be undersized.

Contractor #3 - York - He did much the same as the first rep, looked at the system, air handler and the front part of the duct system. He said he would not recommend changing the duct system. He also wanted a layout of the house so he could do a manual J calc and get back with me on the size recommendation. He will be in contact today over the recommended size.

All of the systems were relatively close in price, even the trane. I have 2 more coming today. I have to say that I am a little confused about what the proper size of the unit should be. I hope Contractor #3 is close to what #2 is recommending. That would make me feel somewhat better. If I move to GeoThermal, I sure don't want to be undersized since that would require additional drilling.

Is there anything I am missing in all of this? Are there any things I should be asking in addition to the information I have received so far?

Last edited by Marty1Mc; 11-09-2012 at 08:48 AM.
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Old 11-09-2012, 08:47 AM   #8
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Heat Pump toast?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Marty1Mc View Post
So far, I have had 3 contractors out with two more scheduled for today. I have found a wide variation in the up front evaluation work. All the reps were very nice and mostly informative. I have to say I liked every one of them. Only 1 of the three did what I think would be a complete job. Only one inspected the entire system, ran a manual J before recommending the system. I have not called a big box store, but might just to round out the experience. When I did the siding, the salesman from HD was rude and lost the sale even before they bid. The house is brick and the first floor is 1900 sq ft (using the perimeter measurements), with new low E, argon filled windows. The second floor has it's own heating system.

Contractor #1 - Lennox dealer - He was first and arrived on time. He informed me I had a 3.5 ton unit (I was told by a repairman years ago it was a 3 ton). He went into the crawlspace to look at the air handler, write down he model and look at the duct work. He only went into the crawl space about 10 ft and you can move comfortably in that area, almost stand. He could see 3 of the 11 runs for the ducts and neither of the 2 return runs.

His recommendation - New Lennox 13 seer package unit. Eliminate the split system altogether and the air handler under the house. He also wanted to replace the duct system with a solid metal tube duct, wrapped to meet R8 code. The cost was $190/run. The package unit was approximately $1k less than a slit system for a SEER 13, SEER 15 package was not practical since it actually cost more than a split SEER 15 system. He said SEER 13 was all I needed because the payback on my house would br only $50/yr savings to go SEER 15. That didn't seem right to me.

Contractor #2 - Trane - This rep inspected everything including the duct system. He also found a leak that sprung in my plumbing last year had gotten inside on of my returns and was weighing it down. He also did a manual J load calc using the perimeter measurements. He was also the one who suggested Geothermal. The only issue I see is with the manual J. His manual J calc said a 1.5 ton unit was sufficient, he is suggesting using a 2 ton. He also said that by turning the house (as a test) 90 deg from north facing, a 2.5 ton would be needed. I am a little nervous that dropping from a 3.5 ton to a 2 ton may be undersized.

Contractor #3 - York - He did much the same as the first rep, looked at the system, air handler and the front part of the duct system. He said he would no recommend changing the duct system. He also wanted a layout of the house so he could do a manual J calc and get back with me on the size recommendation. He will be in contact today over the recommended size.

All of the systems were relatively close in price, even the trane. I have 2 more coming today. I have to say that I am a little confused about what the proper size of the unit should be. I hope Contractor #3 is close to what #2 is recommending. That would make me feel somewhat better. If I move to GeoThermal, I sure don't want to be undersized since that would require additional drilling.

Is there anything I am missing in all of this? Are there any things I should be asking in addition to the information I have received so far?
I used a calculator online and came up with a savings of about $50 a year going from 13 to 15 seer, so that part sounds like it is in the ballpark. The added cost definitely did not make it worthwhile for me. 14 seer was only $90 more though, so I went for it.
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Old 11-11-2012, 08:16 AM   #9
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Heat Pump toast?


I had three more contractors come out. It is an eye opener on the variance of what I am being told. Contractor #4 and #5 simply looked into the crawl space to see the air handler, but didn't go in at all. Both are looking at replacing the unit with an identical 3.5 ton unit. One said he would probably recommend a 3 ton. Contractor #3 called me on Friday and told me he got a manual J that said a 2 ton unit was all that is needed. I am really uncomfortable with this for what is calculating as an 1800 sq ft area. Contractor #6 also did a manual J and was probably the most knowledgeable. He did the most accurate measurements of windows and the upstairs area for load. His manual J stated 2.2 tons. He said he would recommend a 2.5 ton unit and if I really wanted, he could install a 3 ton.

When I look behind the manual J, most are using a high of 95 deg and an inside temp of 72. However, for the last two years we have weeks where it is well over 100 degrees and high 90's. Does this mean the unit won't keep the air cold during that time? I was told when the temp was 108, the inside temp could reach 85. I don't want that as it is getting hotter every year. I either don't understand how the manual J works (very possible) or is bureaucracy determining the system size? Contractor #6 said he was not legally allowed to sell me a system that was designed to handle 108 deg temps.
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Old 11-16-2012, 04:10 PM   #10
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Heat Pump toast?


The heat pump is fixed! It turned out it was a bad cap and a bad fan motor. I replaced all of the caps for both the fan and compressor even though only one didn't meter right. I found an original replacement motor on Ebay for $58. Now I have time to evaluate the replacement system.

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