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hvacho 05-20-2011 11:12 AM

Leaking Evaporator Coil

I have some problems with cooling at my home in the upstairs unit. The system is about 16 year old. I had a HVAC technician come and take a look at it and he identified a leak in the evaporator coil (They used some electronic sniffer to test this). The technician then charged up the system and recommended replacing the evaporator coil and the outisde condenser unit. I would appreciate if you could answer the following questions.

1. Can the leak be fixed if its minor
2. Was it a good idea to top up the units with freon given that there is a leak in coils
3. Is it safe to use the AC if there is a leak in the evaporator coil. Is there any chance that the freon could get blown through the vents and cause potential health risks
4. Can I just get the evaporator coils replaced without replacing the outside units.

brandonmcginnis 05-20-2011 02:14 PM

1. It's possible, but there aren't any guarantees that it will work, or for how long. Personally, I don't repair leaking coils unless the only leak is in a cap tube or other reasonably accessible spot.

2. If you wanted AC, he had to put Freon in it.

3. Yes. Even if refrigerant escapes into the living area it will be an insufficient quantity/concentration to pose any health risk.

4. Yes. If the outdoor unit functions properly, you can replace just the evaporator coil, but at 16 years old I wouldn't. That unit probably doesn't have a lot of life left, and depending on the evap coil that goes back in, it may not be compatible with the new condensing unit you are going to need before too much longer.

Hubcap626 05-20-2011 02:43 PM

The leak was probably small enough to where he did that to get you buy for the summer.

It's that time my friend to replace your units.

Artco 05-20-2011 09:52 PM

If the unit is 16 years old and the leak is in the evaporator coil it is time for you to replace the entire system.
You pick up the warranty with a new unit and won't have to worry about the problem again.
Some states offer tax incentives and some power companies offer rebates for installing new systems.
It may pay for you to look into that.

Marty S. 05-21-2011 07:06 AM

Another option that nobody mentioned is have it recharged at the start of each cooling season,assuming the cost is fairly cheap and it lasts all summer. That's not the best choice by any means but it will give you a chance to postpone the total replacement for a few years. I would not recommend an evap coil replacement on a 16 year old system.

Artco 05-21-2011 09:20 AM

In actually it is an epa violation to recharge any system if there is a refrigerant -22 leak.
You are then knowingly venting to the atmosphere.

Marty S. 05-21-2011 09:35 AM

That only applies to systems holding more then 50 lbs of refrigerant and having a leak rate of 15% or more a year. Residential systems can be recharged as often as the owner wants to pay for it and the EPA can't do a thing about it.

Doc Holliday 05-21-2011 10:23 AM

There is a residential leak rate allowable meaning it can not exceed a certain amount of leakge within a specified time. That would make no sense to be able to charge systems with the most harmful of all refrigerants repeatedly.

Regulation of Freon in HVAC Units
  • Any owner of cooling equipment which uses more than 50lbs of freon must repair all found leaks within 30 days of notice. Exceptions to this rule do exist and can be found on the Environmental Protection Agency website.
  • All HVAC equipment using more than 2,000 lbs of freon must install a special system that will detect leaks immediately. It is law that this equipment be monitored, maintained, and all details be reported.
  • As of January 1, 2010 it is illegal to charge any residential hvac equipment manufactured after January 1, 2010 with R-22 freon. Units manufactured before that date can still be charged with R-22 if serviceable. If unserviceable, they may be replaced from the manufacturers existing inventory of unused/unsold units if available, of R22 refrigerant units manufactured before January 1, 2010 or the newer units manufactured after January 1, 2010 which utilize R410a freon. Units manufactured after January 1, 2010 for residential use may only be charged with R410a freon if a leak occurs.
  • HVAC units purchased and installed prior to 2010 may be recharged under strict guidelines.

Doc Holliday 05-21-2011 10:29 AM

And no sooner do I say that then I read this:

The leak repair regulations do not apply to refrigeration and air-conditioning equipment with refrigerant charge sizes less than 50 pounds (such as residential split air-conditioning systems).

My fault.

hvacho 05-24-2011 01:00 PM

Thanks everyone for your quick responses. I got the quote for a replacement evaporator coils and the condensing units, it will run around $7500 for a 13 SEER R410A system. I was wondering if its possible to do this myself. The idea was to have a HVAC technician evacuate the systems and then I replace the coil and outside units and have it charged and inspected by the HVAC technician again. I guess the labor must be around 40-50 percent of the quote. Is it something worth venturing into. I'm a total newbie but hopefully can handle it with some advise. Any thoughts ?.

Artco 05-24-2011 02:10 PM

Find three or more good hvac companies and get turn key (complete) proposals. They should not charge you to quote the installation of the same or equalivilent equipment.

fabrk8r 05-24-2011 02:27 PM


Originally Posted by hvacho (Post 654009)
it will run around $7500 for a 13 SEER R410A system.

I want to move where you are. That's 2X what I would charge for installing a system with that SEER.

Does that price include a new furnace?

hvacho 05-24-2011 03:36 PM

The quote does not include the Furnace. Its two new evaporator coils and condensing units. The model numbers from the quote I got are:

1. Evaporator Coil - 4TXCB025 and 4TXCB031
2. Condensing Units - 4TTR3024 and 4TTR3030 (Trane 13 Seer)

Any idea if these units are good ?.

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