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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Early Tuesday morning, while getting ready for work, I noticed cool air wasn’t coming out of my bathroom floor vent and the air flow was restricted. I didn’t have time to check it out. 13 hours later when I returned home, it was hot in the house, 87 degrees hot. There are two lines that that enter my basement from the outside unit. A small copper line and a larger line, but I can’t see it because it’s wrapped in pipe foam insulation. There was some ice built up around the larger pipe that feeds into the air handler, so I took the cover off the air handler . . . holy moly. I could barely see the air filter for all the ice.

There was no water standing in the pan and water was coming out of the drain. Just to make sure, I blew into the PVC pipe that acts as the drain. It wasn’t blocked. I went to the unit outside. It sits on a 10” built up concrete platform. No water draining off the platform and no ice buildup within the unit. no water in the pan. The fan was working well. So I’ll have to wait for the big thaw of the air handler.

There’s one thing that’s really bugging me. While there is no ice in the outdoor unit, there was a little ice built up around the larger pipe where it exits the house through the brick wall and connects to the unit outside Is that normal in this situation? Three hours after the unit was shut down, I went down stairs to have a look. You can see where the larger pipe is thawing out (I hope it’s not leaking) because it’s leaving a damp spots on the concrete basement floor. Despite being wrapped in foam insulation, would ice buildup under the insulation on the pipe as well? More important: Could there be ice buildup INSIDE the larger pipe.

Thanks so much.
 

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If ice is forming under the insulation, then there is a tear, gap or open seam in the insulation. As above, no ice is inside the pipe itself.

As the ice in the air handler melts, it will probably over flow the drain pan and make a mess.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Good Morning All,

We have progress. It's pretty nasty in there. I've had a halogen light shining on the coil all night, so the visible ice is gone from the front of the coil. I know there's more behind what I can see, I have to figure how to get to it.

I turned the unit on and I have my air pressure back, but I didn't leave it on long enough to see if the air would get cooler.

It needs a very good cleaning, but I don't want to call a service man out until all the ice is melted. With the model number, I'm going to see if I can find a manual on line.

Any suggestions welcomed.










ic
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
COMPLETE! The '95 Trane is back! It took a good bit of gas, but the gauge read 51 when the repairman held it to the vent. Temperature in the house has dropped 2 degrees in 30 minutes, but he said it will take awhile to get back down to my level of 76 degrees. $135 for service and gas.

I wanted to ask about the following price. $125 service contract. They come out twice a year and clean the air handler, replace the filter, check the gas, clean out any leaves or trash inside the unit outdoors,and two or three other things on the outdoor unit. They will leave with me with 5 filters to changed monthly. Why monthly? I live in the South, High today 90 and humid. A/Cs get a work out here. Also, my return duct is in the floor. It was where the heat came from when the house still had a furnace, so I'm probably getting a little foot traffic dirt and dust down the 9" opening. The first cleaning alone will probably be worth $125 and I've read too many articles that state if you don't know what you're doing, you can pierce a coil, etc. I think we've established, I don't know what I'm doing! Does that sound like a good price?

Also asked if the outdoor unit was getting too old. He said no, the unit is fine and he's seen people get 30 years out of the older Trane units IF you take care of them. I've own this house for 10 years and this is the first trouble I've had out of it.
 

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This is a guess, but I highly doubt they even looked for a leak at $135 for service and refrigerant. Around me, most shops like to just fill and go.. it's good repeat business for them, until the leak gets so large where they recommend a new system.
That was my point. So many homeowners think "freon" is just something that "needs topping off". They are completely unaware that refrigerant is not a consumable material, that if the system needs charged that there's a leak, and it will soon leak out again.
 

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Nope, they found it. It wasn't the A/C unit or air handler, but the copper tubing that runs from the outdoor unit to the air handler. Guess copper doesn't last forever.
So how did they fix it, or not?

If they fixed it and charged your system properly for $135, it sounds like you stole the service... Around here they charge $100+ per lb of R22 easy.
 

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I have a handful of opinions, just a bit different from those presented so far.

Air conditioners work by moving heat from inside the house, then discharging it outside. They do this by using a fluid that changes from liquid to gas and back again, as a way of absorbing then releasing heat.

The fluid, in gas form, comes out of the house, where it is compressed into a liquid, releasing heat in the process. It's then sent into the house, where it absorbs heat ("cools") by being allowed to expand into a gas again. It does this over and over again.

Short version? This fluid ("refrigerant") should NEVER need replacing, 'topping off,' or changing.

Step #1: The system works better if it's clean. That means no leaves or dirt in the cooling fins outside. It means no tarp or bushes covering the unit. It means the inside unit is also clean; check the filter!

Step #2: HVAC techs are taught to MEASURE how much heat the unit is moving. The information they need is printed on those papers glued inside the unit. There are a number of ways to do this; the most common involves using a set of hoses and gages. Only after measuring can the tech KNOW if the unit has the right amount of coolant.

Step #3: If the unit is lacking fluid, then there must be a leak. The tech has the tools to do this: a way to remove the fluid (collecting it for reuse, and NOT by venting it into the air), apply a very strong vacuum, and checking to see if the vacuum holds.

If there is a leak ... well, if you don't fix it, you will again be leaking refrigerant.

Fixing a leak involves the repair, flushing debris out of the lines, and a vacuum test.The tech should test the system for leaks before adding coolant.

Step #4: Leak fixed, the tech adds your old coolant, plus whatever you need, in just the right amount.

Finally, a note about refrigerants: Different fluids have been used over time. Often the fluids used by older units are either not available, or are very expensive.

When to replace your air conditioner:
Sometimes, (rarely) they will be able to refit your unit to use a newer refrigerant.

Otherwise, new units will save you money in two ways. First, they are more efficient, using far less electricity to cool your house. Second, the refrigerants they use cost a lot less.

For me, the question to ask is: what refrigerant does my air conditioner use? If it uses an obsolete one (like R-22), it's time to replace at the first sign of trouble.

If I'm buying a new unit, I first make sure the new one does NOT use a refrigerant that will become obsolete in a few years. Five or ten years just fly by!

IF your service call results in someone coming out, blowing the coils clean and squirting in some refrigerant .... well, pay them just to get the hack off your property, then call a REAL pro.

If he just vents the old coolant into the air, take a picture, call the EPA, and get a slice of a very big fine.

If he says 'replace' before measuring the unit's "superheat" or actually determining that there is a leak ... maybe he's right, but buy it from someone else!
 

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I have a handful of opinions, just a bit different from those presented so far.

Air conditioners work by moving heat from inside the house, then discharging it outside. They do this by using a fluid that changes from liquid to gas and back again, as a way of absorbing then releasing heat.

The fluid, in gas form, comes out of the house, where it is compressed into a liquid, releasing heat in the process. It's then sent into the house, where it absorbs heat ("cools") by being allowed to expand into a gas again. It does this over and over again.

Short version? This fluid ("refrigerant") should NEVER need replacing, 'topping off,' or changing.

Step #1: The system works better if it's clean. That means no leaves or dirt in the cooling fins outside. It means no tarp or bushes covering the unit. It means the inside unit is also clean; check the filter!

Step #2: HVAC techs are taught to MEASURE how much heat the unit is moving. The information they need is printed on those papers glued inside the unit. There are a number of ways to do this; the most common involves using a set of hoses and gages. Only after measuring can the tech KNOW if the unit has the right amount of coolant.

Step #3: If the unit is lacking fluid, then there must be a leak. The tech has the tools to do this: a way to remove the fluid (collecting it for reuse, and NOT by venting it into the air), apply a very strong vacuum, and checking to see if the vacuum holds.

If there is a leak ... well, if you don't fix it, you will again be leaking refrigerant.

Fixing a leak involves the repair, flushing debris out of the lines, and a vacuum test.The tech should test the system for leaks before adding coolant.

Step #4: Leak fixed, the tech adds your old coolant, plus whatever you need, in just the right amount.

Finally, a note about refrigerants: Different fluids have been used over time. Often the fluids used by older units are either not available, or are very expensive.

When to replace your air conditioner:
Sometimes, (rarely) they will be able to refit your unit to use a newer refrigerant.

Otherwise, new units will save you money in two ways. First, they are more efficient, using far less electricity to cool your house. Second, the refrigerants they use cost a lot less.

For me, the question to ask is: what refrigerant does my air conditioner use? If it uses an obsolete one (like R-22), it's time to replace at the first sign of trouble.

If I'm buying a new unit, I first make sure the new one does NOT use a refrigerant that will become obsolete in a few years. Five or ten years just fly by!

How do you do that. Since even R410A is not a permanent replacement refrigerant. And is already in a phase down, and no other refrigerant is approved, or considered a permanent replacement.

IF your service call results in someone coming out, blowing the coils clean and squirting in some refrigerant .... well, pay them just to get the hack off your property, then call a REAL pro.

If he just vents the old coolant into the air, take a picture, call the EPA, and get a slice of a very big fine.

Thats a myth from back in 1992. There is no reward(I suppose someone might say they know someone that got a reward, and or claim they even saw the check, but no actual proof that that can be posted or verified, that any reward ever has ever been paid).

A pic is not proof of a violation, as it doesn't prove what was released, so a contractor won't be fined. The EPA will send you a form to fill out. And will investigate(or just send the contractor a form to fill out explaining what they did. But seldom is a contractor fined from a single report. The EPA goes after the big fish.


If he says 'replace' before measuring the unit's "superheat" or actually determining that there is a leak ... maybe he's right, but buy it from someone else!
But all in all, a nice reply, thank you for making it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Overall, I'm happy with the outcome. The unit is a 20+ years old Trane that was built well, but nothing last forever. I was lucky that the problem was in the tubing, and not the unit . . . this time. :thumbsup:
 

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Thank you for your kind words, and the extensive quote!

Nothing is forever, and all bets are off when it comes to the future ... but I recently declined a free R-22 unit (3-ton), in part, because we KNOW that refrigerant is on the way out.

Likewise, I once refused to hook up a (salvaged) commercial refrigeration unit, in part, because the refrigerant for it was already banned from manufacture in this country.

Pictures? OK, what's in the unit? Where's the recovery equipment? Any professional has the tools to measure and add refrigerant without breaking fittings, cutting lines, or venting anything to the air. Etc. Any picture helps substantiate your complaint.

I've never seen a check, but the question was on my EPA license test. Likewise, classwork cited the specific EPA regulations that forbade the least release of the "older" refrigerants, required the use of refrigerant recovery units, and provided for massive fines. It was a test question. Likewise, the statute was cited that entitled the complainant to a share of the fine.

I suppose one could spend the rest of their life trying to play lawyer with government bureaucrats - good luck with that, let us know how it works out! Or, perhaps, one might choose to be professional and at least try to comply.

One of the biggest challenges a homeowner faces is finding a 'good' contractor. After all, how do you tell the sheep from the goats? I'll suggest a few things that the contractor ought to have:

1) Whatever licenses are required - be they local, state, or federal;

2) That it be someone with a local address, who is available during business hours;

3) That they have the correct equipment AND use it!; and,

4) They clean up the mess, and REMOVE the trash created by the work.

FWIW, any HVAC person who emptied my system without recovering the refrigerant would be asked to leave immediately .... and you can be sure I'd drop a dime on them.
 

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Back around 90 or 91, the EPA even had a TV add for people to turn in anyone they caught venting, and listed the reward as $10,000.00

They never followed through and enacted the reward system.

Did you know that originally, residential systems were suppose to be covered under the 15% leakage trigger rate. If it couldn't be permanently repaired, the system had to be changed out, if the people wanted a working A/C.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 · (Edited)
Confused and concerned now. I've read the post about R-22 and R-410A, with R-410A being the newer product of the two, correct?

One would think a 1995 unit would use R-22.

This could be a error, but I just received the bill and it states 3 lbs. R-410A.
 
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