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Discussion Starter #1
I've asked around, and been told it's probably a bit much for a homeowner, but I just wanted to get as many second opinions as I can, before I start getting quotes for full system replacement.

Wire connection studs rotted out at the compressor.

https://i.imgur.com/5QafQuM.png

Rheem - RRGG - 10E37JKR (27 years old)

I watched a few vids (yeah I know, famous last words), and it looks like they are mostly just sweating fittings off and on. Is there a lot more to it than that? I had hopes of swapping whatever parts I need out, then have a tech come fill it up.

I know the best thing would be to replace the entire system, but it's for my mom, and money is tight. Trying to spend $2k'ish instead of $5k+, if I can.

I can guess what the advice will be, but again, I just want to make sure.

P.S. If anyone is reading this from other places where I have asked the question, I'm not dismissing your advice, I'm just trying to get input from as many as I can, to make me feel better about replacing the entire unit, if I have to do that.


Since my dad died about 8 years ago, I've been able to fix anything my mom needed up till now, so I feel bad about not being able to fix this... especially since it will be the biggest purchase she has had to make in many years.

Thanks for any advice.
 

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No, and it would be a poor investment to do so.
You have to unsweat the fittings, and braze the new compressor in. You’ll need braze rod, and at a minimum MAPP gas. Acetylene torch works best.
Change the drier as well.
Then leak check with nitrogen. If no leaks then evacuate the system to 300-500 microns. Then recharge with R22. Then there’s dealing with any acid left from a terminal blowout. Which there usually is.
With the price of R22 you’d likely have $500-$1000 in refrigerant alone. Probably $600-$900 for the compressor. Another $500-$800 for a tech. Plus misc. charges like drier, contactor, capacitor and such.
You’d get to $3,000-$4,000 real fast and still have a 30 year old unit with no warranty.
You’d be upside down fast doing a major repair to a 30 year old air conditioner.
Why is that compressor unbolted? There are no fasteners in the feet.
 

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What you have there is a nasty burn out. When this happens acidic oil and debris is sometimes puked out into the rest of the system.

There are procedures to clean it up, but it often requires use of a solvent flush kit and nitrogen to blow as much crap as you can from the coils and lineset, along with acid testing and multiple filter drier changes within a several week period.

Proper clean up like this is often done to larger commercial equipment, but it is usually not cost effective for a residential system.

In your case I would highly recommend all new equipment. If your refrigerant pipes aren't easy to replace you could probably get by with having someone blow them out with nitrogen at a minimum in order to reuse them, but I would still recommend a brand new evaporator coil and condensing unit.

With that being said, I realize money is tight for most people right now, and there are lots of hvac techs sitting at home at the moment. I wouldn't usually say this, but it might be possible to find someone on Craigslist who might have a used condensing unit that they might be willing to install for cheap. That would probably at least get you through the summer until times are better.

Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
No, and it would be a poor investment to do so.
You have to unsweat the fittings, and braze the new compressor in. You’ll need braze rod, and at a minimum MAPP gas. Acetylene torch works best.
Change the drier as well.
Then leak check with nitrogen. If no leaks then evacuate the system to 300-500 microns. Then recharge with R22. Then there’s dealing with any acid left from a terminal blowout. Which there usually is.
With the price of R22 you’d likely have $500-$1000 in refrigerant alone. Probably $600-$900 for the compressor. Another $500-$800 for a tech. Plus misc. charges like drier, contactor, capacitor and such.
You’d get to $3,000-$4,000 real fast and still have a 30 year old unit with no warranty.
You’d be upside down fast doing a major repair to a 30 year old air conditioner.
Why is that compressor unbolted? There are no fasteners in the feet.

Thanks roughneck, that really helps a lot breaking it down like that.



Yeah I forgot about how much r22 an entire unit holds, and 1.5 years ago it was $250 for 4.5 lbs at a rental property I maintain... so yeah, that would be a big chunk of change on my unit, which I think is a 3ton.


Gonna be a tough phone call to make to the HVAC guys, but I will probably replace it. Thanks again, as your info will make the call a little easier.
 

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If you're truly strapped for cash, you can get an entirely new system (outdoor condenser and indoor coil) online for under $2000, depending on size. Then, I hate to say this, but get someone off Craigslist who moonlights, who has access to the necessary equipment and supplies, and have them install it. And by install, I mean all of the stuff that Roughneck outlines (brazing, pressure test, vacuum and charging). No warranty, but you're not paying for a warranty.

These units come precharged and you'll just need a little extra R410a for the lineset and possibly coil. Just be careful selecting your installer - talk to several until you find one that sounds kosher - they should charge around $500-$600 depending on any complexities with the install (and that's assuming you do all the heavy lifting).

Some on this forum may say this is bad advice, but you gotta do what you gotta do.
 

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Just do your homework, be extra vigilant selecting a contractor. Don’t hire the cheapest guy you can find and then wind up with a bunch of problems and an installer that no longer answers the phone.
The installation is going to determine how well the unit runs. Not brand name.
Post your progress here for advice, and so others can see the process involved.
Good luck.
 

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There are plumbers who have been laid off and need cash work and they advertise on Craigslist. If they are a licensed plumber then I would have no worries about them doing the work properly.

I would research the compressors to avoid ones that have a history of failures based on reviews made in the last year.
 

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There are plumbers who have been laid off and need cash work and they advertise on Craigslist. If they are a licensed plumber then I would have no worries about them doing the work properly.

I would research the compressors to avoid ones that have a history of failures based on reviews made in the last year.
Reviews for hvac compressors aren’t much good. I’m not even sure if there is such a thing to be honest.
Most compressors in the hvac-r field are murdered, rather then die of natural causes. Incorrect piping causing oil return issues, incorrect charge, incorrect system match, lack of maintenance, even weak capacitors can cause a very short compressor life.
Same goes for equipment brand name. While there are small things like control board firmware to consider, the installation takes precedent over everything else.
The last “bad” compressor was Bristol and they went under a couple years back.
 

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Most 27 year old units don't have scrolls, granted rheem was using them early.

When a 10+ year old unit has a compressor failure, it's normally better to replace than repair unless the unit is very fancy/special.
 
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Discussion Starter #11
Why is that compressor unbolted? There are no fasteners in the feet.

I forgot to answer this earlier. I dont know why there are no bolts in it, but all 4 are missing, and it is loose. I dont know if it was installed that way or not, but I for sure know it hasn't been removed in the last 13 years. Before that, I can't say 100%.


I wonder if this could have contributed to the compressor exterior breaking like it did around the terminals? They were protected by a plastic cover, so they weren't directly exposed to the elements.


xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Quick question... this is a package system, with a gas heater. I know it's recommended to replace the entire thing, but is it an option for them to just replace the AC side?



 

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no - it's one unit.

make sure the new unit has a stainless steel heat exchanger as the aluminized ones can rot out in the cooling season due to being downstream of the cooling coil.

replacing a package unit is more diy friendly than split system - ducts and electrical you may be able to manage - call someone to deal with gas line and set up/comission.
 
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I didn’t know this was a packaged unit, I thought it was a split.
It’s a no brainer then, do the whole unit.
I’d be willing to bet the heat exchanger in that unit is cracked/rotten.
No mounting bolts didn’t cause the failure. That was probably due to loose electrical connections getting hot and eroding the peckerhead where the terminals come through.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I didn’t know this was a packaged unit, I thought it was a split.
It’s a no brainer then, do the whole unit.
I’d be willing to bet the heat exchanger in that unit is cracked/rotten.
About 5 years ago I had an issue with the heater, and I ended up inspecting the heat exchanger, and replacing one of the cells which had a hole in it.

That was a PAIN to disassemble everything and replace. Big pain. I was talking to an HVAC guy one time, who's been in the business for decades and has about 10 trucks or so... he told me I've pretty much replaced the same amount of heat exchanger cells as he has in his career... 1. Lol.

Got so many hours sunk into this unit it aint funny... just put a $100 fan on the AC last year. But at least I kept it running pretty much as long as it possibly could.
 

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Time for a new one.
 
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Nobody really replaces cells in a heat exchanger.
As for us on the professional side of things, imagine charging the customer all that labor on something that doesn’t really come with a warranty and doesn’t guarantee the unit isn’t going to break down the day after it’s fixed.
It is common to do heat exchangers in commercial/industrial equipment though. Replacing a unit can get very very expensive very quickly, with cranes and such.
 

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Residential heat exchangers are mostly in one piece now a days and no one changes just one cell.
 
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The older Carrier WAVs had several cells and Carrier would only warranty the cracked ones so guys changed 1 or 2 and left the other(s) and still do.
 

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You can't buy R-22 unless you have a technicians license.
Yeah, right. That's like saying you can't buy exotic tigers without the right permits. Anything's available if you have enough money.

Sorry. Stupid Netflix show stuck in my brain that my wife made me watch. Carry on.
 
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