Author Topic: HVAC stopped cooling- what to do??  (Read 3226 times)

dandypandys

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HVAC stopped cooling- what to do??
« on: July 25, 2017, 03:37:02 PM »
Hi! I need advice cos I don't know anything about this, and yes I did use google advance search to search mmm forum first and have read a bunch of the threads.

We own a condo in FL. The HVAC system is over 20 yrs old. It has stopped blowing cold air today. It has done this twice before- once 10 yrs ago. Guy put freeon in there and told me it was on its last legs. And again this April, different guy this time, put in freeon and told us it was on its last legs.

So now it stopped blowing air cold. It is not iced up like the last 2 times. No water buildup in there or any clogs that i can see. Outside the fan seems to be running lacklustre, like not as noisy as before.

So I am thinking, instead of getting the guy out again to charge us 300 bux, maybe we should just buy a new one. Since it really is fantastically old now.

Do you think I should skip the inspection? What should i know about buying a new one? Do i just pop down to Lowes and get one? OR is there a better way to do it?
I need HVAC 101 help here, Mustachian style.

dandypandys

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Re: HVAC stopped cooling- what to do??
« Reply #1 on: July 25, 2017, 04:19:12 PM »
I am still researching. Looks like I have to buy through a middle man- So maybe the company that serviced me in April will do.. they have prices on their website.. no idea if they sound reasonable or not:
http://www.vortechsheatingandair.com/air-conditioner-prices-best-installation-company/

    1.5 Ton- $3,440
    2 Ton- $3,715
    2.5 Ton- $4,012
    3 Ton- $4,333
    3.5 Ton- $4,680
    4 Ton- $5,054
    5 Ton- $5,459



Also.. noticed on the fan thing outside that the pipe/cord was all blown - or something! Wow!
Husband did notice a spark coming from an electrical plate outside while he was reading there the other day.. maybe related.


Frankies Girl

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Re: HVAC stopped cooling- what to do??
« Reply #2 on: July 25, 2017, 04:27:44 PM »
I don't know particulars, but turn the system off completely, no fan running or anything. That is bad for it to have cords blown like that. Fire hazard or blown electrical circuits are no fun.

Have a couple of HVAC companies come out and give you estimates on what needs doing. Don't tell them you're replacing or just want it fixed, ask for what they would do, and how much they'd take to do it. Obviously make sure they do free estimates.

I'd ask online about recommended companies at someplace like NextDoor or check out Yelp or something.


katsiki

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Re: HVAC stopped cooling- what to do??
« Reply #3 on: July 25, 2017, 04:35:17 PM »
Mostly agree with FG.  Not sure if you can get free estimates but worth a shot...

I would get inspected and reviewed.  It could be a simpler matter than you think.  (Start budgeting for replacement though!)

You might try shutting it down and re-starting it.  Sometimes that does the trick.  I believe that points to an electrical problem (maybe a capacitor) but I forget the details.  It happened to me once..

dandypandys

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Re: HVAC stopped cooling- what to do??
« Reply #4 on: July 25, 2017, 05:22:28 PM »
ok thanks for your help. I have turned it off, def looks like it went on fire! YIKES

Will call the company we used and also see how they compare.
Thanks!

405programmer

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Re: HVAC stopped cooling- what to do??
« Reply #5 on: July 25, 2017, 05:33:55 PM »
Woah! Definitely do not try running that bad boy if it looks like it could start an electrical fire. Based off that picture of conduit it definitely looks like it could! Call around but financially start planning for the worst case. If the outdoor unit is toast I believe you'll have to get a full new system as the EPA no longer allows partial replacement with the older type of refrigerant.

The good news is air conditioners today are more efficient than 20 years ago! The bad news is replacement is not cheap... Those prices you posted do seem to be pretty good if that includes installation! Central Air installation is not very DIY friendly as you'll need some specialized equipment. Good luck!

dandypandys

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Re: HVAC stopped cooling- what to do??
« Reply #6 on: July 25, 2017, 06:35:11 PM »
Yeah, way to scared to turn it on. The company we used last time is coming tomorrow.
SO, just transferring 5k from Ally Savings to checking right now. Glad of my emergency stash!
Fully expecting we will be getting a new one.

I know it is terrible of me, (facepunch?) but I am not looking around for different quotes.. just because the guy was really nice when he came last month, they have such good yelp reviews and the prices on their website right up front and I want it fixed ASAP as it is FL and JULY!!!
http://www.vortechsheatingandair.com/air-conditioner-prices-best-installation-company/

High Efficiency Air Conditioner With Installation Prices

    1.5 Ton- $3,440
    2 Ton- $3,715
    2.5 Ton- $4,012
    3 Ton- $4,333
    3.5 Ton- $4,680
    4 Ton- $5,054
    5 Ton- $5,459

So can't be too far off right? our condo is a split level 1250 sq foot

Mr.GrowingMustache

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Re: HVAC stopped cooling- what to do??
« Reply #7 on: July 25, 2017, 07:15:30 PM »
How handy are you? And what kind of unit is it? Everything ouside?

https://www.acwholesalers.com/index.jsp

Mine also stopped blowing cold air. Mine is  close to 10-15 years old with some questionable worksmanship/setup. I did research and if it's electrical you can probably fix it yourself. They cable doesn't look good so you need to figure out how to test the electrical parts.

Test the Contactor, then test the compressor terminal resistances. It also could be that the wiring has gone bad over there too.

If it's the compressor then you are probably better off with a new unit unless you are lucky enough to get someone to repair it.

The main thing you can't do is buy the freon on your own.

Cadman

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Re: HVAC stopped cooling- what to do??
« Reply #8 on: July 25, 2017, 07:20:57 PM »
Hmm, I was just quoted $3500 for a 3.5 ton system, installed with condenser, pad, refrigerant charge, B-coil and labor. The local utility will give a rebate if the SEER number is high enough and you install a system size they recommend. Might be something similar in your area?

If it's replacing an existing A/C, then the hard work is already done and the price should reflect that (outside AC disconnect and wiring is already in place, holes already through the wall, duct work setup and t-stat wired for cooling, etc.).

dandypandys

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Re: HVAC stopped cooling- what to do??
« Reply #9 on: July 27, 2017, 09:54:28 AM »
Update! Thanks for your recent replies.
The guy just left.. they came yesterday said that they wanted to fix it rather than replace, and we paid 1k to replace all the electrics,  and they did a bunch of stuff put a surge protector on .. said it was working etc.

But then we noticed once they were gone that inside system was leaking, he showed us a big hole in the copper pipe- also not running cold. The guy now says we need a whole new system. It would be the heating part too. The prices are NOT what they have on their website, at all. :/

Good thing is they said they will minus off the 1k we spent yesterday.
Bad thing is they are rec a :
2.5 ton Supreme Energy preferred heating and cooling system
Complete silencer, elite setback, refrigerant supply, 3 yr warranty, heat coming from outside unit
Cost 7.5k   so it would be 6.5k for us with the 1k knocked off because of the non-fix yesterday.

What do you guys think? Is this somewhat in line with FL prices? We said we would call him in an hour or 2.

« Last Edit: July 27, 2017, 10:18:48 AM by dandypandys »

mozar

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Re: HVAC stopped cooling- what to do??
« Reply #10 on: July 27, 2017, 10:14:29 AM »
My mom just went through this. She said she was quoted 10k for a new system (yikes! but we live in an hcol area). She also had it fixed for 1k and now its working. She said that hvac systems are tricky in condos because you can only use certain types. The company she worked with let her borrow a window A/C while they worked on it.

dandypandys

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Re: HVAC stopped cooling- what to do??
« Reply #11 on: July 27, 2017, 10:24:08 AM »
Thanks for your reply. First of all he gave us the 'Gold' quote, it was 10k!
But then he said actually, the owner, Joe, who came yesterday recs us the Silver package . Seemed like the difference was 1 yr warranty.. but they would throw in something from the Gold, didn't catch what was but had the word 'variable'
lol

robartsd

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Re: HVAC stopped cooling- what to do??
« Reply #12 on: July 27, 2017, 10:35:12 AM »
Update! Thanks for your recent replies.
The guy just left.. they came yesterday said that they wanted to fix it rather than replace, and we paid 1k to replace all the electrics,  and they did a bunch of stuff put a surge protector on .. said it was working etc.

But then we noticed once they were gone that inside system was leaking, he showed us a big hole in the copper pipe- also not running cold. The guy now says we need a whole new system. It would be the heating part too. The prices are NOT what they have on their website, at all. :/

Good thing is they said they will minus off the 1k we spent yesterday.
Bad thing is they are rec a :
2.5 ton Supreme Energy preferred heating and cooling system
Complete silencer, elite setback, refrigerant supply, 3 yr warranty, heat coming from outside unit
Cost 7.5k   so it would be 6.5k for us with the 1k knocked off because of the non-fix yesterday.

What do you guys think? Is this somewhat in line with FL prices? We said we would call him in an hour or 2.
Did you get 2-3 quotes from others before having this 1K service performed? Is this the same company that topped up the refrigerant in April and told you this system is on its last legs? I am suspicious that this company sold you a 1K fix to lock you in and is now trying to sell you a new system (posibly overpriced so they can offer a 1K discount and still make out like bandits). I would at least get some estimates from other companies before agreeing to this proposed system.

dandypandys

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Re: HVAC stopped cooling- what to do??
« Reply #13 on: July 27, 2017, 10:40:22 AM »
Yes same guys. But no we didn't get quotes
But, I really don't think they are scammers, even though it did cross my mind and is why I am frantically looking online now for pricing comparisions. They really explained why they were trying to fix it, vs replacing yesterday, which we brought up.
It didn't leak in that place ever before, so I think it is just the 21 yr old machine all going to pot at once, maybe one thing leads to another etc.
Anyway, my inner scam radar is not firing..
« Last Edit: July 27, 2017, 10:45:30 AM by dandypandys »

405programmer

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Re: HVAC stopped cooling- what to do??
« Reply #14 on: July 27, 2017, 11:00:15 AM »
Variable stage compressor? Those are really good at helping to remove humidity from the air without drastically altering the temperature. Although a 2.5 ton unit is pretty small.

For a 7.5K install a 2.5 ton unit better be plated in gold.

dandypandys

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Re: HVAC stopped cooling- what to do??
« Reply #15 on: July 27, 2017, 11:03:54 AM »
Yes that sounds like what he meant. So 7.5k is expensive for the inside unit and outside, both hot furnace thing-electric and the cold refrigerant unit inside.. which is being replaced by an r410
He also mentioned an air purifier thing that would go in, and how our pipes are needing to be changed from 1/4 to  3/8ths .. also he said he would have a water pump instead of a drain... some  other things that would be better too...he listed a bunch of things that would upgrade us..
no idea what all this means.. just what my husband noted down.
Maybe FL prices are a little higher than other parts of the country?
« Last Edit: July 27, 2017, 11:06:52 AM by dandypandys »

Cadman

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Re: HVAC stopped cooling- what to do??
« Reply #16 on: July 27, 2017, 11:51:57 AM »
I'd be more curious about the big hole that appeared in the copper line.

1/4 line down to 3/8"? Why?  Waterpump instead of gravity drain? Air Purifier? Sorry, but my BS detector is pegging out.

dandypandys

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Re: HVAC stopped cooling- what to do??
« Reply #17 on: July 27, 2017, 12:22:53 PM »
Well actually, hubs just told me it is not a big hole, it is a break in the seal on the closest copper pipe when you open it up. It is leaking refrigerant. Inside it looks so so old. Will take a pic.
The size is bigger, something to do with the new machines using bigger pipes for efficiency.
Think he was just throwing the water pump in, with no charge, he seemed to think it works better, not sure what he said about the air purifier thing, we have both forgotten.
We still don't feel the BS part. But really do appreciate all your comments so far.

Cadman

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Re: HVAC stopped cooling- what to do??
« Reply #18 on: July 27, 2017, 12:56:11 PM »
Okay, that sounds believable. When I read 'big hole' I was picturing a puncture, the kind of thing that is tough to explain happening naturally, but conveniently "appears" after a service call.  Edit: My tendency would be to solder/braze the copper leak rather than replace, but there can be good reasons for replacing. Some HVAC guys especially like replacement because copper comes out, goes in the back of their truck and aluminum and cheaper materials end up going in.

If you feel good about the quote and the previous repair workmanship, go for it. I pause when I hear about accessories being worked in as freebies because somewhere along the line somebody's gotta pay. Did you check around to see if you guys qualify for a utility rebate?
« Last Edit: July 27, 2017, 12:58:52 PM by Cadman »

dandypandys

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Re: HVAC stopped cooling- what to do??
« Reply #19 on: July 27, 2017, 01:29:07 PM »
He is about to come over with the paper work in a few mins, we will ask about the rebate, that to do with the rating on efficiency? I think I read something about that.
Yes these guys are good, plus they have years of Yelp reviews.. 85 of them with 4.5 rating
I asked about the welding or pluggin the pipe with plumbers putty. He said the pipe was too old and thin and awkwardly place to weld, and he said I wish! about the plumbers putty haha.
Thanks for you reply.
We know nada about this, but have learned a lot online this afternoon.

dandypandys

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Re: HVAC stopped cooling- what to do??
« Reply #20 on: July 27, 2017, 03:37:11 PM »
ok thanks for everyones comments. We are now committed.
Just payed over the 6.5k - whole new system of heat and cool coming in tomorrow. They can do it in one day woohoo!
I asked about the rebate, but apparently Florida does not do them. Oh well.
While the guy was here, we just taught him all about Mrmoneymoustache!!
He asked loads of great Q's and said, right, I am giving up Starbucks!