Author Topic: Replace central AC or no?  (Read 2601 times)

Emg03063

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Replace central AC or no?
« on: July 08, 2016, 05:27:51 PM »
I have a ~20 yo R-22 system with a leak in it somewhere.  Service tech says it would cost ~$100 to try to find & fix the leak + $600 in R-22 to repair system, which is at the end of its useful life.  Doesn't recommend trying to fix it.  (Side note:  R-22 will be unavailable in 2 years per the tech, and although there is a drop in replacement, it contains propane and they don't work with it due to flammability concerns and don't know any local AC company that does).  Recommends replacing the system (if I want to still have central AC), and quotes me $2900 for a 2 ton Trane unit.  He didn't give me a hard sell on that; he actually suggested I just go with window units, which is what he does in his house.  I picked one up for my bedroom yesterday for $110.  I'm in central Ohio, not planning to stay in this house forever, but am planning to keep it as a rental.  I had new windows installed last fall, and most of them are now double hung gliders, so not particularly conducive to installing window units (I don't think), but it's just me here, so just running AC in my bedroom is feasible, if not optimal.  I assume I'm going to want central AC available when I put the house on the rental market however, so I'm not sure that I'd really be avoiding replacement expense by not doing it now so much as deferring it.  I have cash on hand available to replace it if I choose to, my cost of capital is about 3%, and the service guy says the long term price trend on central AC units is generally upwards, so if he is to be believed, the only real financial benefit to not doing it now is saving maybe $145/yr in system depreciation plus whatever I save on electricity not cooling the whole (1200 sf) house, which I expect to be pretty minimal (I'm comfortable in the house at 78 deg f, but at 80 it gets a little icky).  If I'm going to do it eventually anyway, I think I might as well enjoy the benefit of it while I'm living here, but the thought of spending $2900 to solve a problem I can solve for $100 offends my mustachian sensibilities.  The only way I see out of it is to figure out a way to make it a viable rental without central AC.  Maybe this is a question for my real estate agent, but I figured I'd ask for some opinions here.  Thanks.
« Last Edit: July 08, 2016, 05:30:01 PM by Emg03063 »

Frankies Girl

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Re: Replace central AC or no?
« Reply #1 on: July 08, 2016, 05:50:53 PM »
Totally just my opinion, but I would not rent a house that was set up for central A/C without it working and expecting me to use window units, because I would wonder at what else the landlord will cut corners on maintenance-wise or expect me to ignore since they don't feel it is necessary to fix.

But do check with a realtor or other landlords in your area, as I have absolutely zero experience in this type of thing.

If you do end up deciding you need to get it done anyway, I totally would get it done where you can get the benefit from it (so would do it now if you can afford it).






Spork

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Re: Replace central AC or no?
« Reply #2 on: July 08, 2016, 06:29:42 PM »
I'm skeptical about $2900 for a replacement unit.  I may be wrong.  But having put in a Trane unit replacement 15 years ago (outside unit, furnace and coil) for about $8000 and having bought 2 new Trane units in 2012 at employee discount levels ... that seems like a quote that is likely to require a few additional parts along the way.  The coil and outside unit likely need to be matched.  I'm guessing the quote is for half of what you might actually need.  Again: I might be wrong.

Now... I'm not an HVAC expert.  Something just smells wrong.

cockersx3

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Re: Replace central AC or no?
« Reply #3 on: July 08, 2016, 07:38:21 PM »
Was the cost for a new R-22 unit or was it R-410a?  Like you said, R-22 can no longer be manufactured, so the cost is steadily going up as supply is only via recycling so overall supply is diminishing.  Based on that alone, I wouldn't lay out a big amount of money for a new R-22 unit, given limited availability of R-22 and also very high replacement cost for refrigerant.  If you need to go to R-410a, that usually involves other mods to freon piping and evap coil which increases install cost, but refrigerant cost is lower which offsets it (slightly).

I would bite the bullet and replace it.  It seems like it would be hard to rent it or eventually sell it, once people find out that it had central air but maintenance was deferred.

By comparison, I had to replace a 1.5 ton R-22 unit with R-410a Lennoxx unit about 2 years ago, total cost was around $3.5K.  Had to also replace freon piping and add expansion valve, but no need to replace evap coil.  (Those costs were included in the $3.5K).  We shopped around, costs from different vendors were all in line with this.  Your cost seems OK, just would challenge your tech whether the scope is correct - ie whether he just needs to replace outdoor unit, or is there more involved.  For a 20 year old unit I'd expect there to be changes in the evap coil which would add a lot of cost I think.
 

Emg03063

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Re: Replace central AC or no?
« Reply #4 on: July 09, 2016, 06:13:40 AM »
Cost is for a new R-410a unit.  Looking online, they can be had for ~$1000 (no name brands, not Tranes), not including installation and charging, so I don't believe what I'm being quoted is too far out of line either way, but I put in a web request for some comparison quotes anyway.  Overnight low was 66 last night, so I'm doing the Texas cooling thing for the moment.

Sibley

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Re: Replace central AC or no?
« Reply #5 on: July 09, 2016, 04:08:32 PM »
I suspect that your home value is going to take a hit, and your home attract-ability will take a huge hit just because you don't have central A/C. If you don't do it now, you're going to have to do it before you sell the house. You might want to investigate if replacing it in fall/winter would lower the cost.

Personally, I'd just do it now so I can be comfortable when it's really hot and sticky.

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Re: Replace central AC or no?
« Reply #6 on: July 09, 2016, 07:16:51 PM »
I would lean toward replacement for the following reasons:

Fix one Freon leak on a 20 year old unit, and another may pop up soon. It is kind of like putting a plug into a leaking bald tire.

Tech is probably right about rising prices. Mandatory increases in minimum SEER ratings are pushing up the cost of bottom end units because what is low end today cannot be sold tomorrow.

And R22 prices will continue to rise.

Trane is a great brand for central air reliability, per Consumer Reports.

$2,900 for a Trane 2 ton installed sounds within reason to me, but be certain to get another estimate or two from different companies for the same exact model.

If your furnace is also 20 years old, and shares the same air handler as the air conditioner, you should probably replace it at the same time.

The downside is that if you are a typical Mustachian and keep the thermostat high in the summer and low in the winter, you will not save anywhere near as much on utility bills as they would have you believe. The ROI will come from not having to call for repair.

retiringearly

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Re: Replace central AC or no?
« Reply #7 on: July 09, 2016, 08:10:22 PM »
I would replace the unit, but I would shop around for the best deal.  I am a big believer in Angie's List.

Get at least three quotes.

moosestache

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Re: Replace central AC or no?
« Reply #8 on: July 09, 2016, 08:53:55 PM »
Would you get a better deal if you replaced it in the fall when HVAC guys aren't as busy?

MayDay

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Re: Replace central AC or no?
« Reply #9 on: July 10, 2016, 11:17:08 AM »
I'm in central Ohio, and a renter. We do occasionally see no a/c rentals, they still rent fine, but we are in a hot rental market.

If you are fine without you could wait to replace until you are actually ready to rent. Or check out your local rental market, maybe you don't need it.

Paul | pdgessler

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Re: Replace central AC or no?
« Reply #10 on: July 10, 2016, 11:29:44 AM »