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Discussion Starter #1
The upstairs 2.5 ton Rheem system is 20 years old, leaks R22 and is not cooling well when charged. I had it looked at and they said the capillary tubes in the coil were restricted and not allowing the Freon to move through parts of the coil. The coil is not clogged up with dust and the air handler and gas furnace are in great shape. I can buy a new coil and condenser delivered for about $1,600. I can install the condenser and get the coil in place myself. At that point I need to have the lines flushed, soldered, pumped down and the system filled by someone licensed. I can afford to pay a company the thousands to do the entire job but DIY is kind of my thing.

What are the pros and cons? Have any of you done this yourself? Any of you AC experts?

Greg
 

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Probably you know this, but R-22 is being phased out and is getting increasingly expensive. The system in our house is roughly the same age as yours, and we had to have it serviced last season which included a partial re-charge of R-22. That alone was a couple hundred dollars. Granted, the company marked it up substantially. But it's supposedly going to get even more expensive in the future and at some point putting money into the old equipment to keep it running becomes less attractive than the R-410A alternative used in newer equipment for a fraction of the cost. Just something to look at and consider.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Ed, I'm there. The last guy told me it needs a new coil, upgraded to some kind of R22 replacement gas, flush the lines, vacuum and purge with nitrogen etc. Looking at $1,500 easy. All this and the compressor will fail next. That's why I decided to replace it with a new 410 system before summer. The question is, is DIY feasible and practical?
 

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DIY aside...

I'd want a new air handler. What kind of heat do you have? If it's gas, I'm certain you would be money ahead to replace with a far more efficient unit. The last I shopped HVAC, I found that the air handler being properly matched to the condenser played a role in the SEER rating of the condenser...if your system is a heat pump, that's efficiency potentially lost year round. If you're not gas and not a heat pump...I'd consider a heat pump if I were you. You're far enough South where they work well.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
It's nat gas heat, APU 94 efficiency. One of my criteria to buy the home was the nat gas heat. I hate heat pumps if gas is available. Plus the home might not be tight enough for a hp to be efficient. Over the last two winters the gas bill is max 50-65 per month and $2 above the standby fee in the summer for the hot water heater. Winter electric is $80-90 and my wife leaves lights on all over the place. I converted virtually all lighting to LED except for 12 4' florescent tubes in the main level garage. The 24 8' tubes in the lower garage are now 24 8' LED tubes. Reduced amperage by half, tons brighter and no annoying buzz from the ballast.

I'm getting quotes soon for a whole new system and to just replace the evap coil and condenser, leaving the furnace alone. We'll see....

Thanks for the info, Andrew. How's the car coming?
 

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It's nat gas heat, APU 94 efficiency. One of my criteria to buy the home was the nat gas heat. I hate heat pumps if gas is available. Plus the home might not be tight enough for a hp to be efficient. Over the last two winters the gas bill is max 50-65 per month and $2 above the standby fee in the summer for the hot water heater. Winter electric is $80-90 and my wife leaves lights on all over the place. I converted virtually all lighting to LED except for 12 4' florescent tubes in the main level garage. The 24 8' tubes in the lower garage are now 24 8' LED tubes. Reduced amperage by half, tons brighter and no annoying buzz from the ballast.

I'm getting quotes soon for a whole new system and to just replace the evap coil and condenser, leaving the furnace alone. We'll see....

Thanks for the info, Andrew. How's the car coming?
I haven't touched the car in years. :(

We're going to be moving in the not so distant future and between the work we need to do to the house we bought and the we're selling...I have even less time for the car. I'm about ready to call @JKleiner and see if he could just finish the damn thing for me. ?‍♂

I saw that @ member name thing on another forum and thought I'd try it here...looks like it works. Hi Jeff! :D
 

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FFCobra Craftsman
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Go ahead and replace the parts. Then hire the AC guy to do the evac and charge. If it were me I'd look for as near identical parts as you can get so that the engineering of the system is still valid. Heck the guy who gave you an estimate might even sell you the parts. After all he had to figure out what is needed to give you the estimate. Kind of like my uncle had a cobra like that, my brother has a friend who replaced his entire system himself. Apparently it isn't a big deal. When you have the inside unit apart look at the sheet metal that supports the evap and collects the condensate. Two houses ago our had rusted enough that the condensate was leaking out onto the floor. The 20 yr old system worked just fine but due to it's age we decided to go all new. BTW the new system had a slow on and off variable speed air fan and that was the best part of the new system, you had to be paying attention to realize it was cycling on and off.
 

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Greg,
I know that you are more than capable of performing the actual installation but two things:
1) DIY installation will probably void the equipment warranties.
2) Make sure that you have someone who is willing to come in to do a purge/test/charge after you have performed the installation; some may not be interested (kind of like the calls I get asking me to spray paint on their self performed body prep..."No thank you").

Jeff
 

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Discussion Starter #9
After doing some research a while back, and not going heat pump, I'm looking to stay at 14-15 SEER because it's the best value at any price point. Going higher means spending more for a slightly more efficiency but also adding complexity that reduces reliability. I thought I read the condenser has a 10 year manufacturer warranty on the compressor regardless of who installed it. I will verify. I watched the complete AC install of two previous systems so I know what's involved in the mechanical and electrical part. I need an expert to flush/purge/vacuum/fill/test system. If I can line up someone doing it on the side or whatever I may go with DIY.

Greg
 

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If you DIY I would make sure you have someone to do the purge/pressure test/vac 3 times and let charge in/run diagnostic/ verify charge is correct etc. The hvac guys make all their money on replacing the equipment. You are taking away the profit and turning a new replacement $$$$ job into a service call $$.
It isn't that hard to install the system. I'm sure you can do it in a day.
I own a remodel construction co. and I've installed a bunch of minisplits on my jobs. I bought the tool kit, vac pump, gauges etc. and installation is fairly easy. The hvac companies in this area charge about 6k for a complete install. The equipment is about 2k and labor is 2 guys for a day. So, the profit is very high for sure. It must make up for the low profit of the service calls.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Trever, how do you get the Freon?
 

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The units come with the charge. With a mini split, what is inside the coil is what you need, as long as the line set is less than 25'. So, I don't have to change anything once it is installed. I race with an hvac guy, he's a good friend. If I ever need help with the charge we would work something out.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Greg,
I know that you are more than capable of performing the actual installation but two things:
1) DIY installation will probably void the equipment warranties.
2) Make sure that you have someone who is willing to come in to do a purge/test/charge after you have performed the installation; some may not be interested (kind of like the calls I get asking me to spray paint on their self performed body prep..."No thank you").

Jeff
Update. I found an AC guy who is licensed and insured that agreed to supply two condensers and two coils (for 10% over my cost) and work with me to install two AC systems. I decided to bite the bullet and just do both before they close down home repairs next! Overall with the 10% markup and paying him for the job which includes his labor, misc parts, chemical flushing and nitrogen purge of both system line sets, his tools and Freon, I'm in at about $800 over my cost for the equipment alone. He fills out the certificate that actives the 10 year factory warranty, factory lifetime compressor warranty and his company gave me a two year service warranty on the system. This price is $1700 less than the lowest estimate for a turn key job from one of the big AC companies.

the AC business is seasonably slow now and with the shutdowns, even worse.

Greg
 

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check to make sure that your warranty is still good if you do the install. the manufactures don't cover all of the labor that's one of the reason for the markup
 

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Discussion Starter #15
There is no warranty unless a certified ac guy does the install.
 

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FFCobra Craftsman
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This will work out fine. Honestly home AC is pretty simple. You could figure out the vac, charge etc your self but I think it's not worth your while for $800.
 
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