Refrigeration service

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Refrigeration service

Post by Wildcat445 on Fri Mar 13, 2015 6:24 pm

We use the company who installed the HVAC system in our house for yearly checkups. The service technician just left and I am still shaking my head at what he found.

The old York system on our house back home was put there the year the house was built, in 1977. It is an antique clunker that just refuses to die. Mr.Carter comes out every year, cleans and pets, and pronounces it "fit as a fiddle", charges me $85, and I am good for another year. I have never had fifteen minutes problem with that old system, save the blower motor going out in a blizzard 20 years ago. Mr. Carter came out in the blizzard and put on another motor and charged me $115 total.

The system in this house was put there in 2008. It is a Carrier high efficiency whiz bang variable displacement compressor/dual compressor 16 SEER. It has never had to cool this house in the summer. We may have used it three months total since it was brand new, and always in the winter time. The technician told us that it was on its last legs and needed the following work, for a total of $1121.00! Contactor, compressor saver, blower motor capacitor, condensate safety switch, renewal of service agreement. Now, let's assume for a second that I just fell off the turnip truck and authorized this work. That would make my cost per use almost $60 since I have owned this house. $60 each time the AC came on. My goodness, do people really fall for this bilgewater? The contactor has "some burn spots on it" and is doomed for immediate failure. The compressor saver saves the compressor. Why does it need saved? What else does it have to do besides be a compressor? And which compressor will it save? The big one or the little one? The condensate safety switch turns off the compressor in monsoon season in the event that the drain gets stopped up. Do they not service the drain when they came out? Nope. They do not do that. That is whey I need the switch! And to they really think I am going to renew my service agreement? I called Mr. Carter and he says the motor cap is less than $12 at Grainger's and I can do it myself. In about 25 years, since it will take that long to cause a problem. The compressor saver is a total spank. If I run compressed air thru the drain occasionally, I should be fine there. There is already a punch out in the drain pan for a switch and I can put it in myself for about $7. I wonder how many people fall for this? I am seriously considering calling the company and complaining, but I'm not sure what good it would do. I am in the market for an honest AC guy, another Mr. Carter.

WC


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Re: Refrigeration service

Post by jerryhawthorne on Fri Mar 13, 2015 7:01 pm

Wow, WC, I'm feeling the pain. Guessing this is a heat pump unit? I'm surprised at your location that you don't run it more often for cooling but what ever. You might want to get a second opinion. Other than the little use on our ancient A/C unit, to charge it no costs. We did have it checked out and they indicated the starting cap was a little off and he would change it for a couple hundred dollars. Hey, two screws and two slip off wires must be an expensive cap. We will see how it does during the next monsoon season when the swamper doesn't work properly.
Good luck, Jerry

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Re: Refrigeration service

Post by Wildcat445 on Fri Mar 13, 2015 7:46 pm

I have the typical split HVAC system.  The compressor and condenser is outside on a concrete pad, and the A-coil and gas furnace are in the attic, served by a common blower motor.  The blower motor start condenser reads 70 something, when spec is 75 something.  Apparently, the capacity of the blower capacitor is slightly lower than brand new.  It may have always been like this.  The temperature difference on the coil is 22 degrees "spot on", so the system works just fine.  This system is less than 7 years old.  We are not here in the summer or in monsoon system, so it never runs when we are not here, obviously.  I cover it for the summer.  It has a coat of automotive wax on the cabinet, so it looks like brand new.  I had the guy remove the bouganvilla leaves and other debris that floated in the condenser.  Mr Carter says the blower motor cap may never cause a problem.  Measuring these caps is a sales tool used by HVAC companies.  They do not realize that I know a bit about AC, so their sales pitch falls on deaf ears.  Folks who do not know, or who they can scare into the sale, get badly hosed.  Nothing he recommended would improve the performance of my HVAC system one iota.  The switch on the condenasate drain pan is an upgrade for the developer/builder.  I am going to get one from Mr. Carter and install it next fall when we come out.  It is cheap and easy for me to install.  It is wired in series with the thermostat, so it does not carry any appreciable voltage.  No wonder all the HVAC service companies drive fancy new trucks.  $1100 worth of sales for about an hour's labor.  Pretty good gig, I'd say.  The company I used is one of the premier companies in the Valley with a good reputation, heavy advertising, and a good rating with the BBB.

The York system back home is what they call a gas pack. Basically an air conditioning system and gas furnace all in one outside box served by a common blower motor, with a plenum to the inside. Out here, it would be called a heat pump with gas backup. It is so old they do not build that system anymore. The AC works well, but the furnace sucks.  

WC

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Re: Refrigeration service

Post by 75X11 on Fri Mar 13, 2015 7:56 pm

my guess is that the hairs they have you by get shorter as you advance into the desert climes. Very Happy
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Re: Refrigeration service

Post by Wildcat445 on Fri Mar 13, 2015 8:03 pm

For the money they want to charge, I could invite Mr. Carter to come out for a visit, buy him a first-class airline ticket, pay for this expenses, put him up in the Hilton and have a limo service haul him out here to check my AC unit. At least I would have an honest, competent inspection of my system. They might have SOMEBODY by the short hairs, but certainly not this old boy. I'll open the doors and run a fan before I pay that kind of price. Rolling Eyes

WC

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Re: Refrigeration service

Post by Wildcat445 on Sat Mar 14, 2015 3:49 am

Since I have not lost any money in this deal, I figure to have some fun with it. My only fear is that some unsuspecting individual may get a good screwing someday by these business practices, but I have no control over that.

There are two questions that come to mind, pending some final pieces to the puzzle being made evident. First, if the switch on the drain pan and the "compressor saver" are so important, why were they not installed with the equipment from day one? And, second, if they are not that important, why did they attempt to sell me $956 worth of something I did not need? As far as I can tell, both these items were available when my system was new, so they cannot be considered an upgrade that became available after the initial installation. And, the technician could not tell me how he measured the start capacitor. Was he measuring microfarads or jelly beans? What was the tolerance of the start cap? 1% (doubtful), 10% (not likely) or 20% (likely)? If it was 20% and it "measured" 70, then it was still in tolerance, since 20% +/- would make from 60uf to 90uf within tolerance for a 75 uf cap. If the starting cap were to open, the motor would simply not run, since the cap is in series with the start windings of the motor. If it were to short, it would take out a fuse. In no way would it damage the motor, which is what the technician told me. Finally, the switch is about $12, the start cap $21, and the "compressor saver" about $25, give or take. How can that, and about an hour tops to install them, be worth $956? I am going to call the manager of the company, the highest level person who will answer the phone and give them the opportunity to explain. Perhaps I misunderstood something. I have it all in writing, but I will give them the benefit of the doubt. The technician did not know what an ESR meter was and gave me the deer in the headlamps look when I asked him if the start cap was leaky.

WC

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Re: Refrigeration service

Post by Ragwire on Sun Mar 15, 2015 9:48 am

A compressor saver is just a hard start kit that is used for a compressor that is having trouble starting under load. I doubt you need it.
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Re: Refrigeration service

Post by 75X11 on Mon Mar 16, 2015 2:34 pm

I cleaned out the condenser today and am trying it out. It came on, that's a good start.
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