Home A/C System Recommendations?

Begbie

Wackbag Generalissimo
Jul 21, 2003
17,841
5,187
763
Wilmington, NC
#1
So yesterday, my home A/C system died. There was this loud pop, followed by a hissing noise coming from the compressor (I'm assuming that was freon?). I had Progress Energy out to see if it was a surge (since it popped two circuits to the bedrooms and popped a circuit in my neighbor's house), but he said it was only a "sympathetic surge" and that it was all the A/C system's fault. And sure enough, it's fried...the tech said he couldn't even find the plug inside, it literally blew out. Fuckin-a.

5-year warranty on the Lennox system...and it lasted 7 1/2 years. :really?: And I certainly maintained it through the years.

So, even though we're pretty much in no position financially to be purchasing a whole new system (to heat and cool a 2-story, 2000 sq ft home), we're in the market for a new system. :icon_cry: Anybody have any recommendations on brands or know what I should look for...rebates even? It'd be great if you can tell me how to get a nice new system for free! :icon_wink Kidding of course. My neighbors were nice enough to lend us their window a/c units, so I can shop around. And my A/C guy told me he'd get a quote for a Lennox system, but that's it going to be pricey. Is Goodman any good? My neighbor said he might be able to get a new Goodman system at wholesale, I would just have to go pick it up in Wilmington, NC and have someone install it.
 

MayrMeninoCrash

Liberal Psycopath
Dec 9, 2004
24,337
8,515
693
Silverdale, WA
#2
We replaced our system in 2007 (which had rusted to hell in the Florida humidity) with a unit from Sears (Kenmore which are made by Carrier, I believe). It was about $5 grand for a 3000 SF house unit and we were able to finance it. Not that it will help the sting much, but you can probably get a much more efficient unit than you had and recover some of that cost with electric savings.
 

Begbie

Wackbag Generalissimo
Jul 21, 2003
17,841
5,187
763
Wilmington, NC
#3
We replaced our system in 2007 (which had rusted to hell in the Florida humidity) with a unit from Sears (Kenmore which are made by Carrier, I believe). It was about $5 grand for a 3000 SF house unit and we were able to finance it. Not that it will help the sting much, but you can probably get a much more efficient unit than you had and recover some of that cost with electric savings.
Yeah, that's what I was thinking too...I know there are alot of systems out there nowadays that are way better on energy. Especially since the one I had (standard builder grade with the builder obviously cutting corners) was an energy hog. And I've noticed a few other houses in my neighborhood (7-10 years old) with dead systems. The Carolina sun/heat sure doesn't help. Plus we've had a few days/weeks of below freezing temps in the winter, and my A/C guy told me these systems usually have a tough time in the cold. Probably contributed to it's early death.
 
Dec 8, 2004
48,644
20,947
693
Maine
#4
Also look into state and federal tax credits for using more energy efficient products. I got a $700 (ish) rebate for changing out some single pane windows with thermopane/low e glass windows.
 

Sinn Fein

Infidel and White Interloper
Wackbag Staff
Aug 29, 2002
31,446
2,154
818
Florida's Nature Coast
#5
What kind of heat do you have? I know in NC you don't have the kind of need for heat that we do here in PA, but you might want to consider putting in a heat pump. That way you'll have a backup heat source just in case.

We have dual-zone heat pumps in this house, we put them in in 2005. They are RUUD units.
 

sillyfuck

Wackbag Uncle Tom
Feb 13, 2008
1,534
254
378
Chicago
#6
Goodman is a really good brand with great warranties. If you want to spend the money on big name brands, when the warranty runs out, the repair cost will be double a Goodman system. I've been installing Goodman units for 10 years, and have less issues compared to other brands.

It's also a matter how the system is installed.
 

Begbie

Wackbag Generalissimo
Jul 21, 2003
17,841
5,187
763
Wilmington, NC
#7
What kind of heat do you have? I know in NC you don't have the kind of need for heat that we do here in PA, but you might want to consider putting in a heat pump. That way you'll have a backup heat source just in case.

We have dual-zone heat pumps in this house, we put them in in 2005. They are RUUD units.
I'm about as dumb as you can get when it comes to HVAC and A/C systems...so that's a good question. From everything I know, it is a heat pump (which is what blew up), Lennox circa 2005, and I assume it's dual zone since my thermostat has Heat Pump 1 and Heat Pump 2. The air handler is up in the attic, along with the air handler for my third floor I have a Goodman which runs the unfinished 3rd floor...and this piece of shit Lennox runs the 1st and 2nd floors. Sadly, the Goodman doesn't get much use at all and it's about 4 years old.

The system actually worked pretty well in the 32+ degree cold...but yeah, in 100+ degree heat this summer...it had a real hard time. I should've saw it coming, since I blew a capacitor about a month ago.

sillyfuck said:
Goodman is a really good brand with great warranties. If you want to spend the money on big name brands, when the warranty runs out, the repair cost will be double a Goodman system. I've been installing Goodman units for 10 years, and have less issues compared to other brands.

It's also a matter how the system is installed.
Honestly, we had a really bad builder, who is no longer in business. And like I said, there are a few houses in my neighborhood that had to replace their A/C units this summer. Houses that are 7-10 years old. I figure 10-15 years is really the minimum they're supposed to last. Not 7 1/2 on 5 year warranty. Ugh.
 

Myhairygrundle

Screw you guys, I'm going home.
Jul 16, 2005
6,797
1,944
543
Texas
#8
Goodman is a really good brand with great warranties. If you want to spend the money on big name brands, when the warranty runs out, the repair cost will be double a Goodman system. I've been installing Goodman units for 10 years, and have less issues compared to other brands.

It's also a matter how the system is installed.
X2 on the Goodman. They have upped their product in the past few years. Are you gas or electric heat? I assume you have r22.

Check Craigslist if you are in a pinch.

Install is more important than equipment.
 

MayrMeninoCrash

Liberal Psycopath
Dec 9, 2004
24,337
8,515
693
Silverdale, WA
#9
Honestly, we had a really bad builder, who is no longer in business.
Don't beat yourself up too bad. Our first house was built by KB Homes in a new development and I wasn't impressed by their construction techniques at all. No major mechanical issues in the time we owned it, but our ceiling had a crack in the drywall that bisected the house and they sent guys out 3 times to fix it. Plus they put the studs at random centers all over the house. 16" OC my ass. I think that was the maximum spacing they held, but it was never consistent, so finding a stud and measuring over 16" for the next one almost never worked.
 

Begbie

Wackbag Generalissimo
Jul 21, 2003
17,841
5,187
763
Wilmington, NC
#10
Don't beat yourself up too bad. Our first house was built by KB Homes in a new development and I wasn't impressed by their construction techniques at all. No major mechanical issues in the time we owned it, but our ceiling had a crack in the drywall that bisected the house and they sent guys out 3 times to fix it. Plus they put the studs at random centers all over the house. 16" OC my ass. I think that was the maximum spacing they held, but it was never consistent, so finding a stud and measuring over 16" for the next one almost never worked.
Yeah, this is our first house...and it's awesome that we've been able to buy new. But yeah, we never really did our research with the builder. Lesson learned. The builder (Capitol Homes, pretty local to this area) were just able to finish my neighborhood before they went belly-up. But they obviously knew they were in trouble, I'm sure...so no doubt, they cut corners. They laid grass seed in the back of the house...and so I was watering it about a week into our move and I thought it was strange that hot water was coming out of the hose. Instead of running the hot water line to my kitchen sink, they ran it to the spigot in the backyard. Holy fuckin stupid. They likely put a nail through my cable line downstairs, so the cable didn't work in the living room. And just last year, I had to gut an entire wall of my living room because the toilet drain pipe was installed right in the center of the wall with no plate shield to protect it. The wife decides to hammer a bigger nail to hang a shelf there, and she goes right through the pipe. So over the time the wall just kept getting wetter and wetter and stunk.

Regarding my A/C unit...I'm kinda breathing a sigh of relief. Got a call from another A/C guy (who got my business because we're both friends with the same contractor and he told him to take care of me since I helped him out over the years). He said, usually technicians will try to dick you over by gutting the whole system and starting fresh. He says the system is salvageable. He'll replace the compressor, then he needs to clean out the system since there may be contaminants from the blow out. He then mentioned that R22 refrigerant is being phased out or something (he kinda mumbles so I didn't catch all of it)...so I don't know if he said he's using that or has to do something else. I thought R22 can only be used in existing systems and new systems are required to use the ozone-safe refrigerant. Cost...a little over $1,100. Whew...I can afford that. :) He mentioned that the big Heating/Cooling service companies will usually mark up the price, but "I won't do that to you". I guess it's about who you know.
 

TomC

uppity neobarb
Aug 1, 2006
4,635
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Charleston, SC
#11
A/C guy here, Goodman in the 90's were called Junkatol's because they went under the name Janatrol and were junk, not any more, good as any, but have started using Aluminum evaporators for some reason in the R-410 units I have seen. That was a HUGE issue in the 80's and 90's for leaks. I was reading your posts wondering why you hadn't said anything about replacing the compressor, then I saw that you talk with someone. I'm 50/50 about your 7.5 years old, A few years ago I would have been 100% cool putting a new compressor in but R-22 has now skyrocketed due to the phase out. Remember R-12 and R-502 in 1995. So if you need freon in 2 years due to a leak it will cost you hundreds. You will need a full change out if you go to R-410 (new stuff), They are coming out with some R-22 drop in replacements, but take it from someone who worked commercial refrigeration during the phase out of R12 and R502 in the 90's that the replacement drop-ins are never that great.
 

Begbie

Wackbag Generalissimo
Jul 21, 2003
17,841
5,187
763
Wilmington, NC
#12
A/C guy here, Goodman in the 90's were called Junkatol's because they went under the name Janatrol and were junk, not any more, good as any, but have started using Aluminum evaporators for some reason in the R-410 units I have seen. That was a HUGE issue in the 80's and 90's for leaks. I was reading your posts wondering why you hadn't said anything about replacing the compressor, then I saw that you talk with someone. I'm 50/50 about your 7.5 years old, A few years ago I would have been 100% cool putting a new compressor in but R-22 has now skyrocketed due to the phase out. Remember R-12 and R-502 in 1995. So if you need freon in 2 years due to a leak it will cost you hundreds. You will need a full change out if you go to R-410 (new stuff), They are coming out with some R-22 drop in replacements, but take it from someone who worked commercial refrigeration during the phase out of R12 and R502 in the 90's that the replacement drop-ins are never that great.
Awesome thanks! I had never been familiar with Goodman before my A/C guy installed it for my third floor. My old house had a Trane system, and this one is Lennox and has been nothing but problems. I've gone thru at least 3-4 capacitors over the last 4 years in the heat pump outside, then twice, my air handler would constantly blow fuses. But that was fixed. I was so relieved when he said he can just replace the compressor, check and flush out any contaminants, and recharge. I just totally can't afford a brand new system...we've also been considering moving out to the coast with the next few years, so we were debating on whether it's a good idea to plop down money on a brand new system, or go cheap and fix the compressor and continue with the same unit. I can just imagine them doing the home inspection and find out it's an 8-10 year old system and request it be replaced. I guess if it happens, it happens.
 

TomC

uppity neobarb
Aug 1, 2006
4,635
1,899
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Charleston, SC
#13
Awesome thanks! I had never been familiar with Goodman before my A/C guy installed it for my third floor. My old house had a Trane system, and this one is Lennox and has been nothing but problems. I've gone thru at least 3-4 capacitors over the last 4 years in the heat pump outside, then twice, my air handler would constantly blow fuses. But that was fixed. I was so relieved when he said he can just replace the compressor, check and flush out any contaminants, and recharge. I just totally can't afford a brand new system...we've also been considering moving out to the coast with the next few years, so we were debating on whether it's a good idea to plop down money on a brand new system, or go cheap and fix the compressor and continue with the same unit. I can just imagine them doing the home inspection and find out it's an 8-10 year old system and request it be replaced. I guess if it happens, it happens.
8-10 years is not THAT old, most if not all new name brand systems come with a 10 year warranty, we see sellers throw in a home warranty to make people feel good. (bunch of crooks, but thats another thread) With your compressor blowing its terminals, the acid flush is real important, you could be going through this again in a few months or a year, replacement compressors only come with 1 year on the part. labor, freon, ect would be on you, talk with your guy, my co. gives 90 day labor but small time guys are 30 days or when he pulls away. Ask him to use Acid-away and to change the capacitors and the contactor, and to install a liquid line dryer.

edit- $1100 is a real good/cheap price. adding up the my cost for your job I come up with $500-700. That price is what I would charge my mom.
 

Myhairygrundle

Screw you guys, I'm going home.
Jul 16, 2005
6,797
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Texas
#14
Goodman is made about 5 miles from here.

You can still get R22 units (empty fill with nitrogen) from American Standard (trane), Payne, Goodman, and Gibson. There are decent companies that will install an r22 compressor as long as your attic coils are not too old.

I'm having an American Standard R 22 4 ton installed for $1800. That includes a new drier and switch box.
 

TomC

uppity neobarb
Aug 1, 2006
4,635
1,899
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Charleston, SC
#15
Goodman is made about 5 miles from here.

You can still get R22 units (empty fill with nitrogen) from American Standard (trane), Payne, Goodman, and Gibson. There are decent companies that will install an r22 compressor as long as your attic coils are not too old.

I'm having an American Standard R 22 4 ton installed for $1800. That includes a new drier and switch box.
I would guess that you don't have a heatpump, a 4 ton heat pump cond. unit and new not recovered freon would cost me $1200+, a 30# can of R-22 went form $75ish to $350ish in the last 6 months.

Bigbie- have your guy price you just the out-door unit, makes for a better, easier, cleaner job and then you can sell later and say you had a new unit installed in 2012. My realtor fell for that, I had to explain that the other half the the attic was 15 years old in the place I was buying
 

Myhairygrundle

Screw you guys, I'm going home.
Jul 16, 2005
6,797
1,944
543
Texas
#16
I would guess that you don't have a heatpump, a 4 ton heat pump cond. unit and new not recovered freon would cost me $1200+, a 30# can of R-22 went form $75ish to $350ish in the last 6 months.

Bigbie- have your guy price you just the out-door unit, makes for a better, easier, cleaner job and then you can sell later and say you had a new unit installed in 2012. My realtor fell for that, I had to explain that the other half the the attic was 15 years old in the place I was buying
Gas furnace. And using recovered freon. We decided to replace it before it shit the bed. The 410 upgrade would cost about twice as much.
 

TomC

uppity neobarb
Aug 1, 2006
4,635
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Charleston, SC
#17
thats still a great price, I would recommend both a suction and a liquid line dryer because of the recovered freon. You can use a suction line filter/dryer because your unit doesn't reverse in the winter.
 

Begbie

Wackbag Generalissimo
Jul 21, 2003
17,841
5,187
763
Wilmington, NC
#18
8-10 years is not THAT old, most if not all new name brand systems come with a 10 year warranty, we see sellers throw in a home warranty to make people feel good. (bunch of crooks, but thats another thread) With your compressor blowing its terminals, the acid flush is real important, you could be going through this again in a few months or a year, replacement compressors only come with 1 year on the part. labor, freon, ect would be on you, talk with your guy, my co. gives 90 day labor but small time guys are 30 days or when he pulls away. Ask him to use Acid-away and to change the capacitors and the contactor, and to install a liquid line dryer.

edit- $1100 is a real good/cheap price. adding up the my cost for your job I come up with $500-700. That price is what I would charge my mom.
Very cool...thanks! Good info.

Is a home warranty, like thru AHS, a complete waste of money? My wife actually just mentioned it tonight, wondering if it would do us any good getting it now...based on what happened with our A/C.

Good to know it's a good price. He mentioned that he really wasn't marking up the price like the big service companies do. That's why I'm not a customer of ARS and luckily found this guy who works with his sons. One of those "Its about who you know" situations. He's about 10 minutes away and if I ever have an issue, he's usually not good at answering his cell (mainly because he's in the middle of a job)...but he's usually at my door within 2-4 hours. And they're super nice.

As for just a new outdoor unit...I'll ask for pricing. I was under the assumption I would've had to replace the entire system (outdoor unit and indoor air handler)...I probably heard that somewhere on the Internet, so...yeah...perhaps it's not true. :)
 

TomC

uppity neobarb
Aug 1, 2006
4,635
1,899
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Charleston, SC
#19
Very cool...thanks! Good info.

Is a home warranty, like thru AHS, a complete waste of money? My wife actually just mentioned it tonight, wondering if it would do us any good getting it now...based on what happened with our A/C.

Good to know it's a good price. He mentioned that he really wasn't marking up the price like the big service companies do. That's why I'm not a customer of ARS and luckily found this guy who works with his sons. One of those "Its about who you know" situations. He's about 10 minutes away and if I ever have an issue, he's usually not good at answering his cell (mainly because he's in the middle of a job)...but he's usually at my door within 2-4 hours. And they're super nice.

As for just a new outdoor unit...I'll ask for pricing. I was under the assumption I would've had to replace the entire system (outdoor unit and indoor air handler)...I probably heard that somewhere on the Internet, so...yeah...perhaps it's not true. :)
I worked for an A/C co. in the 90's that AHS contracted with, the #1 goal of every AHS call for them to get us to put rubber bands and duct tape on it, the units that they HAD to replace were supplied by them and the cheapest ones made. When I was buying my first house and found out the warranty was from AHS I told my realtor that I wound walk if the sellers did not provide some other co. warranty, I'm sure they are all the same but I HATE AHS for the 1st hand knowlage I had with them.

As Myhairygrundle said you can get R-22 rated units still, because someone figured out all they had to do is ship them uncharged. The tech would then charge in the field, after installing. Units use to come pre-charged.

edit: ARS in my area just charged a lady my wife knows $7000 for a new 3 ton heat pump, and quoted her $5000 for the duct work. I am in commercial work for my job, but asked around about a complete system with duct work and quoted around $5000 for the average cost to Harry Homeowner.