Broken A/C - upgrades!

Discussion in 'Hangar Talk' started by Ted DuPuis, Aug 9, 2019.

  1. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

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    Tuesday I got home and thought it was awfully hot in the house. Our AC has always been undersized and so it's not unusual for the house to feel warm, but this was warmer than normal. Hm, thermostat set at 77, but temperature is 85. Great.

    Go downstairs, find the low side line is warm. Shut everything off, check the coils (not frozen), wait a while. Turn it back on. Nope, no cold air. And this was on Laurie's "get home from work" day. FML.

    Got a recommendation from our realtor on who to call. Called them Thursday (after having tried someone who we knew, and apparently stopped doing HVAC and also stopped responding to calls and texts relating to it). The recommended company came out first thing yesterday morning, right on schedule. Diagnosed it, found out the system had a leak, but it also had a bad compressor (perhaps killed in part by the leak). So, needs a new outdoor unit, which was 11 years old. Indoor unit was 14 years old.

    Well, the house never was sized correctly from when it was built. They had originally put in a 3.5 ton unit, which was way too small. Then they upgraded it to a 4-ton and added zoning, which still couldn't keep up on the 90+ degree days that make up a good portion of our summers. We don't set our house very cold, either - this was just trying to keep it at 80, and it was failing at that. Oh, and we've got some additions planned. So talk to the guys about it, and they pointed out issues with how the zoning was done in the first place. I'd always preferred having a two-system setup in hot climates anyway, one upstairs and one downstairs unit, with room to grow. Two 3-ton units they said would be good and not oversized for today, not undersized for the future. Sounds good to me.

    Oh, but I was thinking about doing a mini-split in the garage, too. So while you're here guys, what sort of a deal can you make me on a big package setup? They put together a package that I thought was very fair on price, adding a 15k BTU mini-split dedicated for the garage to the two 3-ton units.

    I opted for the inefficient 14 SEER units outdoors. Going to 16 SEER since they're heat pumps was going to add a lot to the cost, and the electricity savings just doesn't make sense.

    On the other hand, the mini-split they're putting in is really whiz-bang nifty. Mitsubishi unit that's 22 SEER, remote control, and all kinds of settings for blowing the cold air where you want it. So I can set the thing up for the nominal temperature when I'm not in the garage, turn it up or down as I feel like when I'm going to get in the garage, and then let it blow cold air specifically where I'm working while in there. We'll see how it all works out, but given how efficient it is, clearly the answer is to keep the garage as cold as a freezer in the summer, and as hot as the sahara in the winter. :)

    They're going to have the first unit working today (they're most of the way there already) so we'll have some AC over the weekend besides our 5000 BTU wall unit we keep for emergencies. That's kept the master bedroom comfortable but it is not doing much for the rest of the house besides keeping the humidity down a bit. So that will hopefully keep things more tolerable if not at the desired comfort level.

    Unexpected expenditure, but fixes a problem we had with the house and takes care of an upgrade I wanted to do to the garage. Now if only it had done this at the beginning of the summer instead, I could've had the mini-split for all of this work on the Cobra. :)
     
  2. asicer

    asicer En-Route

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    Cool story, bro.
     
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  3. chartbundle

    chartbundle Cleared for Takeoff

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    I live in a much more moderate climate with a Mitsubishi heat-pump and a single 24k BTU outdoor unit and 3 mini-split heads. I'm very happy with it. One day I'll add it to the home automation to have a bit more time based control. But it sure beats the heck out of baseboard heaters and the wood stove, also I'm really lazy.
     
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  4. AggieMike88

    AggieMike88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    The original "I don't know it all" of aviation.
    Hold up.... I thought the trend was that you needed to "think about it" for at least a week or three whilst us minions commented, made fun of, and argued about it.
     
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  5. SoonerAviator

    SoonerAviator En-Route PoA Supporter

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    I'm living on borrowed time for one of my units (I think it's a 4.5 ton) that runs about 2K sq ft of a 3K sq ft house and I believe is something like 20-yrs old. Keeps up relatively well until the upper-90's and 100+ temps. Then the coolest it will maintain is about 74-75 degrees until evening, but the large living room has no insulation whatsoever so that doesn't help anything. However, it runs pretty much ALL DAY LONG to do that.
     
  6. Zeldman

    Zeldman Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Three hard things to find nowadays.... a good woman, a good barber and a good HVAC guy that will return your calls...
     
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  7. MIFlyer

    MIFlyer Cleared for Takeoff PoA Supporter

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    we built a small mother in law house and heat/cool the whole thing with a $900 mini split. when we redo our house next year, i'll definitely add AC. there's just enough nights here where it's not comfortable to be worth it
     
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  8. MIFlyer

    MIFlyer Cleared for Takeoff PoA Supporter

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    yeah, I got disgusted with the quotes I received and bought all the equipment and trained myself. I couldn't pay someone $9,000 in labor for a day's labor
     
  9. EppyGA

    EppyGA Touchdown! Greaser!

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    We live in a small place, 1400 sq ft. with a full basement. The basement has it's own unit and it doesn't get used much nowadays and is on its 23rd year. Main house unit has been place twice, last time about two years ago with a high efficiency unit. Our house is all electric and we average $135 a month in the ATL area. Highest bills come during the winter months when the resistive heat has to kick on.
     
  10. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

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    #bandozer
    When it's still summer and the upcoming highs are 90+ with lows of 75+ and 80%+ humidty, I can greatly accelerate the thinking about process and make it into a "Just get it done" process.

    That was part of the issue we were having. Couldn't keep up (too small - 4 tons for a 3kish sqft house with red paint) and even running all day long at that.

    We knew we were on borrowed time for it and this day was coming. So that made it an easier choice for what to do when the excuse came.

    They've gotten the first unit completed and installed, and it's running now. Fortunately it's cloudy today so hopefully we'll be able to get some of the heat and humidity out of the house when combined with the little 5,000 BTU upstairs. Won't keep up with what we actually want but will hopefully do something and get the house pre-cooled overnight so that tomorrow when it's 95F out and a billion % humidity things will be semi-tolerable.

    Finished up for the day, done on a Friday afternoon. All set up for finishing up the second air handler and duct work on Monday, as well as doing the full mini-split.

    Biggest thing I noticed now? The new unit is way, way quieter than the old one. That was always a complaint I had.
     
  11. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

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    That was a concern I had, too. I was expecting the quotes to come in much, much higher than they did. I'm happy with the quotes and the guys are happy having a big job in one location with someone who's easy to work with and pays his bills.
     
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  12. charheep

    charheep Line Up and Wait

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    How much was the garage unit? I was just thinking today of adding something there. Some summer days its 20 degrees warmer than outside when I leave in the morning, and there is a living space directly above it.
     
  13. MIFlyer

    MIFlyer Cleared for Takeoff PoA Supporter

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    check this month's issue of family handyman. the unit is about $800 on amazon. then you've got wiring/labor/etc.
     
  14. Skip Miller

    Skip Miller Final Approach

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    You missed the part where Ted said that Laurie was coming home! Priorities!

    -Skip
     
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  15. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

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    #bandozer
    There are lots of different units out there in a number of price ranges. As @MIFlyer said you can buy a mini split for about $800. That's for a smaller (I think around 12k BTU) lower end unit, and that also won't include the freon and installation bits you'll need. Mr. Cool (I think that's the brand name) makes "pre-filled" DIY units with lines, etc. Just hook it all up and you don't need to do anything else. I've seen those more in the $1500 range (again, depending on size). Prices go up from there.

    This is the unit that these guys selected, and it's 15k BTU:

    https://comfortup.com/products/mits...MIyNTKhaH24wIVRtbACh2tLARVEAQYAiABEgLyF_D_BwE

    I've seen them available for a hair over $2k searching on Google, plus the required installation bits. It's high end, 22 SEER so very efficient, and they said they've installed a bunch with zero issues. Mitsubishi is a high end brand in this space.

    The main units we went with are American Standard. Much quieter than the Lennox units they replaced.
     
  16. Checkout_my_Six

    Checkout_my_Six Final Approach

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    I put in two 18,000BTU units, prefilled....for $1,000 each. They are 22 SEER. The tenants love em and the electric bill went down an order of magnitude. They put out great heat and are cooling well. Best money spent on my rentals to date. They are on a 220V 10 amp circuit....that replaced (5) electric baseboard units that were 220V @ 20amps ea.

    I'll do my garage next....might go with a 24,000 BTU unit for that....and Mrs. C's shed, she wants one in that too. :D
     

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  17. chartbundle

    chartbundle Cleared for Takeoff

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    Most all Mini-Splits come pre-charged, but with the non-DIY friendly ones you have to vacuum purge the lines and then may still need to adjust the charge for the length of the lines. If you can get a local company to return your call(or an independent HVAC guy) you can sometimes get them to do the final commissioning for a small(I've heard $400 or so) fee.
     
  18. Fiveslide

    Fiveslide Line Up and Wait

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    The AC in the new house we just bought kicks butt. 95° outside temp? It will cool it down to upper sixties and not run all the time, doesn't even seem to work that hard.

    Our last house sucked, it was way undersized and barely functional. Finally jus quit using it and bought a window unit for the bedroom, which also cooled the rest of the house well enough.

    We like it cool when we sleep, we run the crap out of the AC but barely run the heat in the winter.
     
  19. old_biker

    old_biker Pre-takeoff checklist

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    This is why I love my mountain home, surrounded by a forest, even with people suffering close by, I do not need air-conditioning at all. However my trailer 45 miles away, as remote as it is, in opening is hot, I'm there running 3 window units. Can't wait until I can get to primary home. Lol.
     
  20. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

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    It really amazes me how efficient they get these little mini-splits. Of course you are talking about a much smaller amount of cooling capacity than a standard whole-house split setup. If it had been a 50% upcharge to go from 14 SEER to 22 SEER, I would've done that, but not for the 14 to 16. That I wouldn't have been willing to pay more than a few hundred bucks for.

    Nice part is that it means I won't have to feel badly about air conditioning and heating my garage, especially once I add some insulation to the doors (which I am now going to be motivated to do).

    We'll see how the 15k BTU setup works, but I think it will be plenty.
     
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  21. MIFlyer

    MIFlyer Cleared for Takeoff PoA Supporter

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    $1,000 includes 18K BTU heat/cool plus all the Freon/etc. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01DVW6FXO/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1
     
  22. SoonerAviator

    SoonerAviator En-Route PoA Supporter

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    My house is surrounded by tall oaks/magnolia on 80% of it. Makes a difference, but when you're in the heat/humidity that Ted and I are dealing with, the HVAC is still going to run a bunch. Only so much you can do when it's 98-degrees with 70%+ humidity. Heat index for tomorrow is 108. Gonna be a sauna!
     
  23. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

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    Well there you go, better prices than what I found. :)

    I didn't mind spending the extra on the Mitsubishi in this case. There's nothing special about HVAC and it's not like it's a particularly hard thing to do. That said, Mitsubishi has been a good brand for a long time in this space and these guys said they've seen zero issues with the Mitsubishi units they've installed. So, works for me.
     
  24. flyingbrit

    flyingbrit Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Did you consider ground sourced heat pumps? Lower operating cost, higher initial cost. Supposed to break even in 3-10 yrs, depending on electricity cost.
     
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  25. Greg Bockelman

    Greg Bockelman Administrator Management Council Member

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    And here I thought your rice rocket was broken.
     
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  26. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

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    With our electricity cost here, the break even would be closer to the 10-year point. While we do expect to be here in 10 years, one never knows what will actually happen, and I am not convinced we'd get that much back out of it. We also have 400A service so it's not like we're short of electricity coming into the property. Financially, I just don't think it makes that much sense for us. The best use cases I've seen are when you have people moving into "forever homes" that they truly think they'll be in for 20+ years. We're just too nomadic to commit to that kind of expenditure for a questionable ROI, especially when we have other things we want to do.

    The other aspect is the time to install and get back up and running. What we're doing is quick, easy, and easy to service down the road. I've heard some stories with ground sourced pumps having issues resulting in significant expense and downtime.

    If we were building a true forever home from scratch, I think we might consider it.

    The only upgrades planned for the MU-2 in the coming years are avionics. Unless someone wants to donate a pair of -10s.
     
  27. old_biker

    old_biker Pre-takeoff checklist

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    High humidity here too, but temps in low mid 90's but oaks and hickory trees, many 10 feet from house, over 50 that could possibly hit house, all well over 100 feet tall. So sun only touches roof a few hours during mid day. When I bought house I figured I would need air, bought 4, only used 1 first year, never used since, sold other 3, unsure if the one I used will even work, been in a closet over 20 years. I had to use a blanket it was so chilly last night, and only ceiling fan in den, 6" table fan in bedroom, with 3 windows open.
     
  28. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

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    My house in PA was nice like that. Not as much shade, but with good insulation and highs in the mid 80s in the summer and lows in the 60s overnight, I'd just open the windows at night, let the cold air in, and close them in the morning before heading to work. Prior to getting married I almost never turned the A/C on, and had <$100/month electric bills in the summer.
     
  29. old_biker

    old_biker Pre-takeoff checklist

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    My wife was fussing earlier today, primary house electric bill was $95??? Usually $65-$75 in summer, and $125-$150 in winter, second home usually $25-$35 a month. But only here a few nights a month, and sporatic days, when I have to work in city as my other job, that's closer to second home. 15 miles beats 60 miles.
     
  30. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

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    That’s closer to my summer rates in PA. Here it’s more like $250-450 year round.
     
  31. Checkout_my_Six

    Checkout_my_Six Final Approach

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    just got mine for last month....very hot here in a 3,000 sqft home and it was one of the lowest I've had in a long time. After changing out all my recessed cans with LEDs (bout 40 of them) and changed out the AC compressor with a newer.....there are 6 of us each with laptops, desktops, and phones....and it was $209.
     
  32. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

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    I’ll be curious what happens with mine after the change to these new units. We’re mostly CFL/LED but have Edison bulbs in a few parts too. Big thing is we’ll have units operating more efficiently.
     
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  33. SoonerAviator

    SoonerAviator En-Route PoA Supporter

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    Yeah, not too many trees in most parts of OK and TX getting to 100’. I have probably 15 that could hit the house if they fell, they are all probably in the 65’-75’ tall range. Still more than enough to shade the house until about noon-3:30p or so. We also have a charcoal colored roof which doesn’t exactly help the situation. We do have new windows throughout the house, but walls are all double-masonry with little to no insulation other than the brick itself.
     
  34. old_biker

    old_biker Pre-takeoff checklist

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    [QU"SoonerAviator, post: 2774779, member: 20765"]Yeah, not too many trees in most parts of OK and TX getting to 100’. I have probably 15 that could hit the house if they fell, they are all probably in the 65’-75’ tall range. Still more than enough to shade the house until about noon-3:30p or so. We also have a charcoal colored roof which doesn’t exactly help the situation. We do have new windows throughout the house, but walls are all double-masonry with little to no insulation other than the brick itself.[/QUOTE]

    I have crazy number over 100, 1 tree bottom of mountain looks over 200, but 1 of my oaks in side yard has limb towards house that's over 50' the guy that built it leveled a small spot for house on top of mountain inside basically a forest. It was awesome when I was young, total privacy but can't see anything but trees. No views of any kind. Good is no mowing, grass won't grow, bad is fighting insane amount of leaves
     
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  35. -KLB-

    -KLB- Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Hmm. Surprised they didn’t have 16 seer AC only units. We had a new 16 seer, 3 ton Bryant outdoor unit, coils, return and supply plenums, all installed this spring for a really good price. Maybe they stock different options in Texas. We need to do the other 3 ton unit soon, not sure if I’ll wait until things start cooling off in the fall, or if it will become urgent sooner.
     
  36. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

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    Such units do exist here. However we had heat pumps and wanted to keep them. Kansas winters are a bit longer than Texas winters - like by 3 months. :)

    I’m not up on brands much other than knowing Mitsubishi is higher end in mini splits and Trane is higher end in full size house systems. We went with American Standard at the recommendation of the guys doing the work, which is now owned and made by Trane.

    We had a Trane in our house in Ohio and biggest thing I liked about it was how quiet it was. The outside unit was right next to my office and it was barely audible when running. Similarly, these are extremely quiet. The old Lennox unit was quite loud, and right outside the master bedroom. Sitting in my bed now, the unit is running and I can’t hear it at all.
     
  37. 455 Bravo Uniform

    455 Bravo Uniform En-Route PoA Supporter

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    So 2 Mitsubishis and neither of them a car...
     
  38. -KLB-

    -KLB- Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I clearly read or interpreted one of your comments wrong. Around here, natural gas is cheap enough that the only people with heat pumps are the areas developed in the 80’s or 90’s when gas prices were high enough that builders saw no benefit to bringing gas to the new subdivisions.

    For split units, Mitsubishi seems to be the clear top tier. In traditional units, there are apparently three brands that for much of the product line, if you take the case off, you can’t tell them apart from an identical spec Carrier. Bryant is one of those three, with a 10 year warranty, if you register the SN up front. On this one the fan is much quieter than the Rheem it replaces, to the point where really all I hear from 5 feet away is the Copeland scroll compressor. They have a quiet kit that is basically a foam cooler to strap around the compressor, but I don’t really see the point when I don’t hear it from inside the house, and the neighbors AC are all louder anyway.

    I suspect, if Trane has owned American Standard long enough, it may well be a similar deal where many models are virtually identical across the brands.
     
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  39. -KLB-

    -KLB- Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Nor heavy excavation equipment.
     
  40. IK04

    IK04 Pattern Altitude

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    My then- 18 year old outside condenser unit finally died two summers ago and I was faced with replacing the entire HVAC unit.

    My house is a 2400 sq. ft. ranch style and the single central air handler has an octopus of ducts that branch out to all four corners of the house.

    I was lucky to find a local HVAC guy who was able to show up at 0230 in the morning on a Sunday to begin the work. They were done before noon!

    The new system is SEER 20 and it has features I never knew existed. Replacing both attic and outdoor units cost me almost half what I expected, due to the modern stuff being more affordable than the old inefficient unit it replaced...

    After 20+ years of fixing HVAC units by replacing parts, I can tell you that most all of them use the exact same parts from only a few manufacturers!
     
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