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CMB_SFLA

@204.16.76.x

Capacitor / Compressor Dead

Does this estimate look fair to you guys? Please see below information.

-South Florida
-5 ton Rheem AC, 2008 build

Issue: Outside blower does not turn on. Tech opened the unit and found the capacitor burst and the compressor is short-to-ground (dead). Freon had a "burnt" smell and had to be flushed out. Also found freon leak near outside unit and freon was low: only had 9 pounds in system vs. 13 pound capacity.

Root cause: Probed tech for root cause. Didn't understand how this could happen to a 5 year old compressor when they should last 10-15 years. Tech told me it could be a combination of things:
-low refrigerant caused compressor to overheat
-lightning strike
-bad start(s)

Estimate: $1300 total, $910 labor, $390 for freon ($30 x 13 pounds). Compressor is under warranty. Labor includes full battery of tests, replacement of compressor & capacitor,all new welds, full flush of freon and new freon added. Estimated time for job: 6 hours.


Cho Baka
Premium,MVM
join:2000-11-23
there
kudos:2
Get another estimate.


John Galt
Forward, March
Premium
join:2004-09-30
Happy Camp
kudos:8
reply to CMB_SFLA
What does your warranty say about parts and labor?


Lurch77
Premium
join:2001-11-22
Oconto, WI
kudos:4
reply to CMB_SFLA
There are so many variables. The only way you will know if the price is fair is to have some other contractors give you quotes. Remember that the cheapest is not necessarily the best either.

Tig

join:2006-06-29
Carrying Place, ON
reply to CMB_SFLA
The easiest number to pull apart is $910 labour/6 hrs work. $150/hr
Get another estimate and find out how the other numbers stack up.

robbin
Premium,MVM
join:2000-09-21
Leander, TX
kudos:1
reply to CMB_SFLA
Did the tech test the freon for acid?


Lurch77
Premium
join:2001-11-22
Oconto, WI
kudos:4
reply to Tig
said by Tig:

The easiest number to pull apart is $910 labour/6 hrs work. $150/hr
Get another estimate and find out how the other numbers stack up.

I cannot make an assumption, as I don't know what the average labor rates are where he lives. Perhaps rates are much higher there than they are here. But that is more than my company charges for even our most expensive industrial customer.


Tex
Premium
join:2012-10-20
kudos:2
reply to Cho Baka
said by Tig:

The easiest number to pull apart is $910 labour/6 hrs work. $150/hr
Get another estimate and find out how the other numbers stack up.

Yeah, that $150/HR was the first thing that caught my attention. If you mean get a "free" estimate, that's usually easier said than done. Free estimates on repairs don't put vittles on the table.

Tig

join:2006-06-29
Carrying Place, ON
Reviews:
·voip.ms
reply to Lurch77
According to this, the tech get about $20/hr
»voices.yahoo.com/hvac-technician···216.html
That doesn't tell the whole story, but gives some perspective on expenses.
According to this, shops get $99 to $150 per hr.
»mpappliancerepair.com/HVAC_Repai···ice.html
So it would seem that there are few bucks to be saved, but in the end the value of the repair is in the quality of the repair. Make sure you go with a reputable shop.
Good luck.


Not cool

@mycingular.net
reply to CMB_SFLA
There are more materials involved than just 13# of R-22. A filter/drier must added or the existing replaced and, of course, any other failed parts will be replaced. When a compressor fails electrically, it sends acid laden contamination through the entire system and it is pretty labor intensive to clean everything up. If the tech skimps, your new compressor will probably die young. It would be smart to get a couple more opinions but it wouldn't be a surprise if all are in the same ballpark. Just remember; properly repairing a burn-out takes a bit of skill and patience. Don't let the cheap turn out expensive by hiring someone who lacks competence.


CMB_SFLA

@comcast.net
This is spot on. I got two more estimates for a bit less, but decided that it made sense to pay the premium to do the job right.

And yes, the tech did an acid test and also replaced the filter/dryer.

Here's hoping the new compressor lasts longer than 5 years


Tex
Premium
join:2012-10-20
kudos:2
It's one thing to test for acid, it's another thing to treat it and neutralize it.

»www.achrnews.com/articles/test-a···lifespan


nunya
LXI 483
Premium,MVM
join:2000-12-23
O Fallon, MO
kudos:12
Reviews:
·Charter
·voip.ms
·surpasshosting
reply to CMB_SFLA
How exactly did he smell the freon? Is he a huffer?

I'm a little 'spicious, Lucy. First and foremost, what about a warranty? 5 years is very short for a compressor - even in FL. I had a Rheem system installed in rental 2 years ago, and I'm certain the warranty period was 10 years for the compressor. I'm not saying yours is too - but I'd look into it.

I'd expect an HVAC company to charge along the lines of any other skilled service. Around $100-125 to "show up" (first hour), and each additional hour on site at a lesser rate.
Most people simply don't understand what it costs for a company to "be there" vs. what the skilled technician is making per hour. But, I think your guy is kind of high. Especially for FL. Perhaps he really was smelling the freon.
Get a second opinion. Make sure that compressor really is wasted. I'd be 1/2 tempted to throw another capacitor in there and see if it starts.
--
If someone refers to herself / himself as a "guru", they probably aren't.


Tex
Premium
join:2012-10-20
kudos:2

1 recommendation

Ten year compressor warranties are pretty much the norm these days with some exceptions. Generally, they must be installed in a residential application, they are still owned by the original purchaser and they must be registered within 60 days of the installation. In commercial applications, 5 years is the norm.


Not cool

@mycingular.net
reply to CMB_SFLA
Be sure to have the tech check the air handler. A dirty coil or any other problem that would obstruct or reduce proper air flow could cause liquid refrigerant to find its way back to the compressor. This is known as floodback and compressors won't tolerate liquid on the suction side. Scroll compressors are particularly sensitive to floodback. Even the slightest amount of liquid returning to the compressor can seriously shorten then unit's life.

laserfan

join:2005-01-14
Texas
reply to nunya
said by nunya:

I'm a little 'spicious, Lucy. First and foremost, what about a warranty? 5 years is very short for a compressor - even in FL. I had a Rheem system installed in rental 2 years ago, and I'm certain the warranty period was 10 years for the compressor. I'm not saying yours is too - but I'd look into it.

But the OP is not being charged for the new compressor, is being replaced under warranty; it's very typical is it not, that labor is not included in the warranty?

Yes $1,300 total seems like a lot but there IS a lot of work (and expensive freon) involved.

Re: "low refrigerant caused compressor to overheat": I only learned this recently when I had a tech out to do a freon check/top-off. He said "if you find you have no cooling, TURN OFF YOUR SYSTEM to avoid overheating and ruining your compressor!". When I pressed him about what to look for ie. what the danger point might be, he would only say that if the differential between discharge air and return air was not at least in the 10-15deg range, you should shut it down. That I should expect a 20deg differential i.e. if 80deg at the return, I should be getting 60deg at a discharge duct.

Before I called him out I had only 74deg at the discharge duct i.e. a 6deg differential but I hadn't killed my compressor (yet) so I'm not sure what the truth/reality is here, or maybe it takes weeks of running with low coolant to destroy a compressor? The tech said he sees this a lot...

garys_2k
Premium
join:2004-05-07
Farmington, MI
Doesn't the refrigerant carry oil through the system? If the refrig. is low then perhaps the oil won't circulate to the compressor.


Lurch77
Premium
join:2001-11-22
Oconto, WI
kudos:4
reply to laserfan
You need to remember that a hermetic compressor, like those in a residential system, are completely sealed. There is no place to reject motor heat except into the refrigerant. If the system is low on refrigerant you lose much of the motor's ability to reject the heat. And as garys_2k said, oil return becomes problematic with low refrigerant. These are just two problems that can be detrimental to a compressor if ran with low refrigerant. Nearly all commercial and industrial systems have a high and a low pressure safety in play. Many newer residential systems do as well. They are cheap insurance. If you don't have a low pressure safety on your system, ask you tech about it next time he is out.


nunya
LXI 483
Premium,MVM
join:2000-12-23
O Fallon, MO
kudos:12
reply to laserfan
I don't know how I missed that part. $910 for 6 hrs labor still seems kind of high to me.
--
If someone refers to herself / himself as a "guru", they probably aren't.


Doctor Olds
I Need A Remedy For What's Ailing Me.
Premium,VIP
join:2001-04-19
1970 442 W30
kudos:18
reply to CMB_SFLA
said by CMB_SFLA :

Does this estimate look fair to you guys? Please see below information.

-South Florida
-5 ton Rheem AC, 2008 build

Check your warranty, as some are 10 Years.

downloadRheem Warranty.pdf 1655931 bytes
Rheem Warranty

--
What’s the point of owning a supercar if you can’t scare yourself stupid from time to time?

laserfan

join:2005-01-14
Texas
reply to Lurch77
said by Lurch77:

You need to remember that a hermetic compressor, like those in a residential system, are completely sealed. There is no place to reject motor heat except into the refrigerant. If the system is low on refrigerant you lose much of the motor's ability to reject the heat. And as garys_2k said, oil return becomes problematic with low refrigerant. These are just two problems that can be detrimental to a compressor if ran with low refrigerant. Nearly all commercial and industrial systems have a high and a low pressure safety in play. Many newer residential systems do as well. They are cheap insurance. If you don't have a low pressure safety on your system, ask you tech about it next time he is out.

Hmm I will have to look and see if my 10 year-old Carrier has a low pressure safety on it.

At the risk of hijacking this thread, you guys can probably answer a question for me: Is there ANY OTHER POSSIBLE explanation for "losing refrigerant" than that there is a leak somewhere? This business of "oil in the system" makes me wonder if the problem I am having, which is to have to add refrigerant every couple of years, might not be a leak but rather "too much oil in the system" at original commissioning or something.

The only info I gleaned from my tech when he was here last, was he said "have your system checked again in the spring, before cooling season starts, because in the Winter when the heat pump cycle is reversed, the fan coil becomes the High Pressure side, and that is when you'd be likely to lose freon if you only have a very tiny leak up there (in the attic)".


Lurch77
Premium
join:2001-11-22
Oconto, WI
kudos:4
It's doubtful you have more oil than needed, unless someone has been adding it over the years. The compressors are properly filled at the factory. If you are down on refrigerant, you have a leak.

PrntRhd
Premium
join:2004-11-03
Fairfield, CA
Reviews:
·Comcast
reply to CMB_SFLA
A leak can be anywhere but commonly is at the air handler cooling coil on residential systems because the equipment manufacturers use dissimilar metals there (aluminum and copper) and cracks are easier to propagate there.
The way to be certain is having the AC technician inject fluorescent dye into the system, running the system for a couple of days and then tech returning to inspect the entire system with a UV light to find leaks (= $$ labor).
No, I am not an AC tech but I have a relative who is one in Tucson AZ and is pretty good at what he does.

laserfan

join:2005-01-14
Texas

1 edit
Thanks guys, I really appreciate the input.

said by PrntRhd:

The way to be certain is having the AC technician inject fluorescent dye into the system, running the system for a couple of days and then tech returning to inspect...

I had not heard of this but it makes a lot of sense particularly if one has a very slow (tiny) leak. I think before the only method I'd seen had to do with adding nitrogen gas and then using a nitrogen detector I guess.

My coils are also Slope coils vs. A-coils which should make them easier to examine.

The service co's first response to this question tends to be to "consider upgrading your system for the efficiency improvements after 10 years" which makes sense of course, but then my systems are generally in good shape (seems wrong to recycle everything) and the cost of New is certainly not cheap these days. I think this winter I'll ask the service co to do a leak test.

EDIT: I'm sure there are others, but I found a very nice article on the various leak detection methods:

»www.we-estes.com/publications/leaks.pdf