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Question DetailsAsked on 7/21/2016

I was told my furnace has a leaky A coil. What does that mean?

My furnace is 13 years old. During a home inspection (we are selling) it was noted that the A coil on my furnace is leaking. What does that mean? And how much might it cost?

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3 Answers

0
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Are you sure it said ON your furnace - not AT your furnace. The "A coil", as far as I have ever heard, means the air conditioning evaporator coil or "indoor coil" as opposed to the outdoor condensor coil, which a separate fan blows outside air through to cool the gas and compressor. The evaporator or "indoor" coil is (for true central air which uses the furnace fan to move the air in A/C mode also, as opposed to a separate air handler as part ofthe A/C system), is located in the HVAC ducts typically a couple to a few feet from the furnace, but is actually part of the A/C system - that is where the refrigerant gas is expanded to cool the coil, which the fan blows air over to provide the cooling for the house.
,,,,,,This coil can be a flat panel of metal copper coils, a metal "radiator" looking panel, or an "A-frame" coil where the air passes through two inclined "panels" - like this picture shows - you can see it is shaped sort of like an "A", hence the name "A coil", though some HVAC techs call all evaporator coils "A coils" regardless of shape - ,,,,,,https://www.handymanhowto.com/wp-cont... ,,,,,,You can find a lot of prior similar questions about A/C evaporator coil replacements and costs in the Home>HVAC link in Browse Projects (at lower left), but typically in the $1000-2000 replacement cost (installed) range if the coil itself is not under warranty, which if A/C is 13 years old almost certainly would not be, though there are lifetime - i.e. to original owner while resident there - warranties out there. ,,,,,,Your vendor for this replacement (which the buyer will almost certainly put on a contingency list of things that have to be repaired before closing) would be a Heating and A/C contractor (your Search the List category to find a well-rated and reviewed HVAC contractor). ,,,,,,Note it is not easy for a home inspector to determine that an evaporator coil is leaking ubnless it is visible corroded clear through somewhere - usually the only way you tell is with a refrigearant gas detector or a dye mixed in with the regrigerant, which he would certainly not have done. Otherwise, while actively leaking it will frost up locally around the leak point, but commonly that does not last long before all the gas leaks out, so it would be happenchance if he saw a leak while it was outgassing and frosting up. ,,,,,,It is possible, so check with the report or if necessary (through the realtors to the inspector who noted it) whether he meant the evaporator coil, or maybe he meant the heat exchanger in the furnace, which is where the hot combustion air from the burner passes over a metal "radiator" to heat the indoor air being heated for circulation. If this leaks, you can get combustion air (which should be isolated from the heating system airflow) mixing with it, creating a carbon monoxide poisoning hazard. Replacing this is commonly in the $800-1500 range [generally $1000 +] though can be more depending on model because it requires partial disassembly of the furnace to do so - and 13 years is in the range where a heat exchanger will commonly start cracking or corroding through because their normal life with modern ones is maybe 10-15 years, 12-20 yers with older ones. ,,,,,,With both of these possibilities, because of the high cost of replacing the exchanger or coil (whichever it is), the question of replacing the entire unit commonly comes up as an economic alternative - especially if a deal is struck between Seller and Buyer to split the cost. That way they are getting a safe and new unit cheaper than normally, which they would likely have had to do anyway within a decade or less. Commonly the Seller offers to credit or pay for the amount that the coil/exchanger replacement would have cost anyway and the Buyer pays the rest of the cost for the new improved unit, including any upgrades in capacity or efficiency they might be choosing with it. This adjustment can be done by WRITTEN agreement for payment by each party at time of the repair, or sometimes the Seller pays for it all up front and the Buyer's share is collected at closing. Commonly the Seller will pay for the improvement, and the sales price will be adjusted upwards to include the Buyer's share so the improvement cost is included in the sale price, hence covered by the mortgage. Your realtor can guide you through the contingency item adjustment and counteroffer process to make this work - it is a routine item for them, you just have to be sure it is clear if you are paying for the full replacement and then the sales price is being adjusted upward to match the Buyer's share, or if they are paying part directly prior to closing. ,,,,,,And of course, if replacing the entire furnace or A/C initially at your cost (with the difference reflected in purchase price adjustment), it is a good idea to make it clear in the counteroffer that it will be done only AFTER the contingency period is past, meaning they are locked into the contract and can't back out for some other contingency leaving you having paid for the full price of a new unit (especially since it might well be higher-end or higher efficiency so much pricier than the coil replacement you would have otherwise bought). ,,,,,,A couple of other things to consider, especially if the selected unit is substantially more expensive than the presumably low-end one yuou would have chosen as a Seller. ,,,,,,1) detailing in the sale agreement what happens if they back out of the deal or fail to close - commonly the Seller retains the full value of the new unit whether he paid for it all up front or not (in which case all the benefits is obviously his anyway), but sometimes if the buyer paid a substantial amount up-front (as opposed to agreeing to have paid at escrow closing or as part of the purchase price) they want to recover a portion of that payment - meaning the Seller is out-of-pocket a chunk of change which he might not be able to afford, so that needs careful consideration. Commonly, if they want a high-end expensive unit that the Seller is not willing to take the risk on, he credits the sale price for the replacement cost of the coil (so reduces the sale price) and the contract notes the unit is leaking and that the buyers will replace immediately after closing AND they assume all saffety risks inherent with that, then the buyer will have the unit replaced with one of their choice after closing - though that means it cannot be included in the sale price or mortage so less beneficial to them to do that. ,,,,,,2) make sure the contract spells out who is paying for the unit legally and is eligible for any energy credits - there are ways to include the Seller purchase cost in the Buyer's payment for tax purposes so the Buyer gets the benefit of any energy credits. Needs a bit of looking at in many cases because many credits are only availalbe to resident owners, so transferring the credit to the buyer may not be legal in some cases, and can be totally lost if the Seller is not in residence - say an unoccupied or rental property, so to retain the sometimes very substantial energy credits it takes some thinking at times. Realtors sometimes but probably not generally know about how to do this - real estate attorney can figure it out but unless heavily into tax law might not be experienced in it. ,,,,,,Sometimes, depending on who credits are coming from and the individual tax situation of each party, it can make more sense for the Seller to pay for the entire unit and have it installed and then take the credits, sometimes for the Buyer to hold off on the replacement and have it done (possibly with a credit on the sale price from the Seller) after closing - can potentially make up to around ten thousand $ credit/refund difference in some cases where combined federal, state, local, and utility credits can add up to about 100% of the replacement cost if using a high-efficiency unit.

Answered 2 years ago by LCD

0
Votes

BTW - the Angies List system kept taking out all the Returns in my response - so to read it, copy and paste to a text or word program, and put a return or two everyplace ,,, appears - I just could not get it to take RETURN or even lines with a few ,,, or space bars in them - it just kept taking them out. Happens at times when their text editing program goes haywire.

Answered 2 years ago by LCD

0
Votes

OK - another day, another try to get it to present readably - HOPEFULLY it will retain the paragraph breaks this time ! Ah yes - except now it has it in two font sizes - oh well, atleat now it is readable.


Are you sure it said ON your furnace - not AT your furnace. The "A coil", as far as I have ever heard, means the air conditioning evaporator coil or "indoor coil" as opposed to the outdoor condensor coil, which a separate fan blows outside air through to cool the gas and compressor. The evaporator or "indoor" coil is (for true central air which uses the furnace fan to move the air in A/C mode also, as opposed to a separate air handler as part ofthe A/C system), is located in the HVAC ducts typically a couple to a few feet from the furnace, but is actually part of the A/C system - that is where the refrigerant gas is expanded to cool the coil, which the fan blows air over to provide the cooling for the house.


This coil can be a flat panel of metal copper coils, a metal "radiator" looking panel, or an "A-frame" coil where the air passes through two inclined "panels" - like this picture shows - you can see it is shaped sort of like an "A", hence the name "A coil", though some HVAC techs call all evaporator coils "A coils" regardless of shape -


https://www.handymanhowto.com/wp-cont...


You can find a lot of prior similar questions about A/C evaporator coil replacements and costs in the Home>HVAC link in Browse Projects (at lower left), but typically in the $1000-2000 replacement cost (installed) range if the coil itself is not under warranty, which if A/C is 13 years old almost certainly would not be, though there are lifetime - i.e. to original owner while resident there - warranties out there.


Your vendor for this replacement (which the buyer will almost certainly put on a contingency list of things that have to be repaired before closing) would be a Heating and A/C contractor (your Search the List category to find a well-rated and reviewed HVAC contractor).


Note it is not easy for a home inspector to determine that an evaporator coil is leaking ubnless it is visible corroded clear through somewhere - usually the only way you tell is with a refrigearant gas detector or a dye mixed in with the regrigerant, which he would certainly not have done. Otherwise, while actively leaking it will frost up locally around the leak point, but commonly that does not last long before all the gas leaks out, so it would be happenchance if he saw a leak while it was outgassing and frosting up.


It is possible, so check with the report or if necessary (through the realtors to the inspector who noted it) whether he meant the evaporator coil, or maybe he meant the heat exchanger in the furnace, which is where the hot combustion air from the burner passes over a metal "radiator" to heat the indoor air being heated for circulation. If this leaks, you can get combustion air (which should be isolated from the heating system airflow) mixing with it, creating a carbon monoxide poisoning hazard. Replacing this is commonly in the $800-1500 range [generally $1000 +] though can be more depending on model because it requires partial disassembly of the furnace to do so - and 13 years is in the range where a heat exchanger will commonly start cracking or corroding through because their normal life with modern ones is maybe 10-15 years, 12-20 years with older ones.


With both of these possibilities, because of the high cost of replacing the exchanger or coil (whichever it is), the question of replacing the entire unit commonly comes up as an economic alternative - especially if a deal is struck between Seller and Buyer to split the cost. That way they are getting a safe and new unit cheaper than normally, which they would likely have had to do anyway within a decade or less. Commonly the Seller offers to credit or pay for the amount that the coil/exchanger replacement would have cost anyway and the Buyer pays the rest of the cost for the new improved unit, including any upgrades in capacity or efficiency they might be choosing with it. This adjustment can be done by WRITTEN agreement for payment by each party at time of the repair, or sometimes the Seller pays for it all up front and the Buyer's share is collected at closing. Commonly the Seller will pay for the improvement, and the sales price will be adjusted upwards to include the Buyer's share so the improvement cost is included in the sale price, hence covered by the mortgage. Your realtor can guide you through the contingency item adjustment and counteroffer process to make this work - it is a routine item for them, you just have to be sure it is clear if you are paying for the full replacement and then the sales price is being adjusted upward to match the Buyer's share, or if they are paying part directly prior to closing.


And of course, if replacing the entire furnace or A/C initially at your cost (with the difference reflected in purchase price adjustment), it is a good idea to make it clear in the counteroffer that it will be done only AFTER the contingency period is past, meaning they are locked into the contract and can't back out for some other contingency leaving you having paid for the full price of a new unit (especially since it might well be higher-end or higher efficiency so much pricier than the coil replacement you would have otherwise bought).


A couple of other things to consider, especially if the selected unit is substantially more expensive than the presumably low-end one you would have chosen as a Seller.


1) detailing in the sale agreement what happens if they back out of the deal or fail to close - commonly the Seller retains the full value of the new unit whether he paid for it all up front or not (in which case all the benefits is obviously his anyway), but sometimes if the buyer paid a substantial amount up-front (as opposed to agreeing to have paid at escrow closing or as part of the purchase price) they want to recover a portion of that payment - meaning the Seller is out-of-pocket a chunk of change which he might not be able to afford, so that needs careful consideration. Commonly, if they want a high-end expensive unit that the Seller is not willing to take the risk on, he credits the sale price for the replacement cost of the coil (so reduces the sale price) and the contract notes the unit is leaking and that the buyers will replace immediately after closing AND they assume all saffety risks inherent with that, then the buyer will have the unit replaced with one of their choice after closing - though that means it cannot be included in the sale price or mortage so less beneficial to them to do that.


2) make sure the contract spells out who is paying for the unit legally and is eligible for any energy credits - there are ways to include the Seller purchase cost in the Buyer's payment for tax purposes so the Buyer gets the benefit of any energy credits. Needs a bit of looking at in many cases because many credits are only availalbe to resident owners, so transferring the credit to the buyer may not be legal in some cases, and can be totally lost if the Seller is not in residence - say an unoccupied or rental property, so to retain the sometimes very substantial energy credits it takes some thinking at times. Realtors sometimes but probably not generally know about how to do this - real estate attorney can figure it out but unless heavily into tax law might not be experienced in it.


Sometimes, depending on who credits are coming from and the individual tax situation of each party, it can make more sense for the Seller to pay for the entire unit and have it installed and then take the credits, sometimes for the Buyer to hold off on the replacement and have it done (possibly with a credit on the sale price from the Seller) after closing - can potentially make up to around ten thousand $ credit/refund difference in some cases where combined federal, state, local, and utility credits can add up to about 100% of the replacement cost if using a high-efficiency unit.

Answered 2 years ago by LCD




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