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Question DetailsAsked on 8/14/2017

$3000.00 in A/C repair bills since new installation in 08. Normal??

Upstairs and downstairs A/C units replaced in 08. Two months after installation problems began. The warranty covered some things. Even with some warranty coverage early on, we have still have paid over $3000 in repairs. We just paid $298 for "maint and cleaning" and wthin 24 hours the upstairs unit is not working at all. No fan, no air, nothing! The tech said the capacitor was weak and needed replacing. Today, my husband replaced it for $23 (they wanted $132) and it still doesn't work. Does this amt. seem excessive?

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1 Answer


Probably somewhat sub-normal reliability for that age unit,, but 9 years old - with 2 units I would expect likely one at least went through an evaporator coil in that time, commonly $1000 range if under warranty or more like $1500 plus or minus if not and sometimes up to $2000 if you get a refrigerant price ripoff artist ($75-200/# versus reasonable #30-50/#), so if you had both of those go out that would be the $3000 - not good, but not unusual with the lousy coil design these days, as to keep them cheap they are mixing aluminum and copper in the coil units - a definitive materials science no-no, so they corrode out real quick.

If you had compressor or condensor coils go 9 years is starting to get to the short end of an A/C life, at least for lower-end units.

Problems starting 2 months after installation is not good though.

On the capacitor thing - might have been right, but if the unit did not have a self-protection start-fail breaker, the motor might have burned out from trying to start without the capacitor - just sitting there heating up. Many have overheat or excessive amperage draw built-in breakers on the motors, BUT can still be damaged before it trips at times - so he might have been right but motor is now burned out (whichever one the capacitor issue was on). Could also be during the changeout your husband misconnected the wires, or forgot to turn the power switch back on ?

Otherwise, since your experience does not sound great but not terribly unusual either, you hve tow things to think about:

1) do you trust (i.e. do you think he is honest, or maybe creating problems to fix - and are you confident in your HVAC provider's abilities to diagnose, or do you want to scan through the Heating and A/C category in Search the List and maybe try another very well rated and reviewed one.

2) at what point are you going to stop throwing money (next time a significant repair comes up) into a unit getting into its normal life range, versus getting a new unit at typically 2-4 times the price of the repair but with a new warranty, new gas (so not paying for a gas refill if the repair was because of leakoff), and probably higher energy efficiency. [You can find a pretty fair number of previous questions with answers on the repair/replace issue in the Home > HVAC link under Browse Projects, at lower left.

3) come replacement time, consider the reputation of various brands and decide if you want to economize, or go with a higher-rated unit which might last more like 15-30 years (except evaporator coil) rather than 10 some years. For instance, from what I hear around, Goodman's for instance you can consider throw-aways after 10 or less years, whereas you see a lot of higher-end Carriers still in operation after 15-20 years. I was listening to a guy a few days ago at the building supply center sales counter who was whining (pretty much tongue in cheek) about having to replace his rooftop Carrier RTU (central air and heat) unit on his business - because other than one refrigerant topping off and annual cleaning/servicing it had zero repair costs over the years, but did not quite make 40 years before it fried itself.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

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