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Question DetailsAsked on 7/18/2017

HVAC company did regular maintenance/cleaning on our systems but put in 21lbs of 410 Freon-$1900!

Is $80 per lb reasonable & 21lbs low in a 5ton unit seems like a lot....

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2 Answers


No way a 5 ton system will take 21lbs. 80 per pound is high also. Good luck

Answered 3 years ago by DonChepe


BTW - R-410a is Puron (or a bunch of other brandnames from other manufacturers), not Freon (which is an R-22 brandname) refrigerant.

$80/lb - like other comment said that is really on the high side for the gas alone - more commonly in the $25/lb billout rate (around $4-10/lb wholesale), but some contractors roll the labor cost for the charging into the gas charge, in which case something like maybe $40-50/# would be more normal - but $80/lb for R-410a is way out of normal range. However, some contractors are taking advantage of the refrigerant phase-out hype (R-22 Freon in 3 years, R-410a in about 13 years unless Trump drops out of the Montreal Accords like he has the Paris climate Treaty) and are charging $100-200/# for R-22, and sometimes even high if not equally high charges for the current replacement gases - heard of one locally a couple of months ago charging $225/# for R-410a !

21# for a 5 ton unit is on the high side but not unheard of - 2-4#/ton is a common "rule of thumb" for the capacity of a residential A/C unit - so 10-20# would be the normal range for your size unit. I have seen 18# on a 2 ton Comfortmaker and 20# on a 2-1/2 ton Carrier with normal short linesets, so 21# in your cases is not totally out of the realm of possibility. The above ranges are also for units with normal 10-20 foot range lineset length - additional length typically add (depending on lineset diameter) 1/3-2/3 oz/LF - so an additional pound of gas per about 25-50 feet of lineset (the connecting tubing).

You can find a unit identification plate on the outside unit (or its housing) which will tell you what the gas type and normal charge poundage for the unit, which includes a presumption of typically 15' to 25' of lineset - so if it says your unit takes on the order of 20# (adjusted for lineset length if your lineset is real long), then no problem. Probably more commonly around 10-15#.

The thing that would concern me the most - WHY did he put in 21# of gas ? That would be if not a total charge at least the vast majority of a 5 ton system capacity, so did he say your unit was basically out of gas ? And did he check the filter/drier to see if the unit had smoked itself due to overheating, as the lubricating oil is moved around by the refrigerant gas, so very low gas pressure = overheated and possibly burnt up comporessor ? And did he find and fix a leak ? If not, he did you no service by refilling a leaked down unit without repairing the leak because that $1900 of gas will just leak out again. Plus it is actually illegal to refilll a significantly leaking unit without repairing the leak first.

I would get some clarification on those issues first and ASAP (while you may have the chance to stop payment) - if not satisfactorily from the tech, then talk to the owner/manager of the company about it, because there are some HVAC companies who claim to recharge a unit but lie about the amount or don't even put any in, to bump their profit margin up. A common scam by some crooks when the homeowners are not home or are not watching them work, and for elderly customers. And of course get justification for the gas charge - because that is really in ripoff country unless the $1900 included not only the gas but also a significant repair - because that cost would normally be roughly the cost for replacing an evaporator coil AND recharging the system - and is in the ballpark of half the cost of a new unit, so normally (unless a newer unit) he should have advised you of that and given the option of going with a totally new system at this time - BEFORE racking up that kind of charges.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

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