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Question DetailsAsked on 4/25/2016

Should I replaced air conditioning system after mold was found inside of the unit?

We purchase this house a year ago, the previous owners had like 3 cats. Las weekend the hvac technitian came to service the air conditioning system and found mold, hair, dandruff in different places of the air conditioning unit, like the coils, insulation. He said we could clean them and put a better filter, but, the problem is that it would be expensive, and it could be counter productive because this is a 15 years old unit that uses R22 refrigerant, I think this is the Freon. He said that this refrigerant was banned by the EPA for environmental reasons. This is a smaller unit that is in the attic, we have a 2 zone system. The other unit is fine and it is in the basement with the furnace. So are we being taken advantage here? We live in New Jersey.

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Voted Best Answer

As you state it, sounds like he tried to scare you into a new system - though at 15 years old certainly not worth a lot of expense in upgrading because it is probably near its lifespan anyway.

However - new system presumably would be using same ducting, so putting high-efficiency filtration into the ducting would be a good idea with that anyway to keep the coil cleaner - typically $50-250 depending on whether the filter receiver slot has to be reworked for thicker filter elements or not.

The evaporator coil can and should be cleaned if not getting a new unit - typically $250-350 range job depending on access - something that should be done typically every few years, more or less frequently depending on how effective your filtration system is and how dirty your household/outdoor environment is.

On the R-22 - lots more responses to previous questions on that issue in the Home > HVAC link in Browse Projects, at lower left. Freon (R-22) has been banned from new unit manufacturing as a "greenhouse" causing gas - R-410a is the normal gas for new systems, and generally older systems cannot be upgraded to R410a, though your existing system can legally continue to use Freon as long as it lives.

So - you should get a couple of bids on filtration improvement (high efficiency pleated fabric filter rather than metal screen or paper filter) located somewhere it is easy to replace in the return line feeding to the attic A/C and cleaning the coil, assuming the unit is working well.

If into the $1000+ range, then I would ask for bids for a replacement unit. I would NOT ask for both together or let them know you are looking at a possible new unit - some bidders are likely to price up the cleaning/filtration upgrade to make the new unit look better, because there is a lot mopre profit in it for them.

One other thing - depending on where your ducting runs from the upstairs unit, I would (assuming the condensor coil/fan is up there too) ask them, if looking at a new unit, about moving the A/C unit outdoors if feasible, because having an A/C unit in a hot attic is a major waste of energy, because it runs much less efficiently and has a shorter life in a hot environment. And especially if the condensor/fan is up there unless it is deirecft vented outside - because it would be returning the heat removed from the house AND the system losses in compression (basically the heat from the electric motors and compressor) to the attic, making it hotter, hence making the unit work harder to provide chilled refrigerant - can easily make a 50% or more difference in unit efficiency, and in poorly ventilated attics can actually make the unit totally ineffectual.

Course, relocating the unit you have would make little sense - if doing that, it would make sense to put in a new unit at that time.

Another thing to look at, if the basement unit is also old, is possibly replacing both with one larger outdoor unit - with applicable ducting revisions to make it a one-source, two-zone system - which is probably what the furnace has anyway.

Answered 4 years ago by LCD

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