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Question DetailsAsked on 6/9/2015

To replace an evaporator coil, does the plenum modification and mastic seal need to be changed as well?

The coils on the AC unit have been freezing up. A business that was assigned by my "home warranty company" stated that the evaporator coil, which is covered by my plan, needed to be replaced and would come back in a few days to fix it. When the "home warranty company" called to notify me of the uncovered charges, it sounded outrageous since they were telling me all of these parts that needed to be replaced that we were not told before. I was told the labor and cost of the evaporator coil would be covered but that the float switch $135, mastic seal $150, and plenum modification $500 all needed to be replaced too along with $100 for disposal. They also said that I would be charged $360 for 8lbs of coolant although the technician stated I shouldn't need anymore. All of this totals $1,245. Does this sound right? Should I need all these other parts replaced when replacing the evaporator coil?

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6 Answers

Voted Best Answer

On AC forums that are restricted to AC contractors only,it is common knowledge that the home warranty company pays so little for what is covered,that you must charge a lot for the "Extras" to make a resoanable profit. This is often the advice given by other contractors to those that are losing money doing home warranty work.Home warranty companies seem to be fine with this practice.

This and slow pay, is why our company does not work for home warranty companies.It's also why I discourage friends and relatives from buying home warranties!

You may be able to call another company and get an estimate for the charges to replace the coil,not including the coil, I would be surprised if it's the same or less than the extras. You could use this to negotiate a better price with the home warranty company and contractor.

Federal law now requires 13 or 14 SEER efficiency on all replacements, if that coils is not a match,another point to ask them about. Severe penalties from the Feds ,on the contractor.If the coil was an exact warraanty replacement ,the plenum should not need to be modified,in my experience


Answered 5 years ago by BayAreaAC


That is what I figured after I read some of the Q/A's and the cost of the part and labor was close to what my cost would be for the extras. Thanks for your help.

Answered 5 years ago by mmoss


As BayAreaAC says, this is a common scam by both the home warranty companies and the contractors.

If the evaporator coil is bad (leaking), it needs replacement unless the leak is just at the threads or the reducing or throttling valve - and if that is covered, everyhting that needs to be done to remove and replace it would also be covered unless SPECIFICALLY excluded by the warranty - so read the warranty. The plenum modification may or may not need to be removed to replace the coil - but as BayAreaAC says certainly should not need replacement when installing a same-size coil, as it should fit right back in fine. The mastic seal is about $3-5 worth of mastic from a caulk gun, or about $15-25 of strip mastic - and about 2 minutes work to install in either case, and has to be done to properly install and seal the unit if the plenum adapter has to be taken out - otherwise about $1 or mastic or tape-type duct sealer tape if only a coverplate has to be removed to get the coil out. The float switch would need replacement if it is defective only - and in that case should be a covered item in the repair. (This switch shuts the unit off if the condensate drain plugs up and the condensate is about to overflow into the duct or on the floor).

The gas is required by law to be recovered and reused if there is still gas in the system - otherwise any leaked out gas has to be replaced as part of the coil replacement otherwise it can not work, so would not be a "repair". Assuming that things like the refrigerant is not specifically excluded, demand to talk to a claims supervisor and if they will not cover EVERYTHING necessary to repair the problem and get the unit working again, say you will be filing a consumer fraud complaint against the company and an F Angies List review - those typically get very fast response.

Basically, my opinion is home warranty program (like third-party auto warranties) are priced so they are inherently scams, because for what they charge they could never provide the coverage they claim if they actually abide by the coverage the warranty promises. Therefore, the only way they can make money is to close their eyes to contractor scams to increase the bill because what they pay the contractors for the job is way too low; put in fine print that basically makes the warranty useless, have call centers in Bangladesh or operating 2 hours per day (dead of night US time), or refuse to acknowledge coverage and make the claim process so difficult that they don't end up having to pay off because the customer gives up and goes away in frustration.

If they are not scamming you, aside from any specifically excluded work, you should have to pay nothing but the deductible (which may be annual or per visit) under your warranty. And it does no good to argue with the contractor about it - your contract is with the warranty company, so THEY are the ones you need to deal with. They love to try to pass the buck to the contractor, who has no authority to change the billing or coverage.

Answered 5 years ago by LCD


I'd be curious to know which home warranty company you are using. I signed up with First American Home Warranty (who, by the way, RARELY answer their customer service line). The HVAC techs are coming out today to replace the coil AND indicated I have to pay $190 for the modification of the plenum, which isn't covered by the warranty. And since no one at First American Warranty ever answers their customer service line, I cannot get verification that I am liable for this "uncovered part of labor/parts." I was told when I signed up with First American Home Warranty that I'd only ever have to pay the one time $65.00 service fee whenever a repairman comes to the house.

Answered 5 years ago by annettebetancourt


I just went though this with homesure/ HMS warranty.

I have a usual $100 deductible.

Evaporator coil was leaking and found the issue by getting HMS to pay for leak test apart from calling for 'Not cooling enough' problem.

So now the drama begins. They authorized to replace evaporator coil but,

- reclaim freon $89 not covered

- disposal of old coil $89 not covered

- re-welding of pipes which the contractor mentioned as pipe modification $189 not covered

- ductwork related to getting a smaller evaporator coil then existing $325 not covered

We fought over why things are not covered, but as usual consumer loose and they point to some fine print in contract which doesnt make sense.

Landed up disposing the old coil myself to save some money and rest $634 + $100 deductible was my cost in the end.

I hate them seriously!

Answered 5 years ago by Guest_99485342


Opps, I see I answered this before, but I leave this one too.

If the coil is in an air handler,plenum doesn't need modification.

If it is attached to a furnace ,and the coil and it's case/cabinet are being replaced as one piece, there may be a need for modification. However ,if it the same exact size and sahpe, it's more of a disconnect, reconnect. no way to tell from here. In any case, $500, sounds like there is a majo modification needed. $150 is also a lot to mastic seal the plenum to the coil.

Contractors that work for warranty comanies, do so for little compansation. On forums that only allow contractors,charging as much as posible ,for uncovered repairs/etc., is sometimes suggested as a way to make up for the low payments from the home warranty company. Rates they have offered us, prevent us from working for home warranty companies.

In our area,the prices quoted would be very high, you may be in a more metro area,where costs to operate are higher, as well as prices charged. In uor atrea the extras are far more then I recall the warranty company is paying the contractor for the labor portion of changing a coil.

All these noncovered charges,is why would not recomend usng a home warrnaty company.

You can call around and ask other contractors, what they would charge for the same.


Answered 5 years ago by BayAreaAC


All BayAreaAC said makes perfect sense - and from a distance we cannot assess how much of what you listed is "needed" and how much might be scamming you with unneeded or replacement of functioning supplemental items. But don't forget one thing (subject to the fine print in the warranty contract) - anything (other than probably moving significant size or number of things like stored items in a garage or basement or in front of the A/C outdoor unit or such to be able to get at the work area) which is necessary to make the repair should be covered by the warranty.

So, if for instance the evaporator coil has to be replaced, brazing/soldering of connecting refrigerant lines, replacement of leaked refrigerant (or recovery and repressurization with the old refrigerant to the extent it did not leak out), modification of the plenum or air handler if they cannot get an exact-sized replacement coil, mastic or seals required to seal it back up, any parts like wires or limit switches or such they damage in the course of removal, scrap disposal, etc are all parts of the job that need to be done for the repair to be complete - should ALL be covered (subject to your per-visit charge or deductible).

And your float switch should have been covered - after all, if it was defective then that was a failed item on the A/C that needed repairing too.

One other trick they pull - if the technician comes and diagnosis the problem, then comes back another time with the parts he ordered or went to pick up - being charged a separate visit or deductible fee for that. Saw one case with a neighbor who appealed to me to help her "talk" to her home warranty company (American Home Warranty), where the plumber they provided had to come back another day after ordered parts came in UPS or FedEx, then left twice during the installation to get additional fittings and gaskets he did not have on his truck, and they tried to charge her 4 visit deductibles - for the diagnosis trip, return to install, and the two parts runs on that same day - when it should have been one deductible for one repair.

Another trick I have seen - the customer complains about the repair or service or the technician not showing up as promised, so they call out another contractor - and try to charge the homeowner a separate deductible for each contractor.

If have also heard of the contractors charging the homeowner for a "trip charge" in addition to the deductible, to be paid directly to them. This falls in the same category of paying for extras that should be part of the repair, paid directly to the contractor. Doing that takes the burden off the home warranty company, because they say that for those work items you just hired the contractor to do extra work kwhile he was there, so not their problem. Any payments made should be, ESPECIALLY if you are thinking of complaining (though that should be done BEFORE payment), should be to the warranty company, The contractor is working for THEM, not you - though if they do not get paid guess whose house gets the lien put on it.

I have also heard of contractors saying they have to be paid before they leave and the warranty company has not paid them or their credit card did not process corroectly, so you have to pay directly. Same issue - he is working for THEM, not you, and you should not pay him directly because that makes the contract between you and him.

One other issue not commonly addressed, aside fromthe fact that many of these contractors are bottom-feeders who take the low reimbursement payments because they cannot generate enough work themselves or have a terrible local reputation, if bonding and insurance - if the home warranty company provides them and they are not bonded or licensed or insured, guess who loses. And of course, in most cases the warranty company is not bonded or licensed or insured in your state even though technically it is acting as a general contractor.

Oh - another trick - you sign a simple one-page contract (commonly on a glossy ad flyer) or simple "certificate page" (or it comes with the house, paid for by Seller) - but the "Warranty" itself is multi-page and crammed packed with disclaimers and exceptions, etc. This "Warranty" package is NOT what you signed up for and paid for, but people do not read it in detail and compare it to the actual contract and raise cain at that time or cancel it.

Far too many of these aftermarket companies (home and auto both) are, in my opinion, basically running a scam and should be shut down - or better uyet a few public tarring and featherings or public hangings of scammers, frauds (and crooked politicians) would cut back on this problem a lot, but not much chance of that. Putting a bunch of themm out of business and assessing massive consumer fraud fines would help a lot, but that would require a lot more homeowners filing terrible reviews/complaints with BBB and Yelp and AL and such, and filing criminal fraud complaints with the appropriate consumer protection agencies and district attorneys when these companies do not provide the service them promised.

One thing I did not notice bedfore - the technician said you should not need any more coolant) or maybe only a top-off to replace a bit lost) but the company wants to charge you for replacement fluid - that is out and out fraud !

Answered 5 years ago by LCD

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