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Question DetailsAsked on 6/6/2016

What would happen if we install new R410 unit but didn't change the coil, which is R22 system?

The compressor of our AC unit, which uses R22 was broken. At the advise of the contractor, we installed a new unit, which uses R410. He didn't suggest us to change other parts such as coil, which is still the R22 system. However, the new AC only run for 3 days then broke again. The contractor came and said the Freon was all gone, so his conclusion is our tube is leaking Freon and leak very quickly. To fix the tube, he needs to break our dry wall and the house will be messy. I called another contractor and explained what happened. He said we should not have a new R410 unit with an R22 compressor. He thinks the two refrigerants mixed up and blocked the tubes. He said now we have to change the tubes which is very difficult given the tubes are all inside the dry wall. Can someone, some specialist help what could be the problem and how to fix it? Thank you!

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1 Answer


If he has not found the leak, I don't know how he can say it is in the tubing in the wall - unless he check everywhere else and did not find the leak so that leaves only the concealed portion of the tubing as a possible leak point.

1) unit will almost certainly be mis-matched because it is highly unlikely the evaporator coil is correctly sized for the new unit. Even if the coil were the correct size, the throttling orfice in it that causes the expansion which results in the cooling would be the wrong size for the new system and diffearent refrigerant type, which runs at different operating pressures and temperatures from Freon.

2) The R-410a system also runs at significantly higher pressure, so with the possible exception of the copper tubing (depending on wall thickness which sets it pressure rating) and the base pad all the other components should have been changed out.

3) If you installed a new unit, then your compressor is rated for R-410a, not R-22, as I read it. As the other vendor said, that would be mixing two different types of lubricating oil in the system, which can really gum up the works (some lubricant combinations form a really thick gel or emulsion - what in the business is called "A/C snot" - and cause TXV valve and/or compressor failure in short order. Or it may have (actually, quite likely did) gummed up the filter/dryer canister at a minimum.

4) The tubing and two coils (evaporator and condensor) can commonly be flushed with chemicals IF they are installed such that the exit point is also the low point (not so in all units), though likely to run about $300-400 to do that, so commonly the tubing is replaced instead unless concealed, like yours apparently is at least partly. Of course, the source of the leak should be found first to tell if it is in the tubing, the compressor, TXV control valve, or either the evaporator or expansion coils.

5) I would definitely stay away from the first contractor - and I would be filing a claim with HIS bonding or maybe insurance company for the cost of redoing your system with new equipment because since he mixed the two lubricants (unless he can prove he flushed the system properly first) the new compressor and TXV valve are likely toast by now, or at least significantly degraded by running with mixed lubricants. (The lubricant is mixed in with and at least to a certain extent circulates around in the system with the gas).

6) I would wonder what he did with the evaporator coil that comes with a new system - sell it on the side to someone else maybe ? Because a "new system", unless you mean just a replacement compressor, includes a new evaporator coil. This may be a case of fraud.

7) What he did, if this was marketed as a "new" unit rather than replacing a defective compressor (and after what he did, I wonder if that was actually the problem, especially if system is leaking gas), he broke federal law by installing a mis-matched system. New systems now have to be sold and installed as a factory tested and SEER (efficiency rating) rated unit with factory matched evaporator and "outdoor" unit - you are not allowed to reuse an old evaporator coil unless it just happens to be one that matches the new unit - a rarity, and would be a major rarity if an R-22 coil.

I would say (hopefully BayAreaAC is back online and will hop in here too) that you should get, from the Bonding company or his insurer, a brand new complete outdoor system (what he sold you) plus a new evaporator and flushed or replaced tubing, for what you paid him already plus the cost of a new evaporator if that was not included in the price he gave you. And it should be done by another reputable contractor, not him. IF he sold you a unit priced as complete but did not change the evaporator out, then you have a fraud case and might get an even better deal from them - like no more out of pocket for you and they replace the entire system at their cost.

I would also, after all is said and done, keeping documentation along the way, file a complaint with the state licensing board for what he did - because it sounds like either imcompetence or fraud and was illegal to boot. A complaint to the EPA might also cost him his license to buy and install refrigearant gases, which would get him off the street and protect other customers down the road. And of course, after all is said and done, an appropriate Review on Angies List sounds in order.

Answered 4 years ago by LCD

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