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  • Central a/c tuneup

    Hi,
    I'm not a HVAC expert nor do I work in the area, but I was hoping for some advice. I have central a/c (had replaced inner coils and outside unit 3 years ago) and it's working just fine. I've been told to have a regular tune-up every year and I was just wondering if that is true. My old unit died within 6-7 years but it was also the most basic model that came with the house.

    I appreciate it!

  • #2
    Re: Central a/c tuneup

    Yes any HVAC or boiler system should be serviced every year. This is not a major service if it is done properly. In your case the fins of the condenser should be cleaned of debris. The evap coil will also be cleaned and all electrical points of the system are tested. The big issue you are avoiding by annual service is build up on the coils. You are keeping proper air flow which keeps the unit running at it's efficiency and prolongs the life of a unit by at least 2X.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Central a/c tuneup

      Thanks very much. I just made an appointment for an inspection and apparently then I will get an estimate about how much the tune-up will be. Does that sound right? I got this recommendation through a friend and seems to have good ratings with BBB. Anyway, I definitely want to prolong the life of the unit by all means, it was horrible when it broke last time.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Central a/c tuneup

        Originally posted by natalie1999 View Post
        Thanks very much. I just made an appointment for an inspection and apparently then I will get an estimate about how much the tune-up will be. Does that sound right? I got this recommendation through a friend and seems to have good ratings with BBB. Anyway, I definitely want to prolong the life of the unit by all means, it was horrible when it broke last time.
        The system is fairly fresh being 3 years old. Depending on how frequently the filters were changed the coils may not be to bad. Sounds like you upgraded from an R-22 system to R-410a...is that correct?

        Definitely get an upfront questimate. If you feel uncomfortable...consult another professional...and NOT the first guy in the Yellow Pages.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Central a/c tuneup

          Thanks. Not very sure what I upgraded to. However, just had the inspection done, everything is fine except for one thing. He checked the electrical components and the coil -- everything works fine and coil is not dirty. But he did show me the capacitor for the outside unit. He said it was rusted (true) and was weak and should probably be replaced. He said capacitors usually last for 3-4 years. Is that true? He quoted me $327 to replace -- I said I'd get back to him. Should I replace and ask around for quotes?

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Central a/c tuneup

            Originally posted by natalie1999 View Post
            Thanks. Not very sure what I upgraded to. However, just had the inspection done, everything is fine except for one thing. He checked the electrical components and the coil -- everything works fine and coil is not dirty. But he did show me the capacitor for the outside unit. He said it was rusted (true) and was weak and should probably be replaced. He said capacitors usually last for 3-4 years. Is that true? He quoted me $327 to replace -- I said I'd get back to him. Should I replace and ask around for quotes?
            Depends on the capacitor you have, but $327 sounds really high. I just replaced a single start capacitor yesterday for $15 on the part. You probably have a dual run capacitor on the outside unit, most of these should run about $40-50 for the part only. Labor to replace is 15 min.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Central a/c tuneup

              First off Kevin, there is no way an evap needs regular cleaning ever. If it gets dirty, the filter isn't working or doesn't fit right. If it's left out by the homeowner, removal and cleaning is very difficult. If the lines need to be cut and charge recovered, it might has well be replaced.
              Second, I don't think the price she was given is fair....yes it's too high.....but if you did this for a living or ran your own company, you'd know about overhead, part mark up, labor and liability, and warranty.
              I'm not sure it's fair of you to throw out those types of numbers in hopes of giving a reasonable price to expect. This is a forum for everyone but please respect that it is also a profession for some of us and we ALL need to respect that.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Central a/c tuneup

                RJM, you have no idea what you're talking about. You sound like the many "service techs" I see at the supply house telling stories of how they rope in customers and hit them over the head with the price.
                Buy cheap, buy twice.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Central a/c tuneup

                  Originally posted by gear junkie View Post
                  RJM, you have no idea what you're talking about. You sound like the many "service techs" I see at the supply house telling stories of how they rope in customers and hit them over the head with the price.
                  I'm stuck selling repairs at what ever the owner of my company sells them for. I don't make commission on repairs so it doesn't matter to me. I've been at this a long time (also as a MM3 in a-gang on a supply ship) and I know the right way. As far as a repair goes, we use upfront pricing from a book. If they want the repair, they know what they will pay right away. Don't judge what you don't know!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Central a/c tuneup

                    Originally posted by natalie1999 View Post
                    Thanks. Not very sure what I upgraded to. However, just had the inspection done, everything is fine except for one thing. He checked the electrical components and the coil -- everything works fine and coil is not dirty. But he did show me the capacitor for the outside unit. He said it was rusted (true) and was weak and should probably be replaced. He said capacitors usually last for 3-4 years. Is that true? He quoted me $327 to replace -- I said I'd get back to him. Should I replace and ask around for quotes?

                    Jeeze, all the guy had to do is check it with an analog VOM or a digital with capacitance capability.

                    If it was within spec. and wasn't shorted or open why condenm it for being rusted??

                    I guess bilking a customer out of $327 is why.

                    James

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Central a/c tuneup

                      So you don't think I need to replace? I do think 327 is high so if I have to do it, I'll shop around. At least the technician didn't say anything else was wrong. I watched him check everything and the capacitor and he says it is using more energy than it did at first and that it was rusted.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Central a/c tuneup

                        Originally posted by natalie1999 View Post
                        So you don't think I need to replace? I do think 327 is high so if I have to do it, I'll shop around. At least the technician didn't say anything else was wrong. I watched him check everything and the capacitor and he says it is using more energy than it did at first and that it was rusted.

                        I wouldn't replace it.

                        If the replacement capacitor is like the ones I get (from china) you are better off to stick with the OEM.

                        I always thought a capacitor stored energy instead of consuming energy.

                        I have equipment that's 38 years old with the original capacitors.

                        James

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Central a/c tuneup

                          Originally posted by rjm78 View Post
                          First off Kevin, there is no way an evap needs regular cleaning ever. If it gets dirty, the filter isn't working or doesn't fit right. If it's left out by the homeowner, removal and cleaning is very difficult. If the lines need to be cut and charge recovered, it might has well be replaced.
                          Second, I don't think the price she was given is fair....yes it's too high.....but if you did this for a living or ran your own company, you'd know about overhead, part mark up, labor and liability, and warranty.
                          I'm not sure it's fair of you to throw out those types of numbers in hopes of giving a reasonable price to expect. This is a forum for everyone but please respect that it is also a profession for some of us and we ALL need to respect that.
                          Um rjm, I'm not so sure of your experience. The entire point of cleaning the evap annually is to make it easier and avoid having to cut it out for the service. Small build-up is easily removed by accessing the evap and using a spray cleaner, further cleaning can be done by an air compressor with a hand chuck and some 1/4" copper tube to reach to tight areas. If it is not cared for then you will get major blockage in time and result in removal of the part for cleaning or replacement. Meanwhile the efficiency of the unit goes down as air flow gradually decreases.

                          I also use to work flat rate for years and do know exactly where you are coming from. If you noticed I quoted the cost of the part only, and with a very fair mark-up! The question was asked, so I answered honestly. That is something that can be hard to do when working on flat rate. To often the price associated with the task is way out of line. We had one pricing for a pvc p-trap change out at $289. I felt that this type of pricing was unfair then and now so I do things my way now. I will also discuss my opinion freely and openly. So if you or anybody else wants to get themselves worked up over an open forum discussion, fine do so...it will not stop me from being honest.

                          Third I do THIS and a lot more for a living. I owned my business back in Florida and currently have direct responsiblity over pricing and estimates on all of our shops major projects. I am fully aware of ALL the expenses required to keep a business afloat and I will never take advantage of a customer to keep it from sinking. I am also aware that a happy customer will call or recommend my services again and again.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Central a/c tuneup

                            Originally posted by natalie1999 View Post
                            So you don't think I need to replace? I do think 327 is high so if I have to do it, I'll shop around. At least the technician didn't say anything else was wrong. I watched him check everything and the capacitor and he says it is using more energy than it did at first and that it was rusted.
                            Capacitors don't use energy. They store energy and excite or boost that energy to help a motor start/run. If the fan and compressor or starting normally and are NOT making loud humming sounds or seem to struggle to start...then leave it alone.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Central a/c tuneup

                              The problem with capacitors is they work or they don't and it's difficult to predict. None of us were out there looking at what your AC guy did or checked. If he found the microfarad level was low then replacing it would be prudent. Could it have lasted a couple more years? Possibly or it could fail tomorrow. Is the 327 price high? It is but what kind of capacitor did they put in? The HVAC field is where you want a solid company behind the product. I've generally found it's the less knowledgable companies that sell products at a low price but always push for replacement, i.e. don't clean the evaporator but replace it.

                              For me personally, if a customer called me to do maintance on their ac and I found the capacitor was bad, I would charge them regular price on the work and then charge 74 for the capacitor as I have them on the truck already. Also, to do yearly maintance on a AC, NEVER EVER requires the use of a manifold(thing with 2 gauges and 3-4 hoses). If your service company tells you they do this, then go to another company.
                              Buy cheap, buy twice.

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