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  • Need advice about situation with my HVAC

    In February 2013, I found an HVAC installer through Angie's List to replace my 15 year old HVAC system. He recommended and installed the following components:

    Amana/Goodman

    Furnance/Heater/Heat Exchanger
    AFU: 95%
    Model #GMVC951155DXBA

    Condenser/Condensing Unit
    SEER: 16
    Model #DSXC160481BC

    Coil
    SEER: 16
    Model #CAPF4860D6DB

    Condensate Pump
    Little Giant
    Franklin Electric
    VMCA-10 / VMCA-15 / VMCA-20

    Thermostat
    Honeywell
    FocusPRO TH6220

    From discussions with him and my understanding, both the heater and A/C are "two-stage" or "dual-stage" systems that are supposed to help the system run more efficiently. I never noticed any issues with the heater, but when summer 2013 hit, it seemed that the A/C just didn't cool the house quickly - certainly no better than my old system. So I called him about it. He told me he'd have to come out when it was over 80ºF to get a good test of the system. Long story short - for one reason or another, he couldn't get out before it became too late in the season (too cool) to do it, and said he'd come out next season.

    So, he did come out about a month ago. He checked the system and told me the coils around the condenser unit were very dirty and needed to be cleaned and that would fix the problem. He said he didn't have time to do it, (would have changed me $149 to do it) and suggested I could do it myself with coil cleaner and a hose. So I went out that day, bought coil cleaner and cleaned the coils as directed. They looked great. However, there was no change in performance of the system. I called to tell him that and set up an appointment for him to come back and look further into the system.

    He came back and inspected the system again and this time said that he found that the TXV was the wrong one for the system installed - wrong model number - and that it was "too small" and was choking the flow of refrigerant causing poor performance. He had to order the part. Said it would take a week. We were going to be away that next week, so we scheduled the part replacement for 2 weeks from then.

    Two days before he was scheduled to come out to replace the TXV, condenser stopped working. The blower would come on, but the condenser would not. Of course, there were two 90ºF days before he was to come out, so I called to see if he could come out immediately. His office manager said he and all the techs were on a big commercial job and would not be able to come out until the next day - PLUS, the part hadn't come in yet! (Really? TWO weeks have passed!) So they scheduled him to come out first thing the next day.

    He did come out as promised and even, somehow, had the new part in hand. He and a tech spent the better part of three hours recovering the refrigerant, replacing the TXV, recharging the system & testing it. He told me the reason the condenser stopped working was because the small TXV valve made the system overheat and it shut itself off as a safety measure that required a pro to come back an reset it. He got everything up and running and was on his way.

    At this point, it was 78º in the house, about 82º outside, and the thermostat was set to 73ºF. Well, it took just as long as always to get down 5 degrees - about 5+ hours. So again, no difference in performance.

    The thermostat he had installed has a "Recovery" mode which is supposed to turn the unit on prior to your setback time so that it will reach the temperature by the set time you ask. (I assume you guys know how this works). Well, I was concerned that since it has been turning on 2 hours in advance of my setback time, that it needs to be reset to recalibrate itself to the supposed now better running system. So I went online to look for a way to do that. I could not find a way to reset it - only to turn that feature off. But while I was looking at the documentation (the installer instructions) I found that there is a setting to tell the thermostat that you have a two-stage system. (Also, that it had to be wired for a two-stage system). I pulled the thermostat off the wall and saw it was wired correctly for a two-stage system (see attached picture). I put it back on and went into the installer settings mode to see what System Type was selected. Sure enough - it was set to SINGLE-STAGE! I changed the setting to 2H/2C and let it run.

    WOW! The fan kicked into a gear I didn't even know it had and was circulating air around my house like never before!! It wound up cooling the house 1.3 degrees in just 30 minutes!! Eventually it kicked itself down to the lower speed (the speed it had been using for the past 17 months) and would cycle between the high, low and off modes for the rest of the night until it got it to a stable 70º (our setback temp for overnight.)

    So, it seems to me that the problem all along was that the installer had never set the thermostat correctly when he installed it 17 months ago! The "dirty coils" and the "wrong TXV" were not the cause of the problem.

    So, my questions to you guys are:

    1) What do I do about this finding? Do I call the installer to tell him? What do I say? Do I ask for some sort of monetary compensation for it running inefficiently for the past 17 months? If so, how much? Is he likely to offer me anything?

    2) Is the Honeywell FocusPRO TH6220 a good enough thermostat for the system that was installed? According to Goodman, they have a "Comfortnet" thermostat (CTK03/04) that is supposed to make the system run more efficiently than other thermostats. Does this mean that I'm still not getting the maximum efficiency out of my system - even with the two-stage setting correct? Should I get the CTK03 instead? If I should replace it, would the new Honeywell Wifi 9000 work with this "Comfortnet" system too?

    3) What are the black, brown & orange wires in the picture of the thermostat wiring? They are not connected. Should they be? I know the Wifi9000 needs a "C" wire. Is the black, brown or Orange wire the "C" wire? If so, why did the installer not connect it to the "C" terminal on this thermostat?

    4) And what REALLY caused the condenser to stop working the other day?

    Thank you for your help!

    P.S. I'm posting this on multiple forums to get various opinions. Sorry if you're already seen this elsewhere.

  • #2
    you have a non-professional installer. first, there is no safety reset on a compressor that only a tech can reset. there is an internal overheat mechanism that opens if the compressor overheats. it will normally reset on its own after cooling off, generally about a day's time, or 2 hours by running water over the compressor shell. as it is located inside a hermetically sealed can, there is NO access for anyone to reach it.

    to install a txv that is too small would be an obvious mistake to a professional. the tube sizes would have to be squeezed down or adapted to the smaller tube size of the txv. so again, he either made an amateur mistake or is full of kaka.

    you are crippling your variable system with a 2 stage thermostat. buy the stat recommended by the manufacturer. not setting up the thermostat properly is also a sign of an amateur. connecting a wire to the c terminal will allow the thermostat to access power from the furnace, with batteries as a backup in the event of a power failure. it's always recommended to attach a wire to the c terminal. if the installer did not run at least 4 wires to your condenser you will never have the communicating feature of the condenser. you definitely dont have it now, with only a 2 stage thermostat.

    dont expect to get 16 SEER out of your system unless a complete manual j and s were done on your home, duct changes were made, and the system matched and commissioned in order to meet the SEER needs. you can expect 13-14 SEER equivalency. Also, being in PA, you probably never see any ROI on the 16 SEER equipment.
    ~~

    ... it was plumbed by Ray Charles and his helper Stevie Wonder

    Comment


    • #3
      Thanks for the reply! When looking at the 8 wires that are coming out of the wall, 4 of them have paint on them, 4 do not. So I can only assume that the 4 without paint are new (red, yellow, white, green.) Of course, I have no idea where these actually go, or why the other ones are not connected to anything. I don't know why the C terminal is not in use.

      Whey you say "variable speed" - does that mean with the thermostat I currently have it will either be off, low or high - but with the CTK03 it would be able to run it at any number of speeds anywhere between off & high?

      Also, does "two-stage" mean that it runs only the blower faster/slower, or does the compressor/coil actually do more work too when in the 2nd stage?

      Thanks.

      Comment


      • #4
        HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Conditioning) systems will be installed in a building based on the climate and weather in the location. Whether you are building homes or industrial buildings, you should take note that any kind of building is an investment.
        CA Title 24 Compliance Report is the 24th portion of the California Code of Regulations. Title24 address the energy standard of buildings in entire CA.

        Comment


        • #5
          As for getting something from the contractor in way of compensation, I'd repost your findings on Angies List, and ask them for a refund. :

          Comment


          • #6
            Angies List, BBB. Heh heh.

            get what you pay for...
            ~~

            ... it was plumbed by Ray Charles and his helper Stevie Wonder

            Comment


            • #7
              Good luck with that one. Best thing to do is sledge him all over the net as a HACK. Get onto whatever forum you can. However, stick to the points and don't get personal. Just highlight how the Company is full of hacks who don't know what they are doing. Sometimes we make mistakes but then there are times when we should hand it over or call in a PRO. Sorry but you probably paid over the odds and will need to pay again to get it right. Amazing how history dictates the old saying," if it sounds too good to be true it generally is". HVAC is an investment wherever you are regardless. Occasionally you get lucky but then like in your case you just got screwed. Sorry dude............!!!!

              And here in lies the lesson of reality

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by adamw View Post
                Thanks for the reply! When looking at the 8 wires that are coming out of the wall, 4 of them have paint on them, 4 do not. So I can only assume that the 4 without paint are new (red, yellow, white, green.) Of course, I have no idea where these actually go, or why the other ones are not connected to anything. I don't know why the C terminal is not in use.

                Whey you say "variable speed" - does that mean with the thermostat I currently have it will either be off, low or high - but with the CTK03 it would be able to run it at any number of speeds anywhere between off & high?

                Also, does "two-stage" mean that it runs only the blower faster/slower, or does the compressor/coil actually do more work too when in the 2nd stage?

                Thanks.
                I cant tell you about the wires without seeing them.

                The thermostat you have is designed for off, low fire, high fire. That's it. A communicating thermostat talks to the furnace and will allow an infinite number of stages (if it works anything like the communicating thermostats I use).

                Your AC is two stage, not variable like the furnace. It only has an off, low and high speed. The blower on heat will have infinite stages from 0-100% but the AC blower speed will only have off, low, high. The AC will run most efficiently at 2nd stage.

                How big is your house? PA doesnt generally require 4 rons of cooling and 115,000 BTU for heating.

                Edit: to clarify the furnace - it is 2 stage, variable blower. it will work best with the thermostat recommended by the manufacturer. The thermostat will learn how to control the functions to best heat and cool the home, but beware, it may result in a basic, off-low-high curve.
                Last edited by Plumber Punky; 09-01-2014, 10:56 AM.
                ~~

                ... it was plumbed by Ray Charles and his helper Stevie Wonder

                Comment

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