Questions regarding older HVAC
#10
  
I have a 14-YO Carrier heat pump with gas furnace backup and an Aprilaire humidifier.  These units have worked perfectly all these years, and the PECO "how ya doin' energy-wise" sheet we get every month shows energy usage "55% better that your most efficient neighbors", both summer and winter.  We have had this system serviced religiously twice a year since installation - only repair needed was to replace a failing run capacitor in the heat pump, which I did myself.  The service techs we have experienced over the years have been very helpful and pleasant, and we always got a helpful checklist showing electrical measurements, manifold pressures, etc., and a careful inspection of the physical condition, need to replace the furnace filter, water jacket, etc., which I take care of when suggested.

Fast forward to yesterday - the tech (from the company that originally installed the system) did a cursory inspection at best, said everything was fine,  and may not have done a single measurement of anything as far as I could tell.  He said they do not provide a checklist, but tried to sell me on an annual maintenance plan.  You can bet I have b!tched to the company about that service, but haven't heard anything back yet.

Two questions; in the infinite wisdom of Woodnet, do you see any reason to think about replacing these units anytime soon?  And what might I need to do the service myself - equipment and know-how?  This latest episode leads me to believe I could do a better job even with basic knowledge and equipment.  Is there anything like "HVAC Service 101" out there?  I think I could handle anything electrical - voltages, current draw and whatever.  The question mostly has to do with the plumbing.  Would appreciate any thoughts on the subject.
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#11
  Re: Questions regarding older HVAC by GaryMc (I have a 14-YO Carri...)
Unless I miss my guess, your Aprilaire humidifier is probably a very simple device.  We have one.  As long as it's getting a reliable water source and the water screen (filter looking thingy) is still functional, then it should be good to go.  That water screen should be checked for mineral buildup and replaced as needed to make sure the unit functions effectively.  There is a switch that detects when the heat pump is on that starts the water flow to the water screen.

I'm not an HVAC expert, not by a long shot.  I still call service techs.  But I've had to get a little smart on them since I live in a rural area, and sometimes it can be a wait to get the techs to show up.  I rely on YouTube, the owners manual, and the installation manual to tell me stuff about my system if I have a question.  I won't dive into the inner workings of the unit, but I've had to clear some other issues (cracked condensate drain assembly, faulty intake/exhaust installation).  That installation manual is what clued me in that Hans and Franz screwed up the install back in January 2018.  That's a whole other story; the company that did the installation of our Lennox heat pump over propane furnace aux unit is no longer allowed on my property, and they know it.

As for courses, does a local community college in your area offer basic HVAC classes?

This is just me, but I wouldn't replacing a fully functioning unit.  What I would do, however, is begin to research all of my options so that I would have a good idea of what to execute when the time came.  This is my big regret in hindsight about our HVAC system replacement in January 2018.  Our heat pump compressor failed on a 14 year old unit.  It had a very simple and functional, though very inefficient, aux heat capability that used electric heat strips.  I should have taken my time and researched alternatives and just sucked up the extra electrical bills for a few weeks.  If I had done that, and been patient, I would likely have switched to geothermal.  I have the perfect property for that application.
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#12
  Re: RE: Questions regarding older HVAC by R Clark (Unless I miss my gue...)
(11-16-2021, 08:09 AM)WxMan Wrote: Unless I miss my guess, your Aprilaire humidifier is probably a very simple device.  We have one.  As long as it's getting a reliable water source and the water screen (filter looking thingy) is still functional, then it should be good to go.  That water screen should be checked for mineral buildup and replaced as needed to make sure the unit functions effectively.  There is a switch that detects when the heat pump is on that starts the water flow to the water screen.

I'm not an HVAC expert, not by a long shot.  I still call service techs.  But I've had to get a little smart on them since I live in a rural area, and sometimes it can be a wait to get the techs to show up.  I rely on YouTube, the owners manual, and the installation manual to tell me stuff about my system if I have a question.  I won't dive into the inner workings of the unit, but I've had to clear some other issues (cracked condensate drain assembly, faulty intake/exhaust installation).  That installation manual is what clued me in that Hans and Franz screwed up the install back in January 2018.  That's a whole other story; the company that did the installation of our Lennox heat pump over propane furnace aux unit is no longer allowed on my property, and they know it.

As for courses, does a local community college in your area offer basic HVAC classes?

This is just me, but I wouldn't replacing a fully functioning unit.  What I would do, however, is begin to research all of my options so that I would have a good idea of what to execute when the time came.  This is my big regret in hindsight about our HVAC system replacement in January 2018.  Our heat pump compressor failed on a 14 year old unit.  It had a very simple and functional, though very inefficient, aux heat capability that used electric heat strips.  I should have taken my time and researched alternatives and just sucked up the extra electrical bills for a few weeks.  If I had done that, and been patient, I would likely have switched to geothermal.  I have the perfect property for that application.
 Buying refrigerant will be the issue unless you have certification and proper equipment.    As old as your unit is a, new one will have a much higher efficiency .   That being said I don't know if it would offset the cost of a new unit.   You also have to weigh what if it goes completely out at a bad time.  Roly
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#13
  Re: Questions regarding older HVAC by GaryMc (I have a 14-YO Carri...)
Your gas supplier may frown on you doing the work yourself as well. Couple of things: I wouldn't consider a 14 year old system at the end of it's life, but personally I might replace it for ease of mind. My last 2 systems have been Carrier heat pumps with gas back up and frankly they have really been great. But installing a new system also requires some PITA sheet metal work (usually), disposal of the old system (along with the refrigerant issues Roly mentioned), the aforementioned gas leak checks (verified, maybe), and probably 4-5 other things I didn't think of. To me, it's a professional job. But not with the clutz that just visited...or his company. Search around for a different outfit. I just had mine serviced last week, and the checklist I was handed must have had 40 different checks he had to perform. One other thing, a lot of guys get wrapped in warranties...so I mention this, Carrier (and maybe others) have a 10 year parts/labor warranty....or at least they did 4 years ago when my system was installed. You likely won't get warranty with DIY.
I started with absolutely nothing. Now, thanks to years of hard work, careful planning, and perseverance, I find I still have most of it left.
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#14
  Re: Questions regarding older HVAC by GaryMc (I have a 14-YO Carri...)
What you need to do is have  a reasonably accurate idea of system replacement cost. From that, decide what level of repair is reasonable. At 14 years old, any repair that exceeded say 40% of replacement would likely tip the decision that way. 


DIY maintenance and or service. 

Measurements- so it’s 42 angstroms today and 96 tomorrow. So what. Measurements are great tools but they need to be accurate, relevant and they need to be compared to something.   As a homeowner, you don’t have a knowledge or experience base to make comparisons. You could get some basic numbers from the manuals, which I suggest you read anyway, or you build a base. If you are comfortable doing it, an amp draw reading of fans and compressors could be useful if you had a chart of similar readings and a list of operating conditions at the time. Compressor amp draw will not be the same at 98 degrees compared to 74 degrees outside for example.   
  Checking refrigerant levels on a routine basis is more likely to cause problems instead of alerting to one. Every time you connect, you lose refrigerant and increase the risk of a service valve leak. Not a place you should consider going. 
DIY maintenance, change filters and other consumable parts like humidifier pads, do a visual and audible inspection frequently to become familiar with normal. Clean, vac cabinets, fans and indoor coils. Wash outdoor coils. 

I’ll quit now but ask away if you wish.
Blackhat
Common decency is as rare as common sense. I figure there was only a finite amount of both made and its getting shared out among too many folks.


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#15
  Re: RE: Questions regarding older HVAC by blackhat (What you need to do ...)
(11-16-2021, 10:16 AM)blackhat Wrote: What you need to do is have  a reasonably accurate idea of system replacement cost. From that, decide what level of repair is reasonable. At 14 years old, any repair that exceeded say 40% of replacement would likely tip the decision that way. 


DIY maintenance and or service. 

Measurements- so it’s 42 angstroms today and 96 tomorrow. So what. Measurements are great tools but they need to be accurate, relevant and they need to be compared to something.   As a homeowner, you don’t have a knowledge or experience base to make comparisons. You could get some basic numbers from the manuals, which I suggest you read anyway, or you build a base. If you are comfortable doing it, an amp draw reading of fans and compressors could be useful if you had a chart of similar readings and a list of operating conditions at the time. Compressor amp draw will not be the same at 98 degrees compared to 74 degrees outside for example.   
  Checking refrigerant levels on a routine basis is more likely to cause problems instead of alerting to one. Every time you connect, you lose refrigerant and increase the risk of a service valve leak. Not a place you should consider going. 
DIY maintenance, change filters and other consumable parts like humidifier pads, do a visual and audible inspection frequently to become familiar with normal. Clean, vac cabinets, fans and indoor coils. Wash outdoor coils. 

I’ll quit now but ask away if you wish.

Thanks for the info.  Just so everyone knows, I would never try installation of a new unit, and I do service the humidifier myself - cleaning it up and replacing the filter pad every year because of how crappy our water is here, and cleaning out the discharge line and pump.

From the comments, it looks like the routine maintenance is best left to the techs - I will just pay close attention to what they are doing and insist on a detailed report.
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#16
  Re: Questions regarding older HVAC by GaryMc (I have a 14-YO Carri...)
Next time you have a tech out, ask him if he would mind if you watched and asked him a few questions. Also ask if he would go over the checklist with after with a coffee or cold drink. Most appreciate a customer that shows an interest. 10 minutes or so would be reasonable amount of time. Good guys are usually busy.
Blackhat
Common decency is as rare as common sense. I figure there was only a finite amount of both made and its getting shared out among too many folks.


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#17
  Re: Questions regarding older HVAC by GaryMc (I have a 14-YO Carri...)
Years ago my father replaced his 12 yr old heat pump and air handler after 1 service call he decided "it was time to go". We almost came to blows arguing over it, as he didn't really have the money to spare and let the service guy talk him into it.

Had the new one put in, the first year he had 3 service calls. Finally one tech figured out it had a factory leak.

One of the units at my business is 26 years old. When the new tenant came, I had my AC guy come out and "check it". The next day the condenser fan went out. >:|

I'm on my 3rd unit at my house in 16 years.
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#18
  Re: RE: Questions regarding older HVAC by rwe2156 (Years ago my father ...)
(11-17-2021, 10:42 AM)rwe2156 Wrote: Years ago my father replaced his 12 yr old heat pump and air handler after 1 service call he decided "it was time to go".  We almost came to blows arguing over it, as he didn't really have the money to spare and let the service guy talk him into it.

Had the new one put in, the first year he had 3 service calls.  Finally one tech figured out it had a factory leak.

One of the units at my business is 26 years old.  When the new tenant came, I had my AC guy come out and "check it".  The next day the condenser fan went out. >:|

I'm on my 3rd unit at my house in 16 years.

I had somebody out for a service checkup on the furnace yesterday, first time since we bought the place 3 years ago.  27 year old Amana still doing what it does.
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