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Have a rental house, and the tenant called me late today and said the central air unit in the yard is not working.
Stopped over on the way home, and it does nothing, no fan, no condenser, no sound at all. I didn't do much other than look at it and check the circuit breakers which were fine.
Tenants cousin is a HVAC guy and came by to check it out after I left, and said I have to replace the unit, said the condenser is bad. Talked about cutting in cold air returns in the bedrooms as part of his estimate, which is odd. There is a giant cold air return in the hallway upstairs, older house built in the 1950's.
I find what this guy is saying is hard to believe. I always thought if the condenser goes bad the fan will still run. Since nothing happens to the unit outside, perhaps a fuse? A capacitor? I had the entire system checked out last August and it was fine.
Any idea what is going on here? Anyone in Southern Oakland County who wants to take a look at it?
I have an old house with central A/C and no returns upstairs. A/C sucks donkey balls on the second floor--until I put window shakers in the upstairs bedrooms. Now, I don't have to cool the whole house, and the bedrooms are each configurable and cool as wanted/needed. The 2nd floor cold return in the hall won't work very well for the bedrooms--most people close bedroom doors--and you really need returns higher on the walls of the rooms being cooled.
As far as the condenser--hard to tell. I'm assuming he/you checked power to the unit. You're correct in often the fan will run while the condenser is toast. My first stop is making sure the unit has power.
Sounds like your tenant and his cousin are in cahoots. The AC is prolly not keeping it cold enough for the tenant so his d-bag cousin sabotaged it so you would replace it.
Tell him it is a hard and fast rule that you don't use tenant-supplied references for home repair due to previous issues. Unfortunately, you had to adopt a no exceptions policy to this rule and that you're sure his buddy is a great HVAC guy but, you just can't use him.
Then get a professional to come in an assess.
Don't post poop!
I've been looking for an HVAC reference for some time too. My AC doesn't keep up even on moderately hot 80 degree days. Western Oakland County if anyone has a suggestion.
BTW don't call Levine and Sons. They overcharged me big time when my furnace blower went out. I was a new home owner and it was the winter so I paid what they quoted me on a service call. I called around to other HVAC places and got price quotes approximately $400 cheaper. When I called Levine and Sons for a quote they said they wouldn't give a quote over the phone. I then called to complain about the higher fee than competitors and the manager said "oh yeah, I have your receipt right here. My technician charged you incorrectly and here's a $200 refund." The refund was nice but still not comparable and I'm sure I wouldn't have gotten it if I didn't compain.
I would certainly get your own guy to look at this- sounds like they don't like the way it cools the house, so they're making "suggestions" for you- bigger unit with more returns.
I have an older home 1960's, and my outdoor unit has a separate fuse in addition to the breakers in the breaker box. I had similar sounding symptoms once, and my AC guy told me to check the fuses (as a quick fix). They would be somewhere close to the outdoor unit in a box wired to it. There still could be something wrong with it, that would blow the fuse but if your condenser was bad, I would think that it would still kick on when the thermostat told it to.
Tell your tenant that October will be here before he knows it.
For you air conditioner gurus, how much clearance do I need around the condenser? It is 18 inches from the house, 24 inches from another condenser, and a foot from a wood fence. I want to put a shed in front but then there would be things on all four sides less than two feet away. Bad idea or enough room?
Clearance depends on the Manufacturer. If you google your Model number you can get a PDF of the installation manual. Or send me a PM. Is it a Carrier, Trane, Lennox, etc. If you have a model number I can get the info quickly.
2ft is usually just fine.
If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that's a full day. That's a heck of a day.
My AC went dead like that and it was the capacitor. Cost about $128 to replace and has been fine ever since.
So, the OP, just head up to Radio Shack.
Probably a thermostat issue, or something simple. Is the switch on the unit turned off? Could be any number of things. (get your service guy out. Could be simple. Could be complicated. I think they are trying to scam you)
The return air issue is a different story.
Im a big fan of having return air in every room. HOWEVER, if you have good air flow under the doors, it is not a necessity.
You have to look at it like a balloon. If you are trying to put air into a Balloon, it will reach its maximum capacity, and then you cannot put more air in without having a release to let the existing air out.
Generally, in a house like your rental, there is a large, common Return Air Grille on the wall or floor in the Hall. It is designed to have air come from under the doors in the surrounding rooms. You need at least 1" clearance under those doors to get good airflow from the bedrooms to the hall. Here is where the problem sets in:
Bedroom 1 gets 120 CFM of supply air
Bedroom 2 gets 120 CFM of supply air
Bedroom 3 gets 120 CFM of supply air
Room 1 and 2 have their door closed at night, bedroom 3 is open.
If you only have 1" clearance under the door, that is .25sq ft of opening for return air to get back to the Furnace. Or approximately 90 CFM.
Bedroom 1 and 2 are under cooled because there is too much friction (resistance) and the air moves on to bedroom 3 which is then over cooled.
To complicate matters more, your thermostat is probably seeing air from one extreme or the other and reacting accordingly.
MORAL OF THE STORY: Make sure you have enough undercut on your doors so that your air flows correctly. The best way to check this is have the unit running, with all of the bedroom/etc doors closed. Open each door. As you open it, is there a big rush of air coming out? If so, you need to cut your door. If your door blows open, then you need to cut the air down that blows into your hall.
This post has been edited 2 times, most recently by GatorBill 23 months ago
OH, and absolutely, postively take the advice of SeeRockCity and tell your tenant that you have a policy against letting his cousin do this. Call someone you trust and get their opinion.
I had two other HVAC people look at this, and it's true, the condenser is shot. Couldn't even get it to start from the manual start on the unit. Cost me another $140 to get two other opinions.
Estimates were $2,300 and $2,100 to replace the unit. Estimate from the cousin was $1,500 as he is going to do it on the weekend on his time. The cousin is also going to replace the the filter duct on the return to the furnace, and cut in two cold air returns in the bedrooms as part of the $1,500 cost.
I didn't get screwed here, I got a great deal.
Don't count your chickens before the fox is guarding the hen house.
the $140 is worth it, just for the peace of mind. Hopefully the work goes smooth.
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