Author Topic: HVAC Recommendations  (Read 3817 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Online GoingMyWay

  • Posts: 2286
HVAC Recommendations
« on: May 04, 2022, 06:05 PM »
Our zone 1 (first 2 levels) AC stopped working last summer.  We currently have a 14 years old Goodman gas furnace and 1.5 ton AC (running R22).  A contractor I emailed estimated that it would cost about $1500 to fix assuming it's a leak in the A coil.

I got these 2 estimates to replace the whole system:

Caffi Services


Trademasters




They're both between $6500-8000 and will require a crane to lift the condenser onto the 4th floor roof.

The zone 2 system is a heat pump and is also 14 years old.  11 years ago I had the A coil replaced.  I had actually asked for estimates to replace both systems since a crane is going to be required either way, but that's going to be $16,500 - $18,000.  That's too much to spend at one time.

I don't think it makes a lot of sense to fix a 14 year old system.  I've heard that Goodman systems only last about 10 years so I feel like we were already running on borrowed time.  My friend said I should just fix it since it's significantly cheaper and see how long it lasts, if something else breaks worry about it at that time.  $6500-8000 is a lot of money to shell out so $1500 does sound a lot better to me.

My understanding is that a new refrigerant is going to be coming out in 2023 so I wonder if I should wait for that or just go with an R410 system or fix what I have.

Does anyone have any AC system recommendations or local HVAC contractor recommendations in the Northern Virginia area?

Thanks!
Inquiring Minds Want to Know

TS55, CT26, RO150, CXS, ETS 150/3, ETS EC 150/5, MFT/3, TS75, DF500, DTS400, OF1400, CT SYS

Festool USA does not pre-approve the contents of this website nor endorse the application or use of any Festool product in any way other than in the manner described in the Festool Instruction Manual. To reduce the risk of serious injury and/or damage to your Festool product, always read, understand and follow all warnings and instructions in your Festool product's Instruction Manual. Although Festool strives for accuracy in the website material, the website may contain inaccuracies. Festool makes no representations about the accuracy, reliability, completeness or timeliness of the material on this website or about the results to be obtained from using the website. Festool and its affiliates cannot be responsible for improper postings or your reliance on the website's material. Your use of any material contained on this website is entirely at your own risk. The content contained on this site is provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute professional advice.


Offline todd_fuller

  • Posts: 32
Re: HVAC Recommendations
« Reply #1 on: August 11, 2022, 10:12 PM »
I live in Texas and the climate it very different so I cannot give a good suggestion. I did a HVAC replace a couple years ago and the only comment I can provide is to take the AHRI # for whatever system they are recommending and see if there are other combinations that have better efficiencies.

For instance, I wanted a HP because we have a lot of solar and it does us no good in our cool months with only a gas furnace. It was like $800 extra to go to a HP w/ less efficient gas furnace. The contractor didn't even know that there was a system with HP + 2-stage gas furnace. He was trying to sell us HP + electric backup heat.

Offline Bob D.

  • Inactive Member
  • *
  • Posts: 3014
    • My Cordless Workshop
Re: HVAC Recommendations
« Reply #2 on: August 12, 2022, 07:56 AM »
I wouldn't put any money into an R22 system. Replace it.

Did you consider ductless mini-split heat pump systems and just use your ductwork with the furnace as backup heating.
There are heat pumps that work down to zero so you should be able to use this most of the Winter in VA.

You could get two mini-splits, one for sleeping area and one for living area. Each can have multiple heads or air handlers, up to five I believe on some systems. This gives you individual control in each room. You can get ceiling mounted air handlers that take no wall space.
-----
It's a table saw, do you know where your fingers are?

Offline Mini Me

  • Posts: 376
Re: HVAC Recommendations
« Reply #3 on: August 12, 2022, 10:08 AM »
After extensive experience with central systems I would never go back to them because if the central unit fails the whole house is affected. Times have changed and split units have come of age, I built my house 20 years ago with central ducted cooling and there is no way I would do that today.

Offline Holzhacker

  • Posts: 1059
    • www.aic-chicago.com
Re: HVAC Recommendations
« Reply #4 on: August 12, 2022, 10:42 AM »
While I consider the pricing to be high, it is commensurate with what guys around here are charging currently. I would try to hammer them down a bit on price but that's me. A grand for an A coil is BS. The mark up on the condenser is a bit much but it sounds like they are building the crane cost into the pricing.
I don't know what your typical life spans are in your area. In Chicago we run on +/- 25 year life spans for furnaces and AC. At 14 years old for us it would be a fix, not a replacement. Who knows what efficiencies and systems will be in another 10 years.
Down in the Panhandle they look at 10-15 year life spans.
I personally like mini-splits but around here they have not caught on. I always tell clients if you are going to do a mini-split system its important to think about how long you are staying in the house and how mini-splits are viewed in your area. If you are going to stay in the house for a long time, who cares. If you are selling in a few years, you might want to think about your local market. I've had a couple clients walk from houses because there was a mini split system. Like I mentioned, they just aren't popular around here.
Again, I don't know your climate but around here a 14 SEER is bottom of the barrel, entry level efficiency. 16 to 18 is viewed as a better more mid range efficiency system. I talked with a guy in FL who said their minimum is a 23 SEER.
Given the potential for improved technology in coming years and only 14 years old I would fix.
"The Code is not a ceiling to reach but a floor to work up from"

Online GoingMyWay

  • Posts: 2286
Re: HVAC Recommendations
« Reply #5 on: August 12, 2022, 10:52 AM »
We ended up replacing both R22 systems with Trane systems for a cost of $18k.  I know other neighbors used the same HVAC company and it cost them maybe $3k - $3500 less 3-4 years ago, but apparently the prices have gone up on everything.  The crane rental used to be cheaper too.

I hadn't considered a mini-split system because I didn't think we had a suitable location to run the lineset or mount the condensing unit.  Plus I'm not sure it would have been allowed by the HOA anyway.
Inquiring Minds Want to Know

TS55, CT26, RO150, CXS, ETS 150/3, ETS EC 150/5, MFT/3, TS75, DF500, DTS400, OF1400, CT SYS

Offline pixelated

  • Posts: 386
Re: HVAC Recommendations
« Reply #6 on: August 12, 2022, 10:55 AM »
I switched out my forced air furnace for a mini split system 3 years ago. Through the winter, the house is far more comfortable than it ever was with the furnace, and there is cooling for the summer.
For the heating season, the electricity is cheaper than the propane the furnace used, + if we add solar we can make our own "fuel" for running it.

Offline Bob D.

  • Inactive Member
  • *
  • Posts: 3014
    • My Cordless Workshop
Re: HVAC Recommendations
« Reply #7 on: August 12, 2022, 11:10 AM »
"I hadn't considered a mini-split system because I didn't think we had a suitable location to run the lineset or mount the condensing unit.  Plus I'm not sure it would have been allowed by the HOA anyway."

I'm not sure what HOA rules would have to do with this type system. There is no additional equipment outside the home. You have a pair of lines running from the mini-split or from your current condenser unit. You said you have two conventional AC units now, nothing would change except you'd have two heat pumps in place of two AC units. A heat pump looks identical from the outside.
-----
It's a table saw, do you know where your fingers are?

Online GoingMyWay

  • Posts: 2286
Re: HVAC Recommendations
« Reply #8 on: August 12, 2022, 11:29 AM »
Ah sorry I was confused.  I was thinking about the wall mounted condensers that I've seen people install to heat/cool their garages.  Those are usually mounted to the wall.  I didn't know that mini-splits could use the existing linesets.
Inquiring Minds Want to Know

TS55, CT26, RO150, CXS, ETS 150/3, ETS EC 150/5, MFT/3, TS75, DF500, DTS400, OF1400, CT SYS

Offline Bob D.

  • Inactive Member
  • *
  • Posts: 3014
    • My Cordless Workshop
Re: HVAC Recommendations
« Reply #9 on: August 12, 2022, 11:54 AM »
It doesn't use the existing line set but it looks no different.

Yes, the interior, wall-mounted half of a split system would be ugly for most areas in the home but as I said there are other styles which are less intrusive.
-----
It's a table saw, do you know where your fingers are?

Online GoingMyWay

  • Posts: 2286
Re: HVAC Recommendations
« Reply #10 on: August 12, 2022, 01:07 PM »
Oh so it would require a new lineset?  I don't see how a new lineset could easily be run without tearing up the ceiling and walls.
Inquiring Minds Want to Know

TS55, CT26, RO150, CXS, ETS 150/3, ETS EC 150/5, MFT/3, TS75, DF500, DTS400, OF1400, CT SYS

Offline Bob D.

  • Inactive Member
  • *
  • Posts: 3014
    • My Cordless Workshop
Re: HVAC Recommendations
« Reply #11 on: August 12, 2022, 01:28 PM »
Oh so it would require a new lineset?  I don't see how a new lineset could easily be run without tearing up the ceiling and walls.

Neither can I from 300 miles away. :-) But your HVAC contractor can figure it out.
-----
It's a table saw, do you know where your fingers are?

Offline Stan Tillinghast

  • Posts: 301
Re: HVAC Recommendations
« Reply #12 on: August 12, 2022, 03:48 PM »
I've just been looking into HVAC replacement, and was staying in a VBRO unit that must have had a two-stage compressor; it was quieter and much less obtrusive, but ran more of the time. I decided I would look into replacing our current unit with something like that.

Reading up on that, I would definitely look at a two-stage compressor. 80% of the time it can run at the low level, is quieter and more efficient. But I'm a newbie at this, would be interested in others' comments.

Another issue mentioned is a change in refrigerant in 2023, which would make me lean toward not doing a replacement this year, as the system is working OK.
Für uns...ist das Beste gerade gut genug!

Online dicktill

  • Posts: 371
Re: HVAC Recommendations
« Reply #13 on: August 12, 2022, 04:22 PM »
After extensive experience with central systems I would never go back to them because if the central unit fails the whole house is affected. Times have changed and split units have come of age, I built my house 20 years ago with central ducted cooling and there is no way I would do that today.

@ Mini Me,

Please help me understand this decision. If you already have duct work to all the rooms in your house, why would you not want to use that to evenly spread out the cool air. It seems to me that with a mini split system, unless you have an indoor unit in every room, it will be much like trying to cool off an entire house with one (or two or ...) window air conditioner(s), and where the unit is will be quite cold as you are trying to disperse that air to the other rooms, even if you run the central distribution fan. I have this very situation right now and am trying to decide between central or mini split.

Thanks, Dick

Offline Mini Me

  • Posts: 376
Re: HVAC Recommendations
« Reply #14 on: August 13, 2022, 11:05 PM »
Firstly, I am not familiar with US terminology used in HVAC discussions such as capacity in tons etc. Simply put, if a central unit breaks down the whole house is affected, it happened with one of our two systems and we decided individual wall (not window) units was the way to go as it took away the risk of the whole house being affected. If your winter is mild they work well and only take a few hours to install and cost pennies to run. BTW I have no idea what a lineset is so please ignore my comments if they don't apply. Minisplits are a relatively new thing in the US from what I can gather and they don't work in temps below zero.

Online dicktill

  • Posts: 371
Re: HVAC Recommendations
« Reply #15 on: August 14, 2022, 12:37 AM »
Firstly, I am not familiar with US terminology used in HVAC discussions such as capacity in tons etc. Simply put, if a central unit breaks down the whole house is affected, it happened with one of our two systems and we decided individual wall (not window) units was the way to go as it took away the risk of the whole house being affected. If your winter is mild they work well and only take a few hours to install and cost pennies to run. BTW I have no idea what a lineset is so please ignore my comments if they don't apply. Minisplits are a relatively new thing in the US from what I can gather and they don't work in temps below zero.

I don't know for sure, but I suspect that GoingMyWay is using the term "lineset" to refer to the two refrigerant lines between the indoor and outdoor units.

I found this definition of a ton of cooling on the internet (hey, I learned something too!):

"One ton" of cooling capacity, historically, referred to the cooling capacity of a ton of ice.

Re-stated we can define one ton of cooling capacity as the amount of heat energy absorbed in the melting of one ton of ice over a 24-hour period.

One ton of cooling capacity is the same as 12,000 BTU's per hour of cooling capacity or 288,000 BTUs of cooling capacity provided over a period of 24 hours (12,000 x 24 hours = 288,000).


Back to my system: I already have a fully ducted forced-air furnace fired by natural gas for all my heating needs, so I'm only adding an air conditioner system for cooling, and I don't need a huge amount of that because our house is in the woods and well shaded. But I would like what little air conditioning we do need to be well distributed throughout the house, and hence the desire to go with a central air system. As I see it, Installing a bunch of mini-splits would be costlier, and installing only one or two requires running the central fan to try to distribute the flow, and it still does the job poorly. What am I missing?




Offline Bob D.

  • Inactive Member
  • *
  • Posts: 3014
    • My Cordless Workshop
Re: HVAC Recommendations
« Reply #16 on: August 14, 2022, 11:59 AM »
Someone was concerned about having the wall mounted air handler. I tried to explain there are alternatives. I found this which shows the options for multi-zone splits available from one company. Other brands offer similar options. On a multi-zone system you have one condenser that connects to 3 or more air handlers inside. The air handlers can be a mix of types/styles.

https://mrcool.com/wp-content/dox_repo/mc-oly-mz-br-en-01.pdf

If you already have ductwork in place the only advantage this offers is individual room control. You can heat one room and have AC running in the adjacent room. Hard to do that with most home AC or heat pumps.

In commercial installations like office spaces, schools, or hotels it's done all the time. Usually a 3 pipe hot/chilled/common return hydronic system with a mixing valve modulated by a thermostat in each room to control temperature plus a fan speed control.
-----
It's a table saw, do you know where your fingers are?

Online Yardbird

  • Posts: 400
Re: HVAC Recommendations
« Reply #17 on: August 14, 2022, 01:51 PM »
Someone was concerned about having the wall mounted air handler. I tried to explain there are alternatives. I found this which shows the options for multi-zone splits available from one company. Other brands offer similar options. On a multi-zone system you have one condenser that connects to 3 or more air handlers inside. The air handlers can be a mix of types/styles.

https://mrcool.com/wp-content/dox_repo/mc-oly-mz-br-en-01.pdf

The link did not work for me but I just Googled it and found the Mrcool site.  I am interested in this for an additional and to supplement my upstairs which has never been correct.  Anyway, thank you Bob D. for this information.  There is only one retailer in Ohio about 100 miles away but I plan to go talk to him and find out if this will work for me.  I tried to talk to some local contractors about installing what they sell, just have not gotten very far with them.  I understand that, remodeling raises more questions than replacement or new construction, and they would rather I have my checkbook out than my notebook with questions.

I see the lines are 25', 50', 75' and so forth.  I assume you cannot cut the lines since they are charged. So if I only need 30', do I just snake the rest inside a cavity in the wall?

Again, thanks for the info, and I do plan to go visit the one representative in Ohio.




Offline Bob D.

  • Inactive Member
  • *
  • Posts: 3014
    • My Cordless Workshop
Re: HVAC Recommendations
« Reply #18 on: August 14, 2022, 04:47 PM »
"I see the lines are 25', 50', 75' and so forth.  I assume you cannot cut the lines since they are charged. So if I only need 30', do I just snake the rest inside a cavity in the wall?"

I believe they also have a 16 foot lineset. But you are correct you can not cut the pre-charges lines. They are once on and they stay on; not made for repeated removal and installs. I believe they want you to keep excess line coiled and place it flat on the ground next to the condenser. So no, you can't stuff it in the wall or ceiling.

Personally I would not like that. Depending on where the condenser is sited this would look ugly and unacceptable for 99% of installs. Hidden out back behind your garage shop maybe not so bad but personally I still would not like it. I think if it was orientated vertically it would act like a trap which could lead to compressor damage.
-----
It's a table saw, do you know where your fingers are?

Offline Peter Kelly

  • Posts: 185
Re: HVAC Recommendations
« Reply #19 on: August 14, 2022, 04:52 PM »
Those Mr Cool units are just rebranded mid range Mideas with a proprietary pre-charged line set system, nothing special. You'd probably be better served buying a Daikin or Mitsubishi then DIY-ing the install. At the end, just have an AC tech come out to trim the lines to the appropriate length and vacuum down the system before charging. Shouldn't take more than an hour.

When the Mr Cool DIY unit runs into issues down the line, it'll be near impossible to find anyone to fix it or even re-charge the system if there's a leak. Most HVAC guys won't touch them.

Offline pixelated

  • Posts: 386
Re: HVAC Recommendations
« Reply #20 on: August 14, 2022, 07:03 PM »
Firstly, I am not familiar with US terminology used in HVAC discussions such as capacity in tons etc. Simply put, if a central unit breaks down the whole house is affected, it happened with one of our two systems and we decided individual wall (not window) units was the way to go as it took away the risk of the whole house being affected. If your winter is mild they work well and only take a few hours to install and cost pennies to run. BTW I have no idea what a lineset is so please ignore my comments if they don't apply. Minisplits are a relatively new thing in the US from what I can gather and they don't work in temps below zero.


Fujitsu and Mitsubishi, and presumably others make mini splits that provide effective heat down to -15 F/-26 C without using heating elements. Heat pump technology has come a long way.

I went through a bit of a leap of faith when we bought ours, but the claim is real. Residential mini splits are relatively new here, but I see more of them all the time.


Offline Bob D.

  • Inactive Member
  • *
  • Posts: 3014
    • My Cordless Workshop
Re: HVAC Recommendations
« Reply #21 on: August 14, 2022, 08:45 PM »
To be clear I'm not pushing the Mr. Cool system, I just came across that in my search as an example of a mini-split.

And I agree the line can be trimmed to length, their manual instructs you to coil up the extra tubing in the manner I stated. That's what I got from reading through the manual. But once you do that (trim the lines) there is no need to buy the pre-charged lineset, just get some ACR tubing and run it normally, evacuate the system, and charge. And once you remove the pre-charged lines which is what makes it a DIY setup you might as well get a regular mini-split, but you'll pay quite a bit more than what their systems go for. Costco sells the Mr. Cool line as do many other retailers, so if anyone is looking at one of these shop around.
-----
It's a table saw, do you know where your fingers are?

Offline Joelm

  • Posts: 189
Re: HVAC Recommendations
« Reply #22 on: August 14, 2022, 09:07 PM »
Firstly, I am not familiar with US terminology used in HVAC discussions such as capacity in tons etc. Simply put, if a central unit breaks down the whole house is affected, it happened with one of our two systems and we decided individual wall (not window) units was the way to go as it took away the risk of the whole house being affected. If your winter is mild they work well and only take a few hours to install and cost pennies to run. BTW I have no idea what a lineset is so please ignore my comments if they don't apply. Minisplits are a relatively new thing in the US from what I can gather and they don't work in temps below zero.


Fujitsu and Mitsubishi, and presumably others make mini splits that provide effective heat down to -15 F/-26 C without using heating elements. Heat pump technology has come a long way.

I went through a bit of a leap of faith when we bought ours, but the claim is real. Residential mini splits are relatively new here, but I see more of them all the time.

We did the same last year with Mitsubishi Zuba heat pump. The house was noticeably warmer last winter. Even when we hit -40C with the windchill. It is nice not being on natural gas. The only gas in our whole house is for our gas fireplace that we keep for ambiance and in case of power outages.

Offline Peter Kelly

  • Posts: 185
Re: HVAC Recommendations
« Reply #23 on: August 17, 2022, 05:57 PM »
Firstly, I am not familiar with US terminology used in HVAC discussions such as capacity in tons etc. Simply put, if a central unit breaks down the whole house is affected, it happened with one of our two systems and we decided individual wall (not window) units was the way to go as it took away the risk of the whole house being affected. If your winter is mild they work well and only take a few hours to install and cost pennies to run. BTW I have no idea what a lineset is so please ignore my comments if they don't apply. Minisplits are a relatively new thing in the US from what I can gather and they don't work in temps below zero.


Fujitsu and Mitsubishi, and presumably others make mini splits that provide effective heat down to -15 F/-26 C without using heating elements. Heat pump technology has come a long way.
There actually is a heating element in the pan of the condenser to keep it from icing up when it gets really cold. It's what separates the better units that really can operate in low temps from the cheaper ones that effectively stop working when it gets to the 30F to 40F range.

Offline Coen

  • Posts: 1984
Re: HVAC Recommendations
« Reply #24 on: August 18, 2022, 09:30 AM »
Someone was concerned about having the wall mounted air handler. I tried to explain there are alternatives. I found this which shows the options for multi-zone splits available from one company. Other brands offer similar options. On a multi-zone system you have one condenser that connects to 3 or more air handlers inside. The air handlers can be a mix of types/styles.

https://mrcool.com/wp-content/dox_repo/mc-oly-mz-br-en-01.pdf

If you already have ductwork in place the only advantage this offers is individual room control. You can heat one room and have AC running in the adjacent room. Hard to do that with most home AC or heat pumps.

In commercial installations like office spaces, schools, or hotels it's done all the time. Usually a 3 pipe hot/chilled/common return hydronic system with a mixing valve modulated by a thermostat in each room to control temperature plus a fan speed control.

I don't think most multi-splits allow simultaneous heating and cooling. Afaik it's either one of them in the entire system.

I hadn't considered a mini-split system because I didn't think we had a suitable location to run the lineset or mount the condensing unit.  Plus I'm not sure it would have been allowed by the HOA anyway.

Land of the free, enslaved to the HOA, loololol.  [big grin]

I honestly can't comprehend how a country to allows freedom of speech, freedom to be armed keeps around HOA's that dictate your property.
« Last Edit: August 18, 2022, 09:33 AM by Coen »

Offline Coen

  • Posts: 1984
Re: HVAC Recommendations
« Reply #25 on: August 18, 2022, 09:37 AM »
Someone was concerned about having the wall mounted air handler. I tried to explain there are alternatives. I found this which shows the options for multi-zone splits available from one company. Other brands offer similar options. On a multi-zone system you have one condenser that connects to 3 or more air handlers inside. The air handlers can be a mix of types/styles.

https://mrcool.com/wp-content/dox_repo/mc-oly-mz-br-en-01.pdf

The link did not work for me but I just Googled it and found the Mrcool site.  I am interested in this for an additional and to supplement my upstairs which has never been correct.  Anyway, thank you Bob D. for this information.  There is only one retailer in Ohio about 100 miles away but I plan to go talk to him and find out if this will work for me.  I tried to talk to some local contractors about installing what they sell, just have not gotten very far with them.  I understand that, remodeling raises more questions than replacement or new construction, and they would rather I have my checkbook out than my notebook with questions.

I see the lines are 25', 50', 75' and so forth.  I assume you cannot cut the lines since they are charged. So if I only need 30', do I just snake the rest inside a cavity in the wall?

Again, thanks for the info, and I do plan to go visit the one representative in Ohio.

The link works if you paste it in again when you get the error. It's a site that doesn't allow external deeplinking. However, if you come from their error page... it's not external anymore eh.  [tongue]

DIY install of split AC, even the ones with pre-filled lines and vacuumed condensor might be a violation of the law, at least in Europe it is. I would go with a real set with piping cut to size and professional commissioning.