Air Conditioner Questions: Stop Leak & Qualified Technician

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URSnshn
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Joined: Sun Mar 13, 2016 6:10 pm

Air Conditioner Questions: Stop Leak & Qualified Technician

Post by URSnshn » Fri May 25, 2018 3:42 pm

My air conditioner, serviced near the end of last summer,(I'm in the NE) stopped working and the company that serviced it said I needed a new AC system due to leaks that they said would be too costly to investigate and fix. Furnace was good.

I had a second opinion and found out that the AC unit needs about two #'s of refrigerant and that I could have the refrigerant added.

After I got the second opinion I called back the first company, and asked why adding refrigerant wasn't one of the options givens. The manager said it should have been and that I'd also want to use a stop leak product. It will cost about $450 to do both of these things. $150 for the stop leak product and the balance for the refrigerant.

I am planning on replacing my AC and furnace (about 20 years old - Carrier), however, it would be convenient if I had a little more time to accrue funds, get estimates and do any research I need to do. So I would like to add the refrigerant if it is feasible.

Questions:

1) Is a stop leak product worth it?

2) Can the Carrier Unit be properly serviced by a company that sells Trane products, but services all kinds AC units? I don't know if it is best to have the Carrier Unit serviced by those who sell the units - that said, I'm not confident in the company I've been using to add the refrigerant as they didn't give me all the options to begin with.

3) Is it appropriate to have the AC unit have its yearly annual maintenance if we have the refrigerant added?

4) Any other things I should be thinking about?
Last edited by URSnshn on Mon May 28, 2018 12:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Loik098
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Re: Air Conditioner Questions: Stop Leak & Qualified Technician

Post by Loik098 » Fri May 25, 2018 3:56 pm

URSnshn wrote:
Fri May 25, 2018 3:42 pm

After I got the second opinion I called back the first company, and asked why adding refrigerant wasn't one of the options givens. The manager said it should have been and that I'd also want to use a stop leak product. It will cost about $450 to do both of these things. $150 for the stop leak product and the balance for the refrigerant.

4) Any other things I should be thinking about?
My first thought would be not to use the first company for this fix. I don't trust anyone who doesn't give me all my (usually cheaper) options up-front, and unfortunately, this practice is extremely common. So common, in fact, that one of the big HVAC companies around here feels the need to distinguish itself on radio/TV ads as being "the honest guys and gals."

Chances are, they'd get halfway through the fix then "decide" that you need a new system anyway.

CRC301
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Re: Air Conditioner Questions: Stop Leak & Qualified Technician

Post by CRC301 » Fri May 25, 2018 4:18 pm

Stop leak is not a silver bullet fix (even temporarily). Depending on the magnitude of the leak(s) it may work for 1 year or it may work for a week. Since you're only down 2 lbs and this is the first time detecting, I would bet you probably have a slow leak so I would also bet it would cover you for at least the next cooling season (or it might not :| ). Our HVAC had a small leak in it and we re-charged it 2-3 times over a five-year period before replacing the entire system. You probably have the old refrigerant that they don't make anymore (R-22 I think?). That stuff is only going to go up in price from here out. It was like $80/lb when we first recharged our system and the last time was like $120/lb.

If all the repair people are doing is adding refrigerant, any competent HVAC tech should be able to do that on any HVAC system. They are all fairly similar in operation in regards to the refrigerant.

What do they do for your yearly AC service? Clean the outside/inside coils and drain pan/pipes? That is up to you but it might be OK to skip it if you really are going to install the system next year.

Speaking of installation, sometimes the companies may offer better deals in the off-season. Also, does your system also have a furnace? If so and it is over 10years old, you might as well replace the entire HVAC unit (indoor/outdoor AC equipment as well a the blower/furnace).

2comma
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Re: Air Conditioner Questions: Stop Leak & Qualified Technician

Post by 2comma » Fri May 25, 2018 4:29 pm

I started watching HVAC repair guys on youtube because I wanted to be able to diagnose and fix a few simple problems (like replacing the capacitor). It's been a while and I forget quick but it's pretty common for customers to want to just add gas. I don't recall any of them adding a stop leak, in fact I think one or two didn't recommend it and I think it was because it can cause the compressor to fail. I seem to remember them adding a 1-1.5 pounds and making comments that 1.5 was kind of a lot. I think it depends on how quick your loosing gas and how much the gas you need costs per pound (the old stuff is getting expensive). Of course this isn't doing the ozone layer any favors but there aren't any regulations on small residential units like there are on large commercial units.
If I am stupid I will pay.

bob60014
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Location: The Land Beyond ORD

Re: Air Conditioner Questions: Stop Leak & Qualified Technician

Post by bob60014 » Fri May 25, 2018 4:40 pm

@20 years old, just bite the bullet and replace it all. You're on the "nickel n dime" road anyway.

Dudley
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Re: Air Conditioner Questions: Stop Leak & Qualified Technician

Post by Dudley » Fri May 25, 2018 5:21 pm

URSnshn wrote:
Fri May 25, 2018 3:42 pm
I had a second opinion and found out that the AC unit needs about two #'s of refrigerant and that I could have the refrigerant added.
I believe it is illegal to just add refrigerant without attempting to find and fix leaks (not difficult).
(Beware : Vast majority of people in retail HVAC industry are crooks and/or uneducated/uneducatable.)

Teague
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Re: Air Conditioner Questions: Stop Leak & Qualified Technician

Post by Teague » Fri May 25, 2018 5:47 pm

The problem with "stop leak" products, IMHO, is that they are generally asked to do the impossible: After introduction into a fluid (includes gasses) system under pressure, they are supposed to seal holes that are not supposed to be there, without obstructing any small passages that are supposed to be there. And without doing anything else that is detrimental, short or long term. That's a pretty tall order unless your product is a suspension of trained nanobots. I've never had much luck with any of them for any purpose, and have sometimes regretted using one.
Semper Augustus

Spirit Rider
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Re: Air Conditioner Questions: Stop Leak & Qualified Technician

Post by Spirit Rider » Fri May 25, 2018 6:53 pm

Dudley wrote:
Fri May 25, 2018 5:21 pm
URSnshn wrote:
Fri May 25, 2018 3:42 pm
I had a second opinion and found out that the AC unit needs about two #'s of refrigerant and that I could have the refrigerant added.
I believe it is illegal to just add refrigerant without attempting to find and fix leaks (not difficult).
(Beware : Vast majority of people in retail HVAC industry are crooks and/or uneducated/uneducatable.)
You believe wrong when it comes to residential systems. The EPA does not require leak detection and/or repair on systems with < 50# of refrigerant. Unless you live in an enormous mansion, you are not getting anywhere near that in a residential system.

Also, it can be very difficult to find slower leaks in residential systems

Big Dog
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Re: Air Conditioner Questions: Stop Leak & Qualified Technician

Post by Big Dog » Fri May 25, 2018 7:07 pm

has anyone provided an estimate for a leak check? Supposedly, not that difficult.

As an aside, I'm a big fan of Hvac-talk for insights into home ac:

http://hvac-talk.com/vbb/forumdisplay.p ... ntial-HVAC

URSnshn
Posts: 161
Joined: Sun Mar 13, 2016 6:10 pm

Re: Air Conditioner Questions: Stop Leak & Qualified Technician

Post by URSnshn » Mon May 28, 2018 12:43 pm

OP here - thank you all for your responses. Yes, I am planning on replacing the system, BUT would like to wait until fall or nearer the end of the year, both to accrue funds and to get estimates, etc.

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