Stop Gap for heat pump freon leak was a mistake?
My 10 yr old heat pump coils iced up pretty bad and the compressor fan stopped spinning. one company said there was a leak, the system was old and should be replaced at a cost of $9k plus $1000 to hire a crane to hoist the compressor to the roof (and not take away old compressor).
Of course I freaked.
Another company chipped away all the ice on the coils and the compressor fan started to spin. I watched; he did nothing else to get the compressor to start working again. He said the coil inside the air handler had a leak but that it could be so small that he recommended using stop gap and adding freon. He said in his experience the stop gap always solved the problem. I know now from reading this forum that I should've made him find leak and try to repair it.
The heat pump cooled very well for the past 6 wks; in fact it was freezing. Now, at the same temperature, it is running less cool; instead of freezing, it is comfortably cool. Cool air is still coming from the vent/register.
I'm assuming the freon is leaking b/c the stop gap didn't work. Is it possible that there is another reason?
Can a leak still be found and repaired if stop gap has already been applied? If the repair man discovers freon is leaking, how can I be sure he is telling me the truth?
Should I buy another heat pump? I really can't afford it and don't want to buy it on credit. I have excellent credit but the only debt I have is my mortgage and I want to keep it that way.
Also should be noted that I can cool the house comfortably with portable a/c units that I already possess. If I stop using the heat pump now, will the freon stop leaking so that I can make it through the upcoming winter, at which time my finances should allow me to purchase a new one (only if really, truly necessary - I'm currently unemployed, living on savings and renting out rooms in my house).
You all seem really knowledgable; I appreciate any advice!