Going to start looking for a new HVAC system. General Questions.

DsqxAugust 18, 2014

Hi, Please feel free to skip to the bottom for my questions.

About two years ago I notice my 7 year old (at the time) air conditioner wasn't cooling and was blowing out room temperature air. I did some research at the time and came to the conclusion that it was a freon leak issue. I called a local HVAC company to come out to see if they could fix the leak and the person quoted me $200 to find and find the leak. He connected a air pressure? machine to the line and checked for leaks for nearly 3 hours. After the 3 hours pasted he said it all looked normal and he couldn't notice a leak. He said he could add freon to the system and it could last a few months or years depending on the size of the leak. I told him that if the leak was so small that he couldn't notice a change in his machine that I'll take the risk for the remaining of the year. It ended up costing $750 for everything included (I know now I over paid) and he said if it leaks out to give him a call again. After about 5 hours my system started to make the same gargling noise at the indoor evaporator coil. I called him and he came out and filled the system with more freon for free. He said it should be good now since a "screw was loose". Long story short it leaked after another few hours and he said there was nothing he could do about it and I was out $750

A few days after that ordeal I called a friend of the family to come and check out my HVAC unit. He told me the same thing the first guy told me but said there was a temporary fix but he wouldn't recommend it since they don't use it at his company that he works for. It was a sealant that's made for sealing leaks for HVAC systems. I told him to add it since I was planning on changing my system anyways and I just wanted it to make it through the year. He bought the sealant for $45 and added the freon for $50. The system worked flawlessly for the whole year so I didn't bother changing it out. It worked great for two years until this year. My system leaked again about 3 months ago this year and I found a different guy to come and do the same thing for $225. This time it only lasted 3 months so I have decided the time has come to replace my system. I have a few questions to ask before I find someone to do this

My questions are:

I have a 3.5 ton system in a 3600 soft house. What should I expect to pay for a replacement for both heating and cooling elements? I've seen anywhere from $2500 to $15,000. That's quite the range.

What's included when I buy a new air conditioner and heater? I get different answers when I google.

This post was edited by Dsqx on Mon, Aug 18, 14 at 14:27

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I'm in the process of looking for a complete new system (condenser and furnace, possibly new ductwork) and I can tell you the quotes will vary widely. Depends on what brand they are quoting, how high their labor costs, and the entire scope of work. Make sure you are comparing apples to apples to see if you are getting a fair price for your area. You need to get as many quotes as possible that give you confidence you are making the right decision (at least 3). I would also ask them to do a load calculation to see if a 3.5 ton is right for your 3600 sq/ft home. That seems small for such large sq/footage but I know there are other considerations so it may be sized correctly.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2014 at 4:23PM
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What size, brand, model, efficiency, age is your existing furnace?

I agree that 3 1/2 ton AC condenser is probably undersized.

What is your location?

Post back.


    Bookmark   August 18, 2014 at 4:41PM
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In response to your questions, I would expect to pay in the $7000 - $10,000 range for a complete furnace and AC condenser replacement for you size house. It could also be higher if you start adding a humidifier and electronic air cleaner, zoning, etc.

A complete system includes a furnace, indoor coil, AC condenser, thermostat, and line set. Duct work should also be inspected for possible leaks or if it is undersized. This is an additional expense.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2014 at 5:27PM
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Thanks for the relies. My existing air conditioner and furnace is a Bryant mode brandl. It's less then 9 years old and and the filters have been changed every 3-4 weeks. I'm located in NE Indiana zone 5B. I always thought it was such a small AC unit for the size of the house. I was told by the builder and the first HVAC technician that it was appropriate for the house. I live in a subdivision and all the other homes have the same similar sized unit.

Model# CK5BXA036017AAAA

Edit: I forgot the note that the AC system has never had a issue cooling my house. A few years ago we had a couple of days of 100ð weather and the air conditioner cooled perfectly. I'm not sure if this was relevant but just thought I'd add.

This post was edited by Dsqx on Mon, Aug 18, 14 at 17:46

    Bookmark   August 18, 2014 at 5:41PM
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Can't advise if you don't answer my question about existing furnace.


    Bookmark   August 18, 2014 at 6:01PM
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Sorry Tiger, I must have misread your question.

* 9 Years Old
* Brand - Bryant
* Model # 310AAV042090ABJA
* I believe it's 85%

Sticker says 88,000 input, 71,000 output.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2014 at 6:20PM
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80% eff furnace...appears to have a 3 1/2 ton rated blower which would limit you to a 3 1/2 ton AC condenser with existing furnace.


    Bookmark   August 18, 2014 at 7:02PM
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Things to do & check before thinking about buying a new system.

First, do a load-calc. & check the duct system & airflow CFM.

Refer U to a Blog...

Here is a link that might be useful: checking A/C performance

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 11:42AM
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If the 3.5 T system has been good for 7 years. don't worry about undersize or load calc. Those are for a new house without any history data to go by, so they have to estimate the load (estimate is the word, not fact) to start somewhere. I have built houses with 3.5 T AC from 2000sf to 5000sf, it all depends on the location, direction, insulation, fundation, roof, lakeside, forest side,country or city environment, near mountain or hill, next door building, yearly wind speed, etc.... at least 50 factors. and still can not get it right.... Now you have 7 years of real data, forget about those estimates or rules of calc. , go for a 3.5 T.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 2:08PM
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Can you post the model number of the condenser?

Does the 3600 sq. feet include the basement?

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 8:45PM
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For Mike

The model number of condenser was posted by OP on Monday the 18th. Looks like a 3 ton to me.


    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 8:55PM
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Model# CK5BXA036017AAAA

I did a search and this appears to be a Bryant coil model.

I am trying to understand how a single 3 or 3.5 ton condenser can cool a 3600 sq. ft. house perfectly when it is 100 degrees outside. Something doesn't seem right.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 10:29PM
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I have a half-ton window unit that with large floor type fan cools 1200-sf per/ton in 100ðF weather.

On July 18, 2011, as reported on WI Public Radio; very near me, Prairie du Chien, WI had a Heat Index of 127ðF, yes, 127ðF Heat Index! All shades pulled, etc., my little Half-Ton first floor A/C cooled all rooms to 76ðF or 77ðF & and rarely above 55% relative humidity; with good air movement, -- totally comfortable all day.

The same for the up-stair's less than Half-Ton window A/C, cools my bedroom, hallway & bathroom; I use a Wind Machine 3300 to move the air throughout the rooms, both on first & 2nd floors.

If everything is design-engineered perfectly it is possible that a 3-Ton A/C could cool a 3600-sf home.

Here is a link that might be useful: Optimizing a Room A/C

    Bookmark   August 20, 2014 at 7:55AM
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Possible yes, likely no.

Like Mike, I would be interested in knowing if any of the 3600 sq ft includes basement area below grade.

And Mike is correct. That is an evap coil model number. My bad. We need the model number of the outside AC condenser from OP.


    Bookmark   August 20, 2014 at 8:09AM
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