Forum Thread

Installing my own home A/C

dealgate 6,368 1,085 April 29, 2016 at 07:07 AM
I just got a ridiculous quote to replace my leaking 15 year old home attic A/C/Heat unit at $14k. I looked up the unit and I can get all the parts (Bryant 2 ton) for around $3k. I am pretty sure I can do this myself. I have done plenty of car A/C repairs.

My question is can I use my existing automotive R134a gauges or will I need to get R410a specific gauges?

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#2
Guessing you need different gauges as the gasses are different and not interchangeable.

I would get other quotes from others. Is it possible you could do something thats not attic mount?
What's leaking is it just the coils?

Do you have the equipment to vacuum out the existing gas, and then pull the correct vac on the new system to fill it? this is not a typical home DIY game. I would also assume you would be voiding any warranty on the new equipment as your not trained etc.
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#3
Quote from LiquidRetro View Post :
Guessing you need different gauges as the gasses are different and not interchangeable.

I would get other quotes from others. Is it possible you could do something thats not attic mount?
What's leaking is it just the coils?

Do you have the equipment to vacuum out the existing gas, and then pull the correct vac on the new system to fill it? this is not a typical home DIY game. I would also assume you would be voiding any warranty on the new equipment as your not trained etc.
I have a vacuum pump. When my last house had it installed, the guy said new units come fully charged from the maker they just open up the valve when everything is connected. I would think I'd need to vacuum out the a-coil and lines though before opening the frigerant port. I'll buy a new set of gauges most likely.

No it has to be where it is now or else that would be a total system redesign. Attic mount is no big deal I have attic stairs and am only replacing the A coil not the entire heat exchanger. I will have to abandon the old lines though and run new ones on the side of the house. Really no getting around that.

No clue where the leak is. The guy said he would trace it out for $400. He said "probably" the a-coil. Also said the compressor is ok, but it is right at its max draw amperage meaning it is showing its age.

Most of what I have read says not to get any extended warranties/service and in fact, not to even get any service at all on HVAC systems. None of that does any good. Just let it run until it dies. They last around 15 years or so. The $14k quote included 10 years of maintenance.
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#4
Quote from dealgate View Post :
I have a vacuum pump. When my last house had it installed, the guy said new units come fully charged from the maker they just open up the valve when everything is connected. I would think I'd need to vacuum out the a-coil and lines though before opening the frigerant port. I'll buy a new set of gauges most likely.

No it has to be where it is now or else that would be a total system redesign. Attic mount is no big deal I have attic stairs and am only replacing the A coil not the entire heat exchanger. I will have to abandon the old lines though and run new ones on the side of the house. Really no getting around that.

No clue where the leak is. The guy said he would trace it out for $400. He said "probably" the a-coil. Also said the compressor is ok, but it is right at its max draw amperage meaning it is showing its age.

Most of what I have read says not to get any extended warranties/service and in fact, not to even get any service at all on HVAC systems. None of that does any good. Just let it run until it dies. They last around 15 years or so. The $14k quote included 10 years of maintenance.
That just sounds crazy I replaced my AC to a Heat pump 5-6 years ago and it was about $3k for a 2.5 ton unit and new coils. I had to have the coils replaced last year b/c they were leaking. They had a 10 year warranty on them and it ended up costing about $250 for the service call and labor to do that. What kind of maintenance are they doing for that price? I wash out my own unit a few times of year, and change the filters. Unless it leaks thats about all you do. I think you have to get a new quote 14k for that size of system is insane if the equipment was only 3K worth. Tracing a leak for $400 is absurd too. I just think their rates a super high.Ask around your office/friends there has to be better options unless your in a remote area of the country.
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Last edited by LiquidRetro April 29, 2016 at 08:53 AM
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Quote from LiquidRetro View Post :
That just sounds crazy I replaced my AC to a Heat pump 5-6 years ago and it was about $3k for a 2.5 ton unit and new coils. I had to have the coils replaced last year b/c they were leaking. They had a 10 year warranty on them and it ended up costing about $250 for the service call and labor to do that. What kind of maintenance are they doing for that price? I wash out my own unit a few times of year, and change the filters. Unless it leaks thats about all you do. I think you have to get a new quote 14k for that size of system is insane if the equipment was only 3K worth. Tracing a leak for $400 is absurd too. I just think their rates a super high.Ask around your office/friends there has to be better options unless your in a remote area of the country.
The problem with this neighborhood is all of the service companies triple everything when the drive in. Totally pull numbers out of their ass. Not just this, EVERY-FN-THING. I got a quote for $3500 to run a simple drain line. And that was without any drywall repair he said I'd have to arrange that myself.

I am in DC metro area lots of choices but I need to make the deal before they come to the house I think lol. I think he said it includes anything at all that would go wrong with it for 10 years. Which is nothing but they will come twice a year and check it out I guess. Still a rip no way in hell I'd even consider that.

My last house 7 years ago I paid $3500 for a complete system installation and all and it was a larger system (this house has 2 systems, actually, both are on their way out). That house was in a regular neighborhood.
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#6
Quote from dealgate View Post :
I just got a ridiculous quote to replace my leaking 15 year old home attic A/C/Heat unit at $14k. I looked up the unit and I can get all the parts (Bryant 2 ton) for around $3k. I am pretty sure I can do this myself. I have done plenty of car A/C repairs.

My question is can I use my existing automotive R134a gauges or will I need to get R410a specific gauges?
Even if you wanted to do it yourself, personally I'd let somebody else charge/test/adjust the system (likely pre-charged).
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Last edited by jkee April 29, 2016 at 04:00 PM
#7
via wikipedia
Quote :
R-410A has replaced R-22 as the preferred refrigerant for use in residential and commercial air conditioners in Japan, Europe and the United States.

Parts designed specifically for R-410A must be used as R-410A operates at higher pressures than other refrigerants. Thus R-410A systems require service personnel to use different tools, equipment, safety standards and techniques. Equipment manufacturers are aware of these changes and require the certification of professionals installing R-410A systems. In addition the AC&R Safety Coalition has been created to help educate professionals about R-410-A system.
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#8
Not sure if that was the year they made Acoils with thin aluminium (for R22) and used them 410. At the same time they painted the outside unit coils with paint that ate the fins. I was lucky enough to get one of these with a house I bought in Florida. They had a recall (silent) but that's past by a few years.

Just a 2 ton Acoil is less than 300. You can back the freon into the outside unit, replace the line set and Acoil.
Outside units do come pre-charged
Guage readings are different. if you have good hoses, you can swap the guages

My leak was in the Acoil. Backed up the 410 into the outside unit, cut it out, installed a complete 3 ton electric heat/Acoil unit for $800. Paid a guy 150 to braze and top off

Also, Some companies are starting to deny repairs to units that haven't been serviced yearly.
Home warranty companies jumped on this couple years ago.
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Last edited by stufine April 29, 2016 at 03:03 PM
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#9
I installed my own 4T Rheem HP system about 5 years ago. Contractors were quoting around $10-12K. I did it for around $3-4K and that included a new line set and all the specialized tools and supplies needed. I also got my EPA license to do this legally.

The physical work isn't too bad and you really need to do your homework/planning in advance in order to do it right. I'd say 75% of the job was planning/learning/studying and 25% was hands on work.

Most systems come precharged. Once the lineset is connected and properly evacuated you just open the valve and fine tune the charge using the methods in the manufacturer installation manual.

I think I did a better job then most of the so called "pros" and the system has been performing perfectly for 7+ years

All I can say is "the devil's in the details" and there will be some surprises along the way and you won't have experience on your side so you better be good at problem solving.
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Last edited by henny April 29, 2016 at 03:13 PM
#10
My condenser coil went out last year and I was quoted over $3k to replace it by multiple big name contractors. I ended up finding an independent guy (no shop) to do it all for $1500. My point is you pay a lot of overhead to the big guys to fund their fleet of trucks, 24 hr service calls, and long warranties. For some folks that is okay but I wanted a better value.

Even if you dont do the full install yourself, just replacing the equipment and buying freon and getting the charge from a guy on Craigslist might be a good option. I found several folks in my area selling freon for 10% the price the big shops wanted to charge.
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#11
There is a lot of $$ to be saved simply by getting the hardware yourself and placing it/routing pipes and wiring (if you can do that). FIL saved a ton of $$ that way even though he didn't do any of the refrigerant work himself.
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#12
Quote from henny View Post :
I installed my own 4T Rheem HP system about 5 years ago. Contractors were quoting around $10-12K. I did it for around $3-4K and that included a new line set and all the specialized tools and supplies needed. I also got my EPA license to do this legally.

The physical work isn't too bad and you really need to do your homework/planning in advance in order to do it right. I'd say 75% of the job was planning/learning/studying and 25% was hands on work.

Most systems come precharged. Once the lineset is connected and properly evacuated you just open the valve and fine tune the charge using the methods in the manufacturer installation manual.

I think I did a better job then most of the so called "pros" and the system has been performing perfectly for 7+ years

All I can say is "the devil's in the details" and there will be some surprises along the way and you won't have experience on your side so you better be good at problem solving.
Did you do the A/C and the heat? I was going to do just the A/C but if I replace it all, I suspect I would be better off with an entire new system with a higher efficiency rating. I think it is around $1500 more for the furnace part. Since I have two systems in the house, I can afford to be without one for a few weeks if I do it on my own. Heat for sure, A/C would be miserable at bedtime though. My system is gas what is yours?
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#13
I buy goodman 75k gas 3 ton box for $650
100k $950
both 97%
pushing $800 for outside unit 2 ton 13 seer
$100 for 50' lineset
maybe $300 for horizontal Acoil

mine in Florida was just a bad Acoil
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