Residential A/C freon top-up? | GTAMotorcycle.com

Residential A/C freon top-up?

Ash

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My 12 year old A/C system is struggling to cool the house. I got Enercare out to have a look at it, and the guy diagnosed the unit within a minute or two as being low on freon. But he said he couldn't fix it today (it's a 4 hour service?) and he actively discouraged me from getting Enercare to fix it. I wasn't totally clear on what he was getting at. He mentioned that it was the law to find and repair the leak, but that it's usually impossible to find these tiny leaks. I assume he didn't want to risk his license or something by just topping off the system, but to be honest I'm a bit confused by the whole conversation. He suggested that I look for a local guy who would be willing to do it.

Does that make any sense? If so, does anyone have recommendations for someone who can top off a couple of pounds of 410a in the York region (Stouffville, north of Markham)?
 

Ash

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Yes, he did mention that Enercare was really expensive, but I also mentioned that I was willing to pay to be cool. I have no particular contract with Enercare, I just called them because I knew they have hundreds of trucks and I wouldn't have to call a dozen different guys to find one that would come out.
 

GreyGhost

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Yes, he did mention that Enercare was really expensive, but I also mentioned that I was willing to pay to be cool. I have no particular contract with Enercare, I just called them because I knew they have hundreds of trucks and I wouldn't have to call a dozen different guys to find one that would come out.
My suspicion is if he reported back to the office that you wanted a top up on a 12 yo A/C, the office would have done the hard sell to put in a new unit (preferably as a rental).
 
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Trials

Well-known member
12 years, it served you well.

They don't last as long as motorcycles
and you are lucky to get more then that on a car AC for likely the same reasons.

add: I had a travel trailer refrigerator lose it's coolant load once and the stench was something awful, you sure wouldn't want that happening in your house. (was closer to 20 years old when that happened)
 
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LBV

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Mine's going on 26 years, as are each of my appliances when I bought the house new!
 

GreyGhost

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Mine's going on 26 years, as are each of my appliances when I bought the house new!
That worked then, not anymore. My parents first batch of hvac/major appliances lasted 20 to 30+ years. Their replacements have been on the 5 to 10 year beyond economical repair cycle. It's easier to comparison shop prices now so every manufacturer is chasing price points instead of doing the best they can.
 

Onagoth

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I thought the same thing a week ago

Took apart the unit and cleaned the coils. Cut the weeds away to get more air and reset the breaker

All seems fine again
 

STARSHIP

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Enercare are indeed the devil. They Red tagged my furnace claiming that the heat exchanger was cracked and then sent their sales team in. Luckily it was April so I had another contractor come to quote on a new furnace and he wondered why I was replacing the furnace. Regardless, I got a new furnace but not from Enercare. Shifty company.
 

Allistonfjr

Well-known member
I'm guessing he could lose his license for not fixing it or tagging it. Makes no sense that he had zero interest in fixing the issue if you were willing to pay and now risking his livelihood. More to this I think.
 

DJM

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It’s illegal to top up. Leak needs to be found and rectified. You might be able to find a shady tech on kijiji who will do it though.
 

GreyGhost

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It’s illegal to top up. Leak needs to be found and rectified.
That quickly gets to beyond economical repair. By the time the tech finds the leak, recovers the refrigerant, fixes the leak, pulls a vacuum and recharges the system, you are halfway to paying for a new system. I'm not saying that a blind top is the right way to go, but that may get him a few years instead of changing it right now.
 

Mad Mike

Well-known member
Might be worth cleaning the coils:


(on my to-do list as well)
That happened to me this spring, I thought it was time for a new unit -- mine just turned 10. When I looked outside I found the bottom 1/3d packed with grass and straw -- the local chipmunks or squirrels must have found it a nice quite winter home. I cleaned out the straw and hosed down the condenser coil and she was back to ice cold.

Did the AC man put gauges on your outside unit or did he just check the air temp?
 

Ash

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Did the AC man put gauges on your outside unit or did he just check the air temp?
He put the gauges on the outside unit, and that's about all he did. He never came inside to check anything else.

If I turn the system on the AC lines to the furnace will get cold, and there will be condensation on the ductwork around the evaporator coil. I swapped out the furnace filter for a new, cheap (non-restrictive) one. The internal evaporator coil does not appear to be visibly frosted/frozen, but I've turned the AC off with the fan running long enough to thaw it if that were the case. The internal coil also doesn't appear to be clogged or dirty. The external coil is a bit dusty, but it doesn't look clogged or blocked to me. I'll try cleaning it this weekend.
 

crankcall

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Mine wasn't cooling well , it was the A frame coil stack in the furnace. Clogged with cat and dog hair. Duct work had to be dissasembled to access it. then it was cleaned and reinstalled, recharged. Cost was about $600
 

beverage

Well-known member
I had essentially this identical issue over the last couple weeks. I had an official / registered business check my central AC because it was no longer cooling. Low on refrigerant. They could not legally top it up, as the leak needs to be found and fixed first. The tech could not just "do it on the sly" as the refrigerant has to be accounted for, and missing refrigerant wouldn't simply be overlooked. I don't blame the guy ... not worth his job or license. Estimate to hunt down and fix the leak, then refill refrigerant was going to be hefty.

I ended up finding a licensed guy that does some on-the-side jobs after his day job. He diagnosed the same issue. After a visual check and using his sensors to test for leaks outside and inside, there was nothing apparent, so the leak would have to be extremely small. He topped up the refrigerant for a relatively small cash amount (all in, it cost less than the official service call alone - definitely some gouging by the big companies!). Told me to circle back to him in the fall after AC season is over to do a more thorought hunt for the leak.
 

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