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        posted
        Our condenser has stopped working and needs to be replaced. We really need a larger unit but cannot afford to replace the AC and furnace. Can we get a new, larger condenser and not replace anything else? If not, why? Can we replace all of the AC parts with a larger unit and not replace the furnace? If not, why? And is there a good reason that an HVAC company will not install a new condenser that I buy online, or is it just because they want me to buy their more expensive one? One more... can I replace the condenser and not replace any other parts, or do I have to replace more? How hard is it to replace the unit ourselves? Thank you in advance for help. It will be getting hot really soon in California, so we really need this taken care of fast, but we have limited funds and also need a new water heater.
         
        Posts: 6 | Location: Califorina | Registered: Mar 22, 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        Picture of Jaybee
        posted Hide Post
        quote:
        Originally posted by Karamarika:
        Our condenser has stopped working and needs to be replaced. We really need a larger unit but cannot afford to replace the AC and furnace. Can we get a new, larger condenser and not replace anything else?

        Probably not. Just upsizing the condenser still means that the rest of the AC unit will be as it is. Unlikely that mismatched parts will work. And even if they did work, not likely that it would be any more efficient or have higher output.

        If not, why?

        All the parts of the AC unit work together. All will need to be upsized to increase output.

        Can we replace all of the AC parts with a larger unit and not replace the furnace? If not, why?

        Yes, you can as long as your AC and furnace are a part of a split system. (This is where you have an AC unit outside and a furnace somewhere else inside.) If the furnace and A/c unit are both in the same box together outside, then you will need to replace both to get new A/C.

        And is there a good reason that an HVAC company will not install a new condenser that I buy online, or is it just because they want me to buy their more expensive one?

        Because they cannot warranty the parts that you buy. A typical and understandable business practice. If you bought a part and they did the install and there was a failure, it would be a meaningless process of finger-pointing as to what really went wrong. Both you and the H/A company would lose.

        One more... can I replace the condenser and not replace any other parts, or do I have to replace more?

        If your unit has some parts that are bad they can be replaced with new parts. So if you know that just the condenser is bad than installing a new condenser will get you up and running again. You do not have to replace the entire unit. However, if your unit is old (12 years or older) you will be spending good money after bad by just replacing some parts as other parts are bound to fail soon. Also, newer units are much more efficient - in many cases a heater or A/C swap can pay for itself in just a couple of years with energy savings.

        How hard is it to replace the unit ourselves?

        Impossible unless you are a licensed mechanical contractor. You cannot buy or install any of the coolant needed to set up the new unit. Also, the same licensing is required to drain down the coolant from your existing unit. Violating this is federal fines - you really don't want to go there.
        Thank you in advance for help. It will be getting hot really soon in California, so we really need this taken care of fast, but we have limited funds and also need a new water heater.

        Try contacting your local electrical utility company to see if they have any plans to help you. In the SouthEast where I live, TVA and local power companies have several programs at low or no interest payments for furnaces, A/C and water heaters. They work out a payment plan and yo make a monthly payment as a part of your regular electrical bill.


        Jaybee
         
        Posts: 10483 | Location: Knoxville, Tennessee | Registered: Sep 27, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        posted Hide Post
        Very helpful response. Thank you. I am not sure about what all is in the attic because I have not been up there, but I know that there is a portion outside and a portion in the attic. The guy that came out didn't even look in the attic and just told us that we have to replace both in order to upgrade the size. I have seen units online that appear to have two parts and are just AC and units that have two parts with the attic part being larger and they are AC and furnace put together. Hoping that our's is the former.
        Thank you very much for the info about the electric company. I will look into that as well.
         
        Posts: 6 | Location: Califorina | Registered: Mar 22, 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        Picture of Jaybee
        posted Hide Post
        One part outside and one part inside = a split system. You should be able to replace one without the other changing. Here's the thing though - if you upgrade the size of the AC you may then also have to upgrade the furnace. More of a reason to keep them compatible to each other for how they operate and are controlled. But still, it should be possible to increase the A/C while keeping the same furnace.

        Since it seems that your ideal would be to get a bigger A/C unit while keeping the same furnace, maybe you should talk to the H/A guy again, or look for another and specifically ask if it is possible to just change out the A/C and if so, what that would cost.

        You're still going to be stuck having to hire a mechanical contractor to do the work but it never hurts to shop around and get a couple of quotes.


        Jaybee
         
        Posts: 10483 | Location: Knoxville, Tennessee | Registered: Sep 27, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        posted Hide Post
        This thread is almost my exact situation, just don't need a larger unit. Split unit almost 1800 sq ft, believe the compressor is 2 1/2 ton and over 20 yrs old. Still works just not real efficent.

        I assume that the refrigerant would have to be changed out to a newer version. Would that be a problem?
         
        Posts: 4 | Registered: Nov 26, 2013Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        Picture of Jaybee
        posted Hide Post
        At 20 years old you are certainly throwing good money after bad. Get a new unit. It will be so much more efficient than the old that you will have a fast payback period - probably only 2 to 3 years. After that you'll just have lower utility bills.


        Jaybee
         
        Posts: 10483 | Location: Knoxville, Tennessee | Registered: Sep 27, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        posted Hide Post
        you can't just change the refrigerant. the oil used in R11 systems turns to gum with the newer formulas, and will kill the compressor. it's just about impossible to get it all out. also, the nozzles inside the tubing need to be replaced to make the new stuff work.

        it's really a package deal if you don't want the old machine to fail real soon down the road, and then you have to replace it all.

        spend the money once and be done.


        sig: if this is a new economy, how come they still want my old-fashioned money?
         
        Posts: 5858 | Location: North Burbs, MN | Registered: Mar 14, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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