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Phil, Mechanical Engineer
Category: HVAC
Satisfied Customers: 8769
Experience:  Retired HVAC/ Electrical & Boiler contractor. Industrial
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My heating/AC condenser coils are rusted and the copper pan

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My heating/AC condenser coils are rusted and the copper pan below them is rusted through, according to an HVAC contractor, and the unit needs to be replaced. The heating/ac condenser is probably original to the house (built in 1987) but the heat pump was replaced in 2003. The HVAC contractor told me it's best to replace both the condenser and the heat pump since they're more efficient when they're matched. This same company was upselling me like crazy on other things "I really need to do" (like $300 to drain the water heater, which looks fairly simple to me). So what I'm wondering is, are they pushing me to replace both the heat pump and condenser because they'll get more money out of me, or is it really best to replace both?
Welcome to Just Answer!

You will be better off replacing both the inside and outside parts of the heat pump system... the new systems use a different refrigerant than the older ones.

You should buy only a major brand serviced locally by a reputable long established HVAC contractor.

It really pays to shop around before buying. Look for the longest warranty, highest efficiency unit for the price, and at least a one year labor warranty on the entire system in addition to a 10 year parts warranty on the compressor.

If you tell me which direction you in from the center of the nearest city, and how large your house is, I can offer more detailed advice.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Oh, sorry, I forgot to answer your house size question. It's a townhouse in the middle of the row and I believe is 1500 square feet, but about an eighth of that is a garage.

Hello again, unless you are in very cold northern climate, or in the humid south or east coast, your existing system is most likely in the 2 to 2.5 ton capacity range.
You should be able to get that system replaced in the $4,500 to $6,000 price range by a reputable dealer.

Let me know if your town house has common walls with the neighbors on each side or not and if its brick or wood and dry wall construction.

Tell me which city you are nearest please so I can advise you on how efficient a system will be best.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Hi, Phil -- the walls are siding over wood. The side walls are common with neighbors. I live in the Washington, DC area so there are plenty of contractors available, just all with that pesky diagnosis fee. The climate here is generally in the 80s and 90s and humid in the summer; 20s to 40s in the winter. I grew up here and it seems to me it's hotter in the summer now and not as cold in the winter, though we do get an occasional cold winter, like the second Reagan inauguration when they had to cancel the parade because it was just too darn cold.

Hello again, there is no need to pay for another diagnosis fee... that diagnosis is established. It is a worn out system that needs to be replaced.

Because of the common walls you have with the other houses your heating and cooling loads are less than is common for a 1500 square foot free standing house. My earlier estimate of a 2 to 2.5 ton system is accurate.

Just call in 3 or 4 of the local HVAC contractors for an estimate to replace the system with a 14 SEER equivalent heat pump, that has a 10 year warranty on the compressor and at least one year part and labor warranty on the rest of the system.

Each contractor will have to arrive and see what he offers that will fit in the space you have.. there is generally no charge for such estimates.

Spartan Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning XXXXX NW #900, Washington, DC ‎ (NNN) NNN-NNNN ‎ · 4.410 reviews · "This was my second experience with Spartan after trying many different company's" -

If you can be more specific about which side of the city you are on, I can provide a few other
contractors names who hopefully have as good reviews as this one.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I'm north and west of the city, over the District line in Maryland, but most contractors in the MD/DC/northern Virginia area serve the whole area. Your tip about not needing a diagnosis but just an estimate is very good; hopefully that will save me some money!

Hello again, here is another company a bit closer, and with good reviews.

Cool Breeze Heating & Air Conditioning Silver Spring, MD ‎ (NNN) NNN-NNNN ‎ 3.68 reviews · new system · refrigeration "I had a unit that had a failed compressor that had JUST fallen out of ..." -

Give these a call as well, and ask a few of your neighbors about who they recommend.

If you wish to rate my work for you so far *positively, I will hold the question open for you as the
estimates come in, i can coach on which one I think has the most merit.


Phil and other HVAC Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Phil, you're my hero! Yes, please keep it open. I plan to construct a matrix when I get home so I can compare the offerings side by side. I love any excuse to construct a matrix; I even make one for Christmas baking!