$3975 repair but still not fixed

Discussion in 'Maintenance and Troubleshooting' started by woody, Jan 30, 2011.

  1. woody

    woody New Member

    Grrrrr I had a technician here for 2 days trying to solve my LP problem. The contacts on the compressor were burnt/corroded, the LP light was on and the backup sys was not working. Its the end of Jan BTW in good ol Canada. Anyways, he fixed the electric back up by simply replacing blown fuses, next he replaced the compressor. I am by no means a DIY but what a hack job on his brazing. :( I felt like telling him that was enough but I did not want to start all over again with another service technician that could possibly be worse. I just kept an an eye on him and continually asked questions.
    He found what looked like a leak coming from the sight glass on the dryer line. Another butcher job and the leak appearing to be fixed. He then test the sys at 300 psi and all was well. Charged the sys with R22 hooked everything up and turn unit to heat. NOTHING !! Seems I also needed a thermostat. Geeezzz
    Finally, I figured everything was GTG. Not a chance, it seems he somehow froze the exchanger. It was blocked solid. He left and came back the next day after everything thawed.
    Turned unit to heat on the thermostat, pump came on, water valved screamed and Eureka the house had heat!!!. Gave him a big fat check and said good riddens.
    The next day the unit locked out with the same LP light starring at my gloomy face.

    Why would I get a LP when he tested the sys at 300 psi?
    I don't want to call him back but I already paid him for the repair(which didn't work)

    4 ton Geo Solar unit
    open loop 6 GPM
    House is 2400 sq ft
    I don't have any meters for EWT n LWT
    I am also on a well, pressure maintained at 35 psi

    I bought the house with the unit already installed. Its 12 yrs old and everything worked great up until now. (LP light) (didn't know the electric wasn't working)
    Is there any other solutions for a LP indicator other than low R22??

    Plse, plse.....any advice would be greatly appreciated!!

  2. AMI Contracting

    AMI Contracting A nice Van Morrison song Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Get a thermometer and measure EWT and LWT.
  3. teetech

    teetech Member Forum Leader

    Is there any other solutions for a LP indicator other than low R22??

    That depends on brand and model number of unit.
  4. woody

    woody New Member

    Sorry it took so long to get back to you. Its now 30 days without unit working. Been on back up sys ever since.
    AMI, since the compressor is not engaging I assume the EWT is equal to the LWT. I could open the before and after valves and check if you would like.
    The tech was here yesterday again!! Now he tells me there is water in the compressor and that the exchanger is shot. This is the new compressor he installed 30 days ago. Now, he is recommending a new system.
    Boy, I am really confused and frustrated. The tech seems to be baffle-ing me with something. lol I asked him if there were newer improved exchangers where you could mount them outside the unit. He replied absolutely not but I can remember view such systems on youtube.
    Anyways, I hate to see my power bill at the end of the month.
  5. AMI Contracting

    AMI Contracting A nice Van Morrison song Industry Professional Forum Leader

    No not enterested in water temps if compressor is not running. this is new info.
    it seemed it was before. it would have been interesting then.
    You need a second opinion.
  6. woody

    woody New Member

    Thanks J, second opinion already scheduled for next week. It seems there are alot of people willing to install geo but not too many want to repair them. In this area anyway.

    Thanks again.

  7. woody

    woody New Member

    While I was waiting for another tech to arrive, I decided to quickly test the schrader valves for pressure. A clear somewhat foamy liquid poured out. Would this actually be water from a leaky heat exchanger or is it refrigerant in a liquid state?
  8. Mark Custis

    Mark Custis Not soon. Industry Professional Forum Leader


    My guess is oil. The oil travels around the system with the refrigerant. To test for water is easy with a Carrier/Total line product. A hermetically sealed test media is in a glass tube, and a very small stream of refrigerant vapor is passed through. It is designed to test for moisture, (water), and acid.
  9. woody

    woody New Member

    Now that you mention it, the fluid did feel like oil. I just assumed the oil remained in the compressor. The tech said that there was a gurgle-ing sound when he jump started the compressor therefore telling him that water had enter the system. But yeah.........it did feel like oil and even looked like a biege-ish clean oil, much like the dipstick in your car. Fingers are crossed. I hope my second opinion brings me good news.
    Thanks for your advice, much appreciated.

  10. Mark Custis

    Mark Custis Not soon. Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Taking a step forward. Why does he think there is water in the refrigerant system?

    I am so sorry to admit that techs are "turned out" to make cash flow. It makes it difficult to make a living at this when most folks think you are telling tails. There are a few companies and DBAs that know what to do and how to do it.

    Salesmen sell JOBS but that does not mean they know how stuff really works. they get their salesman money, the installers get theirs, the service techs, untrained get to try and make it all work. Not the best deal, but true. The guy you get has never seen a heat pump much less a geothermal heat pump. He is reported to be the best of the best by the CS rep on the phone. You are paying his boss by the hour for his time and he knows that.

    So you sit on his shoulder while he tries stuff they "taught" him when they handed him the keys to the truck, and hope he can find out what is wrong.

    I know this is true that was me.

    I think lots, but act less. My guess is a refrigerant leak. No water in the system. I told you what to use to test that above.

    Give the "kid" a break. You may need a new service company. Stop paying the invoices as that wakes up the office. If you like the kid have him call me.

    warm regards,

  11. woody

    woody New Member

    WOW !! That is exactly how I feel. I am an electronics technician by trade and by no means a refridgerant specialist but I can tell you that after doing all this research and reading almost every post on this form, I am certain I can throw a wack of educated question at any tech that knocks at my door.
    I put a hold on the check just in time and low and behold the owner came knocking on my door. We had an interesting conversation. Basically admitting nothing. I blased him for having a customer without a furnace for over 30 days in the dead of winter!!
    In one ear out the other. He is emailing me a price on a new sys today. Geezz talk about a rock and a hard place!! What a nightmare.

    Thanks again for your opinion. I am hoping this new guy (a friend of a friend this time) has better luck at fault finding my system. I will keep you posted.

  12. engineer

    engineer Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    So you managed to avoid paying the $3975 at least for now?

    If so, woo-hoo! - you deserve a much better service outcome than what you described.

    Mark's description of standard operating procedure is so true at so many HVAC contractors...techs out over their skies supporting way to much back office / sales / administrative overhead - result is shoddy service at high prices.
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2011
  13. AMI Contracting

    AMI Contracting A nice Van Morrison song Industry Professional Forum Leader

    I have to confess, I'm wrried about the time line here.
    Nearly a month ago this thread was started with a dollar amount, yet today a stop pay is mentioned.
    I choose to avoid participation where I feel I'm being directed towards a response or reaction, not asked for opinion.
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2011
  14. woody

    woody New Member

    AMI........Are you kidding me!!!!
    If you read my post again you will see that I was off line for awhile. I was in fact fighting with the company over the check. We were lucky that they had not cashed it right away and so a stop payment was done. In fact, what I didn't mention was I had paid a service call of $377 to them before the repair . After the 2 day repair a new check was given. That was a very stressful time for my wife and I. We had never refused to pay anyone ever!!! Plse don't go down this road with me. I am truely appreciative of all the advice mbrs are posting.
    If I passed on something that leads you to believe I am for some reason lying then I owe that to the fact I had no idea what I was talking about at the beginning of the post. I am now more aware of how things basically work and I owe that to the mbrs of this forum.

    Dan (woody)
  15. engineer

    engineer Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    While I know we are only getting one side of the story, I'm extremely leery of the stated requirement to replace the compressor. Way too many compressors are needlessly condemned by clueless techs.

    If the brazing work looks like H*ll, that's a bad sign as well

    Why did the aux strips blow fuses? Properly wiring aux strips with appropriate conductors and circuit breaker ratings is a trivial exercise...how did that get screwed up?

    Water doesn't get into a system unless lots of moist air is introduced via repeated poor service practices (failure to purge gauge manifold) or if the waterside heat exchanger developed a leak AND all the refrigerant leaks out allowing water pressure to exceed refrigerant pressure.

    Add to all that a month without proper operation and a $4k repair bill leads me to conclude something is rotten in Denmark.
  16. woody

    woody New Member

    We have all heard of the horror stories of service calls. Well, this IS one of those stories. I guess I am only passing on bits and pieces because I am so frustrated and upset. Speaking from a customer point of view, whenever there is a knock on the door from a service guy no matter what the trade, it all equates to $$$$$. Is a cut wrenching feeling that we get. Now you experts probably haven't had that feeling in a long time. So we try the next best thing which is search the forums, youtube etc etc whatever it takes.

    To answer some of the questions above:

    The compressor was replaced because the contacts were burnt. The wire insulation was actually melted and black. The tech said the unit overheated and fried the wiring.

    The aux backup wasn't working because the fuses were blown. The top 2 fuses were 25 amps instead of the rated 30amps written beside the fuse holder. In fact I have replaced 2 since this all started. I assume they are blown because my coils are on constantly all day and night to try and warm the house.

    Water in the system.... he said the heat exchanger had a leak and the water got into the R22 lines. He deduced that from the fact the LP light is on again and the compressor makes a unusual sound on start up. Not sure what you mean about purge the main manifold. He did flush the exchanger if thats it.

    Plse refer to my initial post. Although I don't explain what happened accurately, its what actually happened. (freezing the exchange etc etc)

  17. Texas Cooler

    Texas Cooler New Member

    I sympathize with your plight, it sounds as if this experience is something most of us only have nightmares about. As an HVAC guy I dislike taking my trucks to the mechanic since I've been ripped off before. There's plenty of good ones out there but when you are dealing with today's high tech stuff its easy to be a parts changer and not a technician.

    The more detail you post the better. Without knowing exactly what you mean by "the contacts were burned" I'm not sure what part burned. Was this the part that plugs into the compressor or the part that is hooked to the home's incoming power? Regardless of which part it is however, SOMETHING is causing the electrical parts to burn up and blow fuses. If the problem is not fixed then its likely to return. Any photos would help.

    Water in a refrigerant circuit is extremely problematic if not repaired correctly. Important things to watch are: When anything is brazed back into the system, make sure they have a nitrogen purge running. If they don't then the interior of the pipe or fitting will oxidize and the little black flakes will migrate thru the system and plug orifices. Make sure that everything is leak checked with nitrogen. Pull a deep vacuum and verify with a micron gauge. This vacuum should be down to 500 microns. Weigh in the correct charge. Use a new filter drier on the system.

    It is very uncommon for heat strips to blow fuses or trip breakers in normal operation. Again something is going on, possibly wiring, poorly sized supply conductors or house voltage spikes.
  18. engineer

    engineer Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Something as simple as slightly loose connections can cause arcing and burned contacts - nothing so severe as needing to replace compressor.
  19. woody

    woody New Member

    Yep having loose connection will definitely cause arcing and sparking. I told the tech that but he convinced me that the compressor overheated and caused the connections on the compressor to burn. He had seen it many times before and it needed replacement. Also, the compressor he replaced was smaller in actuall size than the original but when I questioned him about it he said that it was the same rating. I wish I had told him to leave the compressor with me. After reading the posts in this forum and watching endless youtube videos, i now have a gut feeling the compressor was ok.

    Talk about lessons learned!!

    l have a parent from my sons hockey team coming over soon. He tells me he knows nothing about Geo but I hear he is a real good refrigeration tech. All I want is for him to check the lines for a leak and do his magic with the R22. The reason I have been still waiting is because he is real busy and since I will not have to pay for this, I can certainly wait as long as he needs.

    Some other info I can remember was that the tech used an acetyline torch instead of oxy-acetyline. (seen that video on youtube) What a difference with all that flaking. Given that I told you already that he did a hack job on the brazing, I wander if there is a large amount of flaking in the lines causing an abstruction.

    Anyways, thanks for your opinion guys. I wish I had reasearched the Geo system before I called a repair guy.

  20. waterpirate

    waterpirate Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    While the specifics of your service nightmare are still unfolding I support Curt's position. To many tech's in way over their head, especially when we talk geothermal. In my kneck of the woods the unseemly practice of giving tech's a cut of sales on service parts installed just throws methanol on a allready burning fire of misdiagnosis for profit. It leaves the customer wondering if calling a tech near the end of the month when payments for boats and houses are due is prudent or not?

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