Is it hot in here?
June 18, 2009 1:47 PM   Subscribe

Its June in Florida, and my A/C is borked.

We returned home from a long vacation to find that our central A/C is toast. At age 21, it was already on its last leg. We need to buy a new one right away, because its summer in Florida. I know nothing about air conditioners. Any advice on how to buy a central A/C will be greatly appreciated. Tips on how to pick a contractor, brands that have served you well, how to choose a service plan, etc. etc. Your collective wisdom is much appreciated.
posted by Crotalus to Home & Garden (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Just last month, I had AC work done. This site, while not the company I used, provided a lot of great information.

One thing I did learn was that this year is an interesting one for buying ACs. As I understand it, on January 2010, you cannot buy a unit that uses Freon (R22). All units will use Puron (R410A). Right now, you can choose to buy either.

Strictly based on cost alone, I was told it is better to buy Puron units (or parts that will work with either). The reason is, they are not going to make more Freon, so the cost will go up (and up, and up).

For what it's worth, the contractor I used suggested that Trane the brand he thought was best.
posted by Houstonian at 2:19 PM on June 18, 2009

We're in North Florida, and our 20-plus-year-old unit went out a couple of years ago in July. Just make sure you deal with a reputable HVAC contractor. With temps forecast to reach 100 in the next couple of days and our Florida humidity, this is an emergency. You should be able to get someone to come out ASAP. Ours was replaced within a day.
posted by lazydog at 2:51 PM on June 18, 2009

Many of these services techs that will handle such a task as yours will tell you that they prefer one brand over another. Alot of that talk is based on which manufacture they have access too, or which manufacture their supply house has access too.

My father is an engineer in the HVAC field for a major league ball club. He knows his shit, literally and figuratively. He is factory certified by 9 different brands from residential units to huge commercial chilling systems. We installed A/C at my house for under $500. That was for parts, we did the labor.

Now I understand that you want to hire someone, nothing wrong with that. Just make sure you get plenty of bids, unless you wanna end up like Plumbers love my checkbook guy

Get multiple bids, check the BBB, check with friends, coworkers, neighbors, etc...

As for service plans, a simple hose down of the evaporation unit outside and regular changing of furnace filters inside should be sufficient. For yearly service, I don't know what they would really be doing other than what I suggested. They might check the freon or puron pressure but it's a closed loop system so... if it's leaking you would know it.

As for brand, I have a Trane system, plus i own stock in their parent company, Ingersoll Rand. I would suggest a Trane unit. :) good luck.
posted by Gravitus at 3:27 PM on June 18, 2009

If you happen to be in the St. Pete area I know a really reliable AC repair and installation company there.
posted by mareli at 4:41 PM on June 18, 2009

Get multiple bids.
When you compare bids between contractors, make sure you compare the work being done. One guy might just replace the condenser, another might also replace the handler, or service your ducts.

Also, I would try to read up on HVAC work. There is some stuff you can do - and now is the time to do it. Like repairing your ducts. Buy metal tape, and crawl around your attic, taping the heck out of anything that might not look right.
posted by Flood at 7:13 PM on June 18, 2009

also, remember, in FLA, you get a tax credit for installing new efficient appliances.
talk to your accountant
posted by Flood at 7:15 PM on June 18, 2009

There's also a federal tax credit that the stimulus bill extended. You must purchase a qualified energy-efficient unit.

It's probably a good time to install a setback thermostat, too, if you don't already have one.
posted by dhartung at 8:13 PM on June 18, 2009

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