No heat? Need a new system!

More of a story than pictures, but I went on a second opinion call today and made quite a shameful discovery.

A customer called ‘ol Mike and his boys to come out and see why his heat pump was not keeping up in the summer and winter. It’s a condo located in an old pre-war building, but the systems were installed back in 2005. Mike and his boys claimed the system is low on freon and there’s a leak in the indoor coil – system needs to be replaced. Customer calls us and says he’s shopping for estimates, but being asked to replace a 2005 smells fishy, so our estimator offers to send a service tech out to assess the situation first.

I get there and first thing I do is take a temperature rise. I have 70 degree air coming in, 93 coming out with just the heat pump running. The relay for the heater kit was found disconnected, so I reconnected it and it ran fine. Blower capacitor was nearly dead, so I noted that. I go outside to look at the ODU and the coil is filthy. Despite that, I check the pressures and find it’s running at 225/48 psig (R22, OAT 40 degrees).

I ask the customer, "did they add any freon when they found it undercharged?" He says, "nope, they just said I had a leak and gave me a quote to replace." Well, it’s charged about as perfectly as you could expect.

So I go back inside and he says the air coming out of the vents isn’t very strong. I explain to him it could be due to the capacitor being near dead at the blower motor, but I check myself. Hmm, there really isn’t any air coming out of any of these vents. Okay, let me go take a look at the duct work.

Duct work is located in a crawl under this building, the kind where 100 years of bricks and cast iron pipe has been thrown underneath. But after tearing my pants and shirt, I managed to get in and found myself saying a big WTF – found three flex branches completely ripped in half and the supply trunk coming through the floor had ripped as well. Not to mention, every other branch was completely crushed from tight turns or straps.

I told him he needs a major duct renovation in addition to the other items I noted. He agrees to have our estimator come out next week and give him an estimate, but went ahead and changed the capacitor and cleaned the coil for him in the meantime. If you look in the picture below, you can see how filthy it was prior to cleaning.

I don’t know how scumbag sales techs sleep at night.

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