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Discussion Starter #1
The central air system in my house developed a refrigerant (R22) leak this year. It is a 19 year old York system, original to the house. It is leaking about 1# per month. Yesterday, I removed the fan from the condenser and cleaned the inside of it, didn't see any evidence of oil leaks. Today, I removed the filter for the attic mounted evaporator, stuck my leak detector probe up there, and bingo, that is what's leaking. Here is the question- is the evaporator coil serviceable, or does the whole air handler usually get replaced? It is a York unit as I mentioned, I don't know the model #, that will require a trip into the attic to find it. When properly charged, the system works great, easily cools the house even on the hottest days, and I've never had an electric bill over $100 for the month, even counting July of this year.
 

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Something that old isn't likely to be as efficient as newer models. I'd look into replacing it, at least do a cost/benefit analysis, allowing for less maintenance for a while during the warranty period of the new unit. Don't know what your primary heat source is, but you may also look into replacing it with a heat pump system. I have a neighbor who installed one and now uses less than 50% as much oil as he used to (same furnace). With the oil savings $$$$ his unit will pay for itself in 5-6 years.
 

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It depends where the leak is sometimes they can be repaired but generally once you fix one leak another won't be far behind.If a replacement coil can be found with dimensions that come close to yours then only a coil change is needed,if you have to change the air handler I'd really look into a new outdoor unit as well.
 

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Nearly all the units that old have copper tubes under the aluminum fins in the coil. Usually the leak is at a joint on the ends of the coil where the "U" shaped parts are. These are easily silver soldered when they break loose but as Pigsitter says they often don't hold for long. I have, however, seen them last for many years.

The option of putting in a new heat pump system is a good one if finances allow. Having the coil repaired will not be cheap, the system has to be cleared of refrigerant, dry nitrogen flowed thru to keep oxidation or phosgene gas from being formed and the repair made. Then the system must be vacuumed down and re-charged.

If a heat pump is put in then the air handler, outdoor unit and, perhaps, electrical supply will need to be changed.

If you have electric heat with the current AC you will probably not need changes in the electrical.

I'd opt for getting a few estimates from know, licensed, reliable service people for both the repair and the heat pump option.

Mike
 

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I had a similar problem with my old Bryant. I couldn't ID the origional coil capacity , then find anything that would mount in space available. I replace the whole system with a dc motor energy efficient unit. With state and federal rebates along with the energy company rebates, it all worked out really well...so I replace the furnace also...my unit was 19 yrs' old.
 

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If a replacement coil can be found with dimensions that come close to yours then only a coil change is needed,if you have to change the air handler I'd really look into a new outdoor unit as well.
Repair or replacing the coil is the only option you have at this time. There are no new airhandlers that are compatable with your existing condesing unit. It changed about 3 years ago when the new energy efficency mandates came into effect. Your system is probably less than a 10 SEER rating. The minimum today is 13 SEER. If someone tries to combine the two system you get problems and a higher energy bill. So if somebody comes out and tells you that they can just replace the airhandler, he doesnt know what he is doing so find another.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I took a closer look at is yesterday, not only is it leaking refrigerant, the evaporator is also leaking condensate. I'm going to get a few estimates, but I would surmise that my options are a new evaporator section, or a whole new system. I'll let you know what I find out.
 
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