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That's not good

Illustration for article titled Thats not good

The temperature inside my office climbed even higher today. I stepped into the living room and discovered that it was a lot warmer than usual. Uh, oh. Sure enough, the a/c was freezing up.


So, we called in the experts. You have to understand that my BS detector goes on high alert when any kind of “professional” comes into my home. Of course, the fellow the a/c company sent did the usual up-sell routine. “Well, sir, considering the age of the unit, we should probably go ahead and replace the whole thing and not waste any time or money on repairing something that might fail next week.”

Yeah, right. First, let’s get it de-iced and get your gauges connected to see where things stand.


First, he kicked on the heat to help speed up the deicing. We have a gas furnace located before the evaporator coils, so this was a quick way to remove some of the ice. Once it was done, the news was dire. “Sir, there’s oil all over the coils and that means that it’s leaking everywhere. I’d be surprised if there were any refrigerant left in the system.”

Well, he was surprised. His gauges told him that the system had slightly more refrigerant than it was supposed to. He said he “recovered” some of the refrigerant to get the pressure down. I didn’t see a tank and I did see him release refrigerant as he disconnected his gauges, so I doubt he recovered anything.


Funny thing, though. The last time refrigerant was added was at least three years ago when the prior technician found that the schrader valve used to recharge the system had a slow leak. That tells me that what he said about the evaporator coil being covered in oil indicating a leak is a bunch of BS. How would the system remain charged for at least three years with any kind of leak that would cover the coil with oil?

So, what’s going on with the system? The tech thinks the thermal expansion valve, the part that regulates the flow of refrigerant through the system, was stuck and he did what he could to get it open and flowing again. We know the system is getting old and will need to be replaced soon. My wife is already redesigning the system to be more space efficient and maximize performance. Right now, the air return is on the opposite side of the house from the a/c unit, so the return air has to flow through a 30' return duct which is probably a bit undersized for the unit.


Why did it ice up in the first place? I’m pretty sure someone didn’t replace the filter when I asked and the dirty filter stopped the air flow. I should have climbed into the attic to check for icing myself. That’s an easy fix if the problem was a lack of air flow. But my wife wanted a “real” technician to come check it out just in case.

Now our renovation plans include a new a/c unit sooner rather than later.

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