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MRC48B
Apr 2, 2012



You mean refrigerant sniffers?

Best on the market is supposedly the bacharach h10, but

I use a fieldpeice srl2k7, because infrareds don't need diode replacement and calibration every other year.

Im not really the best leak hound though.

My policy is recover, replace all the service valve and test under dry nitrogen pressure.

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bred
Oct 24, 2008


bred posted:

...my next steps are to seal flue with rubber sleeve, add trap, and move the elbow drain to big nipple.

I got my furnace working and draining reliably now. Thanks for your help Motronic and MRC!

I bought and installed the trap kit for my furnace and a generic trap for my coil pan. I made a new PVC drain assembly to connect both to the wall. I rebuilt the flue in the furnace cabinet and glued all the joints. I'm using the rubber coupler from the furnace kit.

Here are my pictures: https://imgur.com/a/pI5vR3B

I haven't come across a good plug for the unused nipple in the furnace so I have tape on there for now. I also have a tee in the pan drain line because it originally had a funnel in there to collect condensation dripping from the refrigerant line. Heated air was blowing out of there so I capped it with tape until I get to a store to buy a plug. I'll keep an eye on it when I start running AC later this year.

Bird in a Blender
Nov 17, 2005

It's amazing what they can do with computers these days.



I've been doing some long-term thinking about replacing the HVAC system in my house. Currently I have a typical single zone, AC and gas furnace unit in my basement. My system does not do a great job cooling my house. If it's 90 degrees out, my house is usually 75 at the stat, and 80 on the 2nd floor. Heating is not an issue, my furnace keeps up fine. I live in Chicago for reference. I also have an 80 year old building, with a not great duct layout, and I've tweaked the dampers as much as I can to get air going where I need it. My upstairs doesn't get enough air flow, which is ok in the winter since the heat naturally rises, but brutal in the summer.

I'd like to switch over to either a multi-zone VRF system, or still a single zone heat pump system because I'd also like to get off of natural gas (for personal environmental reasons). I deal with both of these systems on the commercial side a lot, but not on the residential side. So I'm asking if people have experience with one brand over another for either set up, and any drawbacks I'm not thinking about. Stuff like that.

Ideally, I'd love to go to a multi-zone system because my basement is always cold, and actually super cold in the summer as my AC works non-stop, so the little bit of AC I have in the basement is cooling a room that doesn't need it. Meanwhile, my upstairs really needs more cooling. A single-zone system would leave me with some of the same problems I have now, but I'm not really sure I can get a multi-zone system to work in my house. If I can't get the mult-zone to work, I'd probably try and rework some of my basement duct at least to try and help my airflow situation out. Luckily, a good chunk of my basement is unfinished, so the duct is easy to get at.

TLDR: Any advice on VRF or heat pump manufacturers, and what should I think about when making that switch?

Zook
Oct 3, 2014


MRC48B posted:

You mean refrigerant sniffers?

Best on the market is supposedly the bacharach h10, but

I use a fieldpeice srl2k7, because infrareds don't need diode replacement and calibration every other year.

Im not really the best leak hound though.

My policy is recover, replace all the service valve and test under dry nitrogen pressure.

I'm a residential service tech who does maintenance and demand calls, if I find a leak im trying to flip the unit if it's over 5

Zook
Oct 3, 2014


Bird in a Blender posted:

I've been doing some long-term thinking about replacing the HVAC system in my house. Currently I have a typical single zone, AC and gas furnace unit in my basement. My system does not do a great job cooling my house. If it's 90 degrees out, my house is usually 75 at the stat, and 80 on the 2nd floor. Heating is not an issue, my furnace keeps up fine. I live in Chicago for reference. I also have an 80 year old building, with a not great duct layout, and I've tweaked the dampers as much as I can to get air going where I need it. My upstairs doesn't get enough air flow, which is ok in the winter since the heat naturally rises, but brutal in the summer.

I'd like to switch over to either a multi-zone VRF system, or still a single zone heat pump system because I'd also like to get off of natural gas (for personal environmental reasons). I deal with both of these systems on the commercial side a lot, but not on the residential side. So I'm asking if people have experience with one brand over another for either set up, and any drawbacks I'm not thinking about. Stuff like that.

Ideally, I'd love to go to a multi-zone system because my basement is always cold, and actually super cold in the summer as my AC works non-stop, so the little bit of AC I have in the basement is cooling a room that doesn't need it. Meanwhile, my upstairs really needs more cooling. A single-zone system would leave me with some of the same problems I have now, but I'm not really sure I can get a multi-zone system to work in my house. If I can't get the mult-zone to work, I'd probably try and rework some of my basement duct at least to try and help my airflow situation out. Luckily, a good chunk of my basement is unfinished, so the duct is easy to get at.

TLDR: Any advice on VRF or heat pump manufacturers, and what should I think about when making that switch?

don't get a zone x, also don't waste money on a trane

MRC48B
Apr 2, 2012



Bird in a Blender posted:

TLDR: Any advice on VRF or heat pump manufacturers, and what should I think about when making that switch?

It is my opinion that Mitsubishi makes a really good vrf setup.

however they partnered with trane here in the states, so you may have to deal with them now. ymmv.

Bird in a Blender
Nov 17, 2005

It's amazing what they can do with computers these days.



Ok. My initial thoughts were Mitsubishi/Trane or LG. I’ll do some more digging once I get closer to really needing something.

Zook
Oct 3, 2014


Goodman's are decent, rheems are okay, but avoid the rheems with the microchannel coils, international comfort products, carrier, etc all make okay heat pumps. You can set up a zoning system on any of them since a zoning system just involves putting dampers on your ductwork and wiring your tstats to a zoning board. One thing you're gonna want to look at if you want longevity out of a heat pump though is that you're return is properly sized and the system is the right tonnage, heat pumps condensate on the coil in heating and cooling so if your static pressure is too high it can cause excess condensation leading to early rusting and potential leaking.

B-Nasty
May 25, 2005



Zook posted:

One thing you're gonna want to look at if you want longevity out of a heat pump though is that you're return is properly sized and the system is the right tonnage, heat pumps condensate on the coil in heating and cooling so if your static pressure is too high it can cause excess condensation leading to early rusting and potential leaking.

You also tend to get high head pressures in heat mode with crappy returns, because the inside (now-condenser) coil can't get enough airflow to reject all that heat properly. Crappy returns are pretty much the name of the game, and almost always an issue in houses that were designed around furnaces not 1200CFM+ requiring heat pumps.

SourKraut
Nov 20, 2005

POST QUALITY UNDER CONSTRUCTION




Now I'm curious, what's wrong with Trane?

MRC48B
Apr 2, 2012



They are a vertically integrated company, so if you are not a direct partner, working with them to get parts and technical support can be annoying, because they have their own service and install guys running around trying to get the same work.

It all depends on whether your local trane office are jerks.

Nothing wrong with the equipment, for the most part. Just usual business shenanigans.

SourKraut
Nov 20, 2005

POST QUALITY UNDER CONSTRUCTION




Ah ok. It just made me nervous because we replaced our HVAC system about a year and a half ago and went with Trane, but the company we used that installed the equipment has been in business for a long time and they've provided great service so far.

Zook
Oct 3, 2014


SourKraut posted:

Now I'm curious, what's wrong with Trane?

not much just they're really expensive and a lot of their tech isn't really necessary or useful because it's overridden by simple things like not having a properly sized return, housing not being properly insulated, filtration not being effective enough to keep your indoor coil clean etc.

Motronic
Nov 6, 2009


MOTRONIC FOR MODERATOR, MAKE AI GREAT AGAIN


Grimey Drawer

Zook posted:

not much just they're really expensive and a lot of their tech isn't really necessary or useful because it's overridden by simple things like not having a properly sized return, housing not being properly insulated, filtration not being effective enough to keep your indoor coil clean etc.

But their lab numbers look GREAT!

Sadi
Jan 18, 2005
SC - Where there are more rednecks than people

Speaking of trane being vertically oriented with supply chain control, I have an out door unit (TRANE 4TWX5030 [XL15i]) and my ECM/PCM blower motor has poo poo the bed. Its seeing the 24VAC signal from the defrost controller but not firing up. The fan is 5SME39HL HE026. Windings measure fine, figure the PCM is toast though I cant diagnose further due to potting. At this point Im just trying to figure out how to source a replacement part. All the info I can find online seems to be stonewalling anyone whos not in the trades. I see I can buy a generic replacement ECM 142R motor from Genteq (6303 however it looks for mains to signal the start and my defrost is all 24v). Any ideas on what to do next? Or do I need to suck it up and pay a local company $1k to come out and drop a motor in?

angryrobots
Mar 31, 2005



Per the parts suppliers, that p/n has been superceded by current motor MOT18698, which is available in a few places online for about $450.

Sadi
Jan 18, 2005
SC - Where there are more rednecks than people

Just found that as well with some google fu (not sure what I searched differently this time). Thanks!! Glad this is all happening while the weather here is perfect.

Phil Moscowitz
Feb 19, 2007

Chief Justice of the United States of Anime



Hello HVAC thread. I’m in the middle of an extensive renovation of a 100+ year old home in New Orleans, including compete HVAC replacement. The previous HVAC had two discrete systems, one for upstairs and one for downstairs (2 ton and 3 ton respectively) each on its own thermostat. Upstairs air handler and ductwork all ran in the attic and fed down to the bedrooms. The downstairs ductwork ran under the house to floor vents (pier and beam foundation) but being in New Orleans, the house has sunk a bit and the ductwork was in contact with the ground. Modern code will not permit installation of new ductwork under the house, so we’ve gone through multiple redesigns in order to relocate both systems to the attic where there’s plenty of room.

Unfortunately this means ductwork has to run through the second story somehow to get to the first floor. This is an old historic house and I am really put off by the proposals the HVAC sub is coming up with, which mainly consist of awful looking ceiling to floor build outs in various room corners, gobbling up square footage, and furr downs that destroy some of the 11 foot ceilings that make this house what it is. Even more frustrating is that none of this was an issue on the architects plans, nor during the numerous walk throughs we had with the contractor and sub where we discussed exactly these issues. We’re still trying to work through all of this and I’m getting another HVAC company I’ve used for years and really like to come give a second opinion, but was hoping someone here might have thoughts too.

I don’t find the sub to be very creative. He’s basically just trying to find various ways to keep everything in the attic and run a ton of ducts down. Part of the problem is that the previous furnace/air handler was wedged underneath the stairs, but the new systems proposed by the sub (Comfortmaker—which I’m not entirely sold on either) are too big to put there.

Looking around at alternatives I see SDHV high velocity systems (e.g. Unico), which seems to address the duct problem. But it seems too good to be true and only a few local HVAC contractors handle it. Also worried it may be too late in the game to start over with something like that, since we are basically gutted to the studs and moving into plumbing and electrical at this stage.

Also there is an addition to the home that was build on a slab, so it was supplied by ducts that came from the crawl space up the walls. But the sub is telling us no room to run ducts down those walls, so we have to move to mini splits for that room, and we have to mount it on an external wall. When he suggested a placement we pointed out that it was right next to an obvious fireplace and chimney and he says “oh, then that won’t work” which inspired much confidence as you can imagine.

Anyway I was hoping for some advice/thoughts on:

1. The duct problem - am I just screwed?
2. SDHV systems - anyone used these? Are they stupid expensive/not functional?
3. Mini splits - anyone have thoughts on these?
4. Is Comfortmaker any good? I’ve never heard of it and research seems to say “good for a budget” which...this isn’t really a “budget” renovation nor is the HVAC quote cheap.

Thanks for any advice. I know it’s probably hard to say without seeing the plans and building, so I can post those if it would help.

skipdogg
Nov 29, 2004
Resident SRT-4 Expert


Have you looked into a VRF type system? Could work out for you. It's a multi split system for lack of a better word. A lot of high end builders are moving towards these systems. It'll be more expensive though. You could mix up ducted and non ducted inside units to build a system that works for you.

angryrobots
Mar 31, 2005



I'd definitely suggest a contractor with experience working in historic buildings. I'm sure this isn't the first one in an area like yours .

I don't have any experience with the high velocity systems, except I watched them install one on This Old House for similar reasons that you have, and Richard was all about it.

stratdax
Sep 14, 2006


Just spitballing some options here, but if you're sticking with two systems anyway, just using ductless splits in the downstairs (and no forced air at all) might be a way to go.

You can also put the house on one big condensing unit and use a mix of ducted air handlers for the upstairs, and ductless splits downstairs. (Or just eliminate all the ducts and use splits throughout the house). Companies (for example, mitsubishi) make multizone units that can do heating and cooling in different zones of the house at the same time (if that's required in your climate).

Or in floor heating in the downstairs and no AC.

stratdax fucked around with this message at 19:50 on Apr 7, 2021

devicenull
May 30, 2007



Grimey Drawer

stratdax posted:

Just spitballing some options here, but if you're sticking with two systems anyway, just using ductless splits in the downstairs (and no forced air at all) might be a way to go.

You can also put the house on one big condensing unit and use a mix of ducted air handlers for the upstairs, and ductless splits downstairs. (Or just eliminate all the ducts and use splits throughout the house). Companies (for example, mitsubishi) make multizone units that can do heating and cooling in different zones of the house at the same time (if that's required in your climate).

Or in floor heating in the downstairs and no AC.

They also make ducted ductless mini-splits, which is a good option if you don't want the ugly mini-split on the wall. Maybe this would fit under your stairs? You'd only need to get refrigerant lines to it, which should be pretty easy if you're already down to the studs.

The high velocity systems are pretty niche, they're probably not going to be that cheap to get installed, and you're going to be at the mercy of the few local places that will work with them.

MrChrome
Jan 21, 2001


We live in a historic neighborhood and every house has a Unico system. I just bought the house in October so I've only turned it on a few times. It seems a tad loud in the upstairs of the house where most of the outlets are. We have 10 outlets upstairs and only 4 downstairs. The 4 downstairs come through a closet. The whole thing is extremely well hidden. You have to position the outlets so they're not over beds or anything since the air is moving pretty quick.



stratdax
Sep 14, 2006


devicenull posted:

They also make ducted ductless mini-splits, which is a good option if you don't want the ugly mini-split on the wall. Maybe this would fit under your stairs? You'd only need to get refrigerant lines to it, which should be pretty easy if you're already down to the studs.

The high velocity systems are pretty niche, they're probably not going to be that cheap to get installed, and you're going to be at the mercy of the few local places that will work with them.

This post reminds me, if the air handler and ducts can't fit under the stairs, and you (Phil Moscowitz) don't want the minisplits scattered around your walls, they also make these, which may or may not be possible depending on what's going on with the downstairs ceiling.
https://www.mitsubishicomfort.com/products/indoor-units/horizontal-ducted

stratdax fucked around with this message at 20:36 on Apr 7, 2021

Phil Moscowitz
Feb 19, 2007

Chief Justice of the United States of Anime



Thanks to everyone for the very helpful advice! Lots of research and discuss with our contractors.

tater_salad
Sep 15, 2007




Air duct cleaning.. lovely snake oil used to sell services or good idea for a 60 year old home?

The details
House: New furnace, new Main trunk, no clue what the old one looked looked like I should have asked. some of the vents in the basement seem to be stud cavity vents.

My furnace filter seems to not get extra dusty/clogged etc. It seems to get dirty at around the excpected timeframes for changing.

My thoughts: EPA says no fuggin clue if it actually does anything and really we'd only recommend it if you had mold issues or you had animals living and pissing in your vents.

My concerns: Some of my vents contain asbestos wrapping (welcome to houses built in the 50s people) so banging a brush or blowing air around around in my vents might not be the best idea.

I'd rather not toss $500 on snake oil, but dont mind spending it if it's recommended / acutally would improve indoor air quality.

B-Nasty
May 25, 2005



tater_salad posted:

Air duct cleaning.. lovely snake oil used to sell services or good idea for a 60 year old home?

A waste of money, probably. The good duct cleaning services will also send a camera down the runs, which may be the only valuable component if it identifies a disconnected/crushed/blocked duct. Of course, you still have to pay/rip walls to fix the duct issue anyway.

If you're concerned about indoor air quality, that money would be better spent on a standalone air purifier or upgrading your filter media cabinet on the airhandler to accept 5" filters that you can run at higher MERVs.

DaveSauce
Feb 15, 2004

Oh, how awkward.


UV question:

We got sold on a coil cleaning UV lamp for our gas pack shortly after we moved in. We're in NC so the humidity means it doesn't take much for the coils to become a nasty moldy mess (or so I'm told).

Anyhow, this was about 4 years ago. We get routine service most years, and they haven't once recommended replacing the lamp. My understanding is that the lamps are only effective for anywhere between 6 months to 2 years, and I'd have figured that the lamp was such an easy upsell that they'd be all over us.

Is there a practical test to determine if the lamp is still effective? I would guess that mold growth would mean it's not working for poo poo... And then follow-up: if there's mold growth, and they're not telling us to replace the lamp, would that indicate that the lamp was never needed to begin with? Like I said, seems like an easy upsell, so either it's still working or they can't tell that it's not working.

SourKraut
Nov 20, 2005

POST QUALITY UNDER CONSTRUCTION




B-Nasty posted:

A waste of money, probably. The good duct cleaning services will also send a camera down the runs, which may be the only valuable component if it identifies a disconnected/crushed/blocked duct. Of course, you still have to pay/rip walls to fix the duct issue anyway.

If you're concerned about indoor air quality, that money would be better spent on a standalone air purifier or upgrading your filter media cabinet on the airhandler to accept 5" filters that you can run at higher MERVs.

Yeah, we went the standalone air purifier route, but I will still probably end up installing the inline scrubber at the air handler that uses a MERV 13 filter at some point. The company that installed the HVAC system quoted about $1250 for the unit and install which doesn't seem too bad?

PageMaster
Nov 4, 2009


We have a two story home in the desert with ventral AC, but I think ceiling fans would be nice for cooking during the small times when temps aren't extreme but the wife doesn't like them because of how small they make the room look (we have low ceilings). I know we have a setting for it, but I never used the fan only option on our thermostats before is there a downside to this as far as lifespan or energy draw compared to running the AC, and would it even give any benefits as far as keeping air moving throughout the house?

Bird in a Blender
Nov 17, 2005

It's amazing what they can do with computers these days.



Your energy draw will be significantly lower using just the fan since the AC compressor is what uses most of the energy. Couldn't tell you how much energy without knowing the size of your unit obviously. The big gain will just be hopefully moving some cooler air from the lower floors to your hotter rooms on the second floor. You're not getting the same cooling effect as a ceiling fan since the air is not moving over your body, but it should help. Long-term, you might need to change your air filter a little more frequently. You could potentially cause your fan to fail early since it's in use more, but I'd say your chances are pretty low.

Might as well try it and see if it makes a difference for you.

angryrobots
Mar 31, 2005



Normally I wouldn't suggest using the fan without the AC system as you will put a lot of humidity back into the air via evaporation from the condensate in the drain pan. Not sure if that's as undesirable in the desert, assuming it's an arid desert environment and the humidity is very low.

If ceiling fans are out, they do make upright fans that could be useful to move air around, in addition to the ubiquitous box fan. Also, if it gets cool at night there you could definitely take advantage by opening windows, especially in a two story house where you can take advantage of the rising air column when outside temps are desirable.

MRC48B
Apr 2, 2012



If he lives anywhere slightly arid, regaining moisture from the evap drain isn't going to be a problem.

PageMaster
Nov 4, 2009


Climate is technically classified as semi-arid for what it's worth. We haven't lived there in the summer yet so we'll test fall only and see if it's noticeable. I long term looking at solar which would take care of energy costs but that's more than a couple years out.

empty baggie
Oct 22, 2003



DaveSauce posted:

UV question:

We got sold on a coil cleaning UV lamp for our gas pack shortly after we moved in. We're in NC so the humidity means it doesn't take much for the coils to become a nasty moldy mess (or so I'm told).

Anyhow, this was about 4 years ago. We get routine service most years, and they haven't once recommended replacing the lamp. My understanding is that the lamps are only effective for anywhere between 6 months to 2 years, and I'd have figured that the lamp was such an easy upsell that they'd be all over us.

Is there a practical test to determine if the lamp is still effective? I would guess that mold growth would mean it's not working for poo poo... And then follow-up: if there's mold growth, and they're not telling us to replace the lamp, would that indicate that the lamp was never needed to begin with? Like I said, seems like an easy upsell, so either it's still working or they can't tell that it's not working.

My mom didn't even know she had a UV light installed in 2000 when her house was built until last year when COVID started and she was looking into having one installed. She has her HVAC serviced every year and nobody said a word about it. So, for around $100 for a replacement bulb, she now has a working lamp for the next year or so. The old one still lit up, but I'm sure after 20 years it wasn't effective any longer.

If it's over 2 years old, its pretty safe to assume it's not effective any longer. Most of the one's I've seen say to replace every year, although the one my mother has is supposed to be good for 2.

stratdax
Sep 14, 2006


PageMaster posted:

We have a two story home in the desert with ventral AC, but I think ceiling fans would be nice for cooking during the small times when temps aren't extreme but the wife doesn't like them because of how small they make the room look (we have low ceilings). I know we have a setting for it, but I never used the fan only option on our thermostats before is there a downside to this as far as lifespan or energy draw compared to running the AC, and would it even give any benefits as far as keeping air moving throughout the house?

Keeping the fan on will cost you pennies for the day and will circulate the air through your house. It will definitely help. Since you're only talking about running it while you're cooking it won't affect the lifespan of the fan. Don't worry about it.


angryrobots posted:

Normally I wouldn't suggest using the fan without the AC system as you will put a lot of humidity back into the air via evaporation from the condensate in the drain pan. Not sure if that's as undesirable in the desert, assuming it's an arid desert environment and the humidity is very low.

If he's not running the AC, there won't be condensate in the drain pan...
Any humidity formed from condensate leftover from when the AC was running will be unnoticeable.

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angryrobots
Mar 31, 2005



stratdax posted:

If he's not running the AC, there won't be condensate in the drain pan...

No poo poo?

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