A/C troubles? Learn how NOT to get ripped off!

About 5 years ago I recommended a new local A/C guy to a friend who wanted the outside unit moved.  Shortly after the move the A/C quit working and our local guy looked at it for a while and then told my friend that he had to think about it.  My friend never heard from him again, installed a window AC instead and I now run the house as Airbnb.  Of course central A/C would be much better than just the window unit.  I already have a new 240V big ass window unit, but I’d rather have the central A/C fixed — if I can get a reasonable estimate.

Both lines have to be re-brazed:

This valve is leaking:


I’ve now received two repair estimates. 

One from a Kingman HVAC company and one from another new guy in Meadview who retired after many years in the HVAC biz and recently moved here.

  • The Kingman company quoted $1,330 and he could have done it right then.  He said he needed to fix the two leaks, replace a leaky valve and because it ran without refrigerant, much inside the unit has to be replaced (apparently a lie to justify the outrageous estimate).
  • I asked for a quote for a new A/C (as recommended), and someone else had to come out for that.  WEIRD!  So a couple days later I got a quote for a new unit for over $6,000.
  • The local unlicensed guy’s quote was for $1,000, cash only.  He recommended fixing the leaks and recharging with R-22.  He said that there is protection so that nothing fried and he also ran it.  All it needed was brazing where it leaks, the new valve and of course leak testing and recharge.  He would have supplied the refrigerant and spent a lot of time talking about how R-22 won’t be available anymore.When I left a VM asking whether I could supply the refrigerant, he didn’t call me back.  So there’s a clue about him!   I left a 2nd message for him today and I’ll wait a few more days before I disclose who he is, just in case he’s in the hospital or something.  But I have a feeling that he’s only going to work when he can make at least $300/hr.

The Kingman contractor would use 427A and A/C Renew oil additive.

Isn’t it amazing that all three told me that there was no replacement for R-22?

But most amazing are the repeated lies from the first repair guy — he actually would have used the 427A replacement!

AFTER TELLING ME THAT THERE IS NO REPLACEMENT!

There might be issues with the 427A blend and I watched a few YouTube videos about it, so I’m not sure yet.  However, I love our beautiful planet and would gladly pay a few bucks more for refrigerant that doesn’t pollute.

My unit needs 9 lbs of refrigerant. The 427A was $67/lb in the Kingman repair estimate for a total of $603.

Please note that these are RETAIL offers and contractors get much better pricing buying WHOLESALE!

Since I don’t use any cooling other than USB fans at my place, this is a MAJOR education for me.   I can’t believe how people are being lied to, pushed to FINANCE new A/C systems when there’s really NOTHING wrong with the existing system aside from easily fixed leaks and there is absolutely NO shortage of R-22 and never will be as more and more units are replaced and the refrigerant is recycled.  Not to mention that we HAVE the 427A replacement!

I’ve heard of Angie’s List in NPR ads and they’ll NEVER get a dime from me — INDUSTRY WHORES!
https://www.angieslist.com/articles/what-fair-price-r-22-refrigerant.htm
There seem to be hundreds or thousands of articles just like that.

Mohave County is extremely poor.

The cost of living is low and we attract many disabled and retirees on a fixed income.

So what’s up with this FRAUD on the elderly and disabled?

I decided to contact some more contractors for quotes, but of course everybody says they need to come out and look at the system.  And I don’t want them to have to make this long trip for nothing (the A/C needs to be fixed only once).  And, as I’m apparently one of the last honest people around, I don’t feel comfortable misleading them, pretending that I’m just another clueless old person.

I’m hoping to find at least one company that’s HONEST.

My questions for A/C specialists:

  • Should the unit be recharged with R-22 or 427A?
  • Do you recommend A/C Renew?  The Amazon reviewers like it!  But you never know whether they are real reviews or paid fake reviews.
  • What do you charge per pound of refrigerant and for the A/C Renew?
  • What do you charge for driving to Meadview?  Do you have a special day when you charge less?
  • What is your warranty?
  • Anything else you feel is important to know?
  • And of course, how much to fix my A/C?

My very first job was a business / bookkeeping apprenticeship in my parents’ business and I know what it costs to have employees and vehicles, pay taxes and all that.  But I don’t get why they charge so much for the refrigerant and the oil additive.   We did auto repair and we marked up the parts because we bought WHOLESALE and I or someone else had to get paid to order and pick up the parts, often in rush hour traffic.  So we gave our customers retail prices.

The A/C contractors have everything delivered and in stock just like we had oil, etc. in stock.   There’s NO WAY we would have marked up $65 retail brake pads to $228!

I was told that this is probably a 3 hour job.

I hope that our Kingman contractors will take the time to honestly explain how they charge and why.

And then I’ll make a special page, I’ll summarize the info, post the estimates along with the company contact info — the good, the bad, the ugly.

Here are the specs for my unit, operated probably only about 4 years, no more than 7 or 8 years.

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