AC Unit Died!

13 Replies

BP,

My AC unit went out in my rental in Atlanta. Can someone recommend a good yet economical brand and contractor?  Every AC unit I look at has negative reviews.  There has to be some good ones.

Originally posted by @Curt Davis :

For rental purposed you should stick with Goodman or Ducane as they are cost effective. 

 I can buy almost any brand for less than Goodman, it's an illusion.   The thing is that Goodman sells pretty much to anybody, so you're buying from somebody that can't get good prices from the other brands for one reason or another.   But to tell you the truth, all brands are the same parts in them, same brand compressors, motors, relays, etc...   They all have their idiosyncracies.    When you buy an a/c, the first thing is to find a reputable contractor, which may not necessarily be the cheapest or the most expensive.   Ask friends and family for recommendations, if its not installed correctly, it won't matter what brand it is, it will be a POS.  2nd thing is to make sure the brand you buy has been in your area a long time, it's not some off brand that pops in and out of different distributors.   Typically if you stick with the big guys, American Standard/Trane,   Carrier/Bryant,  Rheem/Ruud,  Lennox or Goodman/Daikin/Amana you'll be ok.   Ducane is one of those brands that tends to pop in and out a lot in my area, but in some areas is solid.   Because when it breaks and it will break just as sure as the sun will come up tomorrow, you need to be able to get parts in a timely manner.

@Curt Davis and Brian Mathews thanks for the advise. I have a property management company that will take care of it, but I want to make sure I have enough info to steer them in the direction I want to go.  

I would order online from www.acwholesalers.com or www.supplyhouse.com these types of companies are called dropship and usually get larger discounts and has direct access to manufacturers, most of the time, they are the cheapest because of the low overhead of not having store employees. just look for the best warranty and customer service support. Just buy it online and have a tech install it.

I have good news.  I initially had it "serviced" by an unqualified tech.  It turns out that he overfilled it with freon and didn't secure the furnace door.  A second tech looked at it discovered these issues, corrected them and charged $134 and everything appears to be running smoothly.  Hopefully I won't have deal with this anymore. 

I was told before that the ac is on its last leg and that I should consider replacing so immediately thought that it was time.  Fortunately not!

@Manolo D. thanks for that suggestion.  I didn't know that was an option.

@Kevin Coleman I am so glad it turned out this way. You have a little more time to save and prepare for the replacement. I was so glad to see you post this question because I just purchased a house at auction and of course it needs a new AC. I am thankful for the responses which have been very informative for me as well. I too have a property management company in place but I want to be armed with enough information so I can be in control of the decisions that are made. @Curt Davis , @Brian Mathews

 and @Manolo D. Thank you so much for your contributions to this discussion.

@Kevin Coleman Check with your local laws first, but sometimes it falls under repair which doesn't need a contractor or handyman license. CA is pretty strict, something like that would require an HVAC company. Ask your PM, they might charge you less, expect something like 150-300/day/person for the installation, it shouldn't take 1 man in 1 day to do everything, be confident when you tell them this, if they think you know what you are doing on installation, they won't charge you much. Stay the closest model as possible, arm yourself with the model number of existing unit and let the supplier match it best installation wise.

@Pyrrha Rivers I'm here to help. :)

Originally posted by @Manolo D. :

@Kevin Coleman Check with your local laws first, but sometimes it falls under repair which doesn't need a contractor or handyman license. CA is pretty strict, something like that would require an HVAC company. Ask your PM, they might charge you less, expect something like 150-300/day/person for the installation, it shouldn't take 1 man in 1 day to do everything, be confident when you tell them this, if they think you know what you are doing on installation, they won't charge you much. Stay the closest model as possible, arm yourself with the model number of existing unit and let the supplier match it best installation wise.

@Pyrrha Rivers I'm here to help. :)

 Not sure what this advice is.   $150-$300 a day for installation???  If you're trying to hire some idiot off craigslist  that will screw up the job.   I pay my installers that per job, not per day, otherwise I get some idiot who will screw up the job or maybe steal something from your house,    then I have to cover workmen's comp, general liability and commercial auto insurance, put gas in the truck to get them to the job, pay taxes and hopefully put a little bit in my pocket for the trouble of which out of that I need to have something to put back when I retire and pay my health insurance.   $150-$300 a day is a joke.  I would lose $500 just for the honor of doing the job.  

Originally posted by @Brian Mathews :
Originally posted by @Manolo D.:

@Kevin Coleman Check with your local laws first, but sometimes it falls under repair which doesn't need a contractor or handyman license. CA is pretty strict, something like that would require an HVAC company. Ask your PM, they might charge you less, expect something like 150-300/day/person for the installation, it shouldn't take 1 man in 1 day to do everything, be confident when you tell them this, if they think you know what you are doing on installation, they won't charge you much. Stay the closest model as possible, arm yourself with the model number of existing unit and let the supplier match it best installation wise.

@Pyrrha Rivers I'm here to help. :)

 Not sure what this advice is.   $150-$300 a day for installation???  If you're trying to hire some idiot off craigslist  that will screw up the job.   I pay my installers that per job, not per day, otherwise I get some idiot who will screw up the job or maybe steal something from your house,    then I have to cover workmen's comp, general liability and commercial auto insurance, put gas in the truck to get them to the job, pay taxes and hopefully put a little bit in my pocket for the trouble of which out of that I need to have something to put back when I retire and pay my health insurance.   $150-$300 a day is a joke.  I would lose $500 just for the honor of doing the job.  

 LOL, paying more than 300 is a joke on my books. Read the line, I said have your PM do it, they might have maintenance personnel that are cheap and on payroll. But then I am a contractor, and never look at craigslist or angies list, or red beacon, all of those online services are a joke to me. I have almost all trades by payroll, and anything above 200/day for highly skilled (minimum ground-up commercial capacity) personnel, is generous enough for a days pay.

Originally posted by @Manolo D. :
Originally posted by @Brian Mathews:
Originally posted by @Manolo D.:

@Kevin Coleman Check with your local laws first, but sometimes it falls under repair which doesn't need a contractor or handyman license. CA is pretty strict, something like that would require an HVAC company. Ask your PM, they might charge you less, expect something like 150-300/day/person for the installation, it shouldn't take 1 man in 1 day to do everything, be confident when you tell them this, if they think you know what you are doing on installation, they won't charge you much. Stay the closest model as possible, arm yourself with the model number of existing unit and let the supplier match it best installation wise.

@Pyrrha Rivers I'm here to help. :)

 Not sure what this advice is.   $150-$300 a day for installation???  If you're trying to hire some idiot off craigslist  that will screw up the job.   I pay my installers that per job, not per day, otherwise I get some idiot who will screw up the job or maybe steal something from your house,    then I have to cover workmen's comp, general liability and commercial auto insurance, put gas in the truck to get them to the job, pay taxes and hopefully put a little bit in my pocket for the trouble of which out of that I need to have something to put back when I retire and pay my health insurance.   $150-$300 a day is a joke.  I would lose $500 just for the honor of doing the job.  

 LOL, paying more than 300 is a joke on my books. Read the line, I said have your PM do it, they might have maintenance personnel that are cheap and on payroll. But then I am a contractor, and never look at craigslist or angies list, or red beacon, all of those online services are a joke to me. I have almost all trades by payroll, and anything above 200/day for highly skilled (minimum ground-up commercial capacity) personnel, is generous enough for a days pay.

I read your line about the PM, I do a lot of work for PMs and they usually have a pretty good relationship established with many different types of contractors.    You as a contractor should know there are many more factors involved than just labor and parts, such as the incredible amounts of insurance, overhead and taxes involved with running a business as well as you making a living off your workers actually doing the work.   So giving an expectation of cost without factoring in those other variables isn't the right thing to do as any contractor knows.   I don't know anything about red beacon.    Angies list is an extortion ring, don't use it as I don't need to pay to get work.   Craigslist speaks for itself, anybody who uses that to find labor is pretty much scraping the bottom of the barrel IMO.   If you pay your guys whatever, that is between you and them.   Around here the good guys have options and won't work for what you pay.   If I don't pay them, somebody else will and I'll end up making apologies for the crappy work that gets done.   I pay well and expect  a high quality of work and I get it.    

@Brian Mathews Yup, that is what I am paying for with 8-year experience minimum, it would be much less if they were only 3 year minimum, below that, only labor rate if they want job security, even if they are on an apprentice mode and have a little experience. I have an extensive liability and insurance coverage, more than a developer and regularly qualify for government projects, I know what it costs, but whether im only making 300k/year or 3M/year, I still pay the same, benefits of having everything in-house and not contracted out, expensive to maintain but pays off in the long run. I would think most of the PMs have thr same understanding, have an on-call service trade person in place which would lower their costs to a level. But, if you are only doing couple of jobs a month, then yeah, by all means just do a per job.

Originally posted by @Manolo D. :

Brian Mathews Yup, that is what I am paying for with 8-year experience minimum, it would be much less if they were only 3 year minimum, below that, only labor rate if they want job security, even if they are on an apprentice mode and have a little experience. I have an extensive liability and insurance coverage, more than a developer and regularly qualify for government projects, I know what it costs, but whether im only making 300k/year or 3M/year, I still pay the same, benefits of having everything in-house and not contracted out, expensive to maintain but pays off in the long run. I would think most of the PMs have thr same understanding, have an on-call service trade person in place which would lower their costs to a level. But, if you are only doing couple of jobs a month, then yeah, by all means just do a per job.

Not here.    My insurance costs are based upon what I do.   I would pay significantly more for $3m vs $300K.   Same with workmen's comp, its a percentage based upon how much I pay.    I have 1 full time employee and 2 part time employees.   I'm paying an average of 15-20% more.   When we do punchout and busy work, they drop into the $200 day range, which is inline with what is paid locally.   But typically they are making double that when we are doing installs.   A tech will make $25/hr + spiff or straight commission here.   A good tech can make over $100K a year easily if they are clean cut and act like a decent person.   I've known installers that make upwards of $200K a year if they do good work.   

Glad it worked out for you.  FYI, just replaced my heat pump in my rental.  2.5 ton 14 seer goodman installed for $4,200.  Comes with a 10 year warranty on parts.  Sucked big time to replace it but the unit was over 20 years old so it was time.  Tenants should see a nice drop in their utility bill which is great b/c they are awesome tenants.