HVAC Condenser Replacement

2 Replies

I have a noisy outdoor HVAC unit at one of my rentals -- called a larger company who said my condenser was broken. Their quote:

$2300 for a new condenser / all related installation

$3000 for a new outdoor unit all in / all related installation

Is there any reason not to buy a compressor online (looks like about $650 for the part) and have a general repair contractor install it for me? Or is there a reason to hire a bigger company at a high price point for a job like this?

Thanks for your help!

One trick I've used in the past is to skip the middleman and go straight to the source.  

Years ago, I was low on cash and needed a surprise plumbing job done ASAP before a new tenant moved in.  A plumbing company I found in the phone book quoted nearly $1K.  I said I would think about it and hung up.

Instead, I went to Lowe's and hung around the plumbing aisle, watching people come in and pick up supplies, homeowner, contractors, and guys who worked for middle-and-large-sized plumbing companies.  I found a guy whose look passed my quick eye-test and told him what I needed.  

He was picking up material for a job he was working on.  When he paid for the parts, he followed me to my rental which was only 5 minutes away.  He looked at the problem and said it was (for him) an easy fix.  He came back the next day and completed the repair.  I can't remember exactly, but I think he charged $100.  Basically, it was a little more than his hourly rate from the plumbing company.  He won, I won on price.  I got the same professional work I would have gotten if I called his employer, but it cost me hundreds of dollars less.  He became my go-to plumber for the next few years.

I got my current HVAC guy the same way.  My mother called a company from the phone book to send a technician to service her HVAC.  I went to make sure everything went well.  We talked, he ended up coming to my house to service my HVAC at a discounted rate.  A few months later, he installed a new furnace and AC in a rental I was renovating -- at a great price.  He's licensed and has his own company on the side, with invoices and everything, but he can't generate enough work on his own and thus has to work for a larger company most of the time.

The technicians working for these companies are often licensed, but don't have the people skills or marketing skills necessary to operate on their own.  They don't make hundreds of dollars per job -- they make an hourly rate and do 3-5+ jobs per day and live month-to-month.  The only catch is they sometimes have to work after hours or on weekends.  Then again, I've had guys call out for the day at their regular job to do a job for me because I paid more then their boss would have paid for that day for only half the time.

This approach may not work for everyone, but it has worked for me when I needed it.

just call for more bids, you can find people that have a used one in perfect condition for a fraction of the price.. may not be matching brand name but MUST be compatible as some are NOT cross compatible