Tenant angry about AC

48 Replies

Question. This is my first rental. I've rehabbed and installed a new central AC. It is having trouble keeping up with the gulf coast heat. I had it checked out and it is operating normally. I added attic insulation but it still can't keep up. It is the right size for the house. So I put a portable AC in the living room. It's in rollers and can easily be moved from room to room. But my tenant is angry saying that is too much of a hassle. It is only in the afternoon that the house is too hot. It gets up to 78 degrees without the portable. I don't think I can replace the unit this year. Note this is a class C neighborhood so it doesn't command high rent.

Advice on dealing with a disgruntled. Tenant? By the way, she let a toilet leaks go u reported until I had to replace the floor.

I'd see if the HVAC company has any suggestions to help it put out a little more. ie, would adding an additional register vent help? A less restrictive air filter? Insulating the freon lines better?

House insulation is probably the best solution but you indicated you addressed this. Is the house insulated as good as it can be?

Seems like a properly sized AC unit ought to be able keep up with normal summer weather.  I think I'd get a couple of additional opinions on how to improve the situation.

As far as a disgruntled tenant goes, since she knows you have been working to fix the problem and is still being crabby, I think I'd happy clause her. How much longer does she have on her lease? Make sure she knows you don't have a magic wand.

@Julie Walker   As the central AC is new, call the company and get them to look at it. It should be under warranty.  My mom had a heat pump installed and her electric bills were really high, turns out something happened to a coil.  They came out and repaired it free of charge.

Tell the tenant that you are working on it and as Jill said, tell her if she's not happy in the home, she's welcome to have a one time offer to get out of her lease.

is it just sections of the house that are hotter than others? I have a house that has one HVAC system, but two thermostats, one for upstairs one for downstairs. The thermostat system is called Vivint and it has a damper that alters the airflow to cool off the hotter floor of the house. Of course you could always close the vents in rooms the tenant isn't using so it blasts more air in the hot rooms. 

@Julie Walker . Is it a new Complete system new furnace new coil new condenser ? Or did they just change the outside unit Aka condenser and changed a piston on the inside ?? Just because you change the outside unit if the A coil is clogged or dirty it won’t let air pass over the coil and you will get reduced performance. I’m a licensed A/C tech their are a lot of reasons maybe the guy who sold you the system charged you for one price and gave you a smaller system I’ve seen it done. You will have to go out and take a picture of the label so I can see what size the units are. The label is on the unit outside. Also make sure the unit is clean the outside unit rejects the heat I know it’s new anybody been cutting grass lately ?? Got a furry dog ?? All these things and more can clog up your coil and the condenser won’t be able to reject the heat.

@Julie Walker . Also it’s a class C you sure it’s not cooling the house or is the tenant just telling you that ? Have they been wanting to withhold rent because of this ?? 🤨🤨🤨🤨. Or demand a rent reduction ? There are so many questions that have to be answered in order for me to accurately answer the question it helps to have your eye on the unit. What is the split from the fresh air return to the vent ?

Tenant is whining that it gets "up to" a whopping 78 degrees in the afternoon? Sounds like tenant needs to stop whining. Sorry, it's not always possible to cool more than 20 or so degrees below outside temperature.

I started as a hvac tech when I got into this field. a properly sized and installed system will be enough to cool the home. 78 is not a bad temp, but most of my residents set theirs at 74-76. make sure all the windows are closed, dryer vent is still attached, placement of thermostat, and def have the hvac tech or supervisor come out to evaluate system.

Thanks everyone. The unit has been checked by installer and a second company. Sized correctly, ductwork ok, no leaks, blows cold air. I was there the other morning and the house was quite cool. My handyman was there one afternoon and it was set on 70 but the temp was 78. So I think it is the house. Maybe not enough insulation in the walls. But the room unit works well and can be moved as needed it's on wheels I've lived in houses with window units. I feel that she is being a bit difficult at this point. But being new at this thought I would get a consensus from the group. Maybe I'm wrong.

Set on 70 but at 78 - this can also mean it was just turned on a few minutes ago. Central air in general can be pretty slow to get the temperature down. Maybe the tenant is trying to use it just part of the time? 

@Julie Walker

Hi Julie,

I run mine at 68 when it's 103 outside--no problem.

If the unit is sized correctly in tons (not too big and not too small) and the inside coils are the correct size for the tons you should be able to draw the whole house down even farther than that.

Sizing the units isn't an exact science. Too big and they do not run enough. Too small and you can't remove enough of the heat from the house.

Your unit may need to be a different size than a similar house in the neighborhood for a variety of reasons (roof color, insulation differences, shade trees, window size, etc...

Also, sometimes the A/C Techs do not put enough (or too much coolant) in the system, which can cause this problem.

If it were mine, I'd call both the most respected, and the oldest A/C companies out to have a look at it and get their opinion on why it's not cooling enough (you are at the mercy of the A/C Tech who shows up--and some are better than others).

Good Luck!

@Scott Mac thanks. It is sized according to Manual J calculations and has been checked by 2 HVAC technician s from separate companies. I guess I can bring in a 3rd but the service calls are about $75. I agree it should work better than than it is. But can't put in a brand new unit. Hence the room AC.

@Julie Walker is the thermostat set to 70 degrees 24 hours a day? Tenants have a tendency to turn the temperature up when they are not home, then try to turn it down when they get home. You have to cool continuously to hold lower temperatures. I have trouble believing it is set to 70 degrees 24/7 and gets up to 78 in the afternoon - that would indicate an AC problem. Other factors that play into temperature are number of people living in the property. People contribute to heat in the property. An AC unit should have no trouble holding more than 20 degrees delta to outside temperature and it should not be running continuously.

Also, how are the heating bills in winter / electric bills in summer? Those would both be high if the house needed insulation. 

Personally, I'd probably throw some kind of data logging device on it to see what it's really doing (ie, is it running constantly, icing up, outside part running too hot, etc.). But, I'm an electrical engineer, so my go-to solutions tend to involve sensors and software... probably not practical. 

Maybe one of those fancy thermostats could at least tell you how much it's running? 

I function all day long in a 78 degree house....no problem....at all...... In fact I never set mine below 78.........

Sounds like you have done every reasonable thing to do...... beyond that, I'm telling client to deal with it, use the portables or I'll gladly let them out of the lease.....

@Julie Walker

1st I hope you took pictures with dates Before & After the toilet flooding in initial walk thur And you said it's a new AC unit? Try calling out the AC company again and complain to them that it's not keeping Room at I would say 72゚ I think there's a lot of variables that can stop an air conditioner from being at a certain temperature un less you get a really large unit to compensate what is your tenant wanting it to be at if she wants at 60 degrees she's being unreasonable I think that was nice of you to get an extra air conditioner for her

Originally posted by @Jermell Shavers :

@Julie Walker. Is it a new Complete system new furnace new coil new condenser ? Or did they just change the outside unit Aka condenser and changed a piston on the inside ?? Just because you change the outside unit if the A coil is clogged or dirty it won’t let air pass over the coil and you will get reduced performance. I’m a licensed A/C tech their are a lot of reasons maybe the guy who sold you the system charged you for one price and gave you a smaller system I’ve seen it done. You will have to go out and take a picture of the label so I can see what size the units are. The label is on the unit outside. Also make sure the unit is clean the outside unit rejects the heat I know it’s new anybody been cutting grass lately ?? Got a furry dog ?? All these things and more can clog up your coil and the condenser won’t be able to reject the heat.

 Where I am at it's illegal to change the outside unit and not the inside.  No one would try it.  In fact the AC companies are getting to the point they don't even service central units ten years or older they just write you a new system estimate.

@Sam Leon Its not that way here we do it all the time swap the piston to 410-A replace the condenser and call it a day. Companies here would go out of business if they did that nobody is paying 10 or even 5k for a new system here. Well at least not me lol. I do the work and can get the equipment myself. I feel sorry for people who have to pay crazy prices

WTF? 78F is high? Are you guys looking to live in an igloo in alaska?

What temperature do you set during the winter? 68F? 

I'd be happy if my rental could maintain 78, which it does, but not without lots of electricity usage.

78F is perfectly comfortable, and if I ever have a tenant who complains about it, I'm letting them out of the lease.

Originally posted by @Jermell Shavers :

@Sam Leon Its not that way here we do it all the time swap the piston to 410-A replace the condenser and call it a day. Companies here would go out of business if they did that nobody is paying 10 or even 5k for a new system here. Well at least not me lol. I do the work and can get the equipment myself. I feel sorry for people who have to pay crazy prices

Not in South Florida anymore.

Cannot issue a permit without changing both the inside and outside.

if you can find someone to just replace the outside unit it would be a Craigslist tech and no warranty whatsoever.  All new systems are ten year parts.  Once ten years is over no more repairs unless it's freon.

sometimes even if just freon the tech would write a new system estimate.

just last week...

"your freon is low and the only reason is due to a leak, best to get a new system"

I said if it's a leak in the pipes from outside to inside then a new system won't help at all.

"nah pipes don't leak, most of the time it's a loose cap or some thing"

I said then you can detect that if it's leaking from a loose cap, surely you don't think I need a new system from having a loose cap?

"you need like 7 pounds of R22 and it's going to be $120 a pound since it's so hard to come by, that's why better off getting a new system instead of wasting do much on the gas and have it leaked out".

I said the only way you can tell how much I need is to weight your tank before and after, or to extract my freon and to weight it.  I don't think you can just guess how much I need.

He mumbled something and eventually I gave him $60 service fee and sent him on his way.

AC companies down here don't do repairs!!!




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