Tenant angry about AC

51 Replies

Promotion
Azibo
Smart landlords use Azibo
One-stop-shop for landlords
Rent collection, banking, bill pay & access to competitive loans and insurance - free for landlords
Get started for free

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!!!

@Julie Walker -can you share the size of the house, and model numbers of both air handler(inside unit) and condenser(outside unit) and also try to find out what the temperature difference between return and supply air. With that we should have an idea of what’s going on.

@Julie Walker

If the system is working properly and it truly only gets down to 78, then it is not sized properly.

Let that sink in.....

The companies that tell you it is sized properly per a Manual J are not well versed enough to tell you the truth.

The truth is that a Manual J is HIGHLY dependent on assumptions about the house. How much insulation is in the walls and ceiling, how much ventilation is in the attic, how air tight is the home.....and so on.

If it is still not cooling to the low 70's, then the system is undersized. Plain and simple.

Did they replace it with the same size there before?

When I had my HVAC company in Dallas, if I would have ever had a customer complain about it not cooling to low 70's, I would have had to of replaced it with a large system. That's a HUGE expense, which is why we always spent so much time making sure the new system was the correct size.

I'd push the installer to replace it with a larger unit as it is certainly undersized...if working correctly.

Best of luck!

Originally posted by @Grant Cox :

@Casey Powers C'mon... you try functioning in a 78 degree house. Nice outside but awful inside. I can all but guarantee that you would be upset as well. Your comment is dismissive and not helpful at all.

Like a few others on here, I'm perfectly happy if it's 78 in my house and actually never set mine below that in the summer.  Guess some people just have different tolerances.   

@Julie Walker Hope I am not being redundant to other posts. Other than physical size and performance of A/C unit, condenser and coils, I would always look at getting the ducts cleaned and also make sure that there isn’t an abundance of furniture covering the supply and return vents on the property. People often put sofas, dressers, and bed sets of the vents reducing airflow. Next time you stop by the property I would look for vent locations in each room and make sure their not covered.

Don't know if it's been mentioned, but I've found in my experience with really hot days and AC units that are overwhelmed, turn the unit's fan into the 'on' position. It will continually circulate all the air throughout the house and do a better job of controlling the temperature. A fact is that the thermostat measures the air temperature at the wall in the room it's mounted to, not where there's a warm room. Since I found this trick I've used it on the last 3 homes that I've owned, and it works. Have her do that for a few days. It will also lower her electric bill. 

Also, a few have mentioned here that a unit should be able to keep at least a 20 degree temperature difference between the outside temperature and the inside of the house.

That is false...but a common misunderstanding.

The reference to a 20 degree temperature difference is usually from what is called Delta T. In the HVAC field, this is the measurement between the air going into the system and the air leaving the system. 75 degrees in should be about 55 degrees coming out. Google "Delta T" for more.

This in no way determines how cool you can keep the home. There are MANY factors that go into figuring out how cool a home can get down to.

Also, while those of you up north or in drier areas are happy at 78, you'd most certainly find that 78 in the coastal region of Texas feels very warm to you. Humidity plays a very large part in comfort.

This tenant is paying rent and not getting what she wants. Reasonable action to ensure a system is working properly is expected. The outcome of that action is that the system is almost certainly undersized. Back to square one. How did that happen? Who's responsible for it? Fix the problem.

The next tenant isn't going to be happy about it either.

@Julie Walker - I'm going to recommend a few low-tech solutions not yet mentioned. First and most effective, I recommend a nice floor fan. If the resident spends most of their time in a single room in the late afternoon, there are some very inexpensive and effective floor fans that can make 78 degrees feel quite comfortable. You can add on a table fan if they want a second somewhat cool area. Honeywell makes a small black fan that is highly effective, I think it's under $20. I have two of them in my country place(which had no central AC, window AC, or any AC. I also have a big floor fan. The fans work well for all but the nastiest heat waves, but I live in the Northeast.)

Second, I recommend making sure all the bulbs in the house are LED(stick with 2700K color temperature and a CRI above 80. If you hit those two stats, everything else should be fine.) If your tenants keep 5-10 incandescent bulbs or halogens on when they're home, it can be like having a small space heater fighting your AC. I'm in agreement with the earlier recommendation of closing the drapes/shades for windows which get plenty of afternoon sunlight. 

@Julie Walker ,

I’ve been a commercial/industrial HVAC service technician for 25 years. It sounds like it’s undersized. The company’s that said they did a manual J calculation most likely did not, ask them to show you the Manual J sheet they filled out, I’m willing to bet they don’t have it. The guys that stopped out are service technicians, not engineers. They just did an estimate.

A quick way to see if the AC is working up to its capacity is to measure the supply air verses the temp of the house. It should be 20 degrees cooler. Example; if the house is 78 the supply air blowing out of your registers should be 58. If it is, it’s doing everything it can do.

Make sure the thermostat it is set to maintain temp 24 hours a day. If it is, and its blowing a 20 degree temperature difference when running, and it’s still 78, it is undersized, no need to have another service call.

From an efficiency standpoint, the more times an HVAC unit cycles the less efficient it is. Both furnaces and AC units waste energy starting and stoping. It’s more efficient to run a smaller unit continuous for an hour to maintain a temp, than to have an oversized unit cycle on/off 5 or 6 times in an hour to maintain that same temp.

Before calling A Tech out to check it you might want to get an electronic temp gun and check the temps at the intake filter vent and at the closet register to the unit. You should get a 15 to 20 degree difference between them,  that is what the Tech will do. 

@Julie Walker - I keep my window treatments (vinyl blinds) lowered all day and I have ceiling fans running at medium speed. The current room temp is 77 degrees and it feels kind of chilly.

My tenant would have been responsible for repairing the leak based on the dollar amount of the repair specified in our lease. You may need to have walk thru inspections more frequently with this tenant. Or find a new tenant who will actually respect your home.

78°? I remember living in a house in the heat of Pennsylvania summers with no AC at all.

If the "problem" happens because sunlight is striking a part of the house in the afternoon a cheap solution may be to put a heat-reflective tint on the windows on the side getting the sunlight or maybe even painting the house a nice boring white. Another option could be to add plants for shade, and one thing I've wondered is if shading the AC condenser (maybe with a piece of fencing without blocking airflow) would make it run better.

 I believe that you have gone above an beyond for the resident. It sounds reasonable to assume that the unit is properly sized as you got 2 contractors to confirm. The next thing to look at is what is affecting the temps. Air leakage into the unit, will definitely impact the ability for proper cooling. Likewise, high humidity and heat will also affect it.  Last thing to look at is the user. If the user is using it incorrectly, (improper settings, using while door open, blocking registers, etc) or has different expectations of cooling (ie, hot flashes, used to having it always 60 degrees, etc.)

I am reluctant to install a portable a/c, unless they don't have any a/c at all. This usually turns into a complaint about high electric bill and they want money off rent. A couple of questions, "what are the requirements of landlords providing a/c where you are?" "What is your city's definition of cooling?" "When you have inefficient cooling, especially for as long a the resident has been complaining of it, there are generally problems with it feeling muggy in the apartment, followed by complaints of mold, mildew or smells. Have they mentioned or experienced any of these?"

It sounds  

Exactly right.  The landlords saying the tenant should just deal with it and quit whining sound more like slum lords.  If the system bottoms out at 78, that is NOT acceptable.  I don't care if that's comfortable to you or not, it's not unreasonable to want/need it cooler.

Originally posted by @Chris Gerstner :

Also, a few have mentioned here that a unit should be able to keep at least a 20 degree temperature difference between the outside temperature and the inside of the house.

That is false...but a common misunderstanding.

The reference to a 20 degree temperature difference is usually from what is called Delta T. In the HVAC field, this is the measurement between the air going into the system and the air leaving the system. 75 degrees in should be about 55 degrees coming out. Google "Delta T" for more.

This in no way determines how cool you can keep the home. There are MANY factors that go into figuring out how cool a home can get down to.

Also, while those of you up north or in drier areas are happy at 78, you'd most certainly find that 78 in the coastal region of Texas feels very warm to you. Humidity plays a very large part in comfort.

This tenant is paying rent and not getting what she wants. Reasonable action to ensure a system is working properly is expected. The outcome of that action is that the system is almost certainly undersized. Back to square one. How did that happen? Who's responsible for it? Fix the problem.  The next tenant isn't going to be happy about it either.

i have found that those mobile A/C units generate almost as much heat as they do cool in a room.  I know they vent but feel the unit, it gets pretty hot.  That said you might be better off with a window unit as supplemental.  I had a mobile home with a 3 ton unit. that could not keep up, i added a mini split ( 1 ton ) and it pretty much shuts the 3ton down for the day. it only comes on a little in the hot afternoon,  Electric savings paid for it in the first year. It also saved the tenant on propane in the winter, since it was a heat pump

ceiling fans would probably help the situation, at the cheapest cost possible.

the movement of air will make it feel cooler than it is.