Tenant asking for "New HVAC system"

83 Replies

I have a tenant who just moved in about 2 months to newly remodeled rental (everything is new) that purchased this year. I had the AC system checked by HVAC company and everything works fine according to the company. The temperature gets to 72 Fahrenheit on the hottest day here in the south GA when temperature outside is about 100 degrees. 

The tenant complains the temperature should go to the 60s, when the thermostat is set at 64 degrees. I had the AC check by HVAC tech twice and they checked the Freon levels and cleaned the coils and technician said that everything is fine that they should be happy it gets to 72 on the hottest days of the summer. 

The tenant called again and they are saying to send another technician to have the  system check again. The only option to get the AC temperature any lower, is to get a new AC unit. What would you guys do? 

Seems like kind of a silly request.. Like you're going to install a new AC just for them, when pretty much anybody else would be perfectly happy with it? 

I would tell em, sorry, I've done pretty much all I can on my end. Maybe try to reduce heat sources (turn off some electronics / get LED bulbs) or close some blinds if it's still too warm.

@Gerardo Escutia if it’ll only get to 72 something isn’t right. I live in the south and I wouldn’t be happy if my hvac only went to 72. I’d call a different company. Any idea the serial number (age)? I don’t spend much money on Hvac’s that are over 10 year ago old. If it’s costing me more than say $200 to fix I replace it. 

@Gerardo Escutia

With summer over, I would expect this issue to be ending in the next couple of weeks but you can provide the invoice/report from the HVAC person (a copy) to show them that it is working perfectly. How old is the system? Usually at 10 years old you should look to replace. I would call another tech but usually they are trying to sell you a new system instead of just saying it is fine. Are there large windows without shades or anything else that is not allowing the unit to cool lower than 72? Also, I would think twice about renewing the lease.

@Gerardo Escutia

Old and functional is good enough for now and 72 is a reasonable temperature. How old is the unit? If it's 15 years old and you replace it now instead of 5 years from now, then within 30 years, you are going to end up buying a whole extra ac unit which would effectively double your capital expenditures during that timeframe. Fix things that are broken and when cost of repairs hit your tolerance of replacing a whole unit, go ahead and upgrade it, but spending thousands earlier than you need to shouldn't be in any business plan.

72 degrees in the deep south heat is normal (I'm in SC)- I think a normal AC is only going to cool 20 degrees lower than the outside temp as a rule of thumb right? Tell them to get some window units on their own dime if they need it lower than that. 

how old is the home?

tenants have some unrealistic expectations if they rent an old home that isn't super insulated and airtight.

Even the electric companies and DOE recommend only setting the thermostat to 78F while at home.

.

If they want cooler than that, get them a meat locker or freezer chest, and tell them to go lie in it.

Originally posted by @Charles Carillo :

@Gerardo Escutia

With summer over, I would expect this issue to be ending in the next couple of weeks but you can provide the invoice/report from the HVAC person (a copy) to show them that it is working perfectly. How old is the system? Usually at 10 years old you should look to replace. I would call another tech but usually they are trying to sell you a new system instead of just saying it is fine. Are there large windows without shades or anything else that is not allowing the unit to cool lower than 72? Also, I would think twice about renewing the lease.

 wow, every 10 years you spend $6000-8000 on a new system?

The performance of an a/c system really depends on how good and correctly sized the duct work is. An ac system doesn't just stop performing unless there are leaks or something.

You can put a new a/c unit in, and it will still cool like crap if other things are not designed and built well.

Better to spend that extra money on insulation and getting the home airtight, rather than getting a new a/c every decade.

@Mike Franco

@Gerardo Escutia

As I said, at 10+ years you need to look at replacement; i.e calculate the repair vs. replacement cost; if there are actually issues with it. Most ACs (in Florida) last 10-15 years and 20 years if they are perfectly maintained (doubtful on a rental). Since the unit was fully remodeled and the AC was not replaced, it sounds like the AC is older.

There is nothing further for you to do - you checked the HVAC system by a licensed professional, it is working, albeit not as if it were brand new. They're renters - if they want a brand new HVAC system, they can save up for a home to purchase and install one themselves. There is no habitability issue and you didn't lie and bait them with something like "brand new HVAC" when it's in fact 20 years old, or tell them there is central air when in fact it's a window unit. Tenants need to get that when they rent, there will be some compromises - unless of course they pony up for a rental with monthly rent higher than most mortgages. Those are available, if they qualify!

I live in Texas and don't know anyone that sets their thermostat to 72. Lowest I've ever set mine is 74. If the technician checked the inflow/outflow differential and its 11 degrees or over then its behaving correctly. 

@Kris L. Your HVAC is fine! I live in the south and my downstairs unit is 15 years old... I never set below 74... 73 on RARE occasions.

@Gerardo Escutia

Might sound like a dumb question but did the techs check the thermostat? It’s common that gets overlooked and a small chance it could be a quick fix, assuming you have a decent HVAC system with the correct returns and such. I’d check that out myself to before doing anything else. But I would not replace the unit at all.

@Mike Franco getting a house air tight and installing the required HRV and whole house ventilation systems so the home doesn’t mold (especially in the south where humidity is such a factor) will be very expensive

I always enjoy reading the responses on posts like this. Everyone has some "rule of thumb" they like to pass on. Here is the facts, from a licensed HVAC contractor:

1. If air conditioning only cooled to 20 degrees below the outside temperature, then people in Phoenix, AZ would have homes that are 90 degrees inside. The correct "rule of thumb" is that it air conditioning should cool the air to 20 degrees below the temperature of the air entering the filter. As an example, if it is 80 degrees in the house, the cold air blowing out of the vents should be 60 degrees.

2. A unit that only cools the air by 11 degrees is not working properly. A "perfect" air conditioning system cools the air 20 degrees. Anything between 18 -22 degrees would be acceptable to a service tech. Outside that, a good tech should start to be concerned and check a few other things.

3. Standard air conditioning systems cannot cool a home below 68 degrees. Now sure, there are a lot of factors that go into this, and I am sure someone will comment that their AC does get cooler than 68, but below 68 degrees leaves the realm of air conditioning and now enters refrigeration, i.e. walk in refrigerators. 

4. Most importantly, 72 degrees falls within any regulation out there. OSHA does not specify a temperature that work places have to be, but they recommend between 68- 76. https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaw...

It is generally standardized throughout the industry that "perfect" indoor conditions in the summer are between 73- 79 degrees with 40% to 60% relative humidity. https://www.contractingbusines...

I'd leave the unit as is, replace the tenant before you replace the HVAC. Just keep in mind that with the way they are running it, you are subjecting the equipment to much more wear and tear. I would suggest replacing the air filters every month to prevent a premature failure.

Good Luck!

@Gerardo Escutia . Get rid of them plenty of tenants and replacing an hvac system isn’t cheap unless you’re an hvac tech like me. If everything else is right nothing else you can do don’t bend over backwards to make a tenant happy. Especially when an ac tech said it’s fine.

@Gerardo Escutia , If you've had the AC serviced and checked out by a professional, I would just let the tenant know that it is functioning as intended as there is nothing more the HVAC person can do. 

I once had a body builder as a tenant and he was very particular about his AC temps. The main central AC unit wasn't cold enough for him, so he installed window units in the bedroom so he could maintain his nice 60 degree room. I would suggest your tenants do the same if they are that concerned about freezing out the house. 

@Gerardo Escutia

Make sure the tenant changed their filter first and it’s not some ultra thick, Filter 9000. Merv 8 is what I prefer. Then, Try cleaning the condenser and evaporator coils. Hopefully that is what the technician did. Last, have the technician recover the refrigerant and then deep vacuum the system, thoroughly, and recharge. Industry standard is atleast 500 microns but try to go as far below that as possible when evacuating. Your system will run much better

@Gerardo Escutia   I'd tell them you had a certified technician come out and inspect the unit.  It is running fine.  If they want you to get a second opinion, they can pay for the service that YOU book.  Otherwise, give them the one time option to get out of the lease and find another place to live.  You also had someone here who is an HVAC expert post in another post to say that it won't go that low.

My first question is how old is the AC system? If it’s over 12 yo your probably getting close to it’s life span. As far as 60’s ... there are a lot of people that like sleeping colder then most. I live in San Antonio area and sleep at 68 degrees all year. Yes design temperature is 74. Most systems are designed to maintain 74 on a 95 degree day. If anyone here has HVAC questions I’d be glad to help. I’ve been in the business for over 32 years and currently hold a Class A license for the state of Texas. Again I’d start on how old it is ... then I’d weigh the quality of tenant. If there not happy that’s not ever going to be a good relationship.

Another option you could add a mini-split to the bedroom for about $1,500

Good luck!