Tenants says there is a problem with AC but.....

7 Replies

The tenant said there was something wrong with the HVAC. It's a ground unit split system. Her complaint is it 'freezes up and leaks water'. I had a company take a look and they said there was nothing wrong with it. They charged $100 for the inspection. The tenant kept complaining so I got a second company to take a look. He couldn't find anything wrong either. He said maybe there's a leak in a pipe which is affecting the pressure and causing the water to leak but he wasn't sure. That was another $80. They do need to keep a bowl under the inside unit as it drips water. Apart from that it seems to be working very efficiently. They keep the house so cold I can't stay inside for more than a few minutes and I'm there every month to collect the rent. The tenant is sending me text messages that they need it fixed, accompanied with "We have kids in the house". I really don't know what to do as 2 companies have now told me it's working fine.

@Nat Chan - This typically means that the drain pipe is either not installed correctly, or it is clogged. It can also happen with the filters on the mini-split (inside unit) become dirty/clogged. This is a fairly common problem on mini-split systems. Im surprised that your HVAC guys are having issues.

I agree with Justin, the drain sounds like it is plugged, but I question why two HVAC techs missed it. That's a fairly basic thing to check. 

Freezing up usually points to a couple issues: 1) dirty filter on the indoor or outdoor unit so it doesn't get the airflow it needs to transfer the heat or 2) low refrigerant. Again, that's basic stuff that an HVAC tech should have checked.

Originally posted by Account Closed:

@Nat Chan - This typically means that the drain pipe is either not installed correctly, or it is clogged. It can also happen with the filters on the mini-split (inside unit) become dirty/clogged. This is a fairly common problem on mini-split systems. Im surprised that your HVAC guys are having issues.

 I've had a similar problem in the past which was indeed caused by the drain pipe being clogged, but each time the HVAC guys unclogged it and it was fine afterward. If it's that cold in the house, they must be running the AC 24/7 so maybe it's just clogging because it's being used so much. 

Mini splits are more difficult to work on so you need to make sure you get a company that really knows how to work on mini split systems. Also you can always call the company back if you are still having issues. Also have you need it leak?

@Nat Chan

As stated earlier, it looks like  a possible plugged drain line.  Also, it could be dirty coils not allowing the water to drain down the coils properly to the drain pan/pipe.  The latter would be a function of not changing the AC filter. It would show low airflow and high static pressure. Refrigerant should also be checked if it is indeed freezing up.  

Unless there a medical problem, running the house below 72F, in my opinion, is abuse of your equipment.  When calculating what size of AC a house needs, an AC professional uses a Manual J calculation which sets an interior design temperature of 75F.  I have tenants who run the AC at 67F.  I am considering landlord thermostats, but I know there will be complaints. I am also considering a rent increase because the equipment is used 3x as much and such heavy usage will result in premature failure.

Regarding the 2 AC companies, one or both of them needs to issue a refund or come out and discount service by the last charged amount.  You need to be very firm, but polite on this request. It is a shame that the tenants and the landlord can see the problem but not the professional.

If the drain line is clogged you can fix it yourself to save money. You just need a shop vac and suck out everything in the pipe and should be fixed. 

Last thing you can check is that the vents that are close to the Air Handler are fully opened.  I had a tenant close the vents near the Air Handler and it had 1 inch of ice on the filter side and a thin layer on inside.  It dripped past the pan because of the ice on the inside of the coils.

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