Change out condenser, air handler with highest SEER rating you can afford; no permit to hang new door
I live in Stevenson Ranch, in a condo that is about 15 years old.
Over the weekend, my heater went out so I called an air conditioning repair company. The guy came out and told me that I need to replace the heater in the closet and also the outside unit, (I don’t know what this is called), because of the refrigerant. I’m a senior citizen and perplexed, don’t they use all the same stuff? Is this true?
He is absolutely right, the refrigerants are not compatible with the old type any longer. You will have to change the outside unit, which is called the condenser, as well as the inside one, called the air handler. They can use the existing lines in the walls, but the equipment needs to be changed out simultaneously.
Know that the condensers are rated, these are called “SEER” ratings. The higher the SEER rating the more energy efficient the unit will be.
Depending on your budget, I recommend the highest SEER rated condenser you can afford. It will give you the best return over the years, with regard to efficiency.
You did mention that you are in a condo, however you didn’t state what floor you’re on. If you are on the bottom floor, you are protected from some heat by the unit above. This may be the same with regard to the sides/rear, depending on the layout and where your unit is. If you are in fact quite protected, you can opt for the lower SEER rated unit, because you are likely much more protected from the elements vs. a unit that is on a top floor/end unit especially on a south side.
Take all of this information into consideration when speaking with your technician and be sure that you are working with a licensed and insured contractor. You definitely want to have all of your warranties in order and be as protected as you can be, as this is a very expensive project. Good luck to you.
I read your articles in The Signal. Love your advice and help that you provide to the public. Thank you for your knowledge.
I am planning to replace our front door and screen door. We have picked out a fiberglass entry door and vinyl screen door. I was considering calling local “handymen” from local flyers. I am wondering if it is a “permit-required” job and should I use a licensed contractor? If that is the case, then I would appreciate your recommendation of a licensed contractor. Thank you so much and keep up the wonderful entries.
Thank you for reading The Signal. No permit is required for the new door installation. If your handyman is well-versed at hanging doors, then let him do it.
I live in Canyon Country in a condo. I came home recently and noticed that a lot of the popcorn from the ceiling access panel in my closet had fallen onto the floor. I also noticed that the piece of wood was crooked. This really bothered me, so I got up there and looked, and found that I could see all the way across — through to my neighbor’s attic area. Is this right, aren’t they supposed to have things that prevent the neighboring units from having access to one another’s areas? I’m really nervous now, wondering if my safety is at risk. What if I’m home alone, changing or even gone and get burglarized?
Absolutely, there should be a fire break. The fire break is rated to prevent a neighboring fire from coming into your unit, and it also stands as a privacy factor.
You will need to call your management company ASAP and let them know what has happened and that there needs to be a fire break installed immediately.
I would also call the Sherriff’s department to report this and get it on record, for your protection. Stay on top of your management company and be sure that they get this done right away.
You may also want to notify your insurance so that, in the event of a fire, they are aware that you are acting on this new discovery and have notified your management company.
Get everything in writing, do not skip this step because, in the event you have to exercise insurance or make a claim of any sort, you’ve shown your due diligence. Good luck to you.
Robert Lamoureux has 38 years of experience as a general contractor, with separate licenses in electrical and plumbing contracting. He owns IMS Construction Inc. in Valencia. His opinions are his own, not necessarily those of The Signal. Opinions expressed in this column are not meant to replace the recommendations of a qualified contractor after that contractor has made a thorough visual inspection. Email questions to Robert at [email protected]sconstruction.com.
In older HVAC systems, the refrigerant in the condenser, pictured here, and the indoor air handler were the same. These no longer are compatible, so both must be replaced if one goes out.