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The “$5,000.00” Clean-Up

This is a story about a house in Tucson, Arizona. A house that, like most that are in a neighborhood, is situated between two other houses. And, this particular house, also like a lot of houses that have been affected by the real estate market crash, wound up being owned by a bank, and subsequently became available on the market as a foreclosure and offered for sale at a cash price.

The sequence of events that followed were that the bank set a sales price, but then changed that price due to information they received from the tenant who was living in the house (and was in the process of being moved out so it could be sold). According to them, the air conditioning system, while it would keep the building comfortable in mild weather, didn’t perform properly once the middle-of-summer temperatures occurred.

Based on that information, the bank decided to adjust the price of the house down $5,000.00 to allow a credit for replacing the roof-top package unit on this 1100 square-foot building. They arrived at this figure after getting a quote from a service company that evaluated the situation and confirmed that, yes, the unit was ‘dead in the water’ when it came to performing up to full capacity in warmer weather. This diagnosis was ‘confirmed’ by an HVAC technician who happened to live next door on the North side of this house. He said that he had also had an opportunity to look at the equipment, and tried to add refrigerant in order to get it to perform better, but it didn’t help, and he therefore determined that the only solution was to replace the unit.

During all this, I happened to be working on a remodel on the home next door on the South side of this house. (And, yes, I’ll admit that I was pretty much enjoying this scenario as it played out.)

Once the sale of the house was accomplished at the $5,000.00 discounted price, and the building had been cleaned out and fumigated…lots of dust, dirt, filth, and roaches involved here…I now had the opportunity to get into the building and evaluate the performance of the air conditioning system.

My first task was to perform a temperature-differential test across the indoor coil, which showed that the temperature drop was an alarming 29-degrees Fahrenheit. Wow….far lower than it should have been. And, while I could have then gone further with the evaluation of this equipment by performing a static pressure test, I decided to just go ahead and access the indoor coil for a visual inspection. And, I’m sure many of you who are experienced technicians and reading this, know what I found: An indoor coil that was nearly totally covered with damp, dusty, musty, muddy dirt, dog hair, roach excrement etc… on its contact side, preventing any chance of proper air flow through the coil. Inspecting further, I also found something else you would expect. The fins of the squirrel-cage blower wheel were also caked with thick layer of some mostly indescribable, disgusting material.

As is often the case, accessing the indoor coil in order to get the contact surface clean, and then use a coil cleaner to complete the process of clearing the rest of the debris that had collected deeper into the fins and tubing wasn’t an easy (or pleasant) task. And, the removal of the air handler so it could be taken down off the roof to make sure it could be properly cleaned, also took some time.

But, once the clean-up work on the indoor coil, the air handler, and the condenser coil, was done, and an evaluation of the TXV metering device refrigeration system was performed to ensure that there wasn’t an overcharge, a subsequent test of the temperature drop across the indoor coil showed it to be a respectable 18-degrees, and a static pressure test showed a differential of only .04 WC (Water Column Inches).

And, within a short time on this 100-degree ambient temperature day, the building was perfectly comfortable, both in regard to indoor air temperature and humdity.

The bottom line here? The cost of a gallon of coil cleaner pumped through a pressure sprayer on the coils, along with the de-greaser used on the blower wheel that was removed for cleaning, didn’t add up to anything near $5,000.00.

Until next week…

Learn from yesterday….Live for today….Look forward to tomorrow