Good DIY tools for A/C repair ?

Old 08-05-16, 07:36 AM
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Good DIY tools for A/C repair ?

Kinda fed up with paying the local charlatans. Got charged $300 to be told i have a leak on a condenser coil, for a system that is just over 5yrs old, (and therefore out of warranty) and then be told i can replace the entire system for just over 4k.

or buy just the replacement part for $1200 but that won't have any warranty.

I'm at the point of wanting the right tools and armed with a bit of knowledge fixing my own or outright replacing a unit.

Seems to me, i can have an entire 4ton goodman delivered for just over 2k. My AC unit is easy access.

At least, buy a freon leak detector, and some refrigerant and whatever tools are needed to fill the system, and if i detect a leak, then just replace the damn unit.

From experience if you get a leak, your only option is to replace the entire coil, either inside the air handler or the outside condenser. Whatever it would normally cost you to buy your own AC, the companies just charge just over twice the price.. put some crap in, and hope it fails just outside of the warranty.. even if it fails within the parts only warranty, what they charge you to replace, you're not that far off from replacing the entire unit.
Old 08-05-16, 08:17 AM
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You have to have an HVAC license to buy most refrigerants. You can replace non refrigerated parts but the rest isn't diy work.
Old 08-05-16, 09:47 AM
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Check with your local county education services. Some have HVAC courses where you can become certified by the EPA in refrigerant handling.
Old 08-05-16, 11:43 AM
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Most new residential air conditioning systems use refrigerant R-410a, a refrigerant that does not require EPA certification to purchase. Most, if not all, of the tools needed are available from Ebay although of varying quality.

HOWEVER, you must still follow all EPA rules concerning the use (and release) of refrigerants and many of those rules will require that you have a recovery system to avoid releasing the refrigerant to the atmosphere. Failure to abide by these rules WILL get you into serious trouble if you are caught. AND the tools and equipment are not inexpensive.

But the most important thing is knowing how to use the tools and equipment. You could take some training classes, often taught by local vocational schools and community colleges.
Old 08-05-16, 07:07 PM
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Thanks, i'm only looking for a way to help myself save some money and learn a little. Like yesterday, i spent $300 from a local company to tell me i have a condenser leak, and got a top up.. I could of bought a leak detector for $50, the gauges for $150 and 50# of R410a for $100, which would have got me back up and running. Then i could of gone about asking a local licensed contractor to come out and replace the condenser coil. Knowing a little bit, can help a bundle !

Right now as it stands, i've just spent $300 for some tech to tell me the obvious. (as i froze up the coil, and i know it wasn't my filter, as i'm clinical at keeping it clean)

Obviously without the tools, i had no idea how to tell where the leak was. I just want to be able to do the simple things and be able to know what part is failing. using a bit of common sense and the right tools.

Example my cars are VW, and i have a vagcom computer. Cost me $250. I can run my own diags, if it points me in the right direction and the job is simple enough, i'll have a go... But am smart enough to know when to go to the pro's. Without the vagcom, i'd be at the mercy of the stealership. Who'd charge me $150 for the privilege of plugging in a cable into the ODBII port. My car is still under warranty, but even so, one day i know i'll have the right tools to guide me, and perhaps learn something new, rather than just taking it to the stealership and getting turned over by them.
Old 08-06-16, 05:28 PM
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Here are two ways to answer your question: Right way : follow PJmax and furd's advice. wrong way: go buy your own tools (AC gauge, multi-meter, capacitance meter. air flow meter. leak detector. Refrigerant recovery tool. Freon. Tools for copper tube soldering, etc,.... It depends on how much AC work you want to do) and do it yourself (assume you know how to do it). Also you need to know if you work on Freon without license and if you are caught, the fine is $32,000.

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