our heat pump (a/c) croaked

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Paul Wheaton, Aug 2, 2004.

  1. Paul Wheaton

    Paul Wheaton Well-Known Member

    May 10, 2002
    missoula, montana
    Our heat pump died last winter, which was okay cuz we heat with wood most of the time anyway. This summer has been mighty hot and we finally got to the point where we were willing to part with money to get AC going again.

    The first guy that came out got it going for $450. He seemed incompetant and now it turns out to be true. It worked for about a day. The second guy came out and said the compressor is shot. Replacing a compressor is $1800 just for the part. A whole new heat pump is $2000 just for the part.

    At that price I think it's time to figure out options.

    In the winter I like to set the thermostat to 50 degrees and keep a wood fire going. The thermostat that low just makes sure we won't get any freezing pipes issues.

    And for the A/C... well, I'm stumped.

    I guess the heat pump during the winter would be cheaper than regular electric heat. But hopefully, that use is so minimized it shouldn't make much difference.

    We're planting shade trees near the house and this year we've cut poles to use to build a wrap around porch next year or the year after. We've already taken steps to cover all windows with insulation during the day.

    I dunno. $2000 is a big chunk of change. I was trying to save up to get a portable sawmill this year. But this will break the bank.

    The guy that owned this place before me pinched pennies till they screamed, so it makes me think I should stick with the heat pump approach.

    Any advice?
  2. Tinker

    Tinker Well-Known Member Supporter

    Apr 5, 2004
    NE Ohio
    We have moved many times, and this house has our 1st "heat pump". I had heard so much hype about them, and how efficient they are, etc., and in our case, it is all a bunch of bull. Although ours is older ( probably 15-18 years old), it was check out and deemed "sound". Our house is tri-level, and the heat pump runs constantly, and the house never seems to get warm. Luckly, the previous owners put a propane heater in the family room (lower level), and it really picks up the slack. When it is 20 degrees or less, the furnace NEVER shuts off, unless we have the propane on too. I also do not like the fact you never feel warm air. I like to come in from the snow and cold and stand over a warm register to warm up, but the heat pump just blows lukewarm air.

    We did have to get freon in the ac system this spring, and that really helped on the air. To get the system recharged was only like $120.00. If we ever had to replace this system, I definately would not go heat pump again. We are less than impressed with ours.

  3. BamaSuzy

    BamaSuzy Well-Known Member

    May 10, 2002
    Our heat pump went out about five years ago and we didn't replace it. It just costs too much. We heat basically with wood and also have a small propane heater on the wall.

    In the summer time we basically sweat. We are in north Alabama. It is 95 today. The deadline for our weekly newspaper is TODAY and I have spent much of the day inside the newspaper office which is formerly the living room of this ranch style house.

    We have ceiling fans in each room and one right over our bed.

    In our previous house we had one of those attic fans which pulled air all through the house. That worked great EXCEPT I have near-fatal allergies and that darn thing pulled in all kinds of stuff to get my allergies upset!

    So you just have to decide whether you want to spend that much on AC or just sweat as we do....we're basically fine except about two months each summer...we could get a couple of window AC's but I had the noise and basically I hate being shut up too!

    Also....my family built this house back in 1965 when I was in the 8th grade (my husband and I bought it after my dad died in 1987 or 88). Anyway, back when this house was built we didn't have air conditioning.....and my mama didn't put in the central unit until the year AFTER my day died, right before we bought the house....

    I lived in Plant City Florida in the early to mid 1970's and didn't have an AC in my house NOR one in my car....and I had two young daughters then.

    I don't like being shut up in the house with AC....I guess I'm just strange. I'd rather have AC for my Angora bunnies right now than for me!
  4. Tractorman

    Tractorman Well-Known Member

    Jun 8, 2004
    My rule of thumb is NEVER trust a hvac man unless you know him personally! Around here 90% are crooks and always tell you its shot you need a new one. I'm an electrician and my experience is 80% of hvac problems are electrical and since hvac men are generally refrigeration men they say you need a new one when all you really need is a $10 capacitor. this happened to my SIL they told her it would cost $4500 for a new one and she called me and the problem was a $18 sensor but yes her unit is old and needs replacing but she is a single mom and did not have $4500 then so far it has lasted another 2 years with only minor maintenance so she can save up for a new one. I have a propane gas pack and it heats great but it uses a LOT of gas.
  5. agmantoo

    agmantoo agmantoo Supporter

    May 22, 2003
    Zone 7
    Paul, is your heat pump a split unit or a unitized one? A unitized heat pump can be installed by anyone that is slightly mechanical. I have some sources that I can provide where you can buy off the internet. Big savings! A new heat pump should have a high efficiency number and it will heat much cheaper than the electric heat you referenced.

    In Tinker's post she mentioned that she had to have freon added in order to get cold air. The low freon would have the same effect on the heat. She has a leak and it will perform poorly again unless the leak is found and fixed.
  6. 1farmgirl

    1farmgirl Well-Known Member

    Oct 7, 2002
    We also have a heat pump and I'm not a great fan of it. The heat is disappointing (especially when you need it) but this year is the first year to be disappointed with my air. Come to find out, that the guy that installed it was a moron. We've found out that several hvac companies in our local area have been having to 'clean up' behind this guy (yes, he's moved on to put his mark in another state!). Anyway, heat indexes are hitting 107 so I guess we'll have to break down and get it fixed. The guy's supposed to come today. I haven't used it at all this year, but I guess somebody forgot to tell the electric company. It hasn't made a difference on the bill so far.