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Not testing the AC in winter is poor service to your client.  XML
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Dan Hagman
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Joined: 11/18/2014 11:12 AM EST
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Location: Pleasant Hill, Iowa
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Like I said in a previous post, I don't test an A/C under 60 degrees. I know that's debatable even down to 50 degrees.The refrigerant migrates out to the condenser and if you start is up in low ambient conditions, you take the chance of pumping liquid and damaging the valve. Unless you know that there is low ambient controls, like a crank case heater on the compressor, head pressure control to cycle the fan, then I don't do it. You can't get a good temperature drop across the evaporator in those cold conditions. When I have people at my house in the winter and it gets hot we open the windows, only makes good sense.
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Brad Brinke
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Is there an answer Peter?

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jeff32@satx.rr.com
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Joined: 12/05/2014 10:07 AM EST
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Actually per many of the HVAC MANUFACTURERS YOU CAN TEST THE SYSTEM. PER CARRIER YOU CAN RESTRICT AIR FLOW TO THE UNIT UNTILL COMPRESSOR BUILDS HEAT. SOME OTHER MANUFACTURERS TELL YOU TO RUN INSIDE TEMPS UP AND RESTRICT AIRFLOW OF CONDENSOR.

I personally test units down to around 35 degrees, below that I dont. With a little time and knowledge you can safely test units, with this said this is a business decision on my end and I respect those that decide not too. One last thing I do not test the unit unless temps have been above freezing for several hours. There are several reasons why I do what I do but is way to long to post here, if you are testing units at low temps and low inside temps and are not restricting air flow you are asking for problems, please talk to the manufacturers engineers and learn the proper way to test in low temps.

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Nathan
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The guys for testing win!

When you test in the winter, you wrap the coils. The simulated temperature very quickly reaches acceptable levels. If you talk to the right person at any manufacturer they will confirm the following statement;

Condensing units don't watch TV or listen to radio, and even if they did they wouldn't care what the weatherman said.

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Charles46
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Joined: 06/22/2014 09:11 PM EDT
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Wether you live in Atlanta or Boston, cold is cold. Thirty five degrees is still thrity five degrees.
If building code states that manufacturer instructions trump code, then when the manufacturer says do not operate under a certain temperature, then do not operate the system under that certain temperature. Most will say 65 degrees is that temperature, but some will go to 60 degrees.
If it is a heat pump and not an AC, you can operate the system, but you are not going to get an accurate evaluation due to the exterior temperatures.
If is is a straight AC unit you risk damage to the system trying to run it in cold temperatures. However, if you are so inclined to press the appropriate relay swith to to see if the compressor will engage then go for it. Are you certified and qualiifed to put a set of manifold gauges on the system? If so, then I am sure you know the readings have little value in cold temperatures.
What ever you are doing to "test" the AC in cold temperatures make sure you know what you are doing before you damage someones system. Secondly, be cautious of the information you are presenting to the client. The industry does not need more people out there reporting what they do not know, but think they do.

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Peter Rossetti
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Joined: 06/21/2014 07:31 AM EDT
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sorry, I fell of the planet for a few days.

essentially you need it warn in the house and you wrap the condenser.

I use some verbiage like: Due to low outdoor temperatures a compressor check was performed on the AC unit. The unit is functional evident by warm air flowing from the outside unit and a temperature differential in the refrigerant lines. the AC condensate line was not tested due to low temperatures.

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Nathan
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Charles46 wrote:The industry does not need more people out there reporting what they do not know, but think they do.


I couldn't agree more. I just got back from a FABI conference where I was the speaker. My topic was mechanical malfunctions.

All of the attendees were great home inspectors for sure, but there were a few who said things like the following:

1. If a thermostat goes out on an air conditioning system in Florida, the whole system needs to be replaced. (not kidding)
2. Warranties are illegal in Florida. (This actually came from two different inspectors in leadership at FABI)


There were a few select other things I won't mention here. There was even a guy who said he reported me to the State. Maybe it'll go the same way it did the last dozen times someone did


I don't know why when inspectors get together in groups they become engineers and lawyers all of a sudden!

Overall great group at FABI by the way. I'd recommend joining.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 12/08/2014 09:49 AM EST


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Chad D
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Joined: 06/24/2014 08:55 AM EDT
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Nathan wrote:
Charles46 wrote:The industry does not need more people out there reporting what they do not know, but think they do.


I don't know why when inspectors get together in groups they become engineers and lawyers all of a sudden!

Overall great group at FABI by the way. I'd recommend joining.


It's the same phenomenon when something nasty happens (i.e. ebola breaks out or some random injustice happens) in the news, people on Facebook start posting their lawyer and doctorate opinions about the given topic. I can't tell you how how many time Facebook Doctors and Lawyers I come across. Probably not as many as you.

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Brad Brinke
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Peter Rossetti wrote:sorry, I fell of the planet for a few days.

essentially you need it warn in the house and you wrap the condenser.

I use some verbiage like: Due to low outdoor temperatures a compressor check was performed on the AC unit. The unit is functional evident by warm air flowing from the outside unit and a temperature differential in the refrigerant lines. the AC condensate line was not tested due to low temperatures.



What are you wrapping the condenser with? A blanket?

So the title of this thread should be " Not testing the A/C compressor in winter is poor service to your client"

Still not convinced

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Nathan
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I think the title is meant to stir a response, I'm not sure I agree with the premise fully. I think testing the A/C unit in the winter is exceptional service to a client, but in no way am I suggesting it should be a requirement of every inspector to avoid offering poor service to a client.

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Dom D'Agostino
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Joined: 12/08/2014 01:25 PM EST
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Location: Orlando, FL
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Nathan wrote:
1. If a thermostat goes out on an air conditioning system in Florida, the whole system needs to be replaced. (not kidding)


Since I was there, I can assure you that you're a little confused. I didn't make the comment, but I heard it clearly.
The comment was "if you replace the thermostat, you need a permit". It was mentioned when several guys were speaking over each other, and talking about full HVAC replacement when an aged system needs a coil, line set, etc.

I enjoyed your presentation, by the way.

Dom.
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jeff32@satx.rr.com
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Joined: 12/05/2014 10:07 AM EST
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Let me address a few things here.


You can wrap the coils with almost anything, a piece of cardboard, i often use my jacket on one side or i lay my tool box on the top and restrict the air leaving the condensing unit, all will work. You do not need to block the entire coils just one side or so.

I have heard a few just say if its to clod i just disclaim the whole thing, bad idea!! This is not meant to insult anyone but to educate them so here goes. If you disclaim the whole thing you are not doing your client any justice. When i get to systems where i am un able to test the system i do describe it in my report that the system could not be tested due to temperature (much longer statement) I do inspect the installation of the unit, there is so many things to inspect with the install of the unit. How many of you guys inspect for the inverted loop or trap, oil traps when needed, proper return air configurations, duct hardcast, ducts strapped up off the attic floor, proper R value of ducts (newer homes) breaker sizes, grounding and bonding, on and on and on. I can provide thousands of dollars of service to my clients without even turning the system on yet.

Those of you that think you cant test the system you are wrong and not properly educated on this topic. Please remember i dont fault your practices but to say you couldn't inspect the system because it was to cold is wrong probably 90 percent of the time (guess at percentage but its high) I would make sure to choose my wording carefully on how i depart from this just to be safe so that someone like myself doesnt came along and inspect and explain to the client per manufactures specs i can usually test the system. Remember if you really learn the ins and outs of a/c you will provide so much knowledge of the system to your clients the liability goes way down. The mass majority of units are improperly installed and if you are not catching it you may be looking at potential problems.

I heard someone say the manufacturer says dont test below a certain temp (generally its 60 with most manufacturers). Here is the reason why. If you do not do what Nathan and I explained than yes you can cause damage, this statement by the a/c companies is to prevent someone that knows nothing from messing with the a/c and causing damage. You guys here are professionals not just a typical home owner that does not know anything about their home. For those of you that dont know about the techniques of testing the systems in lower temperatures talk to the factory reps and get it explained to you, along with being professionals requires us to continue our education level to excel as the title suggest PROFESSIONALS.

Please dont take this post the wrong way it is in no way meant to criticize people for their business decisions it merely meant to be educational in the facts and to teach others the vast knowledge i have in my over sized head lol. I have been doing inspections for 22 yrs, i teach many of these topics at San Antonio College and taught the 1st ever Green Building offered in conjunction with Texas A&M university here in the San Antonio area. I am court certified in many aspects of construction, i was a construction arbitrator in the state of Texas and have hundreds of hours of court room experience in the construction and inspection fields. As well the Texas Supreme Court has used my inspection report in decisions in the inspection industry as a properly conducted inspection and report. If you have questions i generally try to help home inspectors when time permits you can drop me a line or call
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Proven Experience
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Drewlevy
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I test down to 45 deg. Part of an AC systems job is dehumidification also. Rarely can you measure success in this area when its that cold.

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Nathan
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Dom D'Agostino wrote:
Nathan wrote:
1. If a thermostat goes out on an air conditioning system in Florida, the whole system needs to be replaced. (not kidding)


Since I was there, I can assure you that you're a little confused. I didn't make the comment, but I heard it clearly.
The comment was "if you replace the thermostat, you need a permit". It was mentioned when several guys were speaking over each other, and talking about full HVAC replacement when an aged system needs a coil, line set, etc.

I enjoyed your presentation, by the way.

Dom.


Thanks, I'm glad.

I guess I did hear it wrong, but now I'm still confused. Is it true that if a thermostat goes bad you have to get a permit to replace it? That seems crazy to me. Do you have to get a permit to change the batteries as well?

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Nathan
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I'm almost certain that one guy said a coil leak requires a whole system replacement. Then I changed topics to the thermostat and the other guy was quick to say it's a replacement event as well.

I'm trying to find that on the books in Florida as we speak. Anyone know where it is stated?

P. Nathan Thornberry
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