Unexpected Projects: Air Conditioning

By Jeff | Aug. 06, 2012

When our air conditioning stopped working, we were once again very glad we had our home warranty. But in addition, the sellers had also purchased a “worry-free service plan” from Robin Aire, who has installed all of the heating and cooling systems in the house. It entitles us to two annual tune-ups so we called them up and set up an appointment for them to come out the next day.

After some hiccups with them not coming out, the tech arrived, but instead of something simple, he found that our compressor was completely busted and would need replacement. On a 30-year-old air conditioner, this was a $1700 replacement we certainly did not want to do, especially considering the cost of replacing the unit. So we called up our home warranty service and after the 3rd try, got outside authorization which let us use Robin Aire for the repairs. The warranty company also informed us that they would pay $1600 to replace the compressor (but would not pay for the required refrigerant) or we could put that money toward the purchase of a new unit.

The main advantages of replacing the unit were the obvious energy benefits – almost 40% better – and upgrading our full system from the old refrigerant (R22, which is going up in price and eventually won’t be sold) to the new refrigerant (R410A). The main disadvantages to replacing the unit were primarily the price – almost double the replacement cost. This is mainly because the system was so old that a lot of parts needed to be replaced.

In the end, we decided to purchase a new air conditioner and use the $1600 towards the purchase price. We went with the Lennox XC14 as a good balance between price and improved energy efficiency. The best part of going with Robin Aire was definitely the level of service. We first called on Friday night and the first tech was out on Saturday evening. We called again on Monday evening with the outside authorization and had someone out for the estimate the next morning and did the install that evening – two days before the people our home warranty originally wanted to use would even have been able to diagnose the issue.

After 3 techs working for 4 hours, we finally have our new air conditioner, and we have already recouped the price we payed for the warranty many times over!