My house is 16 years old and the upstairs AC started to blow rust all over the sinks and beds.  Knowing it’s a hard job I gathered a few quotes from some trusted contractors and found it was going to cost me $5800 – $8200!  I’m a DIY kinda guy and with some quick research, I could do the job for about half.  Alpine Home Air sold me a Goodman unit for less than $2000 and adding tools and parts needed for the job was additional $1000.

I spent a couple weeks researching how to do this myself and immediately ran into a problem.  I am not EPA certified to handle freon, but fortunately my brother Rob is!  Thankfully he agreed to come help me.  After describing the initial plan to him he responds that he thinks I’m in over my head on this one.  ha!  What’s the worst that could happen?

Wanting to do everything by the book, I obtained a permit from my local city ($70) which then requires an electrical and mechanical inspections. The online form was simple; the credit card entry was the hardest part.  Now onto buying the parts.  I contacted 3 vendors and settled on Alpine Air.  They are great and offer Tech support (Bryan has 20 years experience with HVAC), which I used about a half dozen times before the install.

There are so many details of the install, I think I know why everyone thought I’m crazy to do this work myself.   I had to buy the correct parts, receive the 500lbs unit via a freight company, using the xr11 flush to clean the existing copper pipes, remove the old unit from the attic, put the new unit up into the attic, buying nitrogen from the local Airgas company, the duct work, the brazing, pressure testing the copper lines, pulling a vacuum, charging the system, etc!  

Then after all this, the City inspectors came out and failed the unit.  The electrical inspector failed the breakers.  The new unit is more efficient, so requiring less power, hence a lower breaker.  I replaced a 30A with a 25A breaker; easy!  Then the mechanical inspector came out and failed the exhaust vent.  I used single wall vent and code requires double wall or b-vent; expensive stuff.  Also, he failed the insulation I used was R6 and code requires R8.  After replacing these, the reinspections passed.  The inspector was surprised the work was accomplished by a homeowner; he’s seen jobs by contractors not as nice.  What a compliment!

This was certainly the hardest DIY job I’ve ever done, and kind of hope I don’t have to do it again.   I want to thank my brother Rob for all the work and his expertise!  I could not have done it without him.   Mitch stopped by to visit his Dad (Rob) and was a big help in the process!  Zac was able to help, even with an injured back!

Next season I plan to replace my downstairs unit (time does a funny thing to a man about hard things in his past, he forgets).  It is, however, a much simpler replacement.  I can hope.  šŸ™‚

Categories: HomeHome Repair