Suppose a customer calls you about a split heat pump system which is leaking condensate from a hole in the evaporator pan during the summer. Would you:

a. Recommend an entire new heat pump system at $5k to 12k? 

b. Recommend a new evaporator coil and attached pan at $1200 changeout?

c. Replace the evaporator pan at $25 to $400?

Thank you in advance for your thoughts about this. 

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All above and 3 more   at least 6  ways of fixing the  total problem.    Do not forget about over head - that truck the total costs to fix and keep the doors open and phone ringing.   Is profit a bad thing?   

Hello Eric, I agree, let's take the pie, or profit, out of the picture. Option c. may not fly. Do I recommend a whole new system, or just replace the A-coil with a Goodman piece? What about Nordyne--- would you use it, Eric? 

I take a rain stop like what roofer use and coat the old pan.   Let it air dry  then re install or make a new pan.  The new Nordyne are for mick row canal ( not spelled right) and charge does not match well with old 3/8" copper tube.   If pan can not be repaired then replace with 3rd party like red tee or Aspen they have flat bottoms on the coils and can be used in just about all units.   On the new coils that some major lines are using the oil return is harder with POE oil on compresser   

Eric, thank you! Another pro sent me an email:

Tom, you want to do a good job that will not offend the customer. You know that pans are fairly cheap items, probably costing about a buck to make at the factory as they are simple sheet metal stamped out by the thousands at one plant or another. They can SOMETIMES be ordered as a replacement parts for a BIG specialty item cost per from SOME manufacturers of that brand, depending upon whether they are popular or not and the manufacturer wants to keep them in stock and make them available for up to the required 7 years.

If they were a frisbee that could be tossed across the room and stick in the right place, all would be well; however, there are some complications that are hinted at in the other post nearby about cleaning a coil. Once a cooling coil is installed, the system sealed and vibrated on top of a furnace for a while, moving a coil can crack a fitting, as the tubes inside are simply thin metal, not a solid rod. If a crack appears, the charge is lost and the whole system has to be sealed and recharged which is the most expensive repair an HVAC system can have without replacing a part. Sometimes the crack or hole can not be repaired, and a whole coil has to be replaced. 

So a cheap pan that rusted or cracked, could create a situation where a newbie to the HVAC business, meaning well, takes the duct apart, lifts the coil, loosens the fasteners that hold the coil to the pan and places the new replacement pan in place. While carefully putting the new pan and coil in place, the fitting cracks. He just gave an estimate and an hour or two of labor to put a pan in, and now he is confronted with having to either repair a coil and recharge the system which can take several hours AND THEN after giving the bad news and the 3-or-4-times-increased cost of the repair, he alomost gets done and finds the repair won't hold, so THEN he has to give a new larger price for a new coil (of course this comes with a new pan under it, so the old pan he either has to sell or he has to eat the cost) AND he has to go through the recharging AGAIN.

An old-timer would have been through this bad customer-relations scenario perhaps once, or had heard about not getting into it from a good instructor, so would short-cut the process. He might simply say that you need a new coil as there are no replacements FROM THE GETGO saving customer AND his own aggravation. This might be the reason the contractor has avoided involvement. Even if he does a good job, he might have had to fib to get it instead of facing you each time the repair escalated.

This knowledge now leaves you in a decision-making position, as you are now aware that the best laid plans of ... often go astray, and you can pick your sequence of utter frustration. 

While I dabble a bit on the HVAC side and understand much of it I do not claim expertise. I would call my got HVAC man and meet him onsite.

From the call I would be leaning toward three and would want to check there airflow to find out if this is due to ice. If the charge were fine and airflow were fine and I am not seeing ice build up. I would then rely on the recommendations of my expert.

If he were busy I would perform the charge test and airflow test repair the pan and meet him at a future date. I would test to make sure the water is going away to fix the immediate problem.

Glen, thank you for your insight! Your suggestions are great. I will pass them on. Danke schon, Tom D

Depends on the age of the system. The older the system, the less I'd put into it.

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