Kevin Evans is the Owner of Liberty Air Services, an HVAC contracting company. He received an associate’s degree from Oklahoma State University in 2018. Having completed hundreds of installations, Kevin is an expert in all things heating and air.
Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:
- Kevin Evans describes the basic components and functions of gas-fired HVAC systems
- What are the common maintenance concerns of heating and air systems?
- The pros, cons, and operations of mini-split heating and cooling
- How HVAC contractors price heating and cooling systems
- Tips for maximizing ROI on HVAC units and installation
- Kevin explains the purposes, challenges, and prices of various HVAC systems
- Suggestions for preventative maintenance on HVAC units
In this episode…
When completing renovations on an investment property, one of the most critical yet demanding upgrades is an HVAC system. With so many maintenance considerations and units to choose from, how can you make an informed decision to maximize ROI?
Some common HVAC units include a mini-split air conditioner, which allows you to control the temperature of individual rooms, and a zoning system, which regulates and redirects air to specific areas of a home. When making a selection, it’s recommended to consult a skilled vendor who can give you an accurate estimate. HVAC expert Kevin Evans maintains the importance of conducting preventative maintenance checks twice a year to ensure maximum performance and save you money in the long run.
In this episode of The Same Day Podcast, Mat Zalk welcomes Kevin Evans, Owner of Liberty Air Services, to discuss heating and cooling systems. Kevin explains the purposes, challenges, and prices of various systems, preventative maintenance suggestions for these systems, and tips for maximizing ROI on selections and installation.
Resources mentioned in this episode:
- Mat Zalk on LinkedIn
- Keyrenter Property Management
- Keyrenter Property Management Tulsa
- Keyrenter Property Management Oklahoma City
- Keyrenter Property Management Arkansas
- Keyrenter Property Management email address: [email protected]
- Liberty Air Services on Facebook
- Email the Liberty Air Services team: [email protected]
- “Successes and Failures in Real Estate” with Deren Huang on The Same Day Podcast
- “From Engineer to Entrepreneur” with Joey Wignarajah on The Same Day Podcast
Sponsor for this episode…
This episode is brought to you by Keyrenter Property Management.
Keyrenter Property Management is a full-service property management company who helps their clients buy, renovate, and operate real estate assets.
They help clients build wealth while taking the headache out of property management.
That’s why, no matter what rental you have — single-family homes, condos, townhomes, or apartments — they can give you the management solutions you need.
To learn more about their services, go to https://keyrenterpmc.com/ or send them an email at [email protected].
Welcome to The Same Day Podcast where we discuss driving incremental business growth and other topics related to real estate, property management and entrepreneurship now to the show at hand.
Mat Zalk 0:20
Mat Zalk, welcome to The Same Day Podcast where I connect with top business leaders and real estate experts. Couple of past guests that I’ve had on recently have been Deren Huang, he does great commercial and residential real estate work. Joe Joey Wignarajah 19days is doing awesome stuff in the studio Ventures World here in Tulsa starting companies based on identifying and then solving some some critical pain points. Today’s episode is brought to you by Keyrenter Property Management, Keyrenter Property Management, we’re a full service property management company helping our clients buy, renovate and operate real estate assets, we help our clients build wealth while taking the headache out of property management. Listen, Kevin, you know this, because you’ve worked on a lot of these projects with us. But we’ve got a guy named Adam Ray, he’s a great client out of Colorado, he bought a bunch of properties last year, and we immediately did 25 renovations or 24 renovations, and he’s coming in this Thursday or Friday to walk Thursday and Friday should say to walk 11 or 12 or 13 more units, because oftentimes owners don’t realize when they buy underperforming portfolios, things that are specifically under market in rent, they’re buying two things, they’re buying an asset, but they’re also buying to some extent a headache, we can help them manage that headache. But what they don’t know often is that the properties that have been leased under market for 10 years have significant deferred maintenance, significant issues, tenant issues, and the tenants don’t want to say anything because they know that they’re under market. And they know that if they go and start complaining about things, the landlord or owner will have to start fixing them. And then when they start fixing them, they realize that the return is skewed and return on investment, I should say skewed and then they start raising the rents. So what you have is over time over the years that compounding of deferred maintenance, and then because they’re under market rent, somebody comes in and sees a new owner comes in or new investor comes in and sees that they’re under market, therefore they’re a good buy. But they don’t necessarily always calculate how much work is going to it’s going to take to bring those properties back up to a standard where they can lease them at market rents. So Adams coming in to walk a bunch of his properties and see the condition is not great. And we need to do a bunch of work, including adding Heating and Air, which is the conversation that you and I are gonna have today. Start that second. But I think it’s important to recognize that we can help with all of these things we can do the entirety of the renovation, Adam will come in and walk up and he’ll find the properties will do the work will rent them and then his portfolio will once again yield where he wants it to yield and where he performed it when he originally bought it. That is to say, it doesn’t matter what rental you have a single family home in any condition, a condo, townhome apartment, we at Keyrenter have the management property management solutions that you need, go to keyrenterpmc.com or email us at [email protected]. Before we get into you, Kevin, I do want to give a big shout out to Mahadev, who is a client of ours that actually introduced us to you the very first time that we work together on a little condo at 71st. And Louis, he was looking for a solution. And we provided him with a couple of solutions for a new heating and air system. He went on Yelp or on Facebook or something Found You was like this guy seems great. And we were like I agree this guy Dustin, great. He does great work at an honest price and he invoices as quickly and we’re able to pay him via ACH drop money directly in your bank account, which is really, really critical for us so that you’re not, you know, we’re not sending a cheque that you’re then calling us 10 days later going to get lost in the mail or anything else, I put it directly in your bank account, which is helpful for us. So so often we find great vendors in our business by hook or crook and this way, you know, it’s just like Mahadev going, Hey, you got to talk to this guy, Kevin, and we went, I agree. He’s the best. Let’s do it. So big shout out to Mahadev, a client of ours for many, many years for having introduced us. Kevin Evans is the owner of liberty air services. He received an associate’s degree in heating and air from OSU back in 2018. He’s an expert on all things Heating and Air having done hundreds of installs. I know because you’ve done a lot for us. And 1000s of service calls. I know because you’ve done a lot for us over the past couple of years. So we’re so happy that you’re here. Kevin, welcome. Thank you so much.
Kevin Evans 4:18
Oh, thank you for having me on.
Mat Zalk 4:20
I want to start just with the very very basics for our listeners that don’t they’re not experts in heating and air. I’m not an expert in heating air, though. I’ve clearly had more exposure to it than then many people that would be listening to the show. Can we start with the foundational nomenclature, what are the basic components of a? Let’s start with a gas fired heating and air system and then we can kind of delve in once we have that foundational base.
Kevin Evans 4:44
Yeah, I mean, you’ve got your furnace. You’ll have your evaporator coil and then your condenser you know, the biggest issue that I see out here on all this stuff is you know, lack of maintenance.
Mat Zalk 4:54
So, so you have a furnace and evaporator coil and a condenser. The furnace generally lives Inside the house, correct. And the evaporator coil lives where
Kevin Evans 5:04
it’s going to be either on top of the furnace or right below the furnace. So are you having upflow or downflow?
Mat Zalk 5:10
Okay and then the condensing unit lives outside, correct. And what is the what is the primary function of the furnace.
Kevin Evans 5:17
So the furnace is generally where all your heat is going to come from, and it has the blower built into the furnace. So, that’s where you get all of your airflow. So, without without a furnace, it doesn’t mean you don’t you don’t get anything so,
Mat Zalk 5:29
okay, so furnace and a blower motor come together more or less furnace burns gas and then the blower motor in some instances just blows hot air into the house. But other times you might have no gas running the furnace is not producing anything but the blower motors actually, in this case blowing cold air when the condensing units on and the end the evaporator coil does what.
Kevin Evans 5:47
So your compressor is going to pump refrigerant from outside and it’s going to go into an evaporator coil. Well, it has a tiny little hole where that liquid flashes off. And that byproduct is cold air. So it’s either you know, you have your evaporator coil on top of the furnace where your ducts are in the attic or your evaporator coil is going to be on the ground where your ducts are, you know, in the slab. That’s generally where your cold air comes from.
Mat Zalk 6:09
Okay, so you have a furnace blower motor, an evaporator coil on the condenser outside is what taking fundamentally hot air, somehow cooling it through the evaporator coil and then the and then the blower motor blows it into the house.
Kevin Evans 6:21
Yes, correct. So what we’re doing is we’re actually taking the heat from inside and rejecting it outside.
Mat Zalk 6:25
Got it? Okay, so heat inside gets blown outside,
Kevin Evans 6:29
correct, you know, thermodynamics of the refrigerant. But you’re essentially taking heat from inside and rejecting it outside.
Mat Zalk 6:39
Got it? Okay. So a couple of a couple of things. We, there’s four components that you really mentioned, there’s a furnace, there’s a blower motor, there’s an evaporator coil, and there’s a condenser. Oftentimes, we get in trouble as the property management company. And I want to I do want to get into what you said is the biggest issue that you see is, is maintenance of the systems. And I want to talk about how we can avoid problems that are very costly by just doing some simple mains. Oftentimes, we get into trouble because we’ll send out an H HVAC technician, the H HVAC technician will solve a problem like there’s no cooling in summer. So we solve a problem, it might be a capacitor that needs to be changed might be low on Freon, whatever. And then, two months later, or a month later, we have another issue. And the owner says to us, we just had a maintenance technician out there, we just had an HVAC tech out why are there why am I getting two bills for within two months. And my my point to them is the the system is complex. It’s like the human body, if you break your left arm, and if you have no use of that arm, you’re gonna be doing a lot more work with your right arm and your right arm is very likely to start hurting. That’s not because the doctor didn’t set your left arm properly and fix that broken bone. But it’s because now it’s carrying more weight with your right now you’re doing more stuff that you wouldn’t wouldn’t normally do. And that puts additional strain on your right arm. What are some things that you see in terms of the overall system being hurt on one on the left arm, and then needing to carry weight on the right arm that causes it to the right arm potentially to break, so to speak.
Kevin Evans 8:10
So I would say the biggest thing is tenants putting in air filters. So I mean, if a tenant has an air filter, and they don’t change it for an entire year, we’re going to hit some major issues somewhere and what happens. So your evaporator coil is either going to start freezing up and send a liquid back to the compressor. You know, you don’t ever want to send liquid to any compressor. You know these newer compressors they can handle it for a while. Eventually they’re going to say I can’t handle it anymore and either blow up or pop fuses. Throw safeties stuff like that, you know, cleaning the condenser, you know, you could come out there and clean it and you know, they could come out there, you know, the tenant could mow two or three times, blow all that stuff onto the condenser. And now it’s going off on I had pressure there stuff like that it’s really not much of in our control that the tenants can really mess these units up. So what
Mat Zalk 9:05
happens if you don’t change the air filters, what happens is it that there’s not getting enough airflow because there’s blockage in the actual filter and there’s dust or is it that dust starts working its way in to the evaporator coil and does something to the evaporator coil.
Kevin Evans 9:17
So if you leave an air filter in and it gets clogged, just for a few months, most likely you’re just going to be sending a liquid back to the compressor. But if I didn’t have the air filter in there, and it’s been in there for years, you know that dust and dirt is definitely going to bypass that filter and just go right into that evaporator coil. So once that evaporator coil starts getting plugged up just like the filter is definitely gonna cost way more to take that evaporator coil out to clean up than it would have been just to replace the filter.
Mat Zalk 9:42
And what does it mean to send liquid back to the compressor you say it’s not good to send liquid back to the compressor. But what does that what liquid is that is that is that gas when you’re talking about about freon
Kevin Evans 9:52
refrigerant, as soon as it hits the evaporator coil there’s a tiny little hole and it flashes off into a mixture of liquid and Haber, before it gets back to that compressor, it has to be a total vapor, it has to have that heat rejection. So if we’re not getting enough airflow across that evaporator coil, eventually you’ll start sending liquid back to the compressor, because it didn’t have enough time in that evaporator coil to sit there and go to a vapor. So we definitely don’t want to be sending any liquid to the compressor.
Mat Zalk 10:23
And so liquid to the compressor is just over time will damage and destroy that compressor. Correct. And the compressor is part of the condensing unit that’s outside the endzone part of the compressor condensing unit outside as the fan and the fins. And as a compressor that’s doing what fundamentally.
Kevin Evans 10:39
So we’re taking the, you know, the the temperature inside, we boil off that refrigerant, it comes back out to the compressor gets pumped into high pressure gas, the condenser rejects that heat, bringing it back down into a liquid and sends it right back to the evaporator coil. So it’s just a big cycle
Mat Zalk 11:00
going on. So it goes it goes back and forth. So one thing that that can destroy a condensing unit. The compressor inside specifically is not having clean air flow that’s going over the that’s going through a filter and then and then into the evaporator coil. Another is having the fins having the external unit clogged. And what is that if somebody moves or yard a couple of times and it gets onto the outside condensing unit, what happens? It clogs the fins and those fins are actually used to reject heat. Is that right?
Kevin Evans 11:29
Right. Yep. So that mean those those that coil out there, it’s supposed to be rejecting heat, well, if it can’t reject heat, then we’re sending hotter liquid inside. In turn, you know, once it gets there, you’re gonna have a higher evaporator temperature. So on a claim condenser, you should have somewhere around a 40 degree evaporator temperature. If we get really high head pressure from that being really dirty, the lowest that evaporator temperature might get us 55 degrees. So that’s a big difference and 40 and 55 for you know how long that system has to run. You know, actually bring that temperature down. So yeah, interesting.
Mat Zalk 12:07
One thing that a lot of our clients ask us about especially on remodels is should I do is it cheaper to do mini splits with multiple heads, maybe one condenser two condensers. Many heads, as opposed to a full split system, right a full furnace, evaporator coil blower motor and outside condensing unit with ductwork and obviously the ductwork costs money to run if it’s not there already, if it’s already there, then it’s great, you just hook up to it. But I’ve always found in running the numbers, that if you have a house, I forget a studio, for example, where a mini split actually might make sense because it’s just, it’s just one one fundamental space. But if you have multiple rooms, and you can’t get the airflow from one mini split head into a into a bunch of different rooms. And it’s not more cost effective to do you know, either one mini split with multiple heads, one condensing unit with multiple heads, or two condensing units with multiple heads of four heads, for example. What are the benefits of mini splits for owners that are that are looking to do remodels, what are the when is it appropriate to put them in? When is it really better and cheaper, more cost effective just to run a full split system.
Kevin Evans 13:15
So if like, like you said, a studio apartment, perfect mini splits are absolutely perfect. But once you have a house, let’s say it’s a two bedroom, one bath home, and you decide to do three heads, maybe two condensers, you’re gonna be up there in the price of you know 899 1000 For all of that whenever our full system with duck work might cost you 12 or 13. But the downside to mini splits are is they don’t last as long as a split system does. If you’re doing just a one head mini split, the cost is quite low. As soon as you go to a to head mini slit that price almost doubles.
Mat Zalk 13:57
Why is that because there’s significant componentry in the actual head as opposed to the condensing unit.
Kevin Evans 14:02
It’s actually the condensing unit that costs way, way more. So instead of just having one port come out of that condensing unit, now we’ve got multiple ports. So it’s going to have to do some pretty fancy stuff inside that condenser to determine which head actually needs the cooling. So there’s way more into that condenser than just a single head unit.
Mat Zalk 14:21
And so once you have a mini split system, how are they heated? We know about the cooling side? I mean that’s the same refrigerant explanation evaporation that you just discussed, but how are they how are they heating because you don’t have a furnace and a blower motor in that in that in that scenario.
Kevin Evans 14:38
Yeah, so what those are our heat pumps. So in the wintertime, it reverses. You know, instead of putting your heat outside and cold air inside, it reverses that puts the heat inside cold outside. When we’re talking heat rejection, that of that temperature outside the condenser can always get colder than the outside air So if it’s colder than the outside air, it’s it is rejecting heat, even though it may be 2020 degrees outside and mini splits are good about, you know, you could be negative five in most cases and your mini split will still work. Once you get down to negative 10, negative 15. That’s where we really start to see decreased performance and then the, you know, the tenant might have to use a space heater or something,
Mat Zalk 15:23
right, which draws tremendous amount of electricity is and we see and we see breakers flipping and all sorts of all sorts of issues we have in Colorado I just got back from Colorado, I was on vacation with my family we’ve got in our house there, we got to go outside condensing units, and yet every room has the ability to change the temperature in that specific room. How does that work? I mean, I know at my house here I’ve got to two condensing units outside and I’ve got two thermostats and I can only change it I can make you know sections of the house cooler or warmer. But in Colorado, we have the ability to do it in each individual room. How in the heck does that work?
Kevin Evans 15:57
Okay, so that would be a zoning system. So on each room tied into your ducts is going to be a flapper type thing. And it’s motorized, so if you want colder air in your room, you know that duct is going to open more giving you colder air, if it satisfies that ducts gonna close, pushing more of that air to the other rooms that are calling for cooling. Beautiful. So zoning czar expensive to put in. But they are phenomenal for comfort.
Mat Zalk 16:28
But so basically, just take for example one one condensing unit outside if Room A says I want air room B says no. Then your then your system is running outside the condensing unit outside is running. And then a says no. And B says yes, the system is still running. So the system is going to be running weather until such point that no room is calling for cool air right?
Kevin Evans 16:48
Well, so most of the time, it would have to be to where two or three rooms are calling for AC before it will come on. Because you don’t want to send them let’s say five tons of air down into one room. So generally, you know two or three will have to call for AC then it’ll come on. And then once those rooms all come back down, then it shuts off and starts that process over again.
Mat Zalk 17:09
Got it? We I mean we just don’t see in Tulsa, I don’t see a ton of those. We you and I don’t install a bunch of those in our houses. renovation is just because it’s so expensive.
Kevin Evans 17:17
Correct. You know, bigger higher end houses have zoning systems, but most of rental properties are not
Mat Zalk 17:24
going to have that and what’s what’s the expense? The actual it’s some technology and then it’s an actual, there’s mechanization associated with the duct opening and closing. Is that right? Correct? Yeah, there’s a condensing unit out is a condensing unit more more expensive, or is that
Kevin Evans 17:37
the whole AC part of it is going to be the exact same. So the zoning system, you’re just adding into the ductwork. You just on parts, you may be 1500 to 2000 plus the labor to stick all this stuff and make sure it runs right. So it is a pretty big cost add to that to add it. So
Mat Zalk 17:55
got it. So let’s switch for a second, we might get two or three bids from different contractors, different API contractors to do a new system install, what are the components of of the cost? And as we see, like, you know, $1,000, in cost difference, I would think that there’s materials and that includes a markup for the contractor that’s doing the work. There’s labor. I guess that’s it, there’s really material and labor. But there’s there are various components to the materials that I want to get into. But generally speaking, how do h HVAC contractors price a system? And why would there be difference in in me bidding a two and a half or three and a half ton system at house?
Kevin Evans 18:33
Yeah. So you know, if we have, let’s just say a three ton system, what we do is we come look at the home, we would take the cost of the equipment, add our labor in on top of it, and then we have a profit margin that the company has to stay with him. And generally, we base all that off of how hard the job is going to be. If we think that there may be some warranty issues with maybe the location of the furnace, you may have more issues by sticking a system in an attic versus putting it in a closet. So I mean, that’s generally where the cost of everything comes from. And your manufacturers, there’s going to be a pretty substantial difference between prices of manufacturers. You know, Goodman is going to be one of your cheapest training or Linux are definitely going to be quite a bit higher than a Goodman.
Mat Zalk 19:21
So and is that is that just like buying a a Ferrari versus a Toyota? I mean, in I guess in that analogy at Toyota can run for 300,000 miles and Ferrari probably can’t there’s more maintenance required, even though it’s so much more expensive systems, maybe that’s a bad analogy, but are you getting for what you pay for or are you just paying for for the name brand shiny paint on a Ferrari as opposed to
Kevin Evans 19:43
shiny paint on a Ferrari paint for the name especially whenever you go Linux or train most of this builder grade stuff, which is gonna be the lowers here. You know, they’re generally all going to be the same. The only one that really does things different is a mana They put Copeland compressors in high pressure, low pressure safety switches, they do a lot of things on even their basic builder grade model that a lot of other manufacturers don’t do. And it may only be, you know, an extra two or $300 to get that system compared to a Goodman.
Mat Zalk 20:17
Okay, so instead of putting in a good minimum, which is a base model, maybe a Hyundai or something, maybe I’m some manufacturers are gonna come back to me, some manufacturers are gonna come back to me and sue me. But basically, instead of going for the lowest brand, you can go a little bit higher and have, in essence, better components for your better system. So it’s better value for the money that you’re paying, even though it’s a little bit more expensive.
Kevin Evans 20:37
Yeah, that’s correct. So Goodman on their compressors, you know, compressor is the heart of the system, especially for cooling. If that goes out, there’s no cooling. Goodman put, you never know what kind of compressor you’re gonna get with a Goodman could be an LG, that could be really Samsung, it could be any kind of compressor in there. And those cheap compressors don’t last near as long especially if they get abused. Amana, they only put in Koblenz which is been around one of the longest compressors around. Copeland’s are phenomenal. Those Amanda’s high pressures switch, low pressure switch, it’s got an intelligent monitoring system, inside the condenser, so if it senses, hey, the capacitor just went bad, and I can’t start, instead of that system sitting there trying to start for days and days and days, it will completely lock it out until somebody can get there, fix it, so it doesn’t harm the system. Got it.
Mat Zalk 21:29
So in essence, you pay a little bit more for the compressor itself, higher quality compressor and the safety, the safety system such that if the thing fails, it fails smart, it doesn’t just fail and break. Correct. And so instead of replacing a compressor, which might be $1,000, you’re you’re now just paying for a tech to come out and solve the underlying issue which is low on refrigerant, or some more air filter that’s caused some sort of other other issue.
Kevin Evans 21:54
Yeah, so especially, especially with compressors to, ever since the pandemic hit compressor prices have just been skyrocketing. If you can’t get one under warranty, you’re right around $1,000, just for the price of one of these small compressors. So I mean, the price just keeps going up higher and higher and higher. So you know, it’s really best to try to really protect that compressor. And that’s what
Mat Zalk 22:16
we often have owners that say, you know, I should have two years ago compressor was started two years ago full system was 4500. Now it’s 7000. I should have just replaced a compressor two years ago when I got that bid from someone. So now we’re dealing with a bad system I tried to limp it along. So that’s always the challenge do we try to get an old system to limp along forget for a second, the difference in cost between our 22 refrigerant, which is now the EPA said we can’t use sell it anymore. So it’s it’s a scarce commodity, and is getting higher and higher, higher and 14th, which is an abundant and abundant resource that we can always put in. But you know, the tendency to limp a system limp a system along as opposed to fixing it new, tell us about some of the pros and cons in terms of an investor’s mentality of trying to spend as little as possible so they can maximize their ROI.
Kevin Evans 23:02
Yeah, so especially with 14 A, that’s what we’re using right now. You know, just two years ago, I could pick up a jug of 14 a first run around $97, an entire drum of it. Now the price is close to 600. Wow. And it’s been that way for about the
Mat Zalk 23:20
past year, do you think it will come down? When supply chain constraints?
Kevin Evans 23:23
No, because next year, the EPA has mandated that we go to co2 and we change our refrigerant again. So for getting ready to be just like our 22, where it starts to get scarce, and the price is gonna go skyrocketing even higher.
Mat Zalk 23:39
So manufacturers can no longer manufacture 14 A as of next year, whenever
Kevin Evans 23:43
That’s correct. So once we go to the co2 rating, which is January 1, the manufacturers are going to have a different kind of refrigerant.
Mat Zalk 23:51
So is there any purpose? Should we start stocking up on 14 a while we have it, we have the ability to buy it.
Kevin Evans 23:58
I don’t know. You know, refrigerants like the stock market. You know, one week, it’d be down to $300 jugs the next week, it could be up to 800. In my opinion, 600 is still high. You know, if it comes back down, I may buy a tremendous amount of it. But I think buying it right now is probably I probably wouldn’t buy a tremendous amount of it.
Mat Zalk 24:18
And so starting January 1, we’re going to have the same conversation about 14 a system that we have within our 22 system, which is you can continue to plug this leak or try but everytime every summer when we’re leaking refrigerant, we’re gonna have to, we’re gonna have to replace it with an ever increasing cost of refrigerant, you might as well there’s a there’s an inflection point where it just says, Look, I know this system is only eight or 10 years old, but we should just replace it because you’re going to keep putting in really expensive refrigerant, and you might as well the cost long term of operations is going to be greater than just replacing it with a new co2 system. I don’t know what is co2, for example.
Kevin Evans 24:50
So co2, so we right now our normal co writing, you know, 1416 1718 So how manufacturers get that CO writing and the lab is they pretty much just set it on the bench, turn it on and and they get their efficiency rating. Now the government has mandated tell the manufacturers that they have to have a certain amount of external static pressure before they can get their SEER ratings. So they’re mimicking actually having a system in a home hooked up to ductwork now got it. The downside of that is, is the new co2 equipment for a full system is about another $1,000 Extra versus regular, you know, the seer right, and we have now we’ve been having issues getting units for about the past month or so. Because January 1, the government’s, you know, told manufacturers that if you still have equipment left over January 1, that from the old C rating, you can’t even sell it. So right now, they’ve completely pretty much stopped, well, that hasn’t stopped manufacturing, but they’re not given suppliers, new equipment till they sell out of the old stuff. And then the co2 will start trickling in. So right now we’re at a point where it’s getting hard to find equipment. Well, I just bought my first SEER to complete system last week, and it was an extra $800.
Mat Zalk 26:10
So So now so now as we start installing new systems, we’re gonna just be putting in co2 systems, it’s just gravity, just where it is. We we had a client recently say, we had you out to install a new system. We had, I guess, two issues within a month and and you said, look, we got to replace the system. And I should say, I should take one step back here and say, you know, over in Arkansas, we were working with a vendor recently who said, like, look, the The truth is, the furnace is not bad. But I will just install a whole new system. Of course, the client thinks that the that the vendors are trying to upsell, he says the client says what’s wrong with the furnace? Well, nothing really. But soon as you start changing out the compressor, you’ve got a mixed system. Now I’ve got a I don’t know a Goodman furnace with an Amana compressor outside condensing unit that causes problems in terms of it speaking together, I can’t tell you whether it’s going to be a problem that could work for 10 years with no problem and it could cause a problem immediately. So we ended up replacing just the the half system, the cooling system, not the not the furnace, they install the system, and then the contractor comes back to me and goes, the blower motor just is not working. And I can’t tell you why. It’s just again, it’s a complex system. But we really have to replace a blower motor in the furnace. And now all of a sudden, you know, a $3,000 job becomes a $5,500 job or whatever it was. And the owner is like, you know, what’s, what’s the deal? And is somebody trying to screw me here? And the answer is, I think the contractors honest thing, it just it wasn’t a bad install job. It was just that sometimes you mix components. And if you don’t replace the whole thing, it doesn’t work. Why does the system just not work when it when that happens. And that’s area, you know,
Kevin Evans 27:41
if you have, let’s say a 10 year old furnace, and it’s an upflow and you need to replace the evaporator coil on the condenser, you can generally keep that furnace. If we’re talking a 40 year old furnace, especially at downflow. I always recommend if we’re going to replace the evaporator coil and condenser to change that furnace too. The reason being is the new evaporator coils are almost twice the size of ones 20 years ago. And if the furnace is sitting on top of that old one, that furnace, either way has to come out of the closet or come out, you know the attic spot that it’s in. Now we’ve got to put our new evaporator coil and tie in the ductwork with furnace back. Make sure we didn’t miss any of the old components up on the furnace before we set it back over there. It’s we’re already doing the labor of even you know, adding a new furnace, you know, even if we have to remove an old one, so might as well just go ahead and get all three pieces swapped out, then you don’t have to worry about it’s under the warranty. It just saves a lot of headache down the road.
Mat Zalk 28:43
Yeah, yeah. We had another situation recently where you went out to bid a system, seven, seven half, that’s not a full system. The client said let me call somebody else called, you know, their friend who is a licensed HVAC contractor. And that contractor went out and did it for like 2500 bucks. What happened was, the other contractor went out, he went on Facebook, he found a use system, he you know, drove out and you and I spoke about this he drove out to God knows where in Canada or something to pick up the system and he went installed the US system. From my perspective, I say to the client, like our vendors are not going to first of all, it’s an incredible amount of labor to do to source it on Facebook. So if you’re billing $100 an hour for labor, you’re going to you’re going to Facebook, you’re spending an hour or two to find it. You’re driving out there’s fuel, there’s wear and tear on your vehicle, you’re going to pick up a system, you put it in, you start it up, you have no it’s sitting in somebody’s lap, you have no idea whether that systems gonna even kick on when you did it. Now you’ve spent $2,500 to buy an old system. And I tell them look, Kevin Evans is he’s the real businessman. He’s got people on his team, he’s got an admin staff, he’s got time. It’s time is not free. Like doing all this. It’s just not it’s not an offering that are the any of our vendors that we use on H on h backside are willing to suggest because you just don’t know I mean, what if you go out and you buy $2,500 But the system used and you have $1,000 for the labor and you install it and it doesn’t work and then you’re like, well, that’s 3500 ollars that I got to pay for. And, by the way, a new system is 7500 bucks. And it’s out of stock because my I didn’t put it on hold when I had the opportunity to now it’s harder to get the part and you’re gonna pay somebody $500. And the price just went up, it’s like, now you’re in 10 and a half 1000 or $12,000. For a system when you shouldn’t have done it right the first time. It’s a hard spot to be in, and I talk a lot about on the show about appliances being the bane of our existence, because a $500 install of a new dishwasher is, you know, is one thing but a 250 fix or 300 ollar fix for a 10 year old dishwasher is another thing and owners hate us either way, I always say put a new dishwasher if it’s older than two and a half, three years, because you could end up with a scenario where you spent 250 or 300 to fix it, it doesn’t work. And then you’re buying the $5 dishwasher anyways, and you’re in for 850 or 900. Like it’s just it’s just terrible. What’s your experience with that? I mean, you have you probably have people tell you that all the time. Can you just get something cheaper? I mean, what’s what’s your experience?
Kevin Evans 30:51
Yeah, I mean, I, you know, back when I first started I there every now and then I would put in a used condenser, or something like that. And then, you know, the system would only last a year. And I would I would tell the rose doing the job for it. But listen, this thing may run for a day, it may run for three years. It goes out tomorrow, I mean, I can’t do anything about it. So that’s why we always suggest put in, just just swap all three pieces out, get it over with and then then you’re good with either their 10 year warranty or the Amana lifetime warranty. So I mean, it’s it’s definitely more of an upfront cost to replace everything all at once, of course, but it definitely is gonna save you money down the road
Mat Zalk 31:33
and stepping over pennies to pick up dollars and stepping over dollars to pick up pennies, I guess is the expression. So we the other scenario that we have often is no cooling, get a call for no cooling, we send you out and the system is showing low on refrigerant. Why does it have Why do systems get low on refrigerant.
Kevin Evans 31:51
So most of the times it’s going to be a leak in the evaporator coil. And the way that we tell that is we turn the system off, take the panel off the evaporator coil, we have what we call a sniffer. And it’s any Alec test for refrigerant leaks. And we can go through there and determine where the leak is at. You know, on older systems, we can do a complete leak search and sometimes not find the leak. If it’s just a little bit low on refrigerant, then you know that leak may be so small that our sniffer can’t pick it up. So you know, adding a pound or two, you know is fine. But if we go up on a system and it’s completely out of refrigerant, we generally throw nitrogen at it, get it up to you know, three 400 psi and we can definitely tell where that leak is coming from and resolve that issue.
Mat Zalk 32:36
Head like Why Why does there become a situation where there’s a leak in the evaporator coil? I mean, what it’s just metal rusting, it’s corrosion, like what’s happening,
Kevin Evans 32:47
you got corrosion, you know, metal rusting, you’ve got cycles, you know, every year where we put that evaporators cold in the winter, it’s hot, cold, hot, cold, hot. You do that for years and years and years and years, you’re eventually going to get a leak somewhere.
Mat Zalk 33:01
And it’s just it’s literally you got a metal tube, and then the tube gets thinner and thinner and thinner. And then eventually, I mean, like a pickup truck that you see on the side of the road from 40 years ago, it just the metal just starts corroding and rusting or whatever. Yeah,
Kevin Evans 33:14
yeah. And most of the times on these evaporator coils, especially when they’re, you know, when you’re 30 years old, you can’t really you can attempt to fix them. But more likely, you’re just gonna blow my horn, more holes in it. And especially on the 14 a systems they’re double the pressures of our 22 we’re seeing way way way more evaporator leaks on these 14 systems.
Mat Zalk 33:37
And so when you say fix them, you mean like weld just you basically put a metal weld over a hole. Correct. And that and that will hold I mean, does that generally hold for the long term? Or is it kind of like pop a mole it holds but then it creates a more pressure somewhere else. So it goes to the next week is spot and the system?
Kevin Evans 33:54
Exactly. So we could we could fix it. And you know that and that may last for a few months or the next week we may have a completely separate hole somewhere else. Whenever evaporator coil start blowing holes that um, it’s always best to just go ahead and change it out. Or you’re just gonna waste you know, really waste money.
Mat Zalk 34:10
What does an evaporator coil cost in October 31 20? No, what are we August 31 2022.
Kevin Evans 34:16
If you’re going to buy just an evaporator coil your roof somewhere around $600 just cost of an evaporator coil. And then with the new co2 rating, all evaporator coils have to have tsps which is a thermal expansion device installed on them. So they’re going to be about an extra $200 Just for that evaporator coil.
Mat Zalk 34:34
What is the thermal expansion valve and it takes the sensor thermal expansion valve right what does that do? Correct?
Kevin Evans 34:39
Okay, so you know, 14 SEER systems most of the times people just add what we call a piston into that evaporator coil and what that is is just a tiny little hole. So we can raise lower head pressure outside of the condenser to determine how much refrigerant passes through that evaporator coil on a T XV It senses your suction temperature, it senses your suction pressure. So say somebody a tenant leaves an airfield granted, it starts getting clogged, that TX V will start slowly closing down letting less and less refrigerant in to, to make sure that no liquid goes back to that compressor. So a T XV definitely helps save the compressor gives you better cooling versus just a piston, which we call it, you know, like dumb old hole. That’s all it is.
Mat Zalk 35:31
Yeah, got it interesting. When oftentimes, we find systems will stop cooling, or will cool less effectively. And residents that have had the temperatures internally set inside their house set at 72 will go down to 62. Thinking that it’s going to cool better and then the whole system freezes up like what is that? What, what is happening when when a resident does that?
Kevin Evans 35:56
Okay, so most of the times, if you know if they’re turning it down to 60 degrees, most likely, there’s already an issue somewhere we’ve got, you know, a dirty blower wheel, clogged up evaporator coil, stuff like that. So whenever they turn it down to 60. You know, at nighttime, it’s going to try to get down to 60. And especially if you’re already plugged up on your evaporator coil blowers dirty stuff like that, then yeah, you’re most likely going to freeze up and that evaporator coil is going to become a big block ice.
Mat Zalk 36:21
So what does freeze up actually mean? The evaporator coil becomes a big block of ice, like what does all that actually mean?
Kevin Evans 36:27
So on your evaporator coil, you don’t want it to get below 32 degrees. So if we have low airflow, or another symptom is low on refrigerant, what it would do is right at that that piston or T XV it will start freezing, right there’s at that actual device. And once it starts freezing, it just starts getting bigger and bigger and bigger. And that ice will come all the way around. And sometimes it’ll go all the way even out to the compressor, I’ll see some compressors with three inches of ice all the way around them. So definitely low on refrigerant, low airflow.
Mat Zalk 37:01
And that’s because that’s because the blower motor is not effectively pushing enough air over that thing to like take the cold air out of the system and into your house. And it just gets too cold right there and freezes up.
Kevin Evans 37:13
Correct. Especially if you have a dirty blower. It can’t push enough of you know, let’s say the room is 75 degrees the house and that evaporator coils 30. Well, it needs to push a certain amount of air through that evaporator coil so that evaporator coil can pick up heat. If everything’s clogged up that evaporator coil can’t pick up heat, and then all of a sudden evaporator temp keeps getting lower, lower, lower as soon as it hits 32 or below it starts freezing up.
Mat Zalk 37:38
Right. Okay, so and we suggest that residents shut off the system in its entirety. Let everything Unfreeze. And then that thing thaws out. Then when they turn the system back on, even though the fundamental problem is not solved, which is a dirty blower wheel or whatever, they it can now start cooling again, because it’s thought out and now that whatever air is passing over that that little spyware is pushing cold air into the house, is that’s happening. In essence,
Kevin Evans 38:02
yeah, yeah, yeah, they can definitely do that. So if they ever noticed that it does freeze up completely shut off till everything falls out, you know, of course, they need to make sure that we are on our way out there, you know that we know what the issue is. So we can come out figure out what exactly wrong with it. But to get them by, they can run it. If it freezes up, thought out, you know, let it sit for a little bit, and then they can turn it back on and get some more cool air.
Mat Zalk 38:24
So one thing we had that happened two winters ago, three winters ago, we had incredibly cold temperatures. And there were some very high efficiency heaters that extract humidity from the air and they blow that that humidity drips out through some sort of drain line goes external and the the the the liquid that was that was coming off the system froze up through the whole PVC pipe that’s going out of the house froze up and came back into the system. And then because water wasn’t able to, to get out the system to get out of the system, because it was frozen in the line that that was taking it out. The whole system shut down. These are high efficiency heaters. And so the entire system is shut down in the coldest part of the year. And the only thing that you can do is to that because the wind out the air outside is cold, it’s not going to thaw out, it’s either thaw out that line to figure out like and you see in Colorado, frankly, you see a lot of low voltage heaters that are coming out of everything from guttering and drain lines that you never actually lose the ability to drain water, you might see it in one of those lines. Also, since the never freezes it up. The only thing we could really do was create a scenario we would have to tent a heater with plastic heat the heater with electricity like electric space heater, so that it would get to a certain temperature so that it would start heating again the whole house which is crazy. I mean, how do you avoid that scenario and how you what can you do just generally speaking, other than what I suggest that if that happens? Yeah, so
Kevin Evans 39:48
really a 96% furnace really needs to be inside, like in a closet.
Mat Zalk 39:54
But six is a high efficiency. Correct?
Kevin Evans 39:57
Yep. So the byproduct of them whenever they run heat is going to be water What it is, is condensation. Because it’s actually getting all of the heat out instead of letting you know 20% of the heat go out the flue pipe, we’re only letting 4% Come out of the flue pipe. So you get some condensation inside. You know, all of your drain lines, especially if they’re in an attic really need to be insulated. And even then, whenever it got to negative 10, negative 15, here, even the ones with insulation on it, were cracking freezing up around here, you know, that was just definitely one of those one off things that happened for a long time because I can’t tell you how much PVC I had to replace. There was a lot of and a lot of, especially on houses that are two storey there was a lot of homes that had to do insurance claims because water coming to the ceiling, making it down on the first floor, I saw one house that had a tankless in the attic, and it froze.
Mat Zalk 40:56
destroyed a lot in the house. I mean, just crazy to think that you have to take the space heater that’s that you’re using. And once your heater shuts down, you’ve got to use a space heater that you’re using a cool start to heat your your home and keep you out and keep you keep you warm and negative 10 degrees outside or 15. Outside and use it to heat your heater so that you can overall you know heat your house again. Yeah. Tell us a little bit in your experience. What do you suggest on just preventative maintenance? semi annual annual quarterly? I mean, what do you what do you think is the right way to do maintenance? And what do you do when you go and do preventative maintenance at any period of time to unit? Yeah,
Kevin Evans 41:31
so I think you should have it done twice a year. One in the springtime one in the fall. The one in the springtime, we’re going to clean your condenser, check capacitors contactors, check refrigerant level, make sure temperature split inside is good. When and what that is we take our return temperature and our supply temperature and we take that difference. And that’s our split, you know, we want
Mat Zalk 41:52
what should a normal temperature just be around 15 to 20.
Kevin Evans 41:56
Now if you’re getting in the eight to 10 range, then we may have you know the need to slow the blower wheel down or you know do some other things to get that temperature slip. But that would be for you know the summer months. As soon as we hit winter come in, that’s whenever we really take a temperature rise. Because your your furnace is doubly going to heat up way hotter than the air that it’s bringing in. So if you have a slightly dirty blower wheel or a clogged air filter is going to start hitting high limit safeties, and completely shut the system down. And especially on the older systems, instead of it just locking out, it’ll run shut off until that high limit resets and run again. So you’ll go into some of these houses, they may only the furnace may only run for 30 seconds before it completely shuts off, then it’s going to sit for a few minutes, and then it’ll run for shut off. So that’s the type of stuff that we’re trying to get to and find and fix it. You know, if if a furnace does that for too long, it’ll it could put holes in the heat exchanger from that huge temperature difference. But that’s what we’re trying to prevent whenever we go twice a year. Got it.
Mat Zalk 43:02
I love it. Kevin, thank you for being on This is super, super helpful. Yeah. Kevin Evans is the owner of Liberty Air Services, a Kevin does a ton of work with the Keyrenter. We really appreciate you being on the show. We also much more so appreciate you being a great vendor, a quality HVAC technician. Appreciate everything that you do with your team.
Kevin Evans 43:21
Yeah, thank you, man. Thanks for having me.
Mat Zalk 43:23
Thank you for being on.
Kevin Evans 43:24
All right. Thanks, sir.
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