Reliable Heating and Air? More like Reliable Heating
(Or: How to Get Run Over By a Trane)
In early 2017 I made the mistake of having "Reliable" Heating and Air install a new air conditioner for me. The entire thing turned in to a horrible nightmare. (Unreliable Heating and Air?)
The old broken air conditioner was slowly leaking freon refrigerant, and the evaporator coils would turn in to a block of ice, requiring me to cycle and thaw the unit before it would continue cooling again. Due to the old type of freon essentially becoming illegal, it was not cost effective to repair the old unit.
Prior to the purchase, I did do some shopping around. I discussed with their sales rep exactly what I required, including the type of thermostat I needed and dehumidification expectations.
- They promised me that the unit was an appropriate size for my small
- They promised me that they could install a thermostat with push buttons, as I requested.
- They promised me that the AC unit and thermostat would provide proper dehumidification.
- They promised me that the AC unit would work properly with any thermostat.
It turned out these were all lies.
First, they ignored my specifications and instead installed their top-of-the line Internet of Things touch screen "smart" WiFi thermostat. It seemed like a perfectly reasonable thing to specify a thermostat with a tactile user interface, since I have hard time seeing things in the middle of the night. But to them I might as well be asking for a car with stone wheels. There were also a whole pile of other user interfaces problems with that thermostat that I detail in my "Abusive Application Interfaces" page.
After some pestering, they did eventually replace the thermostat. The replacement, although it had proper tactile inputs as I had specified, had no dehumidification support at all!
It is a nice scam they have going on here. Lump the price of the the overpriced fancy model in with the rest, install a fancy one, swap out the thermostat for the cheapest possible when the customer complains, and no refunds.
After even more pestering, and suffering in cold, damp, sticky, humid air, they sent the same tech out with yet a different thermostat. This thermostat has humidity control, but lacks the tactile interface I requested. While that was an improvement, the air conditioner still did not dehumidify worth a darn. The tech came out yet again and swore up and down everything was fiiiine.
Spending a bunch of time researching, it turns out no model thermostat is produced that has both tactile inputs and humidity control. Why was I promised otherwise?
After spending even more time researching, it turns out that current Trane AC units do in fact use a proprietary "communicating" protocol with the thermostat. This is only available in the high end seizure inducing touch screen Trane "smart" thermostats. Without the proprietary communicating smart thermostat, the unit will not operate 100%. For example, it will not manage the blower speed or enter dehumidification cycles. Using any third party thermostat dumbs the AC down to an "on/off" mode. "On/off" thermostats can only manage humidity by "overcooling", running the AC a bit longer when the humidity is higher. Up front, I had specifically asked if third party thermostats could be used with this unit, and was promised this was 100% possible. Not true.
So there I was still sitting in damp, musty air. My old broken air conditioner with a simple mercury switch had dehumidified better than this thing! According to the idiots at "Reliable" the a/c unit could not dehumidify any more than it was, and the only way to resolve the issue was to rip this one out and install another. If I had piles of money, I would have.
I got so, so tired of the back-and-forth with Reliable, the poorly designed products, and the lack of expertise. I "resolved" the humidity problem myself by purchasing and using a standalone dehumidifier - that I have to manually empty twice a day. In addition, I used an air purifier to deal with the added dust and mustiness.
And then things when from bad to worse.
Eventually it started growing mold in the ductwork and I became very physically ill. I had a very serious cough, sinus junk, wheezing, lots of pain, had to wear a pollen mask in the house just to breath, and was scrambling to a see a doctor for the first time in ages. Being really sick of Reliable and this air conditioner now, with some luck I was able to find someone with a brain to look at it.
Because I was now using a standard "On/Off" thermostat, the air conditioner was always running the blower at a high speed, throwing condensation from the evaporator coils up in to the ductwork, causing mold to grow. Additionally because the fan speed was so much higher than my old AC, it was now pulling in lots of air from a small attic vent at the intake. This was all made worse because the 2-ton compressor/condensor was really too large for my unit - it was cooling too fast, not permitting the AC to remove as much humidity. The old one had a 1.5 ton unit, probably for a good reason.
Salesdroids will go "by the book" when determining floor space vs required tonnage. Unfortunately "the book" is not always applicable in places of high humidity. When high humidity is a factor, a lower tonnage compressor/condensor (the outdoor part) should be considered. A lower tonnage compressor/condensor will make an AC take longer to reach a target temperature, but in the process of doing so will remove more humidity. Tack on to this that Trane does not make smaller blower/heating components that are appropriately sized for a small condo (fine for a large house).
So anyway, they took care of the mold and changed a setting in the blower to let it run at a lower fan speed. However, they tell me this is not possible on all units because of some difference in the evaporator coil. The setting makes the Compressor/Condensor act like a 1.5 ton. If by chance, I had had a slightly different model, my only other choice would have been to rip the entire thing out, or use that unusable monstrosity "smart" thermostat. (Remember, they promised it would work with ANY thermostat). Using a non-Trane thermostat may be hazardous to your health!?
Works muuuuch better now. So far no more mold, and it dehumidified very well.
But in retrospect, I could have saved a lot of time, money, and health, by going with a brand other than Trane and Reliable Heating and Air.
To add insult to injury, I later discovered I had to special order the required size of replacement filters. Even though everyone had sworn up and down that replacements could be purchased anywhere!
*Facepalm* at this "modern" piece of junk. Technology is sliding backwards in so many areas. The consumertards buying this shit are more concerned about having flashing blue LEDs than something that actually works.
- Always get a price breakdown, in writing, that lists the thermostat.
- No one makes thermostats with both a tactile user interface and humidity control.
- Trane does not make small units appropriately sized for small condos.
- In humid areas seriously consider a lower tonnage. All salesmen going by "the book" will not consider this.
- Trane AC units require require the Trane proprietary "smart" thermostats to operate 100% properly.
- Trane AC and Trane smart thermostats use a proprietary "communicating" protocol.
- All other thermostats are limited to "On/Off", and can not control variable blower speed.
- Trane "communicating" thermostats are proprietary to Trane - you can't buy those at Home Repo.
- With an On/Off thermostat, a Trane AC may blow condensation in to the ducts.
- On/Off thermostats with humidity control only operate by "overcooling"
- If you do not use the eye-molesting, data logging, "smart" thermostat, they will try and kill you.
- How DO vision impaired people use "modern" grease-screen thermostats?
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