Air conditioners, heat pumps and comprehensive indoor HVAC systems are not only expensive, but also are an important part of your home. Whether you live in the sweltering West Texas heat or just humid Chicago summers, your home’s heating and cooling system makes sure that you stay comfortable and safe regardless of the temperature outside. For homes with elderly residents, controlling the temperature on hot days is particularly important — heat waves are very dangerous for the elderly and have been known to lead to extreme illness or even death. We may think of air conditioning as a luxury, but in many places it is very much a necessity.
Many companies manufacture HVAC systems for distribution and sale in the U.S., but some are certainly more popular than others. Goodman is one of the United States’ leading manufacturers and distributors of air conditioners and heat pumps, which Goodman also sell under the Amana brand name. Goodman/Amana systems can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000 and are sold with a 10-year limited warranty applicable to most parts. Rheem also is a major player in the air conditioning and heat pump market. Rheem units similarly vary in price and are sold with warranties lasting anywhere from five to ten years. The extended warranties made available to the original purchasers seemingly cover all major concerns and should protect homeowners in the event that their system malfunctions.
Despite their product and warranty claims, however, for years Goodman and Rheem have knowingly sold consumers heat pumps and air conditioners that use evaporator coils that break prematurely. As one website explains, you might think of your air conditioner as adding cool air to your home, but it’s more accurate to say that your AC unit subtracts heat from indoor air and transfers it outside. That transfer takes place in the evaporator coils on the interior half of your air conditioning system. As the coolant inside the metal coils evaporates, it acts as a heat sink for the air that moves across it from the blower. Copper conducts heat readily, so the coils that contain the coolant are usually made of this metal. In a dual or hybrid heat pump system, the same coils that act as evaporation sites in the summer to cool your home become condensation sites in the winter to provide warmth.
As thousands of owners of Rheem and Goodman/Amana air conditioners and heat pumps have learned, the coils used in many of these products are prone to premature failure. The coils used in more recent offerings supposedly are made from a thinner, less durable copper than older models. As a result, the evaporator coils may break prematurely. Because most consumers aren’t trained in HVAC maintenance, the problem is noticed only when the air conditioner or heat pump stops working. Most maintenance companies also may not immediately realize that the evaporator coil has broken. Consumers may spend hundreds of dollars diagnosing the problem and needlessly adding Freon in hopes of getting everything running again, only to learn that the evaporator coil needs to be replaced.
Replacement evaporator coils average about $400, however, it costs hundreds of dollars in labor to remove the broken coil and install the new one. Goodman and Rheem may cover the cost of replacement parts in some instances, but homeowners are still out-of-pocket to actually get their unit running again.
The attorneys at Cafferty Clobes Meriwether & Sprengel LLP currently are investigating a potential class action on behalf of Rheem, Goodman and Amana owners who paid out-of-pocket to replace or repair air conditioners and heat pumps that stopped working due to a broken evaporator coil. Please contact us for more information and to discuss your rights.