Repair or replace 2006 Aquacal heat pump?

tnthudson

LifeTime Supporter
Mar 31, 2008
339
Central VA
Okay, our Aquacal heat pump that was installed in 2006 began giving a 'LP' error when it would begin the Heating cycle, so we called our LPB that installed it and they in turn told us to call local HVAC contractors, as our LPB will not mess with freon.
So we finally found a local HVAC that will work on pool heaters, and they diagnosed that we need a TXV and a Dryer for the heat pump. However, they cannot find the parts, so now our LPB is trying to get the parts on order.
So now we have a couple of questions--
1. Should we repair the heat pump (which will include 5 hours of labor according to the HVAC people, as well as removing/replacing freon) -or- would it be better to replace the entire unit at this point?
2. If we should replace, is electric the way to go again? Or would propane be a better option? I have no idea on pricing comparisons for the two, but we do have a huge propane tank for our whole-house generator...I just don't want to spend hundreds and hundreds of dollars on propane each season, not sure how efficient those heaters are.
*For reference, our Aquacal heat pump model is 5302B, but the tag shows a longer model number 120AHDEBNB and Serial number 1064756 -A06
thanks!
 

sktn77a

Gold Supporter
May 16, 2010
1,909
Chapel Hill, NC
Get a couple more diagnoses/estimates. HVAC people are known for incorrect diagnoses and ripping people off. This ain't gonna be cheap - ask them if their fix doesn't cure the problem, can you get a refund.
 
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JamesW

TFP Expert
Mar 2, 2011
21,145
Replace the unit.

What is the total cost for the repair?

A service company is not going to want to guarantee a 14 year old unit.

If the fix doesn't work, you're not going to want to pay and the company is not going to want to take the loss in parts and labor.

You have to decide beforehand if you're paying for the work quoted or for a working heat pump. Those are not necessarily the same.
 
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tnthudson

LifeTime Supporter
Mar 31, 2008
339
Central VA
Good points, ya'll. Definitely will think about it. Even my LPB tech that I talked to said that he'll get the parts prices, but if it was over $500 or so he wouldn't repair it, since you still have to factor in freon, labor, etc. and as ya'll pointed out, it may not even do the trick.
 

tnthudson

LifeTime Supporter
Mar 31, 2008
339
Central VA
UPDATE to thread------

Replace the unit.

What is the total cost for the repair?

A service company is not going to want to guarantee a 14 year old unit.

If the fix doesn't work, you're not going to want to pay and the company is not going to want to take the loss in parts and labor.

You have to decide beforehand if you're paying for the work quoted or for a working heat pump. Those are not necessarily the same.
Okay, looks like the cost for parts comes in around $215, but the labor ($795, for 5 hours) and freon (approx. $450) brings it to approx. 1460 for the repair. It's a TXV and dryer, which my LPB says comes in a kit.
I'm planning on getting another estimate for labor,
but--- again, as stated above, it's a 14 year old heat pump, and I found a page on AquaCal's site where they say their heat pumps generally last 10 years 'but we've seen some last as long as 15.'
My LPB says they can replace the heater for approx. 6,000,
so now the question is back to -- Repair or Replace? Just looking for guidance if anyone has similar experience or knows pool heat pumps (particularly AquaCal).
thanks as always
 

PoolBrews

Well-known member
Oct 16, 2019
246
The Villages, Florida
I wouldn't spend $1,500 to repair a unit that is well past the normal expected life time. Even if they do get it working, it is highly likely that the heater will fail within the next year or so. You might get 3 years out of it if you are very lucky. I would get a new heater installed - the new ones are more efficient and quieter.

If you were happy with the heating performance of your heat pump, stay with the heat pump. Propane will heat quicker, but will cost you way more to run over the life of the unit. Based on the info you've provided, that is a 120K heat pump - if you replace it, go with the biggest you can get - should be around 140K. It's only a few hundred more, will be more efficient, and will heat a bit quicker.

Get several estimates for installation - $6K sounds high to me as the heater itself is only $3,500 - $4K. I would think $5K would be about right. They don't have to add any electric and only need to do minor -plumbing. It's just a lift and drop replacement.
 
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tnthudson

LifeTime Supporter
Mar 31, 2008
339
Central VA
Thanks. My wife (brutally good with sales, haha) is negotiating with the sales lady we work with. I'm also going to see if I can get the larger unit if we can come to a compromise price.
 

tnthudson

LifeTime Supporter
Mar 31, 2008
339
Central VA
Hey ya'll, just a final update. I did get my original LPB that put the pool in to replace the heat pump, it's a aquacal SQ120 and boy have they come a long way in 14 years. I ran it for about 24 hours and it seems to heat really well. I've closed the pool for the season and I'm excited to see how it does next year. Thanks again for all the advice.
 
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