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Need help with repairs to Apollo heating/cooling system

Hi All,

I'm a retired home inspector in Washington State who, years ago, used to occasionally come to this board for answers when I ran into tricky issues. This time I'm coming here because I'm looking for a contractor who can help my elder sister out. She's 75, a widow, and she lives in the Virginia Beach/Norfolk area. She needs her heating/cooling system looked at by a competent tech who can carefully explain what the issues with the system are, in a way that she can understand, and won't try to sell her a bill of goods.

Here's the issue. Her home is heated/cooled with an Apollo system. It's a forced-warm-air system that apparently uses a single water heater to supply hot water for all heat, but uses two separate AC systems to cool the home. She says there are two separate thermostats and two separate compressor/condenser units outside of the home. One stat operates the compressor unit that cools two upstairs bedrooms while the other operates a separate compressor/condenser unit that cools the rest of the home. She's lost all cooling to the two upstairs bedrooms but the system is still cooling the rest of the home.

She called her home warranty company and they sent a tech out. The tech that came out said that the compressor was shot on that bedroom circuit and that they could no longer just replace the compressor because it's a 1987 system that uses the old type of refrigerant. He said there is no way to completely evacuate all of the old refrigerant, flush the system, and then recharge it with currently-legal refrigerant, so everything from the compressor to the A coil had to go. Then he informed her that he doesn't work on Apollo systems and left.

She called the home warranty company again. After some time they sent out another tech. This guy looked at the system and said it couldn't be repaired, period, because Apollo is no longer in business and Apollo parts aren't available. Besides that, he informed her that it was impossible to fix just the bedroom side of the system, he'd have to replace both units due to the refrigerant issue. That didn't seem logical to her. The bedroom side is all closed down but the other side is still cooling. She called me, explained what was going on and asked me if I had any suggestions. I didn't have the answer - hell, I can't see the setup from 2,800 miles away, so I can't be sure what she's got there. In my mind's eye, I'm envisioning a single water heater and air/handler heat-exchanger coupled to either one large sheetmetal box containing two separate A coils and refrigerant lines or two separate A-coils - each in it's own box - with refrigerant lines and ducting running to each. Either way, I don't understand why, if one side is working fine, the entire system must be replaced.

If there are two separate compressor/condenser units, each coupled to its own A-coil, and they don't mix refrigerant? Why couldn't she simply disconnect and remove the compressor, coolant lines, and A-coil that's cooling the bedroom side and continue to use that old system to heat/cool the other side until that fails too, and then replace the system cooling the bedrooms with a new system.

It seems like she could install either a heat pump or a pair of mini-splits on the bedroom side and she'd be all set. However, what do I know? I'm not an HVAC tech and she needs more answers and info about what her options are. Maybe the tech that's looked at it has another reason why both sides need replacement or he's just trying to sell a second system to an old woman that doesn't know any better. I think she needs a second opinion.

Ideas? Name of a competent HVAC contractor in that area who can figure out how to do this without bankrupting her?


    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 12,664
    Maybe @Ironman would have a suggestion
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 6,688
    I suspect there is a strong possibility this is the this is old and I don't understand it therefore it can't be fixed problem.
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 3,339
    Her 1st problem is a home Warranty Company. They higher the lowest of the low and frustrate the homeowner until they finally give up. 
    As stated Find a contractor site and pay what they want n