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OH MY GAWD job photos

Perry_3 Member Posts: 498
This thread is the reason that telling people to just work with the contractor they are most comfortable with - as is common on this site - can be totally wrong.

How are we - a consumer - suspossed to be able to determine which contractor is going to do the job right - verses a contractor who is going to do garbage work.



  • ScottMP
    ScottMP Member Posts: 5,884
    Customer of mine is a Landlord

    She owns a little resturaunt that was being run by a couple. They moved out and she called me to update the heating for the new Tenant.

    This is what we found. I was Dumbfounded !!

    I told her she was lucky no one died.


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  • ScottMP
    ScottMP Member Posts: 5,884
    And Apparantly

    When you want to change the HWH you just push the old one out of the way :)

    By the way, there was some "wonderfull" plumbing done as well !!!


    PS: I'll show the install photos next week

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  • Constantin
    Constantin Member Posts: 3,796
    Hilarious... if it wasn't so dangerous!

    Look at it this way: ANYTHING you do with this system from this point forward will be an improvement...

    The swiss-cheese flue pipe and box contraption was extra special after the inverted P-trap exhaust-vent on the water heater...

    That must be one wet basement considering how far gone all the sheet metal is on those older water heaters.
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,767

    As long as it runs.............They just don't care.

    Are the previous installers that stupid that they think this is ok?????????? Or they know it is wrong and are just lazy???

    I just don't know.

  • Boilerpro_5
    Boilerpro_5 Member Posts: 407
    Not necessarily.....

    I guess I should start posting photos of work from Licensed, trained, "Professional", Plumbers and heating contractors in my area. What you shown us is fairly typical of what I have seen around here from "professionals" in the area....It is very scary around here.

  • Mark Hunt
    Mark Hunt Member Posts: 4,909

    We'll split it!

    You are 100% correct, it is lucky that no-one died.

    Mark H

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  • Al Corelli
    Al Corelli Member Posts: 454
    No, it was not the tennant...

    "My cousin used to be a plumber, he can do this..."


    "What do you mean this is dangerous? This was installed by a guy who used to work in this town. He said he was licensed and insured. And... His price was soooo much cheaper than yours!"

    We gladly fix ALL low bidder work!
  • joel_19
    joel_19 Member Posts: 931
    Energy efficency

    By putting a trap in the flue pipe you slow the draft down this greatly reduces standby losses. When the unit runs it will leak thru the draft diverter for a couple minutes and then over come the question mark style trap and draft normaly . So not only did they save the client money by being cheaper than you on the install they actually save them gas as well.

    No wonder you guys have such trouble competeting....

    Disclaimer: the above is only the sad attempt at humor of a deranged wethead and should not be construed as home owner advice.

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  • Leo
    Leo Member Posts: 770
    Well Gee


    They vent gas dryers like that so what's the problem? :) This looks like a bar room basement I was once in. Full of dead soldiers also. I figured in our cased it patrons working off a bar tab.

  • Al Corelli
    Al Corelli Member Posts: 454
    Energy Efficiency?!

    Now THAT was funny!! LOL!
  • S Ebels
    S Ebels Member Posts: 2,322
    Must be the season for 'em

    Drew went out on a service call to look at a no heat situation last week. He came back and said he found an atmosheric draft, natural gas fired furnace, laying on it's back in an attic with the burner manifold on top and the burners running vertically down into the HX. The flue collector was black with soot, all the rollouts were jumped and the single wall 6" vent pipe terminated under a roof vent. The vent pipe did not extend out to the atmoshpere. Needless to say, it didn't get "repaired" and was turned off with the gas line disconnected and capped. It's now slated for removal and replacement. Building owner said it has been up there like that for over 10 years. Best part is, it was installed by a licensed contractor!
  • Tom_35
    Tom_35 Member Posts: 265
    Crappy work everywhere---

    We used to have a HVAC contractor in our area that wrote the book on bad installs. He bellied up several years ago owing Trane and Lennox close to 1 million, and other suppliers several hundred thousand---not to mention back taxes, etc.

    One house we went to on an estimate had the horizontal furnace setting on an old table in the half-basement. The furnace had an induced draft ventor motor, which was a blessing. They had run the flue under the table to the opposite side of the furnace, then across approximately 20' to an old draft diverter from a floor furnace---and then into an on unlined chimney.

    Another job that was on a large custom-built home had one of the flues running over 30' horizontally. They started having condensation problems, so the cut drain holes in the double wall flues and soldered in 3/4" male adapters, then ran pvc drains. This job was done by a York distributor that has for years kept prices down by using their distributor pricing to get jobs they want.

    Another job had the flexible rubber dryer vent on the furnace. When we got called, obviously we found CO an issue, and the rubber coating was a puddle on the furnace with the wiremold still attached from the furnace to the double wall flue.

    One last one---The installers on a duct job used 5-gallon paint buckets as duct wyes, some supply air boots had no ductwork to them, and the duct system would only handle 3/4 of a ton of cooling---on a 3.5 ton system.

    Sad, sad!

    Tom Atchley
  • Mike Miller
    Mike Miller Member Posts: 22

    Thought I had seen everything, guess not. And I Have seen some real "cowboy" piping. But you can see that integrity can go right out the window with some people. Its a shame that they can get licensed. Our standards in Colorado have been falling since Regan took the presidency. Hmmm, any connection? Probably not, anyway good thing they called a real pro this time around. good catch, you probably saved some ones life!

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  • ScottMP
    ScottMP Member Posts: 5,884
    It's easy Perry

    Its called a reference list. Ask around.

    Also tell the contractor you expect permits to be pulled for your work.

    Also I HIGHLY question whether this work was done by a pro. Icertainly did'nt have a permit pulled as Massachusettes has a strict code.

    Actually Perry I think this thread shows what happens when Non Proffesionals do work.


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  • Perry_3
    Perry_3 Member Posts: 498
    I have to disagree - it is not easy; what is a \"good\" reference

    OK; I'll bite that the job you posted may not have been done by a pro.

    But did you notice the people who posted that they know of HVAC contractors who also do shoddy work. I'll bet they even pulled permits.

    Pulling permits has nothing to do with a quality job.

    Asking arround and getting referrals is only good when the people you are asking know what a quality job is. I propose that the vast majority of people do not know this - they do know who "treated" them best on a personal level, and many other people equate "best contractor" with cheapest contractor. Now the cheapest contractor may or may not do good work.

    I struggeled through this issue this year. I got the "best" contractor in my area to install a Vitodens on a T & M basis. I chose which battles to fight concerning how it was installed. When I posted the pictures several people correctly pointed out that some things were not installed "correctly" and I should have it reworked. I agree and even knew most of it - but I figured that in my specific case that it would not affect system performance. The things I insisted on - that they were going to do - were things that would have affected its ability to work right. There is only so many battles that you are going to win in trying to get a contractor to change how they do things.

    So, the best contractor in my area. The one doing about 100 boiler and furnace installs a year dosn't know a lot of things which the best people on this site say are how things should be done, and had very limited knowledge about mod/cons (they did like the Vitodens boiler once they saw it - and I did have the Viessmann rep here for the install).

    Now I have no idea what they would normally do for venting. I do know that they did think that the Vitodens concentric vent was way overkill and they had a "better" way that they wanted to use (cheaper too - and it involved PVC).

    So - there goes your "get referrals" idea. This company is as good as it gets in my area.

    One of the reasons I hang arround is because I am struggling with how can we all help things get better.

    I know that some on this site believe that their needs to be state or national level certification. I would agree with that if properely implemented. One of the problems is that such a program would not get accepted unless all existing contractors were "granfathered" in. So much for sorting out the bad apples; and by itself it does nothing to change existing behaviour and practices.

    My idea, based on one of the state issued credentials I hold - is that every 2 years you must pass a test to retain your credential. For this credential the state agent looks all the incidents in the nation and the biggest safety issues and put them into a test that everyone has to take every other year to renew our credentials. If a person does not pass they have an option of remedial work and retest. This is farily effective. There is also an annual state sponsored seminar that is not mandatory (yet) that discusses safety issues and the latest technology and issues. I have not attended recently because I am not in active use of that credential. When I go active again, I will be attending the seminar. I do note that there has been discussions of requiring attendance at the seminars (at least every other year) as a condition of maintaining the credential. Then to make it really effective no one can buy the needed supplies in order to do a job in this state without the credential.

    So for those looking at establishing a credential program - that is how you get everyone up to speed and keep everyone current; and the final sentance is how you really control safety with products that can cause serious injury or death (don't boilers fall into that catagory - not sure you could implement it for home heating and hot water though).

    In the end though - it all comes down to not only haveing a contractor (be they licensed or not, weather they pull permits or not); who knows what is the correct way to do things - but having one who also has the personal ethics to do things correctly and not take shortcuts.

    I also believe that an effective inspection program is also needed. The inspectors do not have to inspect every job - just enough to keep everyone on their toes (isn't that what permit fees are susposed to fund).

    I do note that most of the worst wiring (some of it dangeroulsy miswired) I have seen in houses (and in one industrial building) was done by licensed electritions. I do admit to having seen one homeowner wiring job that was a disaster.

    The only way that I see for a homeowner to find out if the contractor is going to do a good job is for them to spend a lot of time here and in other studies and then check out the contractors work (or maybee have one of the "experts" on this site check out the contractors work). That is not going to happen in approximately 99.999999% of jobs.

    I'd love it if you could tell me another sure fire way to find out.

    How many other people are going to take 2 days off to ensure their boiler gets installed right?

  • GW
    GW Member Posts: 4,734
    well said


    it's really sad but there is no silver bullet. We're talking about people, and people do NOT like to admit when they don't know a certain subject (when it could be percieved they "should").

    I remember about 10 years ago, I installed my first Viessmann, had no clue what I was doing, but it worked! If I went back to that job today i'm kinda sure I'd blush just a little.

    I'm doing my first Viessmann solar system; the owner is dropping some serious money on me (solar tied into the heating system as well). I told him I never did a solar system, and he hired me anyway. Why, because he got a good vibe from me (his actual words).

    So, it's quite possible a new guy can simply smash to smiterines the quality of a guy who'se been around the block, and certainly vise-versa!

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    Gary Wilson
    Wilson Services, Inc
    Northampton, MA
  • Dave_4
    Dave_4 Member Posts: 1,405
    Only 2 days?

    Yes, very well said Perry.

    Perry, mine was supposed to take 3 and instead took 5. I was unsure until a true Pro from here put my mind at ease. Had I established some grading system, I doubt any of my 4 bids would have passed, one freelancer 95% service guru (the only one I could find for W-M Ultra), then 2 Viessmann recommended outfits hat didn't seem to know their product very well and one buys it's Viessmann stuff through Lennox - go figure. Anyway my guy is very European, black iron only - big score, seemed to know his stuff, but bs'd a bit too. I was already sold on the product - I was actually sold on it by the Canadian rep for Triangle Tube. He basically made me realize that the only reason that I hadn't considered it was minimum modulation. Everything was completely ideal. This was the install company he recommended over the phone.

    The first contractor didn't care about my plans. He wouldn't be doing the piping. He didn't touch black iron except for gas lines which he would be doing. I like piping, I'll do the hydronic side - bonus. We differed on simple things and then the whole additive aspect of the install and me likely draining twice for two changes to the system over the winter just made that seem excessive. His quote seemed pretty high and all he was supplying was the boiler, gas piping, venting and indirect - well that bid plus my labour was most likely in the Viessmann range. I got two quotes, one was exactly what I expected (and for the same effective price, I'd get a world class leader hx/burner - so the Ultra option faded) the other was much higher with variables (even for removal) and it took him forever to get pricing from Lennox of all places. I was ready to go with the cheaper of the two. The saleman was old and green, the owner instantly said 8-32 and other silly stuff but they seemed very reputable and they were recommended by Viessmann. This job was several months late now so I was ready to go. I would get a 6-24 from the cheaper guy, he had better LLH piping ideas and knew his venting better, buy the horicell myself (hate to say but as a civilian my supplier gives me the same off as any contractor and I could add the indirect myself and save $2.5 to 3.5k depending on which Viessmann rec'd firm I chose). With the savings, I could justify TN4 and have the ultimate t-stat for t-stat lovers. I really do like the Vitodens, it's just the control. Anyway, then I'm thinking isn't it excessive just to get TN4 to make the Vito fit better? Then I think I saw a post with Prestige in it, and realized that it had always been on the B list and the plastic little front cover that covers the pressure gauge and readout was goofy. It was too big. Anyway, this is getting long winded but Scott thinks it's easy for customers to find the right company and it really isn't for the educated or uneducated consumer.

    Anyway, these T-T rec'd guys did steel only, seemed small and were ready which was such a mixed sign. I phoned a friend from here and he told me everything that I thought that I knew, only a bit better. So back to the plans. I did probably 50 designs for various boiler layouts along the way. The Ultra guy didn't have to care about my plans other than how it changed the venting. He was doing the venting, combustion and kickstarting the controls then service. The Viessmann guys both yeah yeahed the drawings and then explained how they'd do it. My Triangle Tube did the first time too but this time he had to commit to them because I was bidding him up quite a bit. Then out came their limitation - the threading machine only went to 1" and they had no local threading option. They are regional, not local, but hey this guy was the first one to call according to Triangle-Tube's agent. That's okay, I'd get the pieces locally, I'll make runs. I already had a Spirovent for a few years waiting for this, a new feed and other goodies - I can get more 15-58s locally from where I got my existing one. I need to keep at least some volume in order to get the full Viessmann discount - okay bad joke, sorry guys). I was going forward with these guys but I really wanted my design. With the contract nicely bid up and me supplying a questionable amount of the piping and fittings, pumps etc I was ready, they'd be supplying 1" an under. A three day job.

    Day one was gas. Pretty boring, except the boiler was unloaded. Day 2, boiler removal guys a day early and very very early in the morning. Joe civilian has to remove his burner and sawzall through some 2" piping and get the system drained. First I had to shut off the tanks and run the already warm and reset boiler hotter so I could get the oil lines run dry for the removers. I got the boiler out and drained by the time they removed the oil tanks and also ran after and caught one 13 year old big poodle who has decided that the rewards always justify the risk. It was a long day and it quickly became obvious that we were running behind.

    Then during one of my supply runs to the supplier - yes, I'm buying for my pros. Anyway, that was when neither one of the two close 1.5" nipples were still available when he got to the closely spaced tees. They could be almost an inch narrower with a close nipple. I regret that but I think my pipefitter would have went over the top because he had been on a roll. He had been very willing to always consult me at each step and I didn't want to undermine him. What's 7/8" when you've bumped up from 1.25" to 1.5" anyway... *sniffs*

    Anyway, I ended up spending 5 days, a full week off in the basement. I bought everything except pipe 1" and under, the venting (he bought really beautiful dark gray PVC - unlike what I've seen before) and of course the boiler and tank. The PVC was certainly heavy when holding 21' of it into the chimney to help things keep moving. The piping guy had much to do. I was off anyway, I know my roof. I'm not sure how joining coax tube sections would have been for that (it would have saved a hole though the bricks). As it was, we were lucky to prime, glue and twist all the way with the amount of space we had after that elbow was lowered into the chimney. Unlike Perry I do trust my PVC and in this case was the only way to exhaust vertically short of SS, but much like Perry every customer is different and furthermore every system is different. Every option considered usually means learning something completely new on the part of both consumer and seller. The consumer is pretty easy to overload.

    It's really not easy to find the right contractor. It took me 12 years of procrastination and then 4 months to get 4 quotes. Plus a full week in the basement. Then it took luck.
  • Ken D.
    Ken D. Member Posts: 836

    There are so many reasons for shoddy work. They range from amatures who don't know better to pros not wanting to take the time. One guy in town moonlights after his regular job as a retailer. Talk about ugly work!! Some people are just plain rip offs. Licensing and permits are not the end all as I know plenty of rip offs that are licensed. And all too often the customer does not want to pay for a quality job, they just want it cheap, which I believe is the most prevalent problem. The contractor, legitimate or not, is just giving the customer what he pays for.
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