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560k output for 3200 sq ft

MIke_Jonas Member Posts: 209
I commonly see 250k boilers in 1200 sq ft homes. I've seen so many 120 gal indirects in single bath homes that it doesn't even shock me anymore. I saw an 1800 sq ft split level a while back that had two 150k boilers and one 100k f/a system and they were still uncomfortable. This one surprised even me...

700,000 btu input, 560,000 output cast iron boiler. Someone decided that might be a tad too much, so they capped off a few of the burners. Homeowner wants high eff. boiler and indirect. Homeowners comments in quotes...

In my original snooping around, I asked them if they had heating problems in (3) of their upstairs rooms. I even pointed the rooms out. "Why yes, those rooms get so chilly in the winter, we can't spend much time in them. How do you know this?"

I explained that they had a converted gravity system and there were some flaws in the conversion that could be remedied now, or remedied later when a new boiler is installed. I thought that me finding this would be worth a few cootie points later.

Then I see the 83,000 btu output boiler. Used for floor heating the 750 sq ft addition. With no mixing or temp controls, unless you consider an aquastat set at 180 and wall thermostats as temp controls. Floor temp so hot I couldn't hold my hand on the floor. "We always wear shoes, anyway"

Then I see the ductwork and air handler. "So we could have a/c"

Then I see the air handler is actually a f/a furnace, 150k. "We figured we might as well add the furnace instead of just an air handler. Gives us extra heat".

Let's think about this a minute...700,000 output in a 3950 sq ft house and there are rooms they can't use and some of the rooms they can use, they have to wear shoes.

I'm sure some of you are thinking....Way to go Mike, you'll fix that right up. That'll be a good job for ya. Think again.

"This other guy is soooo much cheaper"

"You're the smartest guy we've had in here, no one else could ever tell us why we had rooms that were cold. We'd like you to do this work, if you can do it at this other guys' price"

The other guys' price was not much more than cost of materials.

I guess if you live in a house 20 years and will tolerate rooms that are too cold to occupy in the winter, the bar is not set very high for your own satisfaction. I'll try not to throw my neck out of joint, while I pound my head against the wall.


  • Nice rant

    and we've all heard it before here on The Wall.  I have had the same thing happen many times and you just have to wish them "good luck" and move on.  There's hope that the next customer will be a little smarter.  Hang in there.
    Often wrong, never in doubt.
  • MIke_Jonas
    MIke_Jonas Member Posts: 209
    Thank you Alan

    It was very, what's the get that off of my chest.

    I feel better already.
  • kcopp
    kcopp Member Posts: 3,716
    edited April 2011
    they get....

    what they deserve. They will prob. end up  paying more in fuel costs than they will "save" in the install costs. Since the boiler was modified maybe a call to the gas sup pier or the AHJ would be in in order as a life safety issue.....?  Hey at least document what you found so that IF there is ever an issue that it does not come back to bite you....kpc
  • MIke_Jonas
    MIke_Jonas Member Posts: 209
    AHJ, well, let's see, um....

    One of the things I left out was....The homeowner told me the 83k boiler and floor heating was done by a city employee  who did boilers "on the side"
  • Mark Eatherton
    Mark Eatherton Member Posts: 5,837
    Not everyone can afford COMFORT and EFFICIENCY...

    Those people are simply looking for "heat". Cheap, along with comfort and efficiency do not ride on the same bus together. With that said, I always try to pre-qualify my customers to make certain they understand that comfort and efficiency are not inexpensive, and if all they are looking for is heat, I wish them the best of luck, and move on.

    Just the other day, I had a call from a customer who DEMANDED that I come to their house for a design consultation. (4 or 5 different referrals from 4 or 5 different people), so I agreed to come look at the job (40 miles away). In the course of discussion, it became apparent that comfort and efficiency were high on their wish list. Price was never mentioned as being an issue. Until the bids started coming in. Now, they want ME to discount my design fee because they can't afford to do the deed...

    I kindly told them that I had designed a high efficiency, comfort system for them, and that I had no control over the costs to perform the installation. They said they were going to have to install a forced error system, because that was all they could afford...

    I told them that I saw no reason for discounting my fee due to their inability to finance the system, and even gave them the names of a mortgage company that would roll the energy efficiency improvements into their mortgage, and allow them 30 years or so to pay it back.

    So yesterday, I get a notice from the post office that I had to come sign for something from this client. I go to the post office, and he sent my payment, in full, certified mail. I have a feeling that this is not over yet...

    Chin up Mike, you did the best you can do, they just simply can't afford your services.

    It's not so much a case of "You got what you paid for", as it is a matter of "You DIDN'T get what you DIDN'T pay for, and you're NOT going to get what you thought you were in the way of comfort". Borrowed from Heatboy.
  • Charlie from wmass
    Charlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,186
    Some of the worse pricing

    and workmanship I see in the Pioneer Valley. To sell proper installations in this area takes work. We can not compete against people who add 30% to the wholesaler bill and think they just made a days pay. Good luck and keep moving forward.
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
  • Jean-David Beyer
    Jean-David Beyer Member Posts: 2,665
    paying more in fuel costs than they will "save" in the install costs

    I learned the concept many years ago. I had some old red maple trees that were dieing from some disease. I called in a tree expert and asked if he could cut off the dead branches, and he said he could, but in a few years he would have to come back and take out the whole trees. In other words, pay him for the full job now, or pay him for a part of the job now, and then the price of the full job later.

     Well that was obvious.

    So I now try to figure out things like that. Should I get a band-aid solution now and pay forever after for more band aids, or do it right to begin with. Usually it is pretty obvious.
  • lchmb
    lchmb Member Posts: 2,997
    worst part

    They will probably call you back after the "cheap guy" get's done making a bigger mess of it and wonder why you cant do it now or pay later...either way you will pay..."shrug"
  • lchmb
    lchmb Member Posts: 2,997
    edited April 2011

  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,471
    edited April 2011
    different materials and their cost

    surely the other cheaper bidder will not use the same materials you had chosen for this job.

    there must be a way to protect your intellectual property [the heating design for this house] from pirates like these homeowners, and their installer. perhaps if they had set a budget first, it would have been less of a shock. perhaps if more of these homeowners spent more time on this site, they would see what goes into a correctly sourced and installed system.

    they will be probably lucky to get a bosch wall-hung hot water heater with a recirculating pump, and even that installation may be incorrect. or half-way through the job, the installer will say that his installation does not include the "extra cost" flue or gas piping. and let's not pay for an inspection!--nbc
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