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No heat for two weeks after a "tune up"

SuperTech Member Posts: 1,792
I just got back from an emergency service call for a new customer without heat. I found out that they have been without a working furnace since 12/10, when a local plumbing company did a tune up.
I arrived to find an 11 year old Lennox furnace with a Beckett AFII with a new primary control and electronic igniter on it. The primary was hanging off the burner by the wires, the cover for the circuit board was off the furnace and all of the low voltage wires disconnected. The Tjerlund power vent was open with wires hanging from it, the furnace also had a Honeywell zone control panel with yes, several wires disconnected from it.

Now I wanted to run away, far and fast. After closer inspection I saw an obvious problem. The primary control was a R72484U and nothing was connected to the limit terminal. After wiring that and everything else back up the unit fired right up! The plumbers, three different ones had been there, they replaced the primary, igniter and two circuit boards as well as a limit switch in an attempt to get the furnace to work, then proceeded to tell the owners they need to replace the furnace! I can't believe this went on for two weeks and several ordered parts. They said they never saw them use an electric meter, and this company has been around forever too. I'm surprised in the day of the internet that people like this stay in business.


  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,518
    Those type of businesses seem to thrive in the digital world! So much more access to the unsuspecting and unknowledgeable. Their potential customer base grows exponentially because they are always available with half trained (and that's kind) technicians. The good service organizations can't be everywhere, on the same day. Hopefully, once they find a good service company they will stay with them.
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 11,995
    What @Jamie Hall said is 100% right.

    I have been at this 46 years pipefitter, gasfitter and electrician with licenses. I don't touch plumbing and have the upmost respect for plumbers.

    I used to do a lot of HVAC service and I was pretty good at it back in the day. Large oil and gas burners, even #6 fuel oil. air condition and a little refrigeration. Pretty good with pneumatic controls

    But I am the first to admit some of the "newer stuff" has passed me by. Pretty much just stick to piping these days (if I have my way) unfortunately my boss is liable to send me on anything, but I can sort of pick and choose (somewhat).

    If I get on something I am unfamiliar with I can usually work my way through it and don't mind trying but don't want to waste time or $$ but If I feel uncomfortable being totally "lost" working on something or feeling stupid I get out quick and find the customer another way out...I don't leave them hanging.

    What this company (above) did was wrong. Parts changers cost the customer $$ and they took there $$ and delivered.......nothing

    good job @SuperTech

    unfortunately this type of stuff is commonplace. It happens way more often than people think
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,331

    It takes a certain amount of courage -- particularly in the face of a somewhat frantic customer -- to be able to say "sorry, that's above my pay grade -- let me recommend Joe from XYZ". Most of the folks here on the Wall seem to have that courage (does it come with really knowing what you are doing, perhaps?) -- but there are an awful lot of folks out there who don't.

    And if they can't or won't, they should not be in the business.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    HVACNUT Member Posts: 4,592
    And it doesn't get any simpler than that Lennox furnace, even with the zone panel.
    SuperTechIronmandelta T
  • SuperTech
    SuperTech Member Posts: 1,792
    edited December 2018
    I have the utmost respect for plumbers as well, my father is a retired master plumber, but he doesn't work on oil burners.

    I had never heard anything good or bad about the company that did this. They are the type of plumbing company that does a lot of septic system and well work more than the boiler and heating system work, I know they don't do A/C.

    I agree that the setup was rather simple, the only thing I found unusual was the Tjerlund power vent. I'd hate to see these guys try to troubleshoot a mod con boiler or Infinity heat pump system.
  • Ironman
    Ironman Member Posts: 6,868
    That company should refund every dollar they charged that customer, as well as paying for you to fix it. If it went to court, that's what an honest judge would rule.
    Bob Boan
    You can choose to do what you want, but you cannot choose the consequences.
  • GW
    GW Member Posts: 4,537
    edited December 2018
    Lol I’m a plumber from the mid 80s and can pipe circles around many heating dudes but Jamie you’re right. Half the ingredients of being a pro is knowing when you should not be selling services for something you’re not pro at. It’s why I pay a guy to do Sheetmetal, and why I don’t Service oil systems that we (HAVEN'T lol) installed (I’m not good enough to deal with old crusty oil systems)
    Gary Wilson
    Wilson Services, Inc
    Northampton, MA
    [email protected]
  • Leonard
    Leonard Member Posts: 903
    edited December 2018
    Not in the heating business, but I read factory manuals on equipment commercial tenants have installed. And come up to speed on it before I touch anything.

    But I have the luxury of time to learn these new systems, and am an engineer. Seems would be lot of pressure on techs working for a company to fix new equipment even though they don;t know much about it.
  • SuperTech
    SuperTech Member Posts: 1,792
    The worst part of it was how the "technician" handled the tune up. I'm not sure why he replaced the electronic igniter and primary control but when he was done and couldn't get the furnace to fire up he told the homeowners "well, I'm done, I did what I was sent here to do. The tune up is complete, we'll get your heat back on after we get the circuit board!" Personally I can't sleep at night if I leave a customer without heat. I don't know how this guy does, especially considering the furnace worked before he arrived.

    Of course I had to perform combustion analysis after I started the furnace, and it's a good thing I did. Within five minutes of operation the stack temperature in the breech was in excess of 700 degrees! I found a much larger nozzle installed than the manufacturer specifications call for. .85 80B when it should have been .65 80B. Who knows how long that furnace was running with the wrong nozzle.

    It's really very scary seeing paid professionals neglecting to properly ensure safe operation of the equipment they service. Maybe my area needs stricter licensing and training requirements.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 18,929
    @Jim_R -- I think if you relax a little bit and actually read what most of us have said regarding the people who worked on that system, you will find that we have said much the same as you have, but perhaps more gently.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    rick in Alaska
    HVACNUT Member Posts: 4,592
    I think you may have misinterpreted the responses.
    The thread took a little turn to plumber vs. heating tech but nobody here condones the misery your going through.
    Its called "Heating Help", and that's exactly what this site does.
    I didn't reread and hope everything has been resolved. If not check for contractors in your area at the top of the page.
  • GroundUp
    GroundUp Member Posts: 1,402
    I think we can all admit that, at some time or another, we've gotten into something that we knew nothing about but put the game face on and gave it a shot anyway. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn't. This is exactly the reason I don't run service, because I admittedly have no idea what I'm doing when it comes to electrical. I'll install anything piping related as long as you get me a manual, but when it comes to wiring and banging tin, forget it. I can wire a pump or slide a water-to-air exchanger in a plenum if I have to, but I know I'm an idiot and am no good at it so I just don't. I'd rather pay someone who knows what they're doing and stick to what I know instead of selling skills I don't have just to turn a buck. "But that's how we learn!" True, but also false; one learns very little if you're just guessing and accidentally make it work. That's how bad info gets started, from the "it works for me" crowd
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 2,887
    The sign of a good mechanic is "Knowing when to say when"

    With that said there is or was No Excuse to leave the unit with covers off, exposed HV wiring and LV wiring just hanging. Safety First. 2 Weeks is inexcusable!

    Not caring is something completely different and a black eye on the entire industry!
  • SuperTech
    SuperTech Member Posts: 1,792
    > @pecmsg said:
    > The sign of a good mechanic is "Knowing when to say when"
    > With that said there is or was No Excuse to leave the unit with covers off, exposed HV wiring and LV wiring just hanging. Safety First. 2 Weeks is inexcusable!
    > Not caring is something completely different and a black eye on the entire industry!

    Thats exactly why I posted this thread in heating hell. It really is a black eye on the industry. Some of my new customers are obviously so nervous about bringing in a new company due to the horrible experiences they have had in the past. It takes a lot for me to assure them that I know what I'm doing. Any veteran of HVAC has seen the good and the bad when it comes to techs so it's easy to understand the apprehension that homeowners have.

    I agree that these people should go online and share their experience with reviews on Google, Facebook, Yelp and any other forums that could warn others to stay away from this company. And they should definitely be refunded the over $1500 they paid these clowns to replace good parts.

    I'm certainly not a real supertech that knows everything, but the difference with me is that I really CARE about my work and I do everything I can to assure the customers that the three major priorities of service are covered. Safety, reliability and efficiency. I would never tell the customer that they have to use their oven to heat the house during Christmas!
  • GW
    GW Member Posts: 4,537
    ooohhh spicy!

    The plumbing/heating/hvac trades are no joke, it takes many years to become 'pro' at EACH of those categories and only that that point do you learn what your gifts are and are not.

    In my early years i was a 'yes man', took all the calls no matter what. Darn near almost went out of business- if i wan't living in my grandpartent's basement i would never have succeeded. That was 30 years ago

    Now, we say "No" more than we say "Yes" and life is grand. There's a certain 'nice feeling' about it too.

    I could bore people to tears with rattling off the various aspects and sub categories of being a good plumber- but bla bla bla, who cares LOL

    But honestly when I see someone piping something and they are doing odd and time wasting things, I get a physiological change/ feel my blood pressure rising, I literally need to chill.

    One more tid bit then i will go---I was on an Extreme Makeover project (yes the TV show) years ago. I was on the plumbing crew. I was kinda watching this other plumber fighting this semi-technical PVC piping route between some joists. I had to contain myself. This Plumber wasn't a good 'new construction' plumber, he was horrible.

    Gary Wilson
    Wilson Services, Inc
    Northampton, MA
    [email protected]
  • Steam95
    Steam95 Member Posts: 14
    Not an hvac tech, nor an electrician (yet, in training). I've definitely seen some pretty "special" handy work from some of these "techs", even from some of the more reputable companies.

    My first job was at a road maintenance equipment manufacturer, where I stayed for 3 1/2 years, though I left a little over a year ago. In my time there, if it was electrical it got thrown my way. Including oil burner controls (I ended up learning to service them entirely but I digress).

    Old man Ed owned the place, his daughter Linda ran it. I'd say two years ago or so, I got a call from Bob (Linda's husband) at 8am on a Sunday. That being incredibly odd, I answered. Turns out they have no heat in half their house, and want me to come take a look. Remember I'm no hvac tech, so I'm thoroughly confused as to why they've called me. Turns out the actual hvac techs have been out, twice, and have "fixed" it. It ended up being a 4 zone hot water heat system, with a natural gas boiler as well as a wood boiler and heat exchanger tied in. (Wood burner never worked well so I'm told.)

    The wiring on the zone valves was a rats nest to say the least. The setup had 2 transformers, and the problem ended up being that they tried to place the two in parallel (sort of) without regard to phasing. When either of the last two zone valves had a call for heat, it would effectively have no common, and bring the common up to 24v as well, rendering them useless. It also allowed the two 24v supplies to fight each other through the valve motor windings. It was a non-functional, overheated, fire hazard of a mess. Being each zone valve operated via a relay, it was easy to simply run two zone valves on one transformer, and two on the other, with a common ground. Replaced both transformers with new, higher quality ones in case the time of overheating compromised either.

    That was my first foray into the world of hvac, and makes me want to diy everything I know how to do, and learn what I don't. Then again, I know when I'm in over my head, and will call in a professional when needed, nervously hoping they live up to all the reviews I read or heard in finding them.
  • GW
    GW Member Posts: 4,537
    Happy new year to all my wrench turning buds and to those who appreciate the trades

    I’ve taken a particular interest in this thread, being a plumber transplant

    Isn’t that the beauty of living in a very rich and diversified nation——we all get to decide and judge where we spend dough and what services require our special attention

    Let’s not scorn the person trying their best and making an occasion mis step. But let’s heap some coals on:
    —those that wish to bypass the skilled craftsman and then gets jammed up. Sure, there are some exceptions.
    —those doing poor work repeatedly

    That second one is tricky- “does it work and do the job “ isn’t the same as “that’s not how I would have done it”

    It’s someone satisfying when we quote a job years ago and said person calls back needing a bailout. Ooooo their story better be good 😂
    Gary Wilson
    Wilson Services, Inc
    Northampton, MA
    [email protected]
  • SuperTech
    SuperTech Member Posts: 1,792
    Unfortunately some time has passed and a search of the internet shows me that this customer hasn't shared their experience with the rest of the public in the form of reviews of the company that put them through Christmas without heat.
    I told them that they should, being younger first time home owners I figured they would. I considered outing this company by name but figured it's not my place.
  • Intplm.
    Intplm. Member Posts: 1,376
    Kudos to you SuperTech.
    Every time I see a story like this, I find it so terribly disturbing that this customer was left without for so long. Conscientious techs needed please.
    Makes me think of how this all came about? and it makes me reflect on what i have learned from doing service calls for so many years.
    Makes me ask: was this a true company?
    Was this work done by a friend ?
    Was it done by a relative?
    Was the customer the actual original contact to begin the service?(husband, wife, daughter etc. ?)
    Did the customer have A outstanding beef with the company?
    Or was it just lousy workmanship as suspected/ found?
    I have found many and most techs to be on the level. They do great work. But many do not know when to say "no".
    I have also found a lot of customers will do and say anything to get out of paying the bill or try to get something for free.
    This doesn't seem to be the case here but it brings all these things to mind when I hear of this kind of service.
    Customer service is also self serving. You have to do whats right for you so you can do right for your customers.

    Again, Kudos to you SuperTech for hanging in there and taking care of them.