Welcome! Here are the website rules, as well as some tips for using this forum.
Need to contact us? Visit https://heatinghelp.com/contact-us/.
Click here to Find a Contractor in your area.

The landlord won't pay to fix it right!

On another thread this complaint was lodged that owners of multi-unit buildings don't like to pay to fix the problems with their heating systems. Perhaps it's just observational bias for me but I find if I explain how an uncomfortable improperly balanced heating system is costing the owner of the property money they consistently want to get the problem fixed. Sometimes the issue is people using what we call the Anderson thermostat by opening the windows in the hot units and other times it is tenants leaving their hot water running almost constantly so that they don't have to wait so long for it to reach their unit. Our job as Professionals in repairing these mechanical systems is not just to understand how to repair but also how to explain the value in what we do to those who hold the purse strings. Very few people like to spend money they don't have to. But having a well-balanced heating system or a properly designed domestic hot water system can save Property Owners thousands of dollars a year and on larger buildings tens of thousands of dollars. The broad brush ideas like landlords don't want to pay for repairs or I can't work for family because they don't want to pay me do nothing to further the cause of Energy Efficiency and comfort. Just my thought for the day have fun guys.
Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

cell # 413-841-6726
Intplm.delta T


    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 13,442
    Well said.
    Charlie from wmassIntplm.
  • Intplm.
    Intplm. Member Posts: 1,443
    Well said indeed.
    When I first started in this business, I didn't realise how much of a teacher and psychologist I would have to be.

    I have found it very difficult for folks to follow the proven good advice they are given. Whether they be the tenant or the owner, sometimes folks just don't want to break the old bad habit.

    A good explanation followed up can be worth millions. Thanks @Charlie from wmass
    delta T
  • delta T
    delta T Member Posts: 883
    Completely agree........however, sometimes you just can't win.

    We used to work at a large condo association with 13 buildings, a total of 20 heating boilers, and another 16 DHW boilers (A.O. Smith Burkay heaters with seperate storage tanks.)

    The heating boilers were all Ajax steel tube boilers from the 70's and were very poorly taken care of until we got there. We demanded that we be allowed to to some PM on these systems or we were not going to keep bailing them out on christmas, new years, etc....(3 years in a row, I had to go out there on Christmas to repair the heating). So we started a PM regimin for all the boilers and low and behold, the next 6 or 7 years they had practically no emergencies. They were very happy with us and when it did finally come time for one of the boilers to be decommissioned we did the replacement. New lochinvar, very shiny and new and worked like a charm. Energy use in that building dropped by about 25%.

    I got it in my head that they might like some other, possibly less costly energy upgrades for the other systems, and I started looking at the electrical usage of the old Taco 1600 series circs running most of the heating systems. Most boilers had two of them (still not sure what the thinking was, but the systems were designed with one pump on the return and one on the supply for each boiler). I went around to every building and added everytning up, came up with a price for converting all the old pumps to new ECM pumps and eliminating any superfluous pumps. Basically it broke down such that they would save about $6k a year on electrical costs if they converted the whole campus to ECM pumps. Now while this was indeed a costly proposition, I pointed out that their ROI was less than 5 years. The HOA board discussed it with very little heed to the actual numbers and facts, and instead bickered about who's building would get done first. They ended up saying no, stating that a capital investment of that magnitude was unwarranted without a 2 year ROI. I had spent about 3 days surveying all the pumps, writing up the bid,and writing up my presentation to the HOA board. I was stupefied. Still can't figure out in what universe they could get a 2 year ROI on ANY large capital investment, but hey......I'm just the plumber :smile:

    We quit working for them years ago, last I heard they had stopped doing any PM and have had nothing but problems with the heating systems, to the point that several residents were thinking about suing the HOA. Sure don't miss working there!
  • Charlie from wmass
    Charlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,253
    @delta T even I don't get everyone to see the path to enlightenment. But you did keep them on the right road for a longer than many. I find dealing with Associations is not for the faint of heart. .If the naysayers gain the most attention logic is the first victim.
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
    delta TIntplm.
  • Zman
    Zman Member Posts: 7,446
    Dan said something in an energy efficiency sales seminar I attended a while back "Everyone likes to save money". If you are unsure where your customer is politically, don't tell them you want them to save the earth, focus on the money. If the building is owner occupied, putting focus on comfort usually works as well, especially with the ladies.

    I did some calcs a couple years ago for an HOA to replace their pool pumps. The straight line ROI was right around 2 years, not to mention the cost of impellers that are being shredded every few months do to over pumping. I am excited because they are calling me back to talk about the pumps again next month and I get to use one of my favorite lines. When asked what the ROI is, I can just say "we have been talking about this project longer than the payback period" :)
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
    Charlie from wmass
  • Charlie from wmass
    Charlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,253
    @Zman I also am a huge fan of your signature quote.
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
  • SeanBeans
    SeanBeans Member Posts: 506
    I was in a boiler room that the 600k steamer was drenching the burners with a leak from a section. The owner of the property was on the phone for 20 minutes trying to get me to temporarily fix it because it was Christmas Eve. What do you want me to do?

    Fast forward a month, they still don’t have heat.. there’s 30+ apartments in an HOA.

    Fast forward another month, it’s the day before we go rip out the boiler and put in a new one, boiler and all fittings are at the shop. They call and cancel.

    BTW, there were 6-8 sections that had already replaced next to the boiler.
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,991
    @SeanBeans , I hope you had already cashed their deposit check. >:)
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Charlie from wmassdelta T