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Following a bad install

Wayco Wayne_2
Wayco Wayne_2 Member Posts: 2,479
a percentage I can put on it. A lot of my follow ups are from the Homeowners themselves, trying to save a little money and making things worse. Some jobs are following the internet comapnys that claim anyone can install a radiant floor and the Homeowner once again gets in over their heads. If it is another contractor my view is the homeowner needs to know the truth. I try not to pass judgement but will say, "they need some education," or if warranted I will go as far as to say "they don't look like they cared." I try to be honest. People are smart and can tell if you are embellishing. WW

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  • John R. Hall
    John R. Hall Member Posts: 2,246
    A percentage of your biz?

    A lot of good contractors spend time fixing the bad work of lowball or shoddy installers -- that's a given. I'm curious as to whether anyone can put a number on this fact. That is, how much of your business is fixing someone else's mistakes? Little at all? 10%? 20%?

    And what do you tell a customer when you see a bad install? Do you bad mouth the other company, even if you know they normally do good work? Or do you spend more time talking about how you will make the job right? (I guess I have these thoughts in an election year when the last few weeks candidates tell us everyone that is wrong about their opponents and little about their own credentials.)

  • S Ebels
    S Ebels Member Posts: 2,322
    If I had to guess

    I'd say probably 12-15% of our business is cleaning up someone's mess. It could be much higher but I don't go looking for this type of work because you're usually dealing with an individual who is VERY frustrated to say the least. You also wind up inheriting hidden problems that can be a royal pain in the butt or even impossible to repair.

    Here's one I ran into Saturday. We're the fourth contractor on the job + the homeowner's original attempt.

    The HO has already had to buy a new control board for the boiler due to a leak from the pump mounted directly over the top of the boiler. The system heats his basement but not the main level and he still doesn't have any DHW at this point. Same temp water going into the cement slab as the staple up under the floor joists.........I could go on but you get the point.
  • Paul Pollets
    Paul Pollets Member Posts: 3,656
    Bad Installs

    Or poor piping and lack of controls... 10-15% of all service work we do involves "Forensic Hydronics". Often, we're the court of last resort, when 'others' have failed to properly diagnose or fix a system.

    One has to be a part-time psychologist, rather than the Prophet of Doom, when approaching a client with major problems. Bad-mouthing is a no-no. We focus on what we found wrong, and what needs to be done to make it right. We guarantee the work and provide a fixed cost for repairs, excluding "unforseen circumstances", and have a fee for diagnostics and reports. I'm careful to be reassuring in a final fix with comfort restored.

    Often the owner requests a written report detailing the problems and fixes. Some of these cases are headed to court, so writing a very specific report is mandatory.

    Most owners are obviously unhappy with having to pay twice. Most problems are related to the builder or GC hiring low cost subs, who either take shortcuts, or more often, simply have not been trained in proper hydronic piping strategies or controls.

    The best part of this scenario is I often wind up in homes where I bid the work 3-10 years ago, and lost the bid to the "Others". Invariably, the cost of repairs is far higher than the difference in bid price.

    Once, I visited a system in a home with a new owner, who wanted a maintainence contract and a demonstration of the controls. As it turned out, ART had repiped the original boiler 5 years ago, and the mechanic made significant errors piping a primary/secondary system with a Tekmar control. I knew the system would not work for long and made the corrections (no charge, of course)along with the maintainence. The mechanic who piped it, left the company to start his own 3 years ago. I hope he's learned how to do it by now. Taught me a lesson in providing a boiler sketch for all repipes, and visiting the final product.

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  • hvacfreak
    hvacfreak Member Posts: 439
    very rare

    In my travels , it is a very rare occasion that I see a residential system ( air or hydronic ) that I can look at and say " man , that guy at least attempted to do a nice job ". Middle of the road houses I mean ( not Potomac mansions that have exterior buildings for boiler / chiller plants ).

    Ok , an average heat pump system for example ( yeah , I know ...but hear me out )..heat pump systems are considered the low end of comfort in most circles. When I did residential service work , I would see a few of these systems each day. Over the years that adds up to thousands of systems , and out of all of those systems , not even 1 ( over 2 tons and my installs ) had the correct size return duct . And the larger the system , the more undersized the return duct seems to be. The literature next to the unit explains how the duct is to be sized , and I guess no one gave a damn and heat pumps suck. The sad thing is , if you install these systems by the book , you end up with the most efficient and comfortable forced air system available.

    Middle of the road hydronics...back to being " on topic ". These will be older homes ...pre war homes are steel pipe cast rads , post war is copper fin tube 1 pipe. If the origional boiler is still there , it's piped wrong ( probrobly the reason we even have this " wall " and Dan H. LOL ). Most of these jobs have straight pipes and show good workmanship , but most post war homes like this had no " loss calculation " done that I can see ( baseboard with hinges , lol ). I used to love selling outdoor reset controls in these ( and so did everyone else , hard to find one now without it ). Half of the boiler changes I see are wrong , which I think is awesome ( Dan H. has educated the world on how do do this stuff , directly and indirectly lol )

    You know , I can't say that I have seen a working steam system that was not a work of art. I have seen things done out of " convienence " ( and if all I had were wood chisels , I'd have done the same damn thing , lol ) , but nothing to the point that the installer didn't give a damn.

    It seems as time goes by , the consumer gets a lesser quality job ( and the consumer is the reason why ). Back in the day , if a pipe needed to go through a room , it was ok. That is unacceptable these days...but what about the heat pump contractor who needs a 20 x 20 chase for his return duct ? They tell him no way...so it is not my place to blame him. I blame architects , engineers , builders...morons who are hired by the consumer to dictate what we install. And " lowball " ...these companies have to price it as low as they can go in order to work...commercial and residential. Time vs cost vs quality , Dan's triagle is 100 % correct ...most people want it fast and cheap. - Mike
  • John R. Hall
    John R. Hall Member Posts: 2,246
    Maybe I should rephrase, too

    Sometimes the install can be okay but the equipment is sized wrong. I know from personal experience. As we speak I am having a new HVAC system installed in my home to replace the old inefficient one (sorry wetheads, its scorched). The old furnace was installed correctly but sized incorrectly, plus the newer furnace is a 90+ variable speed that is strong enough to distribute the air evenly throughout our very long home with 80' duct run. The old 13-year-old furnace is in good working order but just works too hard and doesn't keep us comfortable. Yeah, I could have saved the expense and suffered through another uncomfortable winter, but why? I would recommend to any homeowners reading this post who are considering replacing their existing equipment (hydronic, gas, electric, whatever) to have a pro do a complete load calculation to determine what equipment will CORRECTLY heat and cool your home -- not the cheapest from a guy in a rusted out van who is a cousin of a friend of an uncle's sister.

    If you can't find a professional listed at this website (and you should try that first) then contact me and I'll help you find one.
  • Al Corelli
    Al Corelli Member Posts: 454
    I'll keep it short.

    I'll Keep it short. What Paul and hvacfreak have said is unfortunately very true.

    We do about 25% of that work.

    Sorry about the big pictures.
    Before picture is 100 lbs or so hanging off a Pinnacle.
    After picture is, well, better.

    Oh, the wiring is not started yet.
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