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Sometimes I hate this business

Jed_2 Member Posts: 781
Drill, baby, DRILL.


  • MIke_Jonas
    MIke_Jonas Member Posts: 209
    Chicago bungalow

    I had a lady from Boston call me about her Mom's boiler here in Chicago. Mom lives alone, daughter got my name from NATE web site. I find a 15 year old 180,000 output boiler that has rust stains on the concrete from it leaking so long. I find a rust spot (almost eaten through) on the top panel, where the flue gas condensation dripped from the smoke pipe.

    I find some knucklehead had replaced the relief valve with a 150 psi relief from a water heater, never looked at the compression tank plastered into the ceiling 50 years ago.

    Another knucklehead comes along and tells her the reason the boiler is leaking is because some knucklehead put on the wrong relief valve, and it almost blew up the heat exchanger.

    I find one of the worst cases of flue gas condensation I've ever seen. Water leak is probably from the tapping for the pressure/temp gauge, but the cabinet is rusted out, the bottom is filled with rust, the original burner factory shipped tie downs are still in place.

    So I do a proper heat load calc. I use HVAC-Calc 4.0 from Don Sleeth. Not room by room, the whole house. I measured all the doors, windows, took all the measurements. Comes out to about 120,000 btu loss, max. I quote her a Knight 150. I also quote a standard cast iron boiler, because there is a question how long Mom will stay in the house.

    Mom is nice, daughter is nice, couldn't ask for nicer people to work with. Mom gets' more quotes, which is fine by me. I'm not the cheapest.

    First quote...you got 14 radiators, this boiler is too small, you need one ALOT bigger than the existing 180,000. You also need to be draining and filling those radiators at least once a year, they need maintenance at least as often as the boiler.

    Second quote..you need AT LEAST the 180,000 to get by. You can't use one of them thar new fangled high efficicny boilers, they only work on small houses.

    Both told her how wrong I was.

    Not one of these dirtbags was even close to being right, proper or fair to this woman
    I explained to the daughter a proper manual J heat loss, etc., etc. I explained my RPA certs, NATE certs, yada yada etc. etc.

    I know, I know, I need to work on my sales skills.

    Maybe tomorrow I'll tell you about the 84 year old cancer patient who came home from the hospital and turned her stat up too high, and the dirtbags who told her she ruined her boiler and, by god, she better get a new on NOW.

    Or the guy with a 1,500 sq foot house, one 180,000 btu boiler and TWO FURNACES, and still can't get the house warm.

    Thank you for listening to my rant. I'll go sit down now.
  • don_185
    don_185 Member Posts: 312
    You know

    You know what they say, we are our on worse enemy.

    You have to decide how bad do you want this customer and if you are willin to put up enough fight to get them.

    If you are willin to invest more time then do it with the math along with articles that are written by others that can back up what you are saying.

    Often time you can say to a customer...Mrs Jones,may I offer you a site to go to address any issue with many professional across the country.You will find that many are open to that suggestion.

    I've landed several job over the years with the help of my peers.

    In fact I just landed one today where the customer did his homework and everything I said was back up by my peers.

    You have to educate the customer.

  • MIke_Jonas
    MIke_Jonas Member Posts: 209
    You're right, Don

    I spent, I'm not sure how much time, on the phone and via e mail to explain all this, for the last two weeks, and I'm glad to do it. I'll talk radiant all day.

    The killer is, Mom get's three quotes, two of which are close to each other, both say I'm whacked, so Mom thinks, "shoot, those two guys agree, he must be the wrong one."

    I gave her web sites, info, etc. from the first day. Even sent her pictures of the faulty stuff.

    She's supposed to make up her mind today or tomorrow. Maybe I oughta tell her I'll quote a bigger boiler, raise my price, and install the Knight 150 anyway...Nah, then I'd be the same as the rest of them.
  • don_185
    don_185 Member Posts: 312
    What about

    What about a fuel cost comparison?

    I'll bet she not aware that the 180.000 btu boiler is going to cost her like another 600 dollars in fuel cost and thats based on one dollar a gallon.

    Add another maybe 100 to 200 dollars on the electric side
    from short cycling.

    Should we discuss part life with short cycling equipment?

    I feel you..some people are very hard of hearing.

    Good luck!
  • Ken D.
    Ken D. Member Posts: 836

    I know the feeling. I have the lumps to prove it from beating my head against the wall. You're the only one doing your job and they say you're wrong... and from someone who was probably shovelling streets two weeks ago.
  • I hear ya spicoli,

    It gets to me more than they may think.
    Bust your XXlls to size a system, then they want your #s for the "other guy" to reach a comparison price.
    Most wholesalers are OK,, but there are a few in direct competition with installers!
    And yet, we are the only ones who are "enforced" to play by the rules.

  • Tombig_4
    Tombig_4 Member Posts: 45
    \"I've never met a Chicago bungalow I didn't like\"

    Knowing the average size of those places even with various additions over the years I'm sure it's over radiated which will allow you to reset below condensing temps making that Knight purr and save quite a bit in fuel during the shoulder seasons. Don't despair about the lost sale. I know you spent a lot of time to quote it right only to be undercut by "what fits thru the door" contractors but sleep good at night knowing you were right.

    One thing for sure to do...forward this post to your customer before they decide. They'll know you're not alone in your message about heat loss, energy savings, untapped fuel savings using low circulating temps in over radiated standing iron homes, etc.

    My two cents: If you're going to put a cast iron boiler and add OD reset you might as well install a mod con plug and play. If they can't afford the indirect water heater now at least pipe for one so they call you when the current DHW fails.

    Best for the customer is usually best for all.

    Good luck spiccoli and next time order pizza for the whole class,

    Tom from Chicago

  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 3,471
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  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 3,471

    are not alone Spicoli. Anyone who REALLY gives a hoot about doing the right thing deals with these yo-yos all the time. Mementote! (LATIN: NOTE WELL) a PROPHET IS WITHOUT HONOR...SAVE IN HIS OWN COUNTRY...and usually not there either. I was in a basement a few days ago..we did a steam consult and some corrective work. HO has water heater replaced in meantime...NOT ONLY no screws or metal tape on flue pipe, BUT!!!! cut short and READY to fall off. Point it out to HO: : "[email protected]!! But "THEY" are a REPUTABLE local company!!!!!!!!! Then they are looking at me!!!!! as if I!!!! am just making a big deal out of this. HOW MUCH IS HER NEXT QUESTION? We just "took care of it." VERY rough business - especially when you do the right thing when MOST do not. Mad Dog

    To Learn More About This Professional, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Professional"
    To learn more about this professional, click here to visit their ad in Find A Contractor.
  • That's ok,,,

    I've spent a fair portion of the last couple months working on getting a nice fat rebate from the gas co for a customer on a new high end install. Yesterday I go there to meet with him for what I think is the final contract signing event. The gas co had sent him a signed (by them) contract finalizing the rebate. In the contract and unknown to me is a clause that says, basically, if funding is abruptly cut off for any reason before the money is actually doled out the gas co does not have to pay the rebate and is not responsible for any damages etc that may occur from the pulling of the funding. I'll bet you guys could here the tires screeching from the panic stop the customer and I did yesterday at about 10:00 AM. You may have been wondering what that noise was. It's like wait a minute, you sign a contract that says you're not obligated to fulfill it if things go wrong at your end? That's quite the "contract". All is not lost, yet, but it basically leaves ME saying, "Well, I got you into this so if they reneg it's on my dime not yours." I talked to them, they assure me it is highly umlikely this will happen because mine is the one project they REALLY want to see go in because they want to collect data on it, but still, what kind of contract is THAT? My you know what is hanging out there big time. Eh, it's only money, lots and lots of money. Sigh...
  • scott markle_2
    scott markle_2 Member Posts: 611
    the personal is political

    I know politics are officially outside of the purview of this forum, but politics is about more than elections, it's about how we behave in groups, it's about the intersection of self interest and common good, It's about what's wrong and how we fix it.

    This country needs to examine it's "plumbing". We may not come up with the same prescriptions but we are closer to finding a solution when we have a dialog.

    How we improve this industry and counter poor education and bad practices is essentially a political issue, figures like Dan are Statesmen. Dan may want to keep the focus on plumbing but he is a de-facto politician. I'd love to see him rattle the joe the plumber mythology with an Obama endorsement, LOL

  • Be thankful,,,

    you're not Joe. The media took him from blue collar hero to unlicensed, non tax paying **** in just 12 hours. Some say that is a record. LOL...
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,564
    a hateful business!!

    would it help both sides to give the customer a choice up front of 2 or 3 levels of price/quality installation?
    1 "the knucklehead" freight-damaged wall-mounted instant hot water heater loosely attatched to present piping w/ tail-light warranty, old boiler shoved into corner...
    2 "plain jane" an inexp. boiler properly installed,but no provision left for say dhw.
    3 "cheap and cheerful" the same boiler but with a few provisions for future exp.
    4 "the masterpiece" most efficient and flexible.
    when the customer sees a range of prices from other contractors she[he] won't immediately think she is being overcharged instead it might be "what is so-and-so leaving out"?
    it's also very difficult dealing with the daughter so far away too.as oscar wilde said-"some people know the price of everything and the value of nothing" nbc
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