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Scammed by my own HVAC repair company!
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Scammed by my own HVAC repair company!

Don't Let This Happen To YOU!   

 I have a Central Heating & AC system that is an original GE heat pump that came with our house when it was built in 1983.  5 Years ago when we bought the house we had the system checked and found extensive mold buildup and called an HVAC repair service.  Hundreds of dollars later <but happily mold-free - ducts and everything>, the company recommended a 5 year "Preventative Maintenance Contract" to prevent this from happening again.   Unfortunately, we DID buy that Contract (I know better now!).  This is what happened on their last and final visit before that contract expired.  The name of the company and the last names of their employees involved have not been stated on this webpage.  If you live in Lake county and want to know.....please e-mail me privately (link at bottom of page). 

Friday, June 21, 2002

Repairman:  Jerry

 1.  Found:  Air Handler Cabinet with mold, heavy rust. 

   Found:   Condensor fan motor wiring insulation rotting - 240 Volts. <True - due to sun exposure at top of cage>

2.  Todays Recommendations (Jerry):  Replace Unit for safety + reliability + efficiency.  Replace with Amana 14+ SEER Heat Pump and Air Handler #3030-B, #5036 L (or C?).  Total:  $4,215.

     Also Recommended:  A45A Duct Clean $361.25 and renewal of Preventative Maintenance Contract (1 yr) $110.00:  Total cost of Recommendations:  $4,686.25

Question to Jerry:  Can you fix the wires that are damaged?

Answer:  No

Question to Jerry:  Can you re-insulate the damaged wires or wrap with electrical tape?

Answer:  No, those are high volt wires, 240 volts

Question to Jerry:  Can you REPLACE the damaged wires?

Answer:  No.  You would have to replace the fan motor, $250 plus install.  I don't recommend that because your system is so old and needs to be replaced anyway with one with a higher SEER rating.  It would pay for itself in savings on your power bill.  <Note:  Jerry has just jumped from replacing Fan motor to replacing entire system!  And, it will pay for itself!  Amazing!>

Question to Jerry:  Why do you have to replace the whole fan motor just to replace the wires?

Answer:  Because these wires go down to the bottom and straight into the motor.  You would have to buy a new motor that would come with new wires.  <Unbelieveable! - I asked him to clarify that the only way to get new wires is to buy a new fan motor - he said yes>

Question to Jerry:  I had a major mold problem 5 years ago and hired your company to clean everything, including the ducts.  Your company recommended that I buy the 5 yr. preventative maintenance contract because of it.  Then why are you saying I have a mold problem again in the ducts if I have had all this preventative maintenance?

Answer:  <Unremarkable lecture on mold growth in ducts which really didnt answer my question of the REASON why this 5 year contract had not prevented anything!>

 Question to Jerry:  Why should I renew a Preventative Maintenance Contract for a year if your service doesnt really prevent anything?

Answer:  Because it expires next month.  <This is an answer?>

Saturday, June 22, 2002

Consumer Action 1:  Sought advice of Scott Meenan of G & S Services Mechanical Services an HVAC expert in the Maryland/Wash. D.C. area who wears a white hat in my opinion.

Scotts recommendation:  You can always add heat shrinkable tubing to the wires.  That is an option or you could wrap them with tape or replace them<Ahhh...Now this sounds Logical!  I highly recommend you visit Scott's website to learn more about avoiding unscrupulous companies' "scare tactics" and repairs to your HVAC system ....click link here  http://www.toad.net/~jsmeenen/ 

Monday, June 24, 2002

Consumer Action 2:  Called the Manager of Jerry's company and, rather than explain what happened, asked him his advice on problem of rotting insulation on wires to condensor motor. 

Managers Answer:  Heat shrinkable tubing (perhaps tape if really minor), or replacing of wires if severe

Question to Manager:  You can replace the wires without replacing the fan motor?

Answer:  Of course.

Customer Action 3:  I THEN explained to manager who I was and all of Jerry's answers above and requested a new service man who could fix the wires.

Wed. June 26 2002

Serviceman:  Jack

Two damaged wires replaced, wire bundle then wrapped in Electrical tape (the part near top of the cage, to protect from sun).  Cost:  Zero <I don't know whether this was under my preventative maintenance contract or whether was gratis because Manager realized a big mistake was made by Jerry in trying to scam me.>

Jerry's Findings
found.jpg

Jerry's Recommendations...Buy a New System!
recommend.jpg
Improve my *Air Quality* with duct cleaning & Renew my Contract, too!

Insulation bad on 2 wires to condensor fan motor
badinsulation.jpg
These were replaced with new wires NOT a new motor

This is the end that connected to the fan motor
connecttomotor.jpg
Dispelling Jerry's notion that you have to get a new motor to get new wires.

Additionally......

l.  "Jerrys" do not like dealing with women.  He kept asking for MR. Whitty and said MR Whitty would want to have this information and he said he would write a detailed report for MR. Whitty to review......well - MR Whitty is NOT the mechanical one in our household, perfectly happy not to be and just turns everything of this nature over to me....MRS. Whitty (are we stuck in the 50's here?)

2.  Jerry stated that according to the serial number on my system - it was manufactured in 1973, 26 years old by his calculation <obviously not a Math wiz>  Our house was built in 1983...explained this to Jerry as the earliest possible date of this system...he insisited his book said it was a 1973 model - and that's what he wrote in his report.  <in 1973...this location was an empty lot.  Either Jerry is wrong or the builder brought a 10 year old system with him and built a house around it.>

Jerrys description of my system
unitdesc.jpg
He wrote this anyway AFTER I told him my house was built in 1983.

A MIRACLE...fixed without buying a new motor!
jacksfix.jpg
Gee! Serviceman Jack was able to replace the wires just fine, Jerry!

My Conclusions:

l.  Don't buy 5 year Preventative Maintenance Contracts.  They just want to sell you new equipment every time.  All they do is inspect, test and spray with disinfectant.but are hoping can convince you that you have a problem.  "It can quit at any time" (but mine never has).

2.  Don't replace working equipment with new just to achieve efficiency.  When the system is too costly to repair, upgrade at that time to a new efficient system.

3.  If a solution doesn't sound right or isn't logical it probably isn't.

4.  Get a second opinion on expensive repair recommendations or equipment replacement (more if replacing).

5.  Mold (you can spray yourself with with disinfectant).  Pouring Clorox into drain pipe once a month during the hot weather keeps lines clear.  You can do this yourself!

6.  Rust.  Rust happens in Florida on 19 year old equipment - usually the cabinet or other non-working parts of the system.  If it isnt hurting anything - ignore it.

7.  Age is not a death sentance.  My GE Heat-pump system is 19 years old and running strong.  The newer SEER ratings of 12 and 14 claim to save up to 50% of operating cost.  Id like to see this proven.but in the meantime, I have calculated my AC running costs are an average $50 per month April & May, $100 per mo. in June, July, Aug, Sept, and back to $50.00 per mo. in Oct.  Furnace is rarely needed, but add $200.00 annual for good guess.  So $750 total annual electric cost - reduced by 25% (my estimate of what  might be closer to real) is savings of $15.00 per month or $30 per month their estimate (50%).  Based on 25% savings, it would take 23.4 years for the new system to pay for itself, if it lasted that long - which I doubt (my estimate) or 11.7 years if the energy savings really is 50%.  That doesn't include finance charges if you don't pay cash for the new system.

Your comments welcome. E-mail me here

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