Are they trying to spank me?

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Are they trying to spank me?

Post by Wildcat445 on Wed Nov 05, 2014 12:38 pm

Our house was built in 2008. The previous owner never even completely moved into it. So the furnace and air conditioning (refrigeration in AZ-speak) has never been serviced. We called a well-known, highly recommended, and thoroughly vetted with the Arizona Registrar of Contractors company to come out and service our units, just to be safe. We have Carrier high-efficiency units, they work just fine, but we have our equipment serviced yearly to head off problems. We have a natural gas furnace. The furnace and the A-coil for the "refrigeration" are in the attic above the hallway. The compressor/condenser unit sits outside by the kitchen. The company we called is the one that installed the equipment when the home was built.

The guy brought his shop vac, cleaned out the A-coil, cleaned out the condenser and the cabinet, cleaned out the burners and all that, and pronounced the system defective and unsafe to operate. It seems that the motor start condenser for the common blower motor "only reads 70, when tolerance is supposed to be 75" and needs replaced for $151.85. And we need a "condensate safety sensor" to tell the "refrigeration" system if the condenser drain gets stopped up during monsoon season and the water runs over "and ruins the drywall in your house." This "condenser safety sensor" is only $162.45. That is over $300 worth of stuff that not only am I not familiar with, but I'm not sure I really need. Did they not install the system correctly when the house was built? "I have no idea. That is a different division of the company. I am in the service division." Okay, then.

I have a call in to our serviceman back home. He will give me the straight dope on this situation. Mr. Carter has been in the HVAC business since Christ was a corporal and is dead nuts honest. I am of the opinion that if the start cap fails, the motor won't work. I am not in AZ in monsoon season, and the condenser drain works just fine now. I feel like I am about to get spanked. These guys have to upsell snowbirds who are reputed to be so stupid that they will fall for this crap. This is not a fly-by-night HVAC company, no "beer-thirty" operation. I realize that checking my perfectly operating system won't make them any money, but trying to spank somebody who knows all the tricks is not gonna work, either.

WC

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Re: Are they trying to spank me?

Post by 75X11 on Wed Nov 05, 2014 4:22 pm

Second opinion.
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Re: Are they trying to spank me?

Post by Wildcat445 on Wed Nov 05, 2014 4:50 pm

Thank you.

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Re: Are they trying to spank me?

Post by 75X11 on Wed Nov 05, 2014 5:36 pm

I use this service for my homes' systems.  It seems like an unnecessary expense, but my sister purchased her home around the same time I did and when she has to call various repair joints, her bills consistently exceed what I pay in the monthly charge and service call payments.  She has pretty much the same sort and number of calls I do, but gets cleaned out every time.  But, my setup is too expensive for her.

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Re: Are they trying to spank me?

Post by Motorola man on Wed Nov 05, 2014 7:32 pm

I'd buy a start capacitor ($10 - $15) & keep it on hand in case yours gives it up. They're easy to replace, takes 5 minutes. As far as the condensate switch, my system doesn't have one & I live in a VERY humid area. If you're concerned about it, pour a glass of water in the drain pan & make sure it goes down.
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Re: Are they trying to spank me?

Post by Guest on Wed Nov 05, 2014 7:42 pm

75X11 wrote:Second opinion.

Absolutely!

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Re: Are they trying to spank me?

Post by 35Z5 on Wed Nov 05, 2014 9:41 pm

Motorola man wrote:I'd buy a start capacitor ($10 - $15) & keep it on hand in case yours gives it up.  They're easy to replace, takes 5 minutes.  As far as the condensate switch, my system doesn't have one & I live in a VERY humid area.  If you're concerned about it, pour a glass of water in the drain pan & make sure it goes down.

Agreed, cap replacement is simple, check the value and go get one... Assuming the drain pan is plastic just toss some bleach in it occasionally, will kill the algae that clogs the line... If pan is metal may be better to find a small hose that will fit inside the drain line, connect it to a funnel and pour a cup of bleach in it...

I ding along on our old heat pump, traded a 5-speed transmission for a couple jugs of freon, that I use to top it up every two or three years... Three years ago it lost a control board, bought one from ebay and was less than $50 shipped... Other than filters in 19 years I haven't spent another dime on it... It did have a delay bimetal go intermittent last year so wouldn't start occasionally, found one on the original unit that's still up in attic, been working with no issue...
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Re: Are they trying to spank me?

Post by Wildcat445 on Wed Nov 05, 2014 10:04 pm

After doing some research and after speaking with Mr. Carter, I can say with some assurance that the HVAC company may not have been trying to spank me. They were "erring on the side of caution", in full "CYA mode" or whatever. The problem I have with this situation is that I'm of the opinion that plenty of people fall victim to this practice. The technician was upselling me, for certain, but doing it in such a way that, if push came to shove, the company could not have actually been accused of wrongdoing. If my "refrigeration" quits while I am here, they have paperwork to fall back on, regardless of the reason for the failure. It's how some companies keep from getting into dutch with the Registrar of Contractors Office.

After giving Mr. Carter the make, model and serial number of my HVAC system, we determined that the blower motor start capacitor is a 7.5mfd @550 volts. It is traditional practice to "amp out" the blower motor, condenser fan motor and the compressor while in operation. Apparently, motor start caps are not of the quality they used to be and it is fairly typical for technicians to use an instrument equivalent to an ESR meter to check the start caps on the blower, condenser fan, and compressor. The industry practice is to use caps with a 5% tolerance. The technician told me, and wrote on the repair order than mine "checked at 70 while the tolerance on the system is 75." What piqued my suspicion was that I asked the technicians if this was microfarads or what was he measuring and he could not tell me. The bottom line on this cap, is that it may fail in 15 minutes or 15 years or never. He also plainly stated and wrote on the repair order that the failure of this start cap would damage the blower motor. That was a stretch on reality. This cap is about $17.00 at Grainger's. I may get one to keep on hand, just in case. You don't need tools to get the side panel off the HVAC cabinet. Like someone mentioned earlier, it appears to be a five minute job.

The "condensate safety switch" is a device used in the drain pan to control the compressor and to keep the water from the evaporator coil from overflowing the pan if the drain is clogged, thereby possibly damaging the drywall on the ceiling. There is a plug in the side of the plastic drain pan made for this switch. It costs about $22, again at Grainger's. I talked to three of my neighbors, including one guy who works for a heating and "refrigeration" company and none of them have these switches on their systems. The humidity here, now, according to the weather lady is 13%. If this thing was running hard in 83% humidity, this might be a concern. I looked at that pan, and it is my considered opinion that there has never been more than a couple gallons of water in it in its life. I have never seen any moisture at the drain pipe. This system has not run 100 cycles since I have owned this house. This is something I may just do myself for peace of mind. Spending a few bucks and taking an hour of my time might make this worthwhile. Looks to me like if these switches made a huge difference, they should be standard equipment. This is one of those items that are big profit makers for the company. They need to make money to stay in business. It is their job to sell. Just not to me. There are plenty of other old people to run this "proposal" on.

Bottom line, maybe somebody will read this and they will do their research before writing out the check. I just saved $300 that I did not need to spend. I learned something, so that is good. You can't trust service people anymore. You gotta ask questions. If it sounds wrong, it possibly could be.

WC


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Re: Are they trying to spank me?

Post by 75X11 on Mon Nov 10, 2014 7:42 pm

I have had to call the service place for my furnace. It intermittently fails to cycle on and it requires a sharp blow with my trusty rubber mallet. When it then cycles on, it sticks on. One more application of the magic wand and it shuts down. Then it works normally for a while. The tech seemed to know exactly what was wrong when I told him about the mallet. He has to get a sequencing relay. My furnace is a museum piece so there won't be heat in the house this evening.
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Re: Are they trying to spank me?

Post by Wildcat445 on Tue Nov 11, 2014 9:31 am

A rubber mallet judiciously applied can fix many a malady, 75. Good job.

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Re: Are they trying to spank me?

Post by 75X11 on Tue Nov 11, 2014 9:40 am

Now to see when they can get the part! It's chilly this morning.
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Re: Are they trying to spank me?

Post by 75X11 on Tue Nov 11, 2014 4:55 pm

They say 3 to 5 days and they are hoping for 3. I can't print what I said.
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Re: Are they trying to spank me?

Post by Wildcat445 on Tue Nov 11, 2014 5:03 pm

Are you guys back east going to be affected by the big Arctic blast they are getting in the Midwest?

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Re: Are they trying to spank me?

Post by 75X11 on Tue Nov 11, 2014 5:22 pm

It's supposed to get into the twenties here this weekend. AND I just checked my calls and they got the relay through an alternative source and will put it on tomorrow! Maybe it will be warm enough inside for me to put the heat tapes on this weekend.
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Re: Are they trying to spank me?

Post by 75X11 on Wed Nov 12, 2014 6:58 pm

They fixed the unit and I had to take a day off work to wait on them. I used the time to install the heat tape. I got 40 ft. by guess and by golly it ran to 1 foot from where the service emerges from the ground. Fancy that.
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Re: Are they trying to spank me?

Post by Wildcat445 on Wed Nov 12, 2014 7:12 pm

That house down the street that I mentioned to Doc is still available. It only got to 80 here today.

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Re: Are they trying to spank me?

Post by 75X11 on Wed Nov 12, 2014 7:29 pm

Then I'd have a house and no job. Very Happy
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Re: Are they trying to spank me?

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