Too often estimates for contracting work is accepted because of a low bid. What most consumers do not consider is why the contractors price was significantly lower. We as a consumer get caught up in trying to save a buck and do not realize what the almighty dollar is actually getting in return. The problem is we are not educated to know right from wrong when it comes to air conditioning and heating. All we know is that these systems are out of mind and out of sight and can be very expensive. What matters most is the design of the system and work being done that takes place out of mind and out of sight, usually in the attic, closet or basement. The work that needs to take place in order for these systems to run efficiently and correctly cannot be done by cutting quality corners. Any one with some basic knowledge can install systems but not everyone is educated the right and wrong way to do so. This is where we step in.
These facts and pictures below tell the story of what happens when a consumer chooses an unqualified low bidder contractor.
Below is a service report that was written after we were informed by the home owner that they were not receiving cold air coming out from their vents from a brand new system that was installed 2 years ago. Sometimes Yes, manufacturers have malfunctions and can be corrected and handled by a reputable dealer but this was not the case. This letter was also verified by the city inspector and agreed upon.
Monday, June 18, 2012
RE: Service call on 6/14/12, Invoice # 51076
Dear Mr. & Mrs Customer,
Thank you for the opportunity to perform a routine service call on your air conditioning system. The following was noted during the inspection.
1. Your original call that the system is not cooling is due to the system being very low on refrigerant. This is the result of a leak that needs to be pinpointed, repaired and then recharge the system. This is accomplished by either 1. An initial leak test of all of the related components or 2. If a leak cannot be found (or too small to locate), the system components (indoor cooling coil, refrigeration lines and outdoor condenser) are isolated, pressurized and retested. Once the problem is determined, a quote to repair would follow. An initial and isolated leak test costs approximately $550.00, plus the repairs.
2. The home is approximately 1700sq.ft. It was noted that a 5 ton furnace and cooling coil was used with a 4 ton condenser. It is my opinion that a 5 ton furnace is oversized for this home, causing excessive air noise and velocity. Too much air across the cooling coil also affects heat transfer, humidity removal, performance and efficiency-for both heating and cooling cycles. The furnace may run warmer than normal due to the increase in BTU ratings as well, and cycle on a safety-limit switch.
3. The return air duct is 16" in diameter and considered too small for the application. There is no ceiling plenum at the return air grille or at the furnace. This results in return air flow restriction issues and air noise.
4. The furnace flue vent should be pitched a minimum of ¼" per foot for condensate drainage and proper operation-venting.
5. The furnace is installed with an extension cord on the electrical cord of the furnace and not recommended. (Most cities require hard wiring (no cords) to the equipment).
6. Per code, the service light should be over the furnace.
7. There is no auxiliary drain pan under the furnace. Condensing (high efficiency) furnaces should have this pan for protection in the event of water leak-required by most cities and manufactures.
8. There are some "boot boxes" (register boxes in the attic) without insulation. All bare metal needs to be insulated to prevent condensation and improve efficiency.
9. The primary cooling coil drain runs slightly uphill and drains into a condensation pump. The drain and coil needs to be pitched to prevent this. (Standing water can turn to mold in the wintertime). Normally, attic equipment is suspended (existing furnace is installed on platform blocks), to allow proper height and pitch for draining and not require a condensate pump. Suspending the furnace also keeps the weight (and possible vibration) off the ceiling. The cooling coil has an auxiliary drain pan and safety switch but does not have a recommended auxiliary drain line to prevent water leak problems and/or possible ceiling damage.
10. The supply air ducting is considered to be sized substantially smaller than what would be recommended for a 5 ton furnace. (Originally, I understand it was sized for a 3 ton furnace that was replaced). There does not appear to be air balance dampers in the duct for tuning air flow and velocity.
11. A properly sized and ducted system substantially reduces air noise, improves efficiency and performance, properly removes humidity and prevents short-cycling (temperature swings).
12. It is recommended, (to insure the system is installed to code, manufactures specifications and City ordinances and not an insurance liability), that a City inspector performs an inspection and offers a report, if it was not done. A State mandated air duct test and system refrigeration charge verification is also highly recommended to insure against air leak loss, energy loss and system inefficiency. This is also State law.
13. The attic access may be questioned by an inspector. It must allow the largest piece of equipment to pass through or 30x30. The original contractor took the equipment up through the return air opening. I believe it should be ok as-is. However, the City inspector has the last word.
This is a lot to absorb. Please don't hesitate to call with any questions or for more information.
Wayne S. Connor
2 Year old rusted out coil due to improper drainage.
Before we ripped everything out.
Using a condensate pump which was cut up for installation and not using pvc auxiliary drain lines, we also found a hole in the plastic catch pan
Condenser before not strapped in all corners with wrong sized wiring and breaker also with a leak from either the refrigeration lines, coil and or condenser
Furnace wired with two extension cords and not hard wired to code and exhaust flue not pitched properly
The side of the furnace has been cut into which is the main structure of the unit and should not be jeopardized
Grossly undersized duct work that is not sized correctly with no air balance dampers
Unit on mounted runners and not suspend to prevent noise and vibration issues through out the home
No Return Air Plenum at Furnace
Original shallow return air plenum not sealed and undersize
Condenser after with earthquake straps on all corners with properly sized wiring and breaker also with new copper refrigeration lines
Inside of our enlarged deep insulated custom fabricated return air plenum
Our Deep Custom Return
Our Emergency Drain Pan
Unit has been properly leveled and suspended with anti sway earthquake straps, has leveling blocks for the drain lines with a custom sheet metal built emergency drain pan, sealant on the entire system to keep it air tight as well as all the duct work which is sealed and air tight, properly pitched flue, hard wired to the furnace with a on/off switch and a light and switch over the furnace.
Our custom built air supply plenum with properly sized duct work and the unit suspended with straps
After it was all said and done we ripped out a almost 2 Year old system and completely started over from scratch. Too many times especially in this economy we have seen this kind of work due to low bidders. Be sure to fully do your homework and research when picking a company to perform any kind of work being done in your home.
Here is a personal letter of what the customer went through.
Connor Air accurately and efficiently diagnosed our air conditioning problem and then helped us through the steps to install a system that is efficient, properly sized, and installed with quality.
Problem: In August, 2010 we accepted a proposal from another company with over 28 years of experience in heating and cooling. Their proposal was hard to resist because it was 36% lower than the other proposals that we received for replacing our furnace and condenser.
One reason for the difference is they offered us a 5-ton furnace at their cost and explained that it was due to not being able to use this piece of equipment on another job. They assured us that was unused, under warranty, and was the better choice for meeting our needs.
However, this was the start to 18 months of continual problems that resulted in a system that had to be completely shut off in May 2012.
During that time, we called the company 3 times to have repair technicians sent out to diagnose problems with both the air and heating. This "new" system never properly heated or cooled our home. We tried other ways to improve the efficiency by adding an attic fan and considered adding more registers in the kitchen but nothing helped.
Frustrated and hot, we decided to contact Connor Air for a diagnosis of our problem and we were shocked at what they found and presented to us in a 3-page report: code violations, an improperly sized furnace, and inefficiencies and poor performance due to shortcuts and low quality workmanship.
We immediately contacted the other company, verbally explained the severity of our concerns over these findings, and requested a face-to-face meeting with the owner. The owner met with us at our home and greeted us with a "Hey, you didn't pay us for the city permit"! We were astounded, no sorry to hear about your problems, no concerns or empathy for the fact that we are without air conditioning in 90 degree weather, and no concern for the code violations or quality of his company's work. Instead all we heard were excuses, arrogance about his years in the business, and work on historic homes in the area.
Needless to say, we were dismayed at this response and took one step further by contacting the city about the permit. Again, we were met with another shock because the company had never contacted the city for an inspection and the permit had expired. After explaining the situation the city agreed to re-instate the permit and sent out an inspector who validated the code violations identified by Connor Air.
At this point, we moved forward with having Connor Air replace our system, even though it was only 18 months old and still under warranty, because of the low quality of work, performance, and inefficiencies. It was the best decision we ever made because upon deconstruction of the existing equipment more and more problems were uncovered: deep rust in the coil after only 18 months, a cheap drain pump in the attic (usually never to be used over living space), large sections of the furnace walls cut and crudely patched as if to cover egregious install errors, the circuit breaker and wire undersized and the list goes on and on.
With the new installation, we saw immediately the difference in quality work. Every joint is fitted tightly and sealed neatly. Extra straps hold the furnace in place in case of earthquake, venting is generously sized and the system is so quiet you cannot even tell it is running! They even spent extra time tuning and adding adjustments to customize the airflow to meet our everyday living patterns. Now, we are ecstatic and have peace of mind that our new heating and air conditioning system is efficient, properly designed, safe, and installed by technicians that are knowledgeable and experienced while providing high quality work with attention to detail.
Thank You Connor Air!