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Old 01-30-2012, 11:02 PM   #1
MB1
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HELP!!! How much owe my HVAC repairman? Is he competant?


I would like opinions on how much would be fair to pay my HVAC repairman after 8 hours (assuming $80/hr) of diagnoses and $330 of replacement parts that did not fix the problem, and 3 visits over 3 weeks? The final diagnosis was that during my re-roof (which is when I told him was about the time my furnace stopped working), an improper vent cap/crown was installed on my intake/outtake mobilehome roof jack assembly.

Please read and let me know if I am expecting too much of an HVAC repair professional (who is non-licensed and maybe just lacks experience. I think my local mobilehome HVAC guy would have caught this on first visit…but maybe you have a different opinion?

History:
My mobile home furnace would not stay lit due to a “weak flame”. (Flame went out after 6-8 seconds) right as fan would kick on. After replacing the ignitor myself, and then calling back my roofer (who replaced all venting on my roof which is very typical of a re-roof) to ensure they did not do anything to block the vent (we could feel the clear air-flow and very little debris could be seen), I called a professional HVAC repairman “Ed” who was referred by the appliance parts store ($85 for initial visit). I offered to email Ed a picture/model # etc beforehand since I knew my unit was one he would likely not be familiar with.

When he showed up he was not at all familiar with any type of unit similar to mine (a Nordyne M1MC, and I learned he was not a licensed HVAC. He mostly was a “fix it” refrigerator, stove, washer/dryer repairman (unlicensed for those types too). Nevertheless he was a nice guy and sounded confident, determined to fix it, fair, and very sincere.

Day 1 / Diagnosis 1
-early on the flame did not look right, and he suspected the problem could be airflow related

-after lots of testing he thought most likely the issue was the control board needed replacing.

-he spent about 3 hours at my house but assured me that since he was learning on the job on this type of unit and it was good experience for him, he was not going to charge me for all his time. For example, he had no idea if my unit had a sensor or where it was located. (I actually did an internet search and found the troubleshooting guide for him)

-I agreed to $155 Total labor + part ($189) which was backordered. If the part did not fix the problem, he would eat the cost

Week 2: Day 2 / Diagnosis 2

-New control board did not fix problem.

-Ed spent another 1-1/2 hours at my house diagnosing

-Ed considered removing the vent from inside the house to perform testing to ensure no blockage. He was thinking there could be a blockage, but I told him when I went on roof with roofer, airflow seemed fairly strong & I didn’t see much debris; however, he said there would be an elbow that wasn’t visible from the roof.

-Nevertheless, he though the issue was likely a faulty regulator/control volve ($148) and that could cause the look of the irregular flame

Week 3, Day 3 / Diagnosis 3, and 4 hours!

-New control valve didn’t fix problem

-Ed is now almost certain something in vent is interfering with airflow. Removed the vent on the interior and was able to keep the furnace running!!!

-Vacuums out debris (just a little bit of roofing paper and 1 inch scrap of wood), but doesn’t fix

-Finally notices that I have an INTAKE & OUTAKE on my furnace venting but the vent cap/crown on the roof was not a 2 level like the one here: http://www.mobilehomerepair.com/medi...yne/903656.jpg and replaced with a single cap, so intake/outtake were mixed. He said that he would never have expected that the cap had been modified.


Ed wants me to just cover the costs of the parts for about $330, and he’ll eat the labor and chalk this up to a learning experience, except he doesn’t consider it a learning experience because it was not what he expected – that the unit had been modified.

My opinion is that:
1) He knew my house had been re-roofed
2) He could have done the same testing on day 1 that he did on day 4 before ordering any parts and only been out for 1 visit.
3) Look at any new roof, and you’ll almost always see new vent pipes and caps. You don’t want to be installing a new 50 year roof and have old piping.
4) Had he asked if vent cap had been changed, I would have said yes. In this case, the roof jack (i.e. piping) was not changed, just the crown (If I knew such thing as intake/outtake venting in one vent, I would have offered the info that there was a new vent. No idea it could make a difference)
5) Almost every one of the 800 homes in my neighborhood I now notice (because Ed told me to look around) have vent caps/crowns similar to what I should have---meaning they use a similar type of furnace intake/outake . A quick peek outside would have given this away had he the hunch early on about a potential blockage/venting issue. He’s supposed to be the professional/expert.
6) He never checked venting on the roof until Day 3. A ladder was leaning against the roof to go up had he asked (he didn’t have one)
7) I had to be home on 3 occassions for his 8 hours of labor & diagnosis, coordinate ordering parts over internet to get them quicker than his supplier could (Plus, I ordered parts over the internet so we could have them sooner than his supplier)
8) I do feel bad that this turned out to be the problem. He’s a nice guy and we are both losing money on this one. I can have the roofer pay for some of the labor (or sue him), but I doubt anyone will say he owes money for mis-diagnosis and purchasing of wrong parts (please let me know if you disagree), and that 8 hours is very excessive

Please provide me your professional opinion. I want to be fair. Was my guy incompetent? How much should he be paid by me in labor vs. parts? How much do you think my roofer is reasonably responsible for? He’s also a very nice guy and this is a first for him with this problem/type of heater too.

Thanks so much!

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Old 01-30-2012, 11:57 PM   #2
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HELP!!! How much owe my HVAC repairman? Is he competant?


You told him you did not see anything wrong with the exhaust and yet he found it?

It appears that he was an honest man at the very least and yes, all of us learn on the job. You told him nothing was wrong with the exhaust so he went about other things. Then he finally figured out that it was the exhaust.

He wins with shining colors. Whatever he agrees to which I believe he has already done and at a reduced and very fair price you should be glad to pay as well as be glad you have such an honest individual at your home.

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Old 01-31-2012, 12:07 AM   #3
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HELP!!! How much owe my HVAC repairman? Is he competant?


Instead of coming on here and slandering his name after the fact you could have and should have hired someone else out from the beginning, when you foudn out he was "unlicensed", but since you kept having the same guy come back and that same guy eventually found and fixed the problem which was in the end what yourself said it was not and could not be (that of which your roofer caused) then by law he can charge you full price and then if you dispute the fact and take it to court the roofer may be held partly liable for payment but either way you would owe full price so again, be glad he was honest and is willing to a reduced cost.
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Old 01-31-2012, 01:27 AM   #4
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HELP!!! How much owe my HVAC repairman? Is he competant?


Lo barato sale caro. The cheap comes out expensive. You knowingly hired a non-professional, yet, in hind sight, expect him to have found things beyond his expertise, and you even hampered him in finding those things. Unbelievable. Pay the man his money. Next time, hire a pro, and let them do their job.
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Old 01-31-2012, 04:10 AM   #5
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HELP!!! How much owe my HVAC repairman? Is he competant?


Doc Holiday, I appreciate the response and the time you invested in reading my marathon. Sorry if it came across as if I am slandering him, that was definitely my intent. I was trying to present the facts and the "my opinion" is my perspective as someone with 20/20 hindsight with knowledge of the resolution versus what is a customary diagnosis process (and as someone who often has too high expectations :-) which is why I asked if I am expecting too much of him (or anyone for that matter) in this situation). This has been a very frustrating process for Ed and me, and now I still have to deal with getting my roofer to order the correct part and fix the furnace problem, and hopefully reimburse me & Ed for at least some of the HVAC expenses.
.
In reply to your comment, I went ahead and gave Ed the business because I like the guy (and still do), had already waited for him to show up on day 1, felt a sense of obligation to pay him for showing up as agreed, said he could fix it (and yes, he did eventually figure it out), and did come recommended. I had no idea he was unlicensed before he showed up (response to HVAC Benny). In fact, his initial visit fee was higher than some of the "pros" in my area.


For clarification, I never told Ed the furnace was venting properly, and he knew that I was not an expert. I only told him it seemed like strong air flow was coming out of the vent and that would then seem to rule out it from being blocked, and I couldn’t see any blockage/obstruction with a flashlight. I also never said anything about inflow & knew nothing about the furnace getting air this way. Had he asked me about the inflow, I would have said, “I have no idea but if you are telling me you can test that in 20-30 minutes to rule it out versus my first spending $300 on parts/labor for a new control board in which I have to wait 7 days for the install, please do the vent testing now!”

Anyway, given that I did not tell Ed it was venting/exhausting properly, do you think he still followed a reasonable process for diagnosis and did not prematurely order/install the parts? Also, if your answer is “yes” how much do you think the responsibility for the diagnosis costs should fall on the roofer given my contract with him was to replace all the vents with equivalent. My roofer is a good guy too, and will likely want to set things right. It’s an unfortunate situation.


Thank You,
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Old 01-31-2012, 04:34 AM   #6
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HELP!!! How much owe my HVAC repairman? Is he competant?


I'd say you owe him 640 bucks labor, and 330 bucks in parts.

You knew he didn't know anything about your furnace, but agreed to let him work on it at 80 bucks an hour. And you apparently agreed to let him put those parts on.

If he told you a lesser amount then I posted, then simply pay him. Send your roofer who caused the problem a copy of the receipt, and tell him you expect him to reimburse you.


The problem you had, is a common one with many MH's when the cap's supports rust out. Most experience HVAC techs, would find this in less then an hour.
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Old 01-31-2012, 04:38 AM   #7
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HELP!!! How much owe my HVAC repairman? Is he competant?


HAVAC BENNY:
Given the facts about my re-roof, what would the diagnosis procedure have been for a real pro like you have been? How long do you think you would have spent before hopping on a ladder to look at the venting, and then identified it had the wrong crown?

BTW, Ed would not say that I "hamperred" him in finding the way to correct the problem.
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Old 01-31-2012, 04:58 AM   #8
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HELP!!! How much owe my HVAC repairman? Is he competant?


Beenthere, thanks for your comments. Much appreciated. In the industry, if I hired a licensed HVAC repairman, can he keep buying parts he says will should fix the problem and leave me paying for labor+parts until he finds the right diagnosis/fix?

Thanks
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Old 01-31-2012, 06:33 AM   #9
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HELP!!! How much owe my HVAC repairman? Is he competant?


Quote:
Originally Posted by MB1 View Post
Beenthere, thanks for your comments. Much appreciated. In the industry, if I hired a licensed HVAC repairman, can he keep buying parts he says will should fix the problem and leave me paying for labor+parts until he finds the right diagnosis/fix?

Thanks
A real HVAC company would not charge you for the parts that were not the problem.They could use them on another job sometime but a handyman is never going to need them again and they can not be returned. A HVAC company also would have replaced the vent instead of a roofer doing it. The problem is you didn't hire a HVAC repair man so hopefully you got
"-I agreed to $155 Total labor + part ($189) which was backordered. If the part did not fix the problem, he would eat the cost" in writing.
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Old 01-31-2012, 12:10 PM   #10
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HELP!!! How much owe my HVAC repairman? Is he competant?


Marty, appreciate this insight. Useful information. Ed was trying to be very fair but nothing we had was in writing. His standard practice is to charge his cost+$20 on parts...the $20 is like insurance to him. On some jobs, he'll eat more than the $20 and others he won't. So, I agreed to cost+$20 (even if I ordered them).In the case of the control board, I ordered it on the internet since it was significantly lower in cost than his supplier and would arrive sooner. But he said he'd eat it if it didn't fix the problem, though he was confident it would. Likewise, he was willing to eat the cost on the control valve if it did not fix the problem (and glad to hear that is a standard practice) At this point, I am only out of pocket for the control board but I do want to settle up appropriately with him for his work. If I pay him what he is asking for (about total cost of $350), before purchase and install of the correct part, that is more than 4 hours labor for diagnosis of this problem. His intent I think is to charge me what a licensed professional would have charged, but he doesn't think this would have been a 1-2 hour job because no one (or very few HVAC guys) would have expected the crown to have been modified. (again, I think if you a knew a re-roof were done, you'd check) After reading a post by another person, it sounds like these crowns sometimes rust, break, and need replacing. So, IF his intent is to charge me what a professional would charge in this case, what would be fair?
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Old 01-31-2012, 12:28 PM   #11
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HELP!!! How much owe my HVAC repairman? Is he competant?


You make the story for the guy, don't go to court, you''ll lose by the words you have posted here.
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Old 01-31-2012, 02:21 PM   #12
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HELP!!! How much owe my HVAC repairman? Is he competant?


Quote:
Originally Posted by MB1 View Post
Marty, appreciate this insight. Useful information. Ed was trying to be very fair but nothing we had was in writing. His standard practice is to charge his cost+$20 on parts...the $20 is like insurance to him. On some jobs, he'll eat more than the $20 and others he won't. So, I agreed to cost+$20 (even if I ordered them).In the case of the control board, I ordered it on the internet since it was significantly lower in cost than his supplier and would arrive sooner. But he said he'd eat it if it didn't fix the problem, though he was confident it would. Likewise, he was willing to eat the cost on the control valve if it did not fix the problem (and glad to hear that is a standard practice) At this point, I am only out of pocket for the control board but I do want to settle up appropriately with him for his work. If I pay him what he is asking for (about total cost of $350), before purchase and install of the correct part, that is more than 4 hours labor for diagnosis of this problem. His intent I think is to charge me what a licensed professional would have charged, but he doesn't think this would have been a 1-2 hour job because no one (or very few HVAC guys) would have expected the crown to have been modified. (again, I think if you a knew a re-roof were done, you'd check) After reading a post by another person, it sounds like these crowns sometimes rust, break, and need replacing. So, IF his intent is to charge me what a professional would charge in this case, what would be fair?

You seem like someone that keeps re-asking the same question cause ya don't want to pay...beenthere answered that in post #6. Are you just asking the same question until someone tells ya to go ahead and screw Ed?

So you ordered the part online and cut him out of the $20.00 too.... :0

Last edited by Technow; 01-31-2012 at 02:27 PM.
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Old 01-31-2012, 03:10 PM   #13
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HELP!!! How much owe my HVAC repairman? Is he competant?


Quote:
Originally Posted by MB1 View Post
In the industry, if I hired a licensed HVAC repairman, can he keep buying parts he says will should fix the problem and leave me paying for labor+parts until he finds the right diagnosis/fix?

Thanks
Unfortunately. that is a common practice. Inexperienced techs just throw parts at something, and keep billing the customer.

Your furnace problem was a simple bit iof checking with proper tools and a little bit of experience/training.

A manometer to check the manifold gas pressure, would have told him it has correct gas pressure.

Next, by looking at the flame, its easy to tell its getting lazy as it burns, due to lack of combustion air.

After looking at the furnace, it becomes apparent that it gets its combustion air from the roof jack.

Of course, knowing how furnaces work in general helps.

You made a gentlemens agreement. So the question is, did he keep his end. And will you in turn keep your end.
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Old 01-31-2012, 04:43 PM   #14
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HELP!!! How much owe my HVAC repairman? Is he competant?


Beenthere, thanks for your comments. Much appreciated. In the industry, if I hired a licensed HVAC repairman, can he keep buying parts he says will should fix the problem and leave me paying for labor+parts until he finds the right diagnosis/fix?

Thanks[/quote]


As an expericenced tech and reading just a few line into your story you said the pilot keeps blowing out. First thing that came to mind was flue or flue cap.

Less than fime minutes and I had it. Just pay the man what he has worked for and move on. Next time hire a LICENSED HVAC Company that has trained tech's and I bet you will have a much better experience.

He was upfront to you and yet you allowed him to work.. Really who's fault is it. I say mainly yours.
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Old 01-31-2012, 06:28 PM   #15
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HELP!!! How much owe my HVAC repairman? Is he competant?


Quote:
Originally Posted by MB1 View Post
I would like opinions on how much would be fair to pay my HVAC repairman after 8 hours (assuming $80/hr) of diagnoses and $330 of replacement parts that did not fix the problem, and 3 visits over 3 weeks? The final diagnosis was that during my re-roof (which is when I told him was about the time my furnace stopped working), an improper vent cap/crown was installed on my intake/outtake mobilehome roof jack assembly.

Please read and let me know if I am expecting too much of an HVAC repair professional (who is non-licensed and maybe just lacks experience. I think my local mobilehome HVAC guy would have caught this on first visit…but maybe you have a different opinion?

History:
My mobile home furnace would not stay lit due to a “weak flame”. (Flame went out after 6-8 seconds) right as fan would kick on. After replacing the ignitor myself, and then calling back my roofer (who replaced all venting on my roof which is very typical of a re-roof) to ensure they did not do anything to block the vent (we could feel the clear air-flow and very little debris could be seen), I called a professional HVAC repairman “Ed” who was referred by the appliance parts store ($85 for initial visit). I offered to email Ed a picture/model # etc beforehand since I knew my unit was one he would likely not be familiar with.

When he showed up he was not at all familiar with any type of unit similar to mine (a Nordyne M1MC, and I learned he was not a licensed HVAC. He mostly was a “fix it” refrigerator, stove, washer/dryer repairman (unlicensed for those types too). Nevertheless he was a nice guy and sounded confident, determined to fix it, fair, and very sincere.

At this point you authorized an unskilled guy to work on your unit and have to accept him for what he is. I would have paid him for his traveling time/callout fee and said goodbye and got the proper tech familiar with the unit. You are not cheated as you got the value of the new parts which will make the furnace last longer. You now own the parts as they cannot be returned and need to pay him for at least a few hours of labor and consider this expense the cost of education/learning on your part too. What goes around comes around so if you cheat Ed someone will get you probably sooner than later when you least expect it. Karma.




......

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Last edited by yuri; 01-31-2012 at 06:43 PM.
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