Page 1 of 4 1234 LastLast
Results 1 to 13 of 47
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Posts
    21

    Confused I think something is wrong...landlord disagrees with me

    Hi guys,

    I lease a 900+ sq. ft. duplex apartment in Fort Worth, Texas. I noticed a few weeks ago that my air did not seem to be blowing as strongly as it normally has done the last few years.

    Usually, if the air is running, it blows toward the string hanging down from the ceiling fan in the living room and causes it to stay in motion. That was one indication that it was not blowing as strongly as usual--the string was not moving whilst the air was running. Another indication was that I just did not feel the air blowing as strongly on me sitting in my study or sitting on the sofa in the living room, or even if I held my hands up in the air a few feet from one of the vents. So, I reported the matter to the landlord.

    The landlord's contractor came out and checked the air filter, which was very clean, and the outside unit, which the man said was dirty. It did not look dirty to me, however, and the same contractor had been out just a few weeks before to do an annual servicing of the unit, part of which servicing was supposed to have been to clean it. In any case, the man hosed down the unit, but nothing much came out on the ground other than a couple of leafs. Then, he checked the indoor unit in the ceiling and said it looked fine. He said the "split" was about as good as could be expected. I explained to him why I felt something was amiss, but he insisted the unit was functioning as it should. Then, he left.

    I still felt something was wrong for all of the reasons I listed above. Then, a couple of weeks or so later, I noticed that the air was also not blowing as cold as it usually does. It seemed hotter inside than it should be especially at night after the sun had been down for hours and the unit had been running non-stop since the morning.

    I observed my thermostat and found that if I left the temp set at 76-77, which is where I normally leave it set, by the afternoon, it would be way over 80 inside. I reset the thermostat down to 70 early in the morning to see how cool it would keep the house as the day wore on. By 1:30 p.m. or so, I could feel it becoming hotter in here. By 4:00, with the air having been running non-stop since first thing early in the morning, it was 80 degrees inside. From that point, I watched to see how the indoor temperature might change as the sun went down and the evening wore on.

    I observed that the inside temperature by 10:30 p.m. was still 78-79 even though the outside temperature by 6:39 p.m. had dropped to 95. By 12:06 a.m. the next morning, with the unit having continued to run non-stop all day and all night, the inside temperature had finally dropped to 75-76. I reported my findings to the landlord. He denied that there is anything wrong with the air conditioner. He said I cannot expect the indoor temperature to be more than 20 degrees lower than the outside temperature. I disagreed with him based on my experience over the last three summers. In previous summers, the inside temperature may not have been able to get much lower than 74-75, but it certainly never rose to 80 or more. Also, in the past summers, once the sun went down, I could feel the indoor temperature start to go down long before midnight.

    The upshot is I do not think the air conditioner is running as well as it always has done in the past. The outside unit (Amana) is only three years old. The inside portion is original to the house which I believe is about 20-22 years old. I think it is possible that the indoor portion of the unit may be past the age where it can function well anymore, or perhaps there is a part of the unit that is not functioning as well. I do not know. I just think something is wrong.

    If the unit had not cooled any better than this in years gone by, I might think this is the best it can do, but it has cooled better in years gone by. Last year, for example, by 7:30-8:00 p.m., the unit would begin to cycle on and off again after running constantly all afternoon because the outside temperature would begin to drop. In fact, I would raise the thermostat setting a bit higher after 9 p.m. so that I would not feel chilly watching t.v. on the sofa. Now, I can sit there all evening with the unit running and not feel chilly even at midnight.

    Is there something wrong, or am I just imagining there is a problem?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Tallahassee, FL
    Posts
    6,051
    Sounds wrong to me. Unfortunately it takes a seasoned tech to figure these problematic low capacity issues out. Unlikely you will get one to pay attentive detail on your landlord's dime.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Fort Worth, TX
    Posts
    11,369
    Did your lack of cooling problems coincide with the previous maintenance visit from the contractor? If so I think whatever was done at that time might be a possible culprit...hard to say.

    Diminished airflow is either a coil partly freezing over or something has come loose and is restricitng airflpw.
    • Electricity makes refrigeration happen.
    • Refrigeration makes the HVAC psychrometric process happen.
    • HVAC pyschrometrics is what makes indoor human comfort happen...IF the ducts AND the building envelope cooperate.


    A building is NOT beautiful unless it is also comfortable.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    SW Wisconsin
    Posts
    5,021

    When HVAC Users know how to collect simple temp data U'll get Service CALLS

    This is absolutely NOT DIY instructions it is merely helping U accumulate simple data to show proofs to your landlord that calling an HVAC contractor is absolutely necessary! No Proofs, NO contractor business...

    Okay, you're going to need a good Tech that has instruments with which to check actual airflow, however, IMO you need also to present some hard proofs to your landlord & to the Tech that there are provable data showing it is NOT performing near its Nominal Performance Rating.

    Simple easy to do ways to check the performance of your central air conditioner so, if needed, you can call an Energy Efficiency HVAC Technician

    If U want me to run a ballpark analysis of how your system is performing in respect to its 'Nominal Rated Btuh' we need at least the following numbers:

    Performance Data Collection – Best Time to collect data for highest temp-loads is Late afternoon around 4:30 pm; also when 'outdoor temps' are around 85; 95; 105F or, anywhere in between.

    *All U need is a good thermometer (digital reading in tenths preferable) & an indoor Humidity Gauge

    1) Helpful; Tonnage of Unit or outdoor condenser model number: ________

    2) TXV or, orifice metering device? _______ Only if U know.

    3) Outdoor condenser’s discharge-air-temperature _____

    4) Outdoor air temperature: _______

    5) Outdoor Condenser Air-Temp-Split _____

    6) Need the percent of humidity - away from Supply-Air outlets ______

    7) Indoor Return-Air Temperature ______ Subtract Supply-Air Temperature ______

    8) Indoor temperature-split _______F

    --- Need the above information for performance analysis; examples below:
    A Goodman 2-Ton 13-SEER condenser, 800-cfm indoor airflow @ 85-F outdoors; 80-F indoor dry bulb & 50% relative humidity = 103.9-F - 85-F outdoors or an 18.9-F temp-split; Indoor temp-split 18 to 19-F.; @ Indoor 75-F & 50% RH condenser split is 14.9-F.
    Yes, you will absolutely need to find a good HVAC Tech; I'd take the $CALL$...

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Posts
    21

    Cheapest is Not Necessarily the Most Cost Effective

    Quote Originally Posted by SBKold View Post
    Sounds wrong to me. Unfortunately it takes a seasoned tech to figure these problematic low capacity issues out. Unlikely you will get one to pay attentive detail on your landlord's dime.
    Funny you should say that SBKold. Please allow me to give you a typical example of how that works. I noticed a long time ago (talking well over a year ago) that sometimes the outside unit would cycle on, but the inside would not. The landlord hates to pay for repairs on anything, so as long as I was staying reasonably warm in the winter and reasonably cool once it became hot, I let it go. This spring, I noticed the problem was worsening. The landlord told me to call his contractor to schedule an appointment. The contractor promised to come out the following Monday sometime. I waited inside for them the entire day, but no one showed up. I called them in the afternoon, but it rolled over to voicemail. I left a message. Later that night, the man called me back and said they were busy and were not able to make it out as scheduled, but he promised they would be out by 8:30 the next morning. I felt they should have at least phoned me to say they could not make it. After all, my time is valuable, too.

    They did show up as promised Tuesday morning at 8:30. The man asked me what was the problem. Once again, I explained the same problem that had persisted for well over a year. (Last year they said the thermostat was the problem and replaced it, but it made no difference. The outside unit would still cycle on whilst the inside unit did not always do.)

    The man said "well, it is probably either 'A' or 'B' (I cannot recall the exact terminology he used), and we're betting it is 'A.'" I just looked at him and said nothing, but I was thinking to myself that he should have performed some sort of diagnostic testing before reaching any conclusion and beginning a repair.

    Well, he and his assistant worked on the inside portion of the unit for about an hour and half. I have no idea what they did exactly. Then, they went outside to do an annual servicing of the unit, which I was told included cleaning it. Finally, they came back inside again and checked my air filter. Then, they said everything was fine and left.

    A while later, I noticed that it was becoming a bit chilly inside, so I checked the thermostat. Unbeknownst to me, they had set it at 50 whilst they worked on the unit, but they failed to turn it back up to 76 before they left. I turned it back up to 76 and went about my business. By lunch time, I noticed it had become very warm inside, but the system was not running. I checked and found that the outside unit had cycled on but the inside unit had not---the same problem they were supposed to have fixed. I tried to coax the unit to come on, but it simply would not come on. Before they worked on it, I could sometimes coax it to come on inside by changing it from Auto to On. Nothing I did now had any effect. They seemed to have made the problem worse instead of better, and to be quite frank, I was bloody annoyed.

    I called the contractor and explained everything. He told me the men were on another job and could not get back out for a MINIMUM of three hours. I was not happy, but I said okay. Then, he said, "wait, that would put them into overtime. Sorry, they will have to come back out another day." I insisted they come back out that day, but he insisted he would not pay them overtime. I was appalled that after standing me up on Monday and then making the problem worse instead of better on Tuesday he expected me to stay here in this sort of weather. Four of my windows face direct west, and two others face south/southwest. It was already in the 90s and the hottest part of the day had not yet begun!

    I called and emailed the landlord twice over the course of the afternoon as the temperature approached 100 in here and still rising. There was no reply. I called the contractor again and demanded he send someone out. Once again he said he would not pay his men overtime and hung up on me. I felt I had no other choice but to call another contractor.

    I called a reputable contractor that I knew the landlord had used before. The man finally came out around 7:30 that evening and spent a considerable amount of time looking at both the indoor and outdoor equipment. He asked me what the first contractor had repaired/replaced as he could not see anything that looked new or worked on. I said I did not know. I told him what they told me. Finally, he concluded that the problem was a bad fan relay switch. He said because it was an old unit, he did not have the part on his truck and would have to come back in the morning after he could get the part from the parts store.

    By this time, I had one of the worst headaches you could imagine, and I was very angry with my landlord's contractor for (1) standing me up the first day; (2) not properly diagnosing the problem the second day; (3) "repairing" something that was not the problem and making the actual problem worse; and, (4) refusing to come back out because it meant paying the techs overtime. The second contractor kept tinkering with the unit, and finally, it cycled on. I was so relieved. He told me he set it at ON and not to change anything or it would go out and not come back on again. He said he would be back in the morning. He charged me $$$ for the after hours call. I did not think this was an excessive charge as Sears charges $$$ for someone to come out between 9 and 5 weekdays to check a malfunctioning dryer. Anyway, I emailed the landlord to let him know we discovered the problem.

    The next morning, the contractor I had called called me and said that the landlord had just called their office and balled the hell out of the lady for sending someone out to me, and then he said he would not pay for the work. The contractor was appalled by this behaviour because first of all, they had worked for the landlord over the years and had been led to believe that they were the only company he called anytime there was a problem. The contractor told me that in the past, even if they were already double booked and stretched very thin, if my landlord called and pleaded someone to come out to either his house or to one of his rental properties, they always obliged him. The truth was/is that the landlord only called this very reputable contractor if the other guys did not return his call or were otherwise unavailable.

    Well, the contractor asked me what I wanted to do now. I said come back and finish the job. He came back and replaced the fan relay switch, and I have not had a problem with it since. As I said, his after hours call out fee was $$$, and he charged me $$$ for the part. The rest was labour. He had spent a good amount of time just diagnosing the problem Tuesday night, and then he spent a fair amount of time actually replacing the fan relay switch the next day. The total charge came to $$$, which did not seem like an unreasonable amount to me all things considered.

    I emailed the landlord to let him know the repair had been made and cost a total of $$$. I said he could either reimburse me, or I would deduct it from the July rent. He went berserk. He said he did not use this contractor because they were too expensive, and he said he had not given me permission to call them out, so he would not reimburse me, and if I deducted it from my rent, he would file an eviction against me. He then dropped off a letter in my mailbox saying the same thing. He also sent a letter to the contractor saying he would not pay them a dime so they better not charge his account. I knew he was serious as a heart attack about filing an eviction if I deducted the repair bill from my rent, so I paid my rent in full as I have always done for nearly 4 years now, but I told the landlord that once the weather cooled off in the autumn, I would be filing a case in court to recoup the $$$, and I fully intend to do so.

    I do not think that a $$$ call out charge was so unreasonable or out of line with what others in the industry charge, or that the $$$ charge for the part was unreasonable, or that the $$$ for labour ($$$ total) was out of line either. I pointed out to the landlord that even if his contractor charged only 50% of that amount, the landlord was not saving any money if his contractor "repaired" the wrong thing and had to keep coming back again and again, each time "guessing" what the problem might be and effecting yet another needless repair. I asked the landlord, "would you go to a dentist who told you that the pain you were having could be coming from one of several teeth, but that he "guessed" it was this tooth and pulled it without taking x-rays and/or doing other diagnostic checks?" I told him that is what his HVAC contractor did, and in the long run, it did not save any money. He never replied.

    So, I will put the question to you pros out there. Do you think $$$ was an unreasonable charge to come out at night to diagnose the correct problem and then fix it right the first time? The landlord never told me how much his contractor had charged him for coming out Tuesday morning, but I bet it could not have been too much less than $$$, and they did not even fix the true problem. To my mind, he should have paid the contractor who did the proper job, not the ones who could not even figure out the problem, effected a "repair" to something that was not a problem, and then left his tenant to bake in triple digit temperatures.
    Last edited by jpsmith1cm; 07-22-2012 at 06:39 PM. Reason: Pricing

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Posts
    21
    Quote Originally Posted by Shophound View Post
    Did your lack of cooling problems coincide with the previous maintenance visit from the contractor? If so I think whatever was done at that time might be a possible culprit...hard to say.

    Diminished airflow is either a coil partly freezing over or something has come loose and is restricitng airflpw.
    Actually, come to think of it, yes! Before they came out, the only problem I had was that the inside unit did not always come on even though the outside unit would come on. I never noticed the strength of the air flow or its coldness being a problem before. I do not know why I did not figure that one out before! Thank you Shophound!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    6,841
    The landlord/tenant thing is something we can't fix. It's your comfort, not your landlord's that is at stake. It is unfortunate for the tenant but the IRS rules do not encourage landlords to make repairs. In fact, in some cases, the landlord is penalized by making significant repairs. So if I were in your shoes, I'd first try and find a good quality service company. Then I'd face the ugly fact that the landlord isn't going to pay what a good company will charge for the needed evaluation and repair. Maybe you can make a deal with the landlord that you'll each pay a percentage of the repair? Or maybe some other deal. Or maybe you just pay for it yourself. If you owned the home, you'd likely be paying a good sized mortgage and would still have to come up with the money for the repair. This isn't really that much different. Those who are lucky get good landlords who are very attentive, take care of the property and hire good quality tradesmen, understanding that paying once to get it right trumps paying repeatedly to guess at a fix. The quality of landlord is difficult to determine until it's time for unexpected repairs.
    If YOU want change, YOU have to first change.

    If you are waiting for the 'other guy' to change first, just remember, you're the 'other guy's' other guy. To continue to expect real change when you keep acting the same way as always, is folly. Won't happen. Real change will only happen when a majority of the people change the way they vote!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Posts
    21
    Quote Originally Posted by udarrell View Post
    This is absolutely NOT DIY instructions it is merely helping U accumulate simple data to show proofs to your landlord that calling an HVAC contractor is absolutely necessary! No Proofs, NO contractor business...

    Okay, you're going to need a good Tech that has instruments with which to check actual airflow, however, IMO you need also to present some hard proofs to your landlord & to the Tech that there are provable data showing it is NOT performing near its Nominal Performance Rating.

    Simple easy to do ways to check the performance of your central air conditioner so, if needed, you can call an Energy Efficiency HVAC Technician

    If U want me to run a ballpark analysis of how your system is performing in respect to its 'Nominal Rated Btuh' we need at least the following numbers:

    Performance Data Collection – Best Time to collect data for highest temp-loads is Late afternoon around 4:30 pm; also when 'outdoor temps' are around 85; 95; 105F or, anywhere in between.

    *All U need is a good thermometer (digital reading in tenths preferable) & an indoor Humidity Gauge

    1) Helpful; Tonnage of Unit or outdoor condenser model number: ________

    2) TXV or, orifice metering device? _______ Only if U know.

    3) Outdoor condenser’s discharge-air-temperature _____

    4) Outdoor air temperature: _______

    5) Outdoor Condenser Air-Temp-Split _____

    6) Need the percent of humidity - away from Supply-Air outlets ______

    7) Indoor Return-Air Temperature ______ Subtract Supply-Air Temperature ______

    8) Indoor temperature-split _______F

    --- Need the above information for performance analysis; examples below:
    A Goodman 2-Ton 13-SEER condenser, 800-cfm indoor airflow @ 85-F outdoors; 80-F indoor dry bulb & 50% relative humidity = 103.9-F - 85-F outdoors or an 18.9-F temp-split; Indoor temp-split 18 to 19-F.; @ Indoor 75-F & 50% RH condenser split is 14.9-F.
    Yes, you will absolutely need to find a good HVAC Tech; I'd take the $CALL$...
    Thanks, udarrell. Can I find this testing equipment at Lowes or Home Depot?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Frederick, MD
    Posts
    1,033

    Also

    Quote Originally Posted by skippedover View Post
    The landlord/tenant thing is something we can't fix. It's your comfort, not your landlord's that is at stake. It is unfortunate for the tenant but the IRS rules do not encourage landlords to make repairs. In fact, in some cases, the landlord is penalized by making significant repairs. So if I were in your shoes, I'd first try and find a good quality service company. Then I'd face the ugly fact that the landlord isn't going to pay what a good company will charge for the needed evaluation and repair. Maybe you can make a deal with the landlord that you'll each pay a percentage of the repair? Or maybe some other deal. Or maybe you just pay for it yourself. If you owned the home, you'd likely be paying a good sized mortgage and would still have to come up with the money for the repair. This isn't really that much different. Those who are lucky get good landlords who are very attentive, take care of the property and hire good quality tradesmen, understanding that paying once to get it right trumps paying repeatedly to guess at a fix. The quality of landlord is difficult to determine until it's time for unexpected repairs.
    Keep in mind YOU are paying the electric bill, correct? So it would be to your advantage to get the system working properly. It's a pay me now (the service tech) or pay me later (the electric co.) situation.
    GO NAVY, BEAT ARMY!

    A DECADE OF DOMINANCE! +2

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    6,841
    Having the equipment is only step 1. Knowing how to use it is step 2. Interpreting the information provided is the most complex issue and are steps 3 through 30. A typical HVAC course runs full time from 9-months to 24-months and then a potential tech needs about 1-year with a good company or 3-5 years with an average company to become competent enough to actually go into the field and disagnose problems. I think the message Udarell was offering was leaning toward having a competent tech on scene and you just having a list of useful readings, not you actually doing the work yourself.
    If YOU want change, YOU have to first change.

    If you are waiting for the 'other guy' to change first, just remember, you're the 'other guy's' other guy. To continue to expect real change when you keep acting the same way as always, is folly. Won't happen. Real change will only happen when a majority of the people change the way they vote!

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Fort Worth, TX
    Posts
    11,369
    OP, read the "no pricing" rules and please edit out the prices before a mod does and sends you a warning.
    • Electricity makes refrigeration happen.
    • Refrigeration makes the HVAC psychrometric process happen.
    • HVAC pyschrometrics is what makes indoor human comfort happen...IF the ducts AND the building envelope cooperate.


    A building is NOT beautiful unless it is also comfortable.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Posts
    21
    Thanks Shophound. I did not realise that was not permitted. I logged out and in again, but I cannot find an "edit" button for that post so that I can remove the amounts. The only post I made that shows an edit button is this one. Help, please. How do I get back in to edit the post with the amount filled in now?

    Well, I am still keeping track. Here are the numbers for today so far; the unit has not cycled off since very early this morning:

    9:18 a.m. Set at 72 degrees; reads 72 degrees and running. WFAA's website showed 90 degrees outdoors at 9:05 a.m.

    11:11 a.m. Set at 72 degrees; reads 73 degrees and running.

    12:12 p.m. Set at 72 degrees; reads 77-78 and running.
    Last edited by jt,too; 07-22-2012 at 02:34 PM.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    SW Wisconsin
    Posts
    5,021
    Quote Originally Posted by jt,too View Post
    Thanks, udarrell. Can I find this testing equipment at Lowe's or Home Depot?
    U can use a regular mercy TH, if you buy one big enough, U can estimate the tenths of a degree.

    Well, we buy them at wholesale HVAC parts outlets, which may or may not sell you one.

    Call & ask if Lowe's or Home Depot has the air source type? Many places have humidity gauges, even hardware stores...

    Here is a link to a source that might sell one to you? Though I didn't see one listed.
    http://www.professionalequipment.com/hvac/

    All that temp & the humidity data needs to be collected within the same time frame interval...
    Last edited by udarrell; 07-22-2012 at 03:21 PM. Reason: I didn't see one listed...

Page 1 of 4 1234 LastLast

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
Comfortech Show Promo Image

Related Forums

Plumbing Talks | Contractor Magazine
Forums | Electrical Construction & Maintenance (EC&M) Magazine
Comfortech365 Virtual Event