My (Expensive) Experience with Geothermal
Single woman, not well-off, building a house. Researched thoroughly and decide the prudent thing to do is geothermal. I’m a cook, but I sacrificed the granite countertops, professional stove and good frig, in addition to other things, in order to pay three times what a conventional system would have cost. In the long run, I felt I would come out ahead. Chose what I thought was, at that time, the best company doing geothermal, Water Furnace.
$$$$ in repairs later (not maintenance work, but repairs to my upstairs unit and it’s finally failed.
The pertinent facts:
Got a bad vibe right off the bat with the original contractor, so called the home office to request the name of another contractor. Was put in touch with the territory manager, who told me that this particular contractor was their best, and I should stick with him. He said that I would be making a mistake to use anyone else.
Upstairs unit never works properly and had to constantly be re-set to keep it functioning.
Several years later I phone territory manager and demand the name of a different contractor, which I am given.
After contractor #2 visits my house, he informs me that I don’t have the main unit that was specified in my contract and for which I paid. Additionally, the pump that was installed with my system is not what I should have with my system, and that’s why my second unit has never worked properly.
Two letters to contractor #1, copying Water Furnace, informing him about what I have just learned. No offer to make things right, so I contact two different attorneys who tell me that, even though I have just learned of the situation, the statute of limitations has passed and I have no redress through the courts or legal system.
The line to the upstairs unit collapsed and had to be replaced with PVC pipe to make the system work at all. I learn later that PVC is subject to leaks, which means I am also sitting on a time bomb.
In the meantime, several other service calls to keep it working.
Pump finally burns out. Contractor #2 quotes me a price of between $$$$ to replace it. I remember hearing some radio ads by one of the leading HVAC dealers in my area saying that they’re now doing geothermal (by Water Furnace) so I contact them asking for help. They don’t service my area, but I’m given the name of one of their sub-contractors who should help. (By the way, they’re no longer selling Water Furnace, they’re selling Climate Master).
He comes out, and for the price of $$$$ his crew replaces my pump kit, replaces the flow center, and changes all of the PVC pipes connected to the flow center with a different material.
Now the upstairs unit has finally failed and I’m replacing it with a conventional system, for which I’m still getting estimates. It makes no sense to leave it geothermal, since that would be putting it into a system that is designed to fail and which will continue to cost money to keep working.
By the time it’s all done, I will have spent approximately $$$$ over and above the initial cost of my system. That’s less than a conventional system would have cost me from the beginning. Needless to say, this has been a financial catastrophe for me.
Water Furnace says they never got either of my two letters, and supposedly don’t know about my experience. However, I find it curious that shortly after my situation came to light, their “best” contractor was forbidden to sell their systems any longer. He was still allowed to service the systems he had already installed, however. I puzzled over that until it occurred to me that if new technicians start to service his other installations, they may find that others, like me, don’t have the units for which they paid, which could really open up a can of worms. Water Furnace has gotten rid of a bad seed, but they’ve left me hanging out to dry with an installation that can’t work.
These are just the highlights of my problems, I could write pages more. My advice to anyone considering geothermal is to be very careful of the company you chose to work with.
Last edited by jpsmith1cm; 08-18-2012 at 10:48 PM.