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 09:48 PM.
Unfortunately this type of work will make all the geothermal system look bad, as well as the good installers.
I am a not a hvac contractor, but I am a loop installer and work hand in hand with a few competent geothermal installers.
Maybe contractor #2 is more reliable and willing to correct your system and have you heading in the right direction. You must be Intrigued by the idea of geothermal to do it originally, maybe a new contractor could get things right. I'm sure with all problems you have a bad taste in your mouth though.
My (Expensive) Geothermal Experience
Contractor #2 was almost as bad as Contractor #1, I just didn't go into detail about what I went through with him. My expenses thus far in my original post were blanked out, but I've already spent what a conventional system would have cost me in the beginning. Correcting my system would require a complete new install (minus the ground loop) plus a new unit. I don't think so. I just want to get my message onto as many forums as I can find to alert others what to expect if things go wrong with Water Furnace.
Originally Posted by CallaDrilling
I can understand your frustration. But that's not fair to water furnace if your contractors are not doing there job correctly.
Water Furnace has been aware of my situation from the beginning, and they just pretend I don't exist. I'm sure that they're just relieved to hear that I'm pulling my geothermal and going back to a conventional system, gets a ticking time bomb off their plate.
Originally Posted by CallaDrilling
WOW!! You are ripping the whole system out?
Will you be re embersed any $?
Is the same guy doing the conventinal install?
Can you please Post pics of this disaster PLZ?
Where are you located state and city please. What type of loop do you have, how long is it and what is the configuration. What units are installed currently in the home? This information will possibly help us here point you in the right direction. Also what size is the house, anything special like spray foam etc?
Second this really isn't waterfurnaces fault that a contractor installed equipment that was not on the proposal and did. It design accordingly. I have seen numerous geothermal failures from bad contractors on this site and the one thing I can tell you, WaterFurnace is the only company to keep helping the homeowners. I would not be surprised if they helped out with a reduced price new unit for you too which nobody else will do.
Waterfurnace builds a unit.
The contractor must install it and set it up properly.
Since, it appears that the contractors you've been dealing with have not fulfilled their obligations, to the point that one is no longer a WF rep, I don't understand why you are mad at the manufacturer.
FYI, Water Furnace is a fairly regular visitor to this site. You may see a response from them.
we install and service water furnace geothermal systems. 10 year parts and labor warranty. what else could you ask for. they by far have the best technical support group that i have used. your contractor is the problem not water furnace.
Water Furnace is who told me to stick with this contractor when I called them expressing misgivings and asking for the name of someone else. They could at least have put pressure on him to make my system right. After all, they still allowed him to continue servicing other systems, so they didn't completely sever their relationship with him. They offered no help whatsoever to me. To date, I've never heard the first word from them, and they've been well aware of my situation.
Originally Posted by Goldfinch
I live in Aylett, VA. I have a horizontal loop, don't know its length nor configuration. I should have an AT045, but have, I believe, an AT040. Also have an AT019, which is the problem unit. Because of where it is, I have never seen this unit. My house is 2000 sf (finished space) with sprayed-in insulation, I believe it's some kind of paper material.
From the last guy that came out to service the unit, I gather that it should have its own pump. But I only have one pump to run both units. Apparently this has been the problem all along.
Again, Water Furnace builds the units. They do not install them.
Let me try to make an analogy.
Chevrolet builds cars. Now, the HVAC analogy would be Company X bringing a pile of Chevrolet parts to your home and building you a new Corvette.
If the wheels fell off of your new Vette, would you blame Chevrolet or Company X?
WF Inc is a member here and a frequent contributor to threads where there are problems with Water Furnace units.
If they don't chime in on this thread, go ahead and get in touch with them.