Improper Install of a 2011 System. What can i do?
We purchased a 3000 sq ft home in Georgia in Feb. 2012 with 3 heat pump systems. One 4 Ton installed in Mar 2011, one 2 ton installed in 2002, and one 1.5 Ton installed in 1992. Before we purchased the house, we had it inspected and the HVAC all passed. We also had the original installer come look at the 2011 system to tell us why the outdoor unit is so noisy and were told it was because the unit was an entry level (builder's grade) unit. We also asked the owners if all permits needed to any work on the house were done and we were told yes (in writing), except for one small deck project. But no permit was taken out for the 2011 replacement despite being required in our town. We had two breakdowns of the 2011 system since we've owned it and both were covered by our home warranty. The first time the repair was just done and the second time was a different company who was the one alerting us to the improper install issues.
Long story short, what we have learned is that when the old 4 ton system was replaced in 2011 for the previous owners, the contractors connected the new 4 ton unit with only 2.5 to 3 ton worth of ductwork. (Evidently when the 2 ton was installed in 2002 for a small addition, they took some of the ductwork off the 4 ton and put it towards the 2 ton.) Needless to say this is the main cause of the system breakdowns. In addition we have learned there were many code violations during the install by this highly reputable firm. The original contractors came out to fix the system once before we bought the house. They were also here three times for us to try to help us figure out why the unit was so noisy. All they ever told us was that it was an entry level Carrier unit and therefore loud and put in a quiet start board and a sound blanket. While we know this is actually true, three different people from that company out here evaluating the system and not one told us of the other issues.
Unknowingly, we compounded the problem in July 2011 by foaming our attic with open cell foam.
So, here's where we are. A Manual J was done on the house and since we had the house foamed, we only need one 4 ton unit to do the entire house now. If we hadn't foamed the attic, the installer should have put in a 2.5 ton unit rather than the 4 ton.
Did the installers have an obligation to assess the needs of the house before just randoming replacing a 4 ton for a 4 ton? And if not, shouldn't they have noticed during their installation that they were connecting only 3 ton worth of ductwork to the 4 ton airhandler? There are also many other violations including no disconnect switch installed in the attic and the condensate line is not properly angled nor insulated. The ductwork is 'cramped', the runs are too long without being sized down, and the weld connecting a pipe to the air handler didn't 'take' leaving a big air gap on the side of the handler. They didn't get a permit as required and didnt have it inspected.
We have talked to four HVAC companies, including the original one and all suggest a new 4 ton unit (well one says a new 3 Ton and a 1.5 Ton), partly because the current one runs at 80db when properly running (and it's right outside our bedroom wall) and partly because of the damage possibly done to the unit due to the insufficient ductwork. The outdoor unit goes into 'self preservation mode' and turns itself off with this god awful sound when the pressure builds too high. Who knows WHAT is being done to the compressor during those runs. We were told the indoor unit could possibly be reused (but not recommended) but that all the ductwork should be replaced due to moisture buildup in the ducts as a result of all this.
We contacted the company and they are willing to put in a new, high end 4 ton unit, as the Manual J now recommends for the whole house, along with a new airhandler and ductwork and would give us a 'good deal'. What they gave us is the SAME discount that they are advertising in our local paper for that unit. This to me just proves they are a bit too slick and I have no confidence in this company. I don't want them installing anything.
Do we have any recourse with the original installer? Can we get them to give us the original install money plus the $$$ we paid them for a sound blanket in June 2012 plus the $$$$ we had to pay out of pocket to the company we hired for the last repair (who informed us of the incorrect install in about 5 minutes)? This installing company really does have a stellar reputation and we can't understand why.
Do we need to hire a lawyer or just write them a letter outlining the issues they improperly did?
Last edited by jpsmith1cm; 01-19-2013 at 09:26 AM.
This site won't allow any legal advice to be given to homeowners. The sad fact is that this stuff happens all too often. I would give them an opportunity to correct the situation. If they refuse to correct it to your satisfaction, a complaint with the BBB usually results in a fair resolution. A company with a stellar reputation will usually go the extra effort to protect that reputation.
An answer without a question is meaningless.
Information without understanding is useless.
You can lead a horse to water............
re-couping monies spent..slim to no chance. but you could try.
document everything in case you chose the legal route.
this oversizing isn't unusual, but yours is a real mess.
trying to put ductwork & returns for 3 seperate systems to one
system...that is tough.
someone would have to properly size
the ducts, then design the system to work in your specific application.
these manual s & d calcs would be an additional cost.
i would have to see the design on paper, plus the calcs to determine size
of ducts & returns. then compare to what can physically happen in your home.
I would think some type of zoning would be used to move the air to
these different areas.
unfortunately..hvac co, foam co & homeowner didn't communicate to each
other. original company is the sizing by rule of thumb that gets us in such
trouble, foam company should have told you that the benefit of foam is
smaller hvac system. unless foam company work with or is a division
of the hvac company...they don't communicate.
you are the one who knows what has been discussed, installed and
what are the future plans. not knowing this the hvac company sold more tons.
the foam installer didn't share full benefits of the product..and you
are left to sort it out.
hope it all works out for you.
best of luck.
The cure of the part should not be attempted without the cure of the whole. ~Plato
You want refunded for a piece of equipment that "you" did not purchase????
The 4 ton was installed prior to insulating?
If indeed these questions are correct, I am almost positive that you have no ground with the installing co ('11 4 ton)
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I'd say you don't have any recourse. Just get it all ripped out and done right.
Where in Georgia are you located? Several members of this site are from GA, including myself.
maybe the original owner demanded a 4 ton and requested no permit .its not that unusal for someone to ask that no permit be pulled for one reason or another.
I agree with all my "brothers" that have written so far. I'll give you my 2 cents worth. Permits would not have caught your problems. The inspectors aren't the brightest bulbs and wouldn't spend the time anyway.
I've seen GA ductwork before and it aint pretty! Where are the fan coils or furnaces located?
You said you think that when the addition was built they took some ductwork off the 4 ton system a put it towards the addition? This doesn't make sense to me.
It sounds like you may be able to "tie" the first and second floor (duct) systems together? This would help because (from what I've seen with GA ductwork) it'll improve on the airflow requirements needed. Then I would relocate the outdoor unit.
Man, why are you always trashing GA ductwork?
Originally Posted by George2
There are good contractors from Georgia who install excellent duct systems. No matter what George2 says. Haha, just kiddin around man. I know the tread you're referring too and it was pretty bad.
Sorry, I know there must be some good contractors in GA. But I've seen what you're up against and it would be very hard to compete with the workmanship that I've seen posted on this site.
Originally Posted by Brent Ridley
Even in my town, where most have not (yet) lowered themselves to entire flex duct systems, contractor are woefully inept on equipment and ductwork sizing. I don't know how the equipment makes it out of the warranty period.
Yes, the thread posted by 545GAlady took the cake.........I didn't think running ductwork like that was even possible!
You are in for a long battle if decide to pursue legal actions. Just remember that you bought the house as is and then had the foam added. While you meant no harm it caused more of a problem if the systems were already oversized.
In my area foam contractors and hvac contractors do not commicate well. This is why I strees to a home owner that they must tell hvac contractors what they are planing to do with insulation in attic and walls. As this changes the whole game when it comes to sizing.
I belive your best bet while not what you might want to hear would be to have old systems removed and proper sized systems installed. I have seen this some many times over the years and the customer is stuck holding the bag. While not fair, it is what is a mess.
This is why before anyone buys a new home it is best to have hvac contractor review over your system or systems not a home inspector (while not making fun of there ways) I have seen home inspectors mess big things only to have them red flag something small in a report. If I performed my job like that well I wouldn't have a job.
My job as I work for you the customer is find and fix problems that everyone else can't figure out. As I am sure most of the other pros do as well. This fourm is for customers on ask questions that no one else has been able to and help realize them as we don't have a dog in the fight. So please listen to everyone's advice.
You want them to refund money to you that somebody else paid? What is our country coming too? Maybe you can find the company that installed the 1992 system and ask them as well. Getting money back and you returning the blanket is within the realm of possibility. Paying for somebody else's diagnosis/opinion I don't think so. You have to understand that 90% of the hvac industry's way of making money is belittling their competition and telling the customer how crappy the install was and offering to fix it. Usually for a substantial price.
I like DIY'ers. They pay better to fix.