possible defective New Yorker furnace/contractor issues. advice needed.
I have a New Yorker gas furnace which was installed in October 2010. A few weeks after installation I began having issues with the pilot light randomly going out. Sometimes it would happen once a week, sometimes multiple times a day. I notified the installer and he tried on many occasions to fix the issue, to no avail. Eventually he brought in the manufacturer who deemed it a "condensation issue" -- essentially condensation was dripping onto the pilot light and putting it out. They fixed it (or so I thought) and I did not experience the problem again.
Last winter (2011) I had no known issues.
Fast forward to 2 weeks ago, my heater suddenly began short cycling. I contacted the installer and made an appointment. He never showed up and never contacted me. I was COLD. I called someo ne else, thinking it was something simple like a dirty flame censor. Well, the tech opened the furnace and the flame wands were completely rusted shut, which caused the short cycling. He deemed it a leak and told me that my heater was defective and that I should contact the installer, who should contact the manufacturer and "take responsibility" for the heater he installed. Basically, the moisture that was putting out my pilot light never went away, it just moved and dripped on the wands.
In the meantime, the tech cleaned the heater and got the heater up and running again, because after all it had been 5 days at that point with no heat, in the middle of january. However, you could still hear the leak, hissing as it hit the metal. It needed to be addressed.
I have been trying to contact the installer for over a week. He has been leading me along day by day, telling me he's going to contact the manufacturer, come out to look at it, etc. He finally showed up tonight and told me that he spoke to the manufacturer, who instructed him to put some kind of bypass in the furnace to stop the "condensation." He said he is going to come back tomorrow and do the work.
Here's the thing. He wants to charge me $$$ for parts and labor, to put in the bypass. I (rightfully) already put out $$$ for the other tech to come out and do the temporary fix after he stood me up for the initial service call. I feel some kind of way about having to pay for this fix AT ALL. I was told by the installer and manufacturer that the issue was settled 2 years ago. Now I have to pay $$$ that MIGHT fix a problem that is caused not by normal wear and tear, but because of a defect?
My question -- is this normal? Is the installer being just in asking me to pay for this fix? And what if it doesn't work? This is my first house, and the heater was my first major purchase/dealing with a contractor. I knew it needed the be installed when I purchased the house, the previous one was from 1952 (!) My home is 93 years old, a 2 story rowhome in Philadelphia.
Thanks in advance for your help.
Last edited by beenthere; 01-23-2013 at 10:23 PM.
I hate to hear about the problems you are having. At this point you might want to call back out the other company that inspected the system and found the problem. Just let them know that you want a solution to the problem and cost to repair.
While I understand that the installing dealer in your eyes is still at fault and needs to fix which I agree with. The 2nd company found the problem right off the bat. They might be able to work with the installed units manfactor to correct the issue under warranty but don't be surprised if they charge you labor to do so as they didn't install your furnace to began with. Also this will allow you to validate what your installing contractor is saying.
I would also call the installing company and ask to speak to the owner or at least the service manager express your unhappiness and ask what they can do to correct. If they are a good company they will try to correct the issue even though it was suppose to have been fixed years ago.
The sad but true thing is you are the one suffering. Since I don't know the installing company side of the story I will go back to the above paragraph for what a good company would and should do for their customers. Please keep is posted!
What is your radiation? Baseboard? Big cast iron radiators?
BaldLoonie: I have cast iron radiators.
duckman: the other company can't figure out where the leak (or condensation, whatever it may be) is coming from, or why. He can only see evidence of a leak, and hear it. So his only response was that I need a new heater. He did give me a price for labor to install a new one, which was obviously a lot. That is why he suggested that I do my best to work with the original installer, because he should "do the right thing" (direct quote) and either absorb the costs or recoup them from the manufacturer.
I believe that the manufacturer did instruct the original installer to do the bypass, and if contacted by the other company, would have told them to do the same. My concern is, what if this doesn't work, then I am out the money from these last two repairs PLUS the money to install a new unit? It just doesn't seem right for a 2-year old boiler.
Speaking of radiators: the original installer told me to bleed the radiators, which I did. There was quite a bit of air in one upstairs. Since then, I can't hear any more dripping inside the heater. Is it possible that an un-bled radiator could cause moisture inside the heater? The original guy told me its a possibility, but quite frankly I get the impression that he doesn't want to be bothered with my heater anymore, because he knows it is a headache.
In terms of holding him accountable, he is an independent contractor. He is the owner, there is no one higher up I can voice my frustrations to.
Sorry for all the details, but I should also add that the installer admitted he has never done one of these "bypasses" before and seems leery of whether or not it will work. I have spoken to another HVAC guy, a friend of the family who lives out of town and he is skeptical as well. This is why I am concerned that I will be paying for something that us pointless. My parents have told me to put my foot down with the guy and tell him that I refuse to pay for something that was supposed to be fixed 2 years ago. I don't know what the answer is, and just want to be fair.
I am not familier with that brand, but it sounds to me like the water coming back to it is to cold so it causes the flue gases to condense inside. The bypass would recirculate warm water back into the return to let the unit run warmer. Cast iron radiators will suck a lot of heat from the water causing it to cool down greatlly. Running a warmer boiler will reduce it's efficiency some, but with a standing pilot it is probably not real efficient to start with. While I think the installing dealer should fix it for free, I would doubt that will happen.
I too am sorry you've gone through such a bad experience. It just confirms what I tell people all the time: the installer is 98% of the equation. The best boiler made can be easily wrecked by a knucklehead installer. And, by the way, that's what you have: a boiler, not a furnace or a heater. And that's also what you have for an installer: a knucklehead!
From your description, your house has a converted gravity flow system: large pipes and cast iron rads. It's a high mass system with a large volume of water that takes a good while to heat up. The new cast iron boilers are low to medium mass and cannot be piped directly to that type of system without provision to protect them and the venting system from flue gas condensation. That means either a bypass (manual or thermostatic) or primary/secondary piping. The manufacturer's instructions require this. If the installer would take time to read them, he would have known. But, he should have known it anyway or he should not be installing boilers.
I'd recommend you get a COMPETENT hydronics man and let him correct it. You should also have the combustion checked; the boiler may be under-firing which would compound the problem.
I'd recommend you contact STEVEusaPA from the contractor locator on this site. He services Philly.
You can choose to do what you want, but you cannot choose the consequences.