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  1. #1

    How do I know if I have a legal case against my AC installer?

    Forgive me, I know little about HVAC. I bought a new construction and I was foolish (not to mention clueless) about the HVAC installation. It is my first home.

    One of my two AC units broke within two years. I tried to contact the initial installer but they refused to respond to any of my calls. They also would not respond to calls or mail from the BBB. The attorney general would also not return my calls. So I was forced to have another company come repair this.

    This other company replaced the compressor and got things working again for me. They were able to cover the compressor under the warranty from the manufacturer so I wasn't too upset. However, within 2 years, this unit has broken down for the second time.

    I had yet another company come out to look at my system. He said that my current installation is illegal with respect to federal law. He said that my AC unit was oversized by half a ton for the amount of air my ductwork can handle. And he said that my ductwork was 'mickey mouse' stuff done obviously by a plumber (whatever that means).

    My question is this: Is there something the original installer could have done incorrectly such that my AC cannot operate as installed? What kinds of things do I need to investigate to determine if they installed my system in a negligent fashion?

    Please educate this woefully ignorant HVAC consumer. Thanks in advance for your help.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Lincoln, Nebraska
    Posts
    1,051
    Talk to your builder as to what they are willing to do. The A/C company worked for the builder and that would make the builder liable in my opinion. Many builders cut corners or hire the lowest bid to do there work.

    It could be that this other company is just running down the original installer. We have not seen the install so its hard to comment. Did the current company run a manual J to size the system? Many duct systems are undersized for the equipment. It is very common i'm afraid. After 4 years you may just need to bite the bullet and get it repaired to work as it should.
    Its a good Life!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
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    PA
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    68,776
    Quote Originally Posted by frickaline View Post
    Forgive me, I know little about HVAC. I bought a new construction and I was foolish (not to mention clueless) about the HVAC installation. It is my first home.

    Your in the same boat as many first time new home buyers.

    One of my two AC units broke within two years. I tried to contact the initial installer but they refused to respond to any of my calls. They also would not respond to calls or mail from the BBB. The attorney general would also not return my calls. So I was forced to have another company come repair this.

    May sound strange, but they are only required to provide service for 1 year.

    This other company replaced the compressor and got things working again for me. They were able to cover the compressor under the warranty from the manufacturer so I wasn't too upset. However, within 2 years, this unit has broken down for the second time.

    Instead of just replacing the compressor. They should have tried to find teh reason it failed, so you would know what to have corrected to have prevented teh second failure.

    I had yet another company come out to look at my system. He said that my current installation is illegal with respect to federal law. He said that my AC unit was oversized by half a ton for the amount of air my ductwork can handle.

    No Federal law that says x tons must have this size duct. Plus it would be your duct is undersized for teh amount of A/C you have installed.

    And he said that my ductwork was 'mickey mouse' stuff done obviously by a plumber (whatever that means).

    We like to blame everything on the plumbers.

    My question is this: Is there something the original installer could have done incorrectly such that my AC cannot operate as installed? What kinds of things do I need to investigate to determine if they installed my system in a negligent fashion?

    You need a contractor that is more interested in determining what needs to be corrected, then on bashing the installing contractor. The one that just bashed the original installers doesn't sound like the correct one to use.

    Please educate this woefully ignorant HVAC consumer. Thanks in advance for your help.
    Look for in the phone book for companies that advertise Air balance certifications.
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  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Cedar Grove, Wi-Sheboygan
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    1,582
    Here's a link I just happen to have been reading just before reading your post I think it may answer some of your questions and also give you some good information for any furture work you may have to have done. Here's the link enjoy!!! http://www.comfortinstitute.org/othe...findings.html:)

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Houston,Tx.
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    16,121
    Quote Originally Posted by frickaline View Post
    I had yet another company come out to look at my system. He said that my current installation is illegal with respect to federal law. He said that my AC unit was oversized by half a ton for the amount of air my ductwork can handle. And he said that my ductwork was 'mickey mouse' stuff done obviously by a plumber (whatever that means).
    Don't let these folks back in your house, to me it sounds like there a bunch of crooks that are trying to prey on your drastic concerns to get you a/c working properly. There is nothing worse in our trade than company's to do just what this guy did, I would fire a tech in a heartbeat if he described to you the condition of your system in the manner this person did, we have a saying at my Company and all my techs know it "lets move forward" tell the customer in a nice way without degrading some other company what needs to be corrected, give them a price for the corrections and move on.
    __________________________________________________ _______________________
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  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by beenthere View Post
    Look for in the phone book for companies that advertise Air balance certifications.
    This person claims to be doing exactly this, I'm sure this is my failure on explaining much of what I don't understand yet. I don't want to give the impression he's completely bashing the original installer, I neglected to mention some of the positive things he had said. He mentioned that the unit in our attic is one of the best that money can buy and that they did me well on that. But that the outdoor units were cheap and that the interior was not balanced and the ductwork was poorly done, not to mention that in his opinion, no calculations were made to determine airflow needs on a per room basis. Maybe that's the part that he thought was illegal, I'm not really sure anymore. So much information, I probably have some of it confused. I just know he referred to the Energy Bill a lot and said that my system doesn't meet with the requirements specified as currently installed. And with respect to the ducts, he mentioned that they had some kind of reservoir in them and that this was a 'no-no' and a plumber's trademark in ductwork. He spoke about how water can collect there, freeze, unfreeze and eventually leak into the ceiling.

    This new guy came in, measured every room in my house, and ran a bunch of calculations. He said that for <one cost> he could replace all my upstairs ductwork and the system would be in balance or for <another cost> he could just replace my broken outdoor unit with a new 2 1/2 ton Trane instead of my crappy 3 ton Ducane. I asked him if the new unit would break just like the old one did and he said no. He said that the problem was likely that the oversized Ducane was forced to work extra for some reason to do with balance/sizing and that downsizing the unit to match the specs of my house would fix that. He also said that the Ducane likely had no auto shutoff to protect itself from damage (or something like that) and that the Trane did.

    He said that without ductwork he recommended a Trane XR14 but with the ductwork he'd recommend a Trane XL15i. Both with decent warranty coverage (10 yr all P&L on the 15i and 1yr labor, 5 year parts, 10 yr compressor on the 14).

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
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    PA
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    First, edit out your pricing, its not allowed on this site. Thank you. Its in the rules.


    The outdoor unit, and indoor should be matched. Can't just slap a Trane to the indoor unit and say its better.

    The resevoir you mention could be a trap in the drain line, required by code.
    The code from when your system was installed to now may have changed.
    How did it pass inspection if it was illegal when installed.

    Get other estimates.
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  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    North Carolina
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    443
    Find another contractor! Your's goes by the old philosophy (Dazzle them with bu--). We've all seen it, and that's the guy's you want to stay away from.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Exeter, NH
    Posts
    59

    Why I don't do new construction...

    The builder says: "a HVAC system is a HVAC system, I have three other bids, I want it done tomorrow and if you want all my work, make your price show it". It costs what it cost to do a quality job and no builder is going to pay extra for something he'll probably never see again.

    Lessons learned here: Next time show a little more interest in the mechanicals as you're going to have to pay to operate it for as long as you own it.

  10. #10
    Thank you for the information. I'll try other contractors. Sorry about the pricing, I removed it.

    I did ask about how it could have passed inspection and he said that many building inspectors don't know that much about HVAC and wouldn't be qualified to make the call.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
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    PA
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    Inspectors may not know much about duct sizing.
    But they would know if anything was illegal about the install.
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    How many times must one fix something before it is fixed?

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    Houston Texas
    Posts
    6,327
    Mr Frick where are you located, in Texas current law stipulates 2-year HVAC warranty on new construction and this has been in force for about four years.

    As has been said this last guy is spouting to make himself look great move on.

  13. #13
    I'm in Massachusetts, so unfortunately I wouldn't be covered by TX laws. Thx for the info.

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