question for f/p insert techs
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
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    4,663

    question for f/p insert techs

    what is your average cost and time to replace a pilot assembly?

    what other items do you do at that time?

    trying to get an idea how slow I am compared to the more experienced guys and also be able to tell the customer it is going to be $XXX for this in labor/time.

    thanks

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Minnesota
    Posts
    41
    Time to replace a pilot assembly is completely dependent on make and model. I can do a couple year old Heat-n-glo in about 30 minutes but it can take me about an hour to get some of the older Heatilators done.

    I carry fireplace glass cleaner and clean the glass for them. People love it when you are done they can see the whole fireplace again. I also will clean out all the dead bugs from the burner box. again both of these are customer satisfaction items.

    MrFixit

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Virginia
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    392
    It all depends upon the age and type of fireplace. I replaced a pilot assembly yesterday that was 10 years old and every screw, fitting and nut was rusted. That was a 2 hour job!!!! Some can be done in much less time.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    London, Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    268
    We charge by the minute so we always get paid for our time and the customer doesn't feel ripped by flat rate. On a side note, I clean 99.9% of pilot assys and can't remember the last one I replaced.

  5. #5
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    Dec 2007
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    I would replace a pilot assy if the thermocouple was bad or if the rod on the spark igniter was broken off.
    Also, more revelant to replacement of the powerpile.

    Just trying to see a general time it takes to remove, replace and service inserts.
    I recognize the fact it can vary.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Powell River, BC, Canada
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    763
    It's going to be hard to give a 'general time' due to the reasons given above. A simple non-direct vent standing pilot unit without a fan could be 30min. A more complex unit with a hard to access blower could be 2+ hours. Some units use about 56 screws/nuts just to hold the glass on and can be a real b!tch if they're rusty or siezed. Just cleaning the glass on a three sided unit can be over half an hour! Too many variables to consider.
    Where are you? Are you done yet? I got ONE more call for you.....

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    London, Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    268
    Every fireplace is different and has different needs. If you try and group a fireplace repair into a general repair price you will be sadly disappointed and sadly lose customer confidence. The fact that you are concerned about something that I replace 0.01 percent of the time tells me you really don't know why fireplaces fail to operate. Instead of trying to cover your costs you'd be better off learning how to troubleshoot and diagnose properly.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
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    4,663
    Quote Originally Posted by natgastech View Post
    Every fireplace is different and has different needs. If you try and group a fireplace repair into a general repair price you will be sadly disappointed and sadly lose customer confidence. The fact that you are concerned about something that I replace 0.01 percent of the time tells me you really don't know why fireplaces fail to operate. Instead of trying to cover your costs you'd be better off learning how to troubleshoot and diagnose properly.
    I am not trying to flat rate this!!!

    What I am trying to do is be able to tell the customer the part is going to cost $X and the labor is going to take x hours at our companies hourly rate. We really are mainly a heating and air company and are just starting to do insert service. I do not want to piss off a regular customer by charging them for 3 hours labor on a 30 minute job done by an experienced insert tech.

    I am learning to troubleshoot these and have had bad items, broken spark igniter rods and powerpiles, and that is why I asked.

    On the units in question it took 2 hours to dissassemble unit, clean the glass, vacuum soot, replace pilot assembly, replace logs, rock wool, pull and clean blower, vacuum lower area and fire off unit to verify no leaks and blower came on. Also run a check for CO spillage.

    In my opinion if you are getting into the unit to replace either one of these or a thermocouple, replacing everything ( pilot assembly ) is the prudent thing to do. If you only replace one item in there and the other fails soon after I would think the customer will be really pissed. Also, it has been cheaper to replace complete assemblies at times rather than pieces.

    Thanks

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Virginia
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    392
    If you do all that Pacnw, that is MUCH more than most people do. Most just fix the problem and don't do any PM like you do....my hat's off to you!!! That is the proper way to service a DV.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Minnesota
    Posts
    41
    I would also make sure the customer wants all the "extras" done. They do take time and the customer is paying for that time. Some customers don't want to pay for any extras they want to be cheap. I always ask if they want the glass cleaned while it is off. I almost always get a resounding YES.

    If doing all that took 2 hours, then only replacing the pilot assembly/Thermopile or Thermocouple may have only take 45 minutes. That may have been all the customer wanted.

    Ask first, it may cut down on the *****ing about how high the final bill is.

    MrFixit

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    Posts
    1,383
    Interesting discussion on the range of things to do when completing a repair.


    I always had an hour minimum charge. One of the reasons for that was that it meant that most of the time I could complete the repair for that minimum charge, and I was free to do as much as I thought necessary and appropriate without the customer being concerned about being charged more than they already expected to pay.

    I wouldn't replace pilot generators or thermocouples unless they were failing or in obvious bad condition for some reason ---- having a call back because of that was very rare.

    Cleaning the pilot orifice was the most common maintenance required --- I generally replaced the Robert Shaw bell shaped orifice since I found cleaning them produced unreliable results.

    Generally I cleaned out any junk in the burner compartment and cleaned the glass. I'd charge $3-5 or so to add or replace embers.

    So in most cases people were charged the basic service cost they were already expecting to pay and got a fireplace that worked properly and often looked better than they could remember -- so they were happy.

    The people that got charged more approved the price of the parts in advance. For jobs that took longer than an hour, people understood that they would be charged only for the time it took to do their job.

    That scheme worked in a satisfactory way for me.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Powell River, BC, Canada
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    763
    "So in most cases people were charged the basic service cost they were already expecting to pay and got a fireplace that worked properly and often looked better than they could remember -- so they were happy.

    The people that got charged more approved the price of the parts in advance. For jobs that took longer than an hour, people understood that they would be charged only for the time it took to do their job."


    I think SP's method works well. This is how we do 'repair' calls as well. Usually I will give the unit a quick look over and then talk to the customer about the condition of the unit. I explain how doing a full service/cleaning while doing the repair can increase the appearance, performance and reliability of the unit for not much extra $$. About 95% of the time they say yes and become regular service customers.
    Where are you? Are you done yet? I got ONE more call for you.....

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