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  1. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Posts
    293
    Originally posted by SeattlePioneer


    You need to develope good skills at diagnosing milivolt control systems. Combustion problems can be tricky sometimes.

    The biggest barrier for new tech is probably figuring out how to take the freaking things apart! The second biggest barrier is the threat of doing what can be a dirty job on people's expensive living room carpets. I use blankets for drop cloths these days, and find they work well.

    I would suppose that most repair shops get a fair number of calls to repair fireplaces, which are usually refused because no one is prepared to do the work. The tech who can do that work is making his own job.



    Seattle Pioneer
    \

    Thats definitly something I'm going to look into. Someone already asked but what are some good resources.

    I'm sure drop clothes would be in absolute order for this.

  2. #15
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Posts
    2,057
    We are primarily an HVAC company. Several years ago we began selling and installing gas logs, fireplaces, etc to supplement the slow winter work. We service what we sold and slowly began servicing others as well. The problem we run into is that there is a phenominal amount of cheap crap out there that is not worth repair or parts are no longer available because the company chooses not to carry parts for it anymore or they have gone out of business. 2 shining examples are Martin and DESA. The full effect of DESAs demise has not been felt yet. Blower motors for wood inserts are the absolute worst.

  3. #16
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Minnesota
    Posts
    148
    Well I have been in the HVAC service bussiness for aprox. 20yrs. The last 10 of which have be spent with a company that not only installs furnace and a/c's but, also geo systems and boilers. With our company being so devirce you wouldn't think we would have time for fireplaces. It actually make up more than 50% of our customer base. We are currently one of the top three companies in Minn. in the fireplace bussiness. I am the lead service tech for a seven tech. company. Every one of which gets on going training for firplace and hvac equipment. We pride ourselves in that there is hardly a fireplace that can't be fixed. We go to great lengths to get that hard to find part. To address some of the postings that I have read, we get pretty good return on our service rates. Any questions please feel free to email.
    Helgy

  4. #17
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    Posts
    1,383
    <<Well I have been in the HVAC service bussiness for aprox. 20yrs. The last 10 of which have be spent with a company that not only installs furnace and a/c's but, also geo systems and boilers. With our company being so devirce you wouldn't think we would have time for fireplaces. It actually make up more than 50% of our customer base. We are currently one of the top three companies in Minn. in the fireplace bussiness. I am the lead service tech for a seven tech. company. Every one of which gets on going training for firplace and hvac equipment. We pride ourselves in that there is hardly a fireplace that can't be fixed. We go to great lengths to get that hard to find part. To address some of the postings that I have read, we get pretty good return on our service rates. Any questions please feel free to email.
    >>


    Excellent post. My experience is that relatively few HVAC services are much interested in doing repairs on gas fireplaces. Is that your experience, and if so do you have any explanation for it?

    What methods do you use to prevent customer carpeting from being soiled and damaged on service calls? I use blankets that I then launder, myself, but I'd be glad to find better solutions.

    It's a good thing limit switches are small, beacuse I wind up carrying LOTS of them in order to be prepared to change out sticking switches that have failed in people's fireplaces. How do you handle this problem in your outfit?

    What are the biggest problems you face in doing good work in an efficient way in fireplace repairs?



    Seattle Pioneer

  5. #18
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Posts
    2,057
    Most HVAC companies will not mess with it for the following reasons.
    1. It can be a pain. They think that most people are not willing to spend money repairing a fireplace.
    2. It's another world. Parts come from different suppliers than they are used to dealing with.
    3. They don't have a retail space for displaying and selling new fireplaces and gas logs.
    4. They don't think people will spend $1200 for a decent set of gas logs when you can go to Home Depot and get a set for $200.
    5. They don't think people will spend $3000-4000 for a direct vent fireplace when they can get one from Home Depot for $600.

    We use a drop cloth or plastic to protect carpet. It depends on what we are doing.

    I agree with the fact that you can fix them all, but should you. Sometimes it is not good money sense to repair. A lot of times, we find that people will choose to get something new that looks better rather than repairing.

  6. #19
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Minnesota
    Posts
    148
    I tell you some of you guys would be surprised at this whole fireplace market. Maybe it is just different around here. Some of our installs can reach upwards $10,000. Average insert runs aprox $3000 to 4000. We are selling these everyday. At last check we're booked out past x-mas with 3 full time crews going out every day. So I guess what I'm saying is no one can tell me there is not enough money in gas fireplaces.

    As far as what to use for a drop clothe. We use a heavy padded drop clothe that we order from a paint store. I always put a big " X " on one side. This is always side up.

    As far as high limits go. H & Glow came out with a rewire kit some years back that included a new limit. Works well and eliminates quite a few wire in the milli. volt system. Most modern fireplaces do not come with any limit at all. Because of the fact that they are so restrictive. I could go on all day on this subject, but that will have to do for now. Thanks.
    Helgy

  7. #20
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Posts
    2,057
    I agree on the money. Our average set of gas logs is over $700 plus installation. We have 3 sets of vented gas logs that sell for well over $1000 in 30". The cheapest wood insert is $3500.

  8. #21
    Join Date
    Jan 2001
    Location
    Pacific Coast of Canada
    Posts
    4,008
    Originally posted by tomjr
    We are primarily an HVAC company. The problem we run into is that there is a phenominal amount of cheap crap out there that is not worth repair or parts are no longer available because the company chooses not to carry parts for it anymore or they have gone out of business.
    Same sentiments here although we are a mechanical contracting company. There isn't enough money chasing down parts that are not readily available for something we didn't sell, but I have a fireplace repair specialist that I recommend for those issues.
    We service what we sell, and we sell some pretty nice stuff. The Home Despot is around the corner from us so we have dropped electric fireplaces but I have recently sold 5 fireplaces that are around 5 grand installed each.
    The Home Despot can't touch me on those.

  9. #22
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    Posts
    1,383
    <<Originally posted by tomjr
    We are primarily an HVAC company. The problem we run into is that there is a phenominal amount of cheap crap out there that is not worth repair or parts are no longer available because the company chooses not to carry parts for it anymore or they have gone out of business.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Same sentiments here although we are a mechanical contracting company. There isn't enough money chasing down parts that are not readily available for something we didn't sell, but I have a fireplace repair specialist that I recommend for those issues.
    >>


    I agree that chasing down parts is a nuisance, but I don't have to chase down all that many. Shucks, the spare parts I carry just for fireplaces fit in one good sized box.

    But perhaps that explains why I do 90% of my work on fireplaces and 10% on furnaces these days. Having that box full of parts is critical, and if you don't have it it may well make sense to turn down fireplace jobs.

    I started my repair service working on furnace repairs, and then picked up on fireplaces because people were shopping like hell for someone to do the work.



    Seattle Pioneer

  10. #23
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    Lisle,Illinois
    Posts
    526

    Cool

    Seattle,you may find that your distributor connections will assist you as many distributors can't or won't afford someone to do warranty work for them on staff.When I was in that end (distribution) we relied heavily on independents to assist our lessor trained contractors.This is also a way of endearing yourself to the trade and receiving quality referrals.

  11. #24
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    Posts
    1,383
    <<Seattle,you may find that your distributor connections will assist you as many distributors can't or won't afford someone to do warranty work for them on staff.When I was in that end (distribution) we relied heavily on independents to assist our lessor trained contractors.This is also a way of endearing yourself to the trade and receiving quality referrals.
    >>


    Thanks for the note. I do get quite a few referreals from a fireplace shop right in the geographic area I like to serve, which is mostly just the city of Seattle.

    My supposition has been that if I solicited distributors for referrals, they would probably be all over creation.



    Seattle Pioneer

  12. #25
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Posts
    2,057
    The big question is probably a question of what you consider good money. There are a lot of people in the air conditioning service business that think working for $35/hour is good money. It's not. The national average for HVAC service is around $110/hour. Like I said, we do service fireplaces, but we typically find people don't repair fireplaces in our area. They replace. The service call is more of a sales call.

  13. #26
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Posts
    41
    We have serviced several different brands of these appliances via referrals from a local dealer.

    I think they have some good points... mainly asthetics and as a back-up heat source.

    My biggest heartache revolves unscrupulous sales.

    I've gone to calls to 1500+ sq ft homes where a 34,000 BTU (input of course) is the sole source of heat. The converstaion with the homeowner usually goes something like, "They said it would heat my house just fine."

    Which it does (kinda)... at 70% efficiency. Not to mention expensive service fees (earlier posts as evidence) and an unreasonable life expectancy as compared to other heating appliances.

    Something that really 'chaps my a$$' is the cost of some repair parts. A thermocouple is a thermocouple. I recently had to charge a client $34 for a Lopi thermocouple because Travis Industries' design requires their 'special' part. The Honeywell universal thermocouple that seems to fit most furnaces and wall units go for $2.98 from my supplier (we don't play the mark-up game).

    What a racket.

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