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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Arkansas
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    10

    Confused Opinion on recent service/quote

    Hello,

    Just a home owner, have enjoyed reading many posts on this site. Would like some professional opinions on work I had done on my unit today.

    Here's the scenario: Home purchased in last year w/ 5 ton heat pump (~13 yrs old, b/u electric heat) quit blowing cold air this past Friday. Called home warranty co., they send out a local technician. Tech states low refrigerant, and refills. When asked how many pounds needed to be added, he says, "Quite a few." He says they don't normally leak test on first visit, but it was "real low." When questioned again about quantity of added refrigerant, he says, "Well, we don't really measure in pounds, there's a mathematical formula for figuring up how much we use." At then says, "How much does this unit hold?" He looks at decal on side of unit and says "16 pounds! Wow! I think I probably added 8-9 pounds." I knew how much the unit held from seeing the decal before. He takes out a small "sniffer" and uses it around the coils of the outside unit, and says the whole unit (inside/out) will need to be replaced because it is leaking.

    Now, the warranty specifies it's all covered for a fixed fee, no big deal. Here's what I am curious about:

    1) Is it difficult to determine how much refrigerant was added? I realize he needed to know capacity first, I just thought he would be able to tell (or would want to keep track for billing the warranty co.) of how much was added.

    2) Is using a sniffer device the "best" or "professional" way to assess leakage? Would testing pressure/vacuum be more precise?"

    I realize on these warranty jobs, reimbursement might be slim, so they try to keep their expenses to a minimum. My guess is the warranty co. will send another local hvac co. out for a second opinion before agreeing to shell out ~$Removed Pricing. It would be nice to get a new unit for next to nothing, but I just want the proper correction, whether it's repair or replace. This leads me to my final question:

    3) What questions do I need to ask if repair is determined the proper route? What if replacement is authorized?

    It's not that I don't trust anybody, but I do live by the "Buyer Beware" belief. I've read some really good posts on this site about doing the right thing, and I believe most people live by that rule. I want to make sure I know the right questions to ask. I look forward to hearing from you all.

    Thanks!
    Last edited by HeyBob; 07-27-2009 at 06:26 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Plant City, Florida
    Posts
    2,198
    1) To know how much refrigerant was added, the tech. should have used a scale, then he would know exactly how much refrigerant was added.

    2) It depends on the refrigerant, if it was R22, a sniffer is fine, there are also other methods as well.

    3) The Home Warranty company is going to do everything they can to avoid paying to install a new unit, it isn't up to you what route they go, unless you decide to pay for the new unit.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Lancaster PA
    Posts
    68,064
    He should have used a scale. Its the only way to know how much was put in.

    Using a sniffer is fine. He probably doesn't know how to use it right.
    Using a vacuum, would only tell thet there is a leak, it wouldn't help fined it.

    If your unit needs replaced.
    Use another company.
    Contractor locator map

    How-to-apply-for-Professional

    How many times must one fix something before it is fixed?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Alabama
    Posts
    63
    A scale is the only way to tell how much refrigerant is used.

    Home warranty companies i have delt with will do everything to string you along till the warranty expires. Yours may be different.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Location
    Richmond, Virginia
    Posts
    4,264
    Amazing isn't it? Scales certified by the federal government is required for selling hamburger, but not for refrigerant that sells for 10-20 times the per pound cost.

    I use a digital scale anytime refrigerant goes into or is removed from a system.

    For the most part, I stopped reading after I saw "home warranty company".
    There is nothing more frightful than ignorance in action....Mark Twain

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Arkansas
    Posts
    10
    For starters, I appreciate everyone's input regarding refrigerant measurement. OK, it appears the prevailing opinion regarding home warranty cos is very low. Understandable, I work in the health care industry and I've dealt enough with health insurance cos to know the routine. GENERALLY speaking, are the HVAC service cos that partner with home warranty cos reputable and well trained? Probably few and far in between?

    If my unit is truly in need of replacing rather than repair, I may decide to bypass the warranty company and go out of pocket with a company of my own choice, versus one picked for me. My concern is the quality/experience of the installers. Free/low cost today=small fortune tomorrow if it's not done right.

    Any other thoughts or comments would be appreciated greatly.

    Thanks for your input!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Plant City, Florida
    Posts
    2,198
    Quote Originally Posted by vanenk View Post
    For starters, I appreciate everyone's input regarding refrigerant measurement. OK, it appears the prevailing opinion regarding home warranty cos is very low. Understandable, I work in the health care industry and I've dealt enough with health insurance cos to know the routine. GENERALLY speaking, are the HVAC service cos that partner with home warranty cos reputable and well trained? Probably few and far in between?

    If my unit is truly in need of replacing rather than repair, I may decide to bypass the warranty company and go out of pocket with a company of my own choice, versus one picked for me. My concern is the quality/experience of the installers. Free/low cost today=small fortune tomorrow if it's not done right.

    Any other thoughts or comments would be appreciated greatly.

    Thanks for your input!
    Just because an A/C company is doing work for a home warranty company, does not mean they are not a good contractor.

    A home warranty company is an insurance company that pays contractors to repair the equipment they cover and it is the warranty company that tells the contractor what it will pay for and how much they will pay.

    Pretty much the same thing as any other insurance company.

    Just becaus a Dr. works for an insurance company, does not mean they are a bad dr. does it?.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    2,023
    We do home warranty work. Most around here don't. I don't really like the calls, because it's another layer of bs to get things running right. That being said, we treat them just like any other call. And we always use a scale to know how much to charge a customer for refrigerant. How else would he know what to charge? And when we see a large amount needed, we look for a leak untill we find it. And 16 lbs in a 5 unit seems a bit fishy.
    "Hey Lama, hey, how about a little something, you know, for the effort." And he says, "there won't be any money, but when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness." So I got that goin' for me, which is nice. - Carl Spackler

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Alabama
    Posts
    63
    Just becaus a Dr. works for an insurance company, does not mean they are a bad dr. does it?.
    It don't mean the doctors bad but insurance companies limit what can be done.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Cedar Grove, Wi-Sheboygan
    Posts
    1,582
    You would think everyone would use a scale when charging a Condenser, if they do it without a scale they maybe the one who loses out by not knowing how much they used ? So it would be to everyone's benefit to use a scale IMO....

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    North Richland Hills, Texas
    Posts
    14,914
    Quote Originally Posted by vanenk View Post
    It would be nice to get a new unit for next to nothing
    Flip your home warranty contract over and read everything in the "Limitations of Liability" section.
    Within that section can be found thousands of dollars worth of non covered items when it comes to a home warranty company replacing the system.

    You are usually better off taking whatever pittance they will give as a cash out, and finding a contractor you are comfortable with yourself.
    If more government is the answer, then it's a really stupid question.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    TIP-O-TX
    Posts
    278

    RUN FOR YOUR FINANCIAL WELL BEING

    Around here the the contractors that are used by the warranty companies are the bottom of the barrel that have burned their bridges with the general public. Duct tape and bailing wire are their prefered method of repair and they don't usually own a scale.
    That amount of refrigerant would probably be used on a commercial unit.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    In a van by the river
    Posts
    621
    Quote Originally Posted by DLR View Post
    Just becaus a Dr. works for an insurance company, does not mean they are a bad dr. does it?.
    It don't mean the doctors bad but insurance companies limit what can be done.
    That is a correct statement. They do limit what can be done and unfortunately HVAC companies, even the good ones, do have to compromise quality for quantity at times. So it's like a management company on a cheap budget. This is why the perception (and reality in a lot of cases) of "bad" companies come from. I wouldn't necessary call them bad, but maybe inexperienced as the majority companies will have a low payroll in order to compensate for some profit. My opinion and experience with this matter ofcourse.
    ## + years in the field never made you a know-it-all This industry is far more diverse than you are

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