I am currently without heat (6 days and counting) in southern VT for the second time in 2 years. This is the third failure of the system in the last 3 years. In the third failure, we went 14 days with no hot water in March 2009.
What is particularly disturbing is that 2 of the failures were identical: freon leak in the reversing valve. The third was a fried mother board on the water to water unit.
We installed a Water Furnace Synergy3 in 2006. The table below shows the dates of the failures, my cost out of pocket, and what the “10 year” warrantee did for me, the failure and days out of service.
From my experience the problems Water Furnace faces are as follows:
• Part distribution takes way to long. FW Webb does not stock the parts. They – mostly – are shipped from Canada. Waiting is the majority of the down time.
FWIW I went 10 days with out heat in VT in January when the wind chill hit 20 below zero. 14 days with out hot water forced me to drop in an electric hot water heater. And early this week – without heat – temps dropped to 15 degrees.
• The 10 year warrantee is a fairy tale. 3 failures within 3 years have resulted in zero labor coverage and no electrical parts (mother board in my case). One reversing valve was provided; another is expected.
• There is a serious design – or manufacturing - flaw in the reversing valve. 2 identical failures within 2 years is simply unacceptable. My current failure is a leak in the same spot on the same part.
So what lessons do we have for those considering alternative energies:
1. Design backups into you system. I dropped in an electric hot water heater to backup the water to water unit. A wood stove backs up the water to air unit. I am considering electric base board so I am not trapped in the house thru these outages. And a refrigeration contractor backs up my installer (who left the country last year).
2. Double any advertised “pay-back” period. At this pace (3 failures in 3 years) my unit will NEVER pay for itself. Also need to add the costs of installing and operating the required back-up.
3. Don’t rely on the warrantee. It probably won’t be there when you need it.
I’ll be curious to see what labor is covered by WaterFurnance for my current outage … but I am not holding my breath.