About five years ago I met an extraordinary gentlemen who
started out as an HVAC service tech. He eventually got two
engineering degrees and ended up designing heating and
Electronic design is my profession so we had a lot in common
and became close friends. We both like building and repair-
ing things with our own two hands, despite the fact that we
sit in front of a computer monitor several hours a day.
About the same time I met this HVAC engineer my parents
started having all sorts of trouble with their gas furnance
and central AC. For 29 years they used the same company to
service and install all their major utilities. This small
outfit became rich and joined up with the giant Rheem
I asked my friend if he would teach me the basics of HVAC
servicing. I had already read several books on the subject.
He agreed to show me the ropes. In a very short time I
had the certifications I needed. I never planned to go
into the profession, but I very much wanted to help out
my parents with their problems, and I enjoy technical
challenges of any kind.
My parents saved all the documentation from the service
company. I was amazed that that they had receipts going
back 29 years! I also realized something very sad and
depressing. These guys had been ripping off my parents
and everyone else in their neighborhood for decades. The
stuff they had written down about adjusting this or that
sensor, valve, or switch was insane! They told my parents
a couple of summers ago that their central AC needed five
pounds of freon. They charged them sixty dollars for each
pound! The entire capacity of their 3 ton system is five
pounds. The local refrigerant supplier charged me $.00
for a thirty pound keg of R-22. To make matters worse, they
never once charged their AC properly. The evaporator
would always begin to ice up in the middle of the summer,
so my parents would have to call them back again to "top
off the system." The moment I started charging their
central air the system ran trouble free. They were told
for years that the evaporator must be leaking, even though
they never performed a single test.
My dad ended up in the hospital a couple of winters ago and
my mom was left alone in their big house. The gas furnace
started causing problems. The burners would light, and then
immediately go out. She called these jackals twice. The
problem got so serious my mom moved into my home until the
furnace problem was resolved. It was a very cold winter!
I collected up some of my test instruments and decided to
check out their York gas furnace. In ten minutes I found
the problem. The flame sensor was oxidized. I cleaned
it off with some fine steel wool. The furnace was fixed.
I decided to replace the flame sensor and the hot surface
ignitor just to make sure the same problem would not
reoccur. The parts cost me $0. My mom didn't want
to tell me how much she paid for two wasted service calls.
My mom and dad are not stupid. They live in a suburb full
of white collar professionals. These guys literally took
millions from my parents and the other 75,000 people who
are their friends and neighbors.
I used the astronomical term "black hole" in the subject
line of my post. I almost don't want to know if this
kind of incompetence or outright fraud is commonplace.
If it is, it must be costing the American people billions.
[Edited by lusker on 08-31-2005 at 08:10 PM]