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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    NC
    Posts
    1,502
    Ran a service call with the boss the other day and not sure if he handled it the correct way and if I am ever in the same situation want to do it right.

    The call was for no heat. The lady had yhe system cut off so we jumped it out under the house. Everything worked fine so we determined the problem to be with the T'stat.

    The boss made second trip out to check out t'stat but found it to working as well. A day goes by the lady calls back and said it worked for a day and then quit working.

    Boss makes third trip out, jumps out system due to the lady not being at home and cutting system off, everything works fine again.

    He seems tho think maybe the moduleboard is shorting out and locking out so he changes it. Its a whiterogers 50A50 with some other numbers, can't remember them all.

    Works for two days and then goes into a lockout again. Boss thinks the pressure switch diaphram may have a crack in it so he changes it. Works for a day and then locksout again.

    By now the lady is getting frustrated and so is he. This time he is going out of town and asked me to go by and see if I can find anything he might have missed. If he is jumping it out and its firing up, what could he have missed I was wondering. Anyway I wanted a try at this problem.

    When I arrived, went under the house put the jumpers on : inducer draft motor starts, ignitor warms up, no fire. Checking voltage, 24 volts is sent to the gas valve but it did not open, retried system and upon 24 volts to the valve, I bumped the valve with a nut driver and it opens up and then shuts back down.

    Changed the valve and now the system is working fine. My question is I know that problems have to happens when we're there but what do you do when there is a problem but not when your there?

    Thanks, Clay

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Eugene, Oregon
    Posts
    1,018

    Don’t become a parts changer.



    Take all the appropriate readings (temps, amps, pressures) and cycle the unit as many times as possible within the minimum time period you are billing the customer for, and figure out the problem.

    There will be times when you will not be able to duplicate the problem. These situations are the worse. My experience has been that when ever I can’t find the problem, it’s usually the ignition module.

    Explain to the customer that you are unable to duplicate the problem but you suspect it might such and such. If they still have a problem afterwards, reinstall their part and try again. You might have the customer not touch the system when it stops working. This way you can approach the unit in its failed state and possibly get a diagnostic code.


    "The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten". --Benjamin Franklin
    "Don't argue with an idiot, they will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience". --Mark Twain
    http://www.campbellmechanical.com

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    NC
    Posts
    1,502
    The only problem, AIR, was when the problem was duplicated, the module diagnostics only indicated system lockout.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2000
    Location
    Waco, Texas, USA
    Posts
    6,153
    This happens all the time and the solution is simple. Charge a one time diagnostic fee. 99% of the time you can get a good thorough diagnosis in 30 min. or less. Then there is the 1% time that it takes 4 trips to get it.

    This puts the customer at ease because all they are out for the extra trips is the inconvenience. If you play your cards right they will feel sorry for you instead of being mad at you. Then when its time for the sale you have it in the bag. If they are mad, you won't sell them squat now or anytime in the future.

    If you run the equipment and it works then bill for the diagnosis and call it "found nothing wrong". If they call back then go for free. Then when you do find the culprit(s) charge a healthy fee to replace it.

    Its just another benefit of flat rate pricing. Sadly some seem to be stuck in the T&M dark ages. That's ok I guess, because Flat raters will be scooping up the T&M's customers one at a time. Think of it as a one-way check valve.

    P.S. If you want to diagnose a bad t-stat jumper at the stat and not at the equipment. I realize it saves some steps to jumper at the equipment but that won't prove the stat wiring is ok.

    [Edited by Steve Wiggins on 01-03-2006 at 07:43 PM]
    "And remember my sentimental friend......that a heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others" - Wizard of Oz.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    NC
    Posts
    1,502
    Steve I agree about the jumpers but sometimes you gotta jump it at the equiptment due to the customer not being at home and the system off. Which we did on the first trip and had the customer to meet there (no option) on the second trip to confirm the t'stat.

    I like your idea about charging for the diagnosis and then returning for free. I could never get the boss to agree with, he likes money for time. But your way makes good sense.

  6. #6
    i wouldnt have changed the module "assuming" it was bad ... pressure switch neither ... those kind of calls are a ***** but to just change out parts is what kills me .... when i go on those calls that frazzle me i thoroughly check everything up & down .. had a similar instance last week when i bailed out an employee who was about to order a board (pricey lennox)... i was at the building doing stuff too & decided to just check it out myself ..I found the pressure switch was dropping out after 10 seconds of flame..i guess he ASSumed the switch was still made because draft motor was still on, problem was not due to a bad board (obviously), or switch being bad but because draft motor has seen better days & wasnt up to speed .15" w.c. with a .60" switch ( debris in the wheel )... he said he checked it all out but hey ... i am not bashing my dude im just sayin i look deep into the problem

    [Edited by gosteelers on 01-03-2006 at 09:38 PM]

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2001
    Posts
    1,874
    I have made as many as 3 trips before I start trying what I think may be the culprit. When it runs while i'm there it's hard. But you have to do something, the customer will only allow so much before they start to get demanding.

    I'll put on what I think is the most reasonable repair, and leave their old control there. And tell them If I'm wrong their part will go back on, and the next repair should fix the problem.

    They have always been happy with that.
    If you try to fail, and succeed.
    Which have you done ?



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    13
    I disagree there.
    Simply explain to the customer that you beleive there is a problem, however if you can't recreate it, then you can't troubleshoot it.
    They will become more angry with you constantly changing parts and charging for them then they will with you having to return a few times.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    Posts
    1,383
    Intermittent problems are the bane of repairmen.

    My first aim is to be able to observe the problem, if possible. If the problem sits there and you can replicate it, you ought to be able to diagnose the problem.

    If you can't observe the problem, look for weak points in the system ---the pressure switch that is near to dropping out or the flame sensor that is getting a 3 microamp read instead of the 7-8 you'd normally expect.

    Third, check for loose or poorly made electrical connections. Nothing like a poor connection to create an erratic problem.

    Fourth, do all the normal maintenance to make sure the equipment is operating as well as possible.

    Frankly, I see no reason to give people free service with intermittent problems that can be a nightmare to diagnose. They usually are the most difficult and aggravating that a repairman will confront, and require the greatest skill. Why charge people less for the most difficult problems that require the greatest skill?

    I also agree that being a parts changer is doing customers no favor. If you follow the steps I've suggested, it will solve a lot of these problems. If it costs the customer a fair amount of money to get the problem diagnosed ---tough.

    I explain what I am doing and why. If they don't like my methods and don't like paying me for service, they can shop elsewhere ---who needs the aggravation anyway?



    Seattle Pioneer

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Lancaster PA
    Posts
    67,778
    Cycle it several times.

    When they work while your there, its tough to figure out what is wrong.
    Contractor locator map

    How-to-apply-for-Professional

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

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Posts
    2,458
    Originally posted by Toolpusher
    I have made as many as 3 trips before I start trying what I think may be the culprit. When it runs while i'm there it's hard. But you have to do something, the customer will only allow so much before they start to get demanding.

    I'll put on what I think is the most reasonable repair, and leave their old control there. And tell them If I'm wrong their part will go back on, and the next repair should fix the problem.

    They have always been happy with that.
    Now thats the way to handle a tough call.. I bet not many will take new part back.. Cust should not not have to pay for us to learn
    This probably should be in Pro section??

    [Edited by mike3 on 01-04-2006 at 01:21 PM]

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Nov 2001
    Posts
    1,874
    Originally posted by mike3
    Cust should not not have to pay for us to learn


    [Edited by mike3 on 01-04-2006 at 01:21 PM] [/B]
    It's not so much learning, or atleast it shouldn't be.

    It's a matter of having the unit act up while your on the job
    If you try to fail, and succeed.
    Which have you done ?



  13. #13
    Join Date
    Nov 2000
    Location
    Waco, Texas, USA
    Posts
    6,153
    Originally posted by cmorris


    I like your idea about charging for the diagnosis and then returning for free. I could never get the boss to agree with, he likes money for time. But your way makes good sense.
    Well then all I can say is your boss is stupid. It's not about what he likes. Its all about what the customer likes.

    What if your boss went to Wal-Mart and bought a gallon of milk. Then as he went out the door the bag checker lady charged him for the milk again. How would he like that? Would he ever come back? NOPE.

    Bosses that charge for their time realize they are inferior in their trouble shooting skills. The greener the rookie the LONGER it takes them so they make more money So the customer is paying an inferior person MORE than they would be paying an experienced one. Now how does that make sense?

    Our job is customer comfort. Making them mad about the billing DECREASES comfort. Its like the customers and the company are rowing in opposite directions.

    Retaining customers is cheaper than aquiring them.
    "And remember my sentimental friend......that a heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others" - Wizard of Oz.

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