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  1. #1
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    Nov 2019
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    Is my furnace guy blowing smoke to get me to buy stuff I don't need?

    We had a new HVAC guy come over today to do a "free inspection" on our furnace. It hasn't been serviced in three or four years and in total I believe it is around 20 years old. I wasn't around but apparently this is what he wrote on the invoice and gave to my wife who was there this morning. Just wanting to know if all of this sounds like stuff I really need to take care of or not. He has not given me an estimate yet on costs but is going to call me on Monday to possibly schedule repairs. If you can toss a ballpark number on what you think is reasonable for what he is saying please do. I honestly have no idea what any of this means other than the blower motor being dirty.

    "Low reading on flame sensor, blower capacitor is out of tolerance, condensate trap has a leak, blower wheel has a major amount of build up and draft inducer motor is pulling 2.5A/2.5A and running hot."

    If it matters, I have noticed a couple of times that when I change out the filter on the unit it has been getting sucked in a bit so that it no longer sits square in the slot. I have to take a screwdriver and practically rip the thing into pieces to get it out sometimes. Just throwing that in in case it sets off any alarm bells.

  2. #2
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    Nothing is free.

    If you don’t believe him get a second opinion. I’d recommend it anyway.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
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    Saint Pail, Minnesota
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    With a free inspection, the “tech” is going to rip into every detail.

    1-A flame sensor should be cleaned before being condemned. As this was an “inspection” I’m assuming their instructions are to find potential problems and not perform standard maintenance practices, such as cleaning a flame sensor.

    2-A leaking condensate trap could form being dirty and clogged or a bad connection, or possibly broken. Might be an easy fix or they may have to replace the trap, if it’s an manufacturer specific part.

    3-Honesty I’m not worried about a draft inducer pulling its rated current, if it was more then I’d worry.

    Long story short this free inspection was a ploy to sell you something you may or may not need.

  4. #4
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    Nov 2019
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    Thread Starter
    Quote Originally Posted by Pnasty View Post
    With a free inspection, the “tech” is going to rip into every detail.

    1-A flame sensor should be cleaned before being condemned. As this was an “inspection” I’m assuming their instructions are to find potential problems and not perform standard maintenance practices, such as cleaning a flame sensor.

    2-A leaking condensate trap could form being dirty and clogged or a bad connection, or possibly broken. Might be an easy fix or they may have to replace the trap, if it’s an manufacturer specific part.

    3-Honesty I’m not worried about a draft inducer pulling its rated current, if it was more then I’d worry.

    Long story short this free inspection was a ploy to sell you something you may or may not need.
    Thank you! I should clarify that the inspection was also a cleaning (we had a service contract with the company from a month or so ago for an appliance issue so we got the free furnace cleaning offer). So based on your response I'm not too worried about 1 or 3. As for #2 is that something that could cause problems down the road if it doesn't get swapped out?

  5. #5
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    Jul 2010
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    nebraska
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    Sounds very possible all the items need attention on a 20 year old furnace. The inducer is the only somewhat expensive item on the list. You can wait until the inducer fails if you can live without heat until they get a part,it might last a week or another 4 years.

  6. #6
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    Jul 2000
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    Northern Wisconsin
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chad Criswell View Post
    We had a new HVAC guy come over today to do a "free inspection" on our furnace. It hasn't been serviced in three or four years and in total I believe it is around 20 years old. I wasn't around but apparently this is what he wrote on the invoice and gave to my wife who was there this morning. Just wanting to know if all of this sounds like stuff I really need to take care of or not. He has not given me an estimate yet on costs but is going to call me on Monday to possibly schedule repairs. If you can toss a ballpark number on what you think is reasonable for what he is saying please do. I honestly have no idea what any of this means other than the blower motor being dirty.

    "Low reading on flame sensor, blower capacitor is out of tolerance, condensate trap has a leak, blower wheel has a major amount of build up and draft inducer motor is pulling 2.5A/2.5A and running hot."

    If it matters, I have noticed a couple of times that when I change out the filter on the unit it has been getting sucked in a bit so that it no longer sits square in the slot. I have to take a screwdriver and practically rip the thing into pieces to get it out sometimes. Just throwing that in in case it sets off any alarm bells.
    Low reading on flame sensor probably means it needs to be cleaned or there are issues with the flame. Have it cleaned or replaced.

    Blower capacitor out of tolerance, have it changed.

    A leaking condensate trap could be a connection or the actual trap. Replace as the condensate can cause a mess/rust/floor flooding.

    Blower wheel can be easily cleaned.

    Some draft inducer motors run hot out of the box. If it's not noisy and not over amping I'd wait for it to fail.

    If your filter is getting pulled in it's either too restrictive for the amount of air flow your furnace is moving or it's getting too dirty before it's being changed.
    Use the biggest hammer you like, pounding a square peg into a round hole does not equal a proper fit.

  7. #7
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    Sep 2008
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    VA
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chad Criswell View Post
    Thank you! I should clarify that the inspection was also a cleaning (we had a service contract with the company from a month or so ago for an appliance issue so we got the free furnace cleaning offer).
    Again please reference post #2.

    Nothing is FREE!

    Free maintenance spells, I NEED to sell you something in order to make money!!!
    When is the last time you told your boss you would like to work for free?
    Why are Americans so naive when it comes to these sales practices? It's no wonder why we have so many scam artists spoofing calls. People fall for it everyday. One has to ask themselves, why would a guy I don't know want to offer me their professional services for free? Would I offer him my services for free?
    This is just like the "FREE diagnostic" followed by small letters (with repair). HELLO, the diagnostic charge is built into the repair, IT'S NOT FREE!!!!!!!!
    I laugh when people ask me for a quote on a repair over the phone, then ask if I take away the diagnostic fee if we do the repair. NO, BECAUSE I DON'T CHARGE $500 FOR A CAPACITOR.


    If you want a proper maintenance there is a fee. There's no free lunch.
    It costs most service companies up to $100/ billable hour to operate a single man with a van/truck. Yes, it's a lot of money to run a business. My cost to run a professional and legitimate 2 man operation is about $10k/month to break even. Ask yourself again, why would a company charge less than what it costs them to do business? THEY WANT TO SELL YOU SOMETHING.
    Last edited by mgenius33; 11-27-2019 at 04:30 PM.
    "The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing" Socrates

  8. #8
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    Aug 2009
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chad Criswell View Post
    Thank you! I should clarify that the inspection was also a cleaning (we had a service contract with the company from a month or so ago for an appliance issue so we got the free furnace cleaning offer). So based on your response I'm not too worried about 1 or 3. As for #2 is that something that could cause problems down the road if it doesn't get swapped out?
    The highlighted area is a red flag for me. If it was to include a cleaning why wasn't the sensor and wheel cleaned? The inducer is what it is, it has hot gas going through it, so running rated amps and being hot which is a subjective term sounds fairly normal unless it is making noise. That leaves the capacitor which is a 5-10 minute job on most units.

    So how much does it sound like it is worth to you?

  9. #9
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    Apr 2003
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    Maple Grove, MN
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    Quote Originally Posted by BNME8EZ View Post
    The highlighted area is a red flag for me. If it was to include a cleaning why wasn't the sensor and wheel cleaned? The inducer is what it is, it has hot gas going through it, so running rated amps and being hot which is a subjective term sounds fairly normal unless it is making noise. That leaves the capacitor which is a 5-10 minute job on most units.

    So how much does it sound like it is worth to you?

    BNME8EZ makes a good point. If you "paid" for a free cleaning, what did they clean? Flame rod and blower wheel cleaning are things that should typically be done as part of a preventive maintenance visit.

    I'd call them and tell them to come back to clean your flame rod and blower wheel (for free), or to give you your money back (ha ha, that part's funny).

    We're not allowed to discuss pricing, but if they are agreeable to the free cleaning stuff and give you a somewhat reasonable price for fixing the trap and replacing the capacitor, and if you feel like you like the guys then go for those repairs. Otherwise, tell them thanks for their time and then don't deal with them any more.
    If at First You Don't Succeed, Skydiving Is Not for You.

  10. #10
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    Sep 2008
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    Quote Originally Posted by ammoniadog View Post
    BNME8EZ makes a good point. If you "paid" for a free cleaning, what did they clean? Flame rod and blower wheel cleaning are things that should typically be done as part of a preventive maintenance visit.

    I'd call them and tell them to come back to clean your flame rod and blower wheel (for free), or to give you your money back (ha ha, that part's funny).

    We're not allowed to discuss pricing, but if they are agreeable to the free cleaning stuff and give you a somewhat reasonable price for fixing the trap and replacing the capacitor, and if you feel like you like the guys then go for those repairs. Otherwise, tell them thanks for their time and then don't deal with them any more.
    Really? A blower wheel cleaning that could potentially add 30-45 mins to a call is free? Some wheel cleanings can take over an hour or more.
    "The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing" Socrates

  11. #11
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    Apr 2003
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    Maple Grove, MN
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    Well, if you're charging for your time then of course it wouldn't be free, but I didn't think that was what we were talking about here.

    At our shop, if we are there for a pre-paid preventive maintenance service and we find the blower wheel to be dirty, we will clean it. Same thing if we find a dirty condenser coil in the summer. Some of those take a long time to take apart and clean properly too, but we feel it's important so it's part of the service if needed.

    We do draw the line at A-coils though. If one of those is dirty they will be paying extra.

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