HVAC service provider incompetence - just a rant.

Joined
Aug 15, 2020
Messages
599
Location
Atlanta, GA
So just a quick rant.

Backstory. HVAC (heat pump) in my condo was pushing 18 years old when I bought but still working well for heating and cooling but was breaking down a couple times per year to the tune of $200-$300 per breakdown. After 3rd breakdown I started pricing new systems and ultimately ended up with Costco vendor (ya know the folks that get you by the brochure wall) installing a new system to the tune of just under $5k, this was ~2.5 years ago. During beginning stages of covid the vendor seemed like they were shoring up some cash and were offering some crazy buy 5 years get 10 years preventative maintenance (2x annual) deal for a little under $800 but had the side benefit of boosting the the warranty to have labor included for any warrantable breakdown.

Couple years goes by with green bill of health every PM visit, until the last one. Tech tells me refrigerant is 3 lbs low which would indicate there is a leak, pay $500 for a recharge (apparently "Puron" is getting quite expensive - not quite R12 range) and all is well except for this potential leak which they want me to pay another couple hundo to leak test, I skip it and hope for the best.

First cold snap and chills due to covid infection last week I needed some heat. Heard the outdoor compressor kick on (basic Lennox are VERY noisy starting) and thought all was well, nope just cold air after a few minutes and outdoor compressor had stopped. Tried a few more times and same result. Scheduled a service appointment and expect system to be low again. Explained to tech that system was low last PM visit and was recharged with ~3lbs of refrigerant so might need leak test if it's low again, no problem let me see what is going on. Next thing I know he is venting my $500 recharge to atmosphere, I go out and and he tells me system was very much overcharged but it was not hitting high pressure limit on A/C but was in heating mode.

I sure enough have a call request in for a service manager to call me back, I gave them a 24 hour timeline to call me back before I dispute the $500 refrigerant cost through my credit card company. I am absolutely through the roof that I paid $500 for the opportunity to have to have a no heat callback and the competent technician to just blow my $500 into the wind.

/Rant but I definitely feel better.
 
Joined
Dec 26, 2007
Messages
2,333
Location
NC
Everyone I know who has their HVAC system “PM’d” for the $49.99 every fall or spring ends up having mysterious “issues” or “repairs needed.” Keep your condensing unit free of brush, change your filters and just call the repair guy as needed when there’s a problem. There’s a lot of crooks out there, and the bad ones give the good guys a bad name. Don’t fix what isn’t broken.
 
Joined
May 5, 2013
Messages
783
Location
Peace valley, Missouri
Puron is 410a which wholesale price has raised 500+% from precovid. You gambled when you didn't want a leak check. Refrigerate being low it had to go somewhere. It would of been nice if the service person would of suggested installing leak detection dye in case you wanted a leak check later.
 
Joined
Aug 20, 2003
Messages
18,993
Location
NE,Ohio
Puron is 410a which wholesale price has raised 500+% from precovid. You gambled when you didn't want a leak check. Refrigerate being low it had to go somewhere. It would of been nice if the service person would of suggested installing leak detection dye in case you wanted a leak check later.
sounds like he wasnt low at all and they overcharged his unit.
 

pezzy84

Thread starter
Joined
Aug 15, 2020
Messages
599
Location
Atlanta, GA
Puron is 410a which wholesale price has raised 500+% from precovid. You gambled when you didn't want a leak check. Refrigerate being low it had to go somewhere. It would of been nice if the service person would of suggested installing leak detection dye in case you wanted a leak check later.

Oh no there is no leak. Prior tech during a fall pm visit sold me a little under 3lbs of refrigerant that were not needed, system has been overcharged for 2+ months now. Apparently whatever safety switch (high pressure?) has different thresholds depending on heat or cool so it ran fine while cooling but heating it tripped some safety stop.
 
Joined
Oct 4, 2009
Messages
526
Location
Litchfield, Ohio
Sounds like the whole company is full of incompetent techs. First one added 3lbs because he thought it was low. Probably didn't check super heat or subcooling or air flow. Second one vents the over charge to atmosphere instead of properly recovering it.

Your heat pump does have a high pressure switch designed to protect the system from high pressure conditions in both heat and cool mode. By nature a heat pump will run higher pressures in heat mode so if it was over charged it will show up fast. Its also important to keep your air filter changed often during the winter because lack of air flow across the indoor coil will cause high pressure faults in heat mode.
 
Joined
Sep 30, 2013
Messages
15,287
Location
Indiana
Everyone I know who has their HVAC system “PM’d” for the $49.99 every fall or spring ends up having mysterious “issues” or “repairs needed.” Keep your condensing unit free of brush, change your filters and just call the repair guy as needed when there’s a problem. There’s a lot of crooks out there, and the bad ones give the good guys a bad name. Don’t fix what isn’t broken.
Makes sense. You hear about it on the radio all the time. I guess it’d be an easy money maker.
 

hrv

Joined
Sep 14, 2021
Messages
1,291
I am always a little nervous when I have my HVAC checked....You just dont know what they are doing and NOT doing...
 
Joined
Dec 23, 2006
Messages
10,356
Location
Canuck - moved to —> California —> Texas —> ???
New system, leave it alone. All refrigerant lines are brazed, the shredder valve is the only mechanical portion that can cause a leak. The more it is used, the more chances it will leak. Plus, like you found out, companies may have their own ideas how to pad that bill.

I always test the system both heat and AC before the season fully starts, by simply turning them on.
 
Joined
May 5, 2013
Messages
783
Location
Peace valley, Missouri
Most residential condensers only the higher end units have a high pressure safety. Even the higher end units use a built in safety that when the compressor gets to set pressure a relief valve opens inside the compressor. Compressor runs till it trips internal thermal overload. 3 extra pounds of refrigerate could be 50% more charge.
Older units are more forgiving on charge but not that forgiving.
 

pezzy84

Thread starter
Joined
Aug 15, 2020
Messages
599
Location
Atlanta, GA
So finally can give an update as it took the service manager ages to call me back.

He tried to justify everything the company did and said the tech was not releasing refrigerant to atmosphere and he was simply "venting condensation to balance the system" - I'm no HVAC tech but I'm pretty certain there is nothing to vent from the unit except refrigerant. He was also telling me the system became unbalanced because of the change in outdoor temps - my rebuttal was 'so basically the first cold snap every year everyones heat pump is going to stop working?'. I used the advice here and told him if they were not going to entertain the refund for the refrigerant I would file a report with the EPA and let them do whatever they do, he said he would talk to his manager and call me back. That seemed to do the trick as the refund was processing less than 10 minutes later.

I am going to also stop with these preventative maintenance visits for now and try to find another service company since I absolutely torched the bridge with the original installer (I was not rude by any stretch just very direct in my dis-satisfaction).
 
Top