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  1. #1
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    I think I got ripped off on my furnace repair

    I have an older furnace, high efficiency, put in 1996 (life expectancy on these are about 20 years).

    Well, last week on the second coldest day we've had in two years, my furnace goes out. Frantically, I called a neighbor for a recommendation. The one she referred to me said they were book until 2 days later. Cold called another outfit in town that's been around for a while, they come out, inspect and say to go with a new furnace since the repair would be too expensive ($1200) and the new furnace after rebates would come to $2800.

    I had another place come out later that afternoon, recommended by a few co-workers. They tell me a part was "fried" and they could replace it for a total of $475! So I trust them and they install it for me, with a one-year guarantee on the part in case it goes out.

    Today, I come to work and another co=worker who was out last week asked if I had a programmable battery operated thermostat, which I do. She said maybe it was just the batteries because hers did that, she replaced them, and it worked fine.

    Here's the thing: After the furnace repairman left, the furnace ran fine for a couple minutes and then it went out - the thermostat went blank. So I hurried up and called back. He came in and said the batteries were probably dead and that he would wait in the house if I wanted to run out and buy some since I didnt have any laying around. So I went out, bought two AA's, and it works fine now.

    Now I'm thinking, maybe they should have just told me over the phone to replace the batteries if I had the programmable thermostat and to make an appointment if it still wasnt running.

    Is it too late now? They were very courteous and nice when they came out, but still, makes me wonder if I just wasted close to $500.

    (PS - I still have the part that the replaced the new one with. Wonder if I can't take it somewhere to get tested to see if it actually was "fried")

  2. #2

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    Giving the 2nd guy the benefit of the doubt, yes, a part can get fried in extremely cold weather. We had to have our igniter replaced on our fairly new furnace.

    As for whether it could have just been the thermostat, do you have multiple zones in your house? Were the other zones calling for heat and not getting it? If so, the 2nd guy was right that there was something wrong with the furnace.

    Going forward, we change all our batteries, thermostat and smoke detector, on the first day of standard time in the fall. That way, we don't risk dead batteries in the colder part of the year.
    AceOn6, the golf loving skating fan

  3. #3
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    By all means have the part tested and get a second opinion---you may not have any peace until you know with certainty that the part was "fried."

  4. #4
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    Others are providing good advice, although I must say you might get as many opinions as people you ask, and even if you can "prove" the contractor gave the wrong advice, you might not be able to get anything out of it, especially if you signed off on the work.

    However, this is the part that had me

    Quote Originally Posted by Cupid View Post
    He came in and said the batteries were probably dead and that he would wait in the house if I wanted to run out and buy some since I didnt have any laying around. So I went out, bought two AA's, and it works fine now.
    Please tell us that you did not leave this stranger in your house unattended!

  5. #5
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    I'm more disturbed by this sentence:

    He came in and said the batteries were probably dead and that he would wait in the house if I wanted to run out and buy some since I didnt have any laying around.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jenny View Post
    Others are providing good advice, although I must say you might get as many opinions as people you ask, and even if you can "prove" the contractor gave the wrong advice, you might not be able to get anything out of it, especially if you signed off on the work.

    However, this is the part that had me

    Please tell us that you did not leave this stranger in your house unattended!
    No I did not leave him in the house unattended. I thought it was a little strange, too. He went out in his truck while I ran up to the store for the batteries, when I came back he was still in his truck, but I think it was not for me to put the batteries in, but to call in for his next work order.

    Honestly, why would ANYONE leave an unknown repairman in their house unattended? I was surprised he would even ask!

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cachoo View Post
    By all means have the part tested and get a second opinion---you may not have any peace until you know with certainty that the part was "fried."
    I've certainly thought of that, but where would I take it? I wouldnt say why or who diagnosed it that way, as I'm sure the contractors stick together.

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    We've lived in our house for 35 years and are now on our 3rd furnace. We had to get a new furnace this past year, as our previous Lenox furnace only lasted 11 years before the heat exchanger cracked (it had a 10 year warranty). We discovered this by accident when we contracted with a reputable company in our town to install air conditioning last summer, and when he opened the furnace to put in the AC parts, he found the cracked part and stopped work immediately. A cracked heat exchanger would blow carbon monoxide throughout the house and could kill us! Thankfully this was discovered before an accident happened. It's not uncommon these days for furnaces to last 12-20 years - they just aren't built as solidly as the old ones anymore.

    We now have an energy efficient Trane furnace that has a good reputation. I will never again buy a Lenox furnace, as the repair people told me they are prone to a lot of repairs and don't last very long. Given that a new furnace would cost you about $3000 installed, the replacement part you paid for wasn't such a bad investment. You may get another 3-5 years out of your existing furnace. And you can be at peace that you will not die from carbon monoxide poisoning since your furnace has been inspected.

    Be sure you change the filter in your furnace every couple of months and you will get a longer life out of the furnace, as well as cleaner air.

  9. #9
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    Thank god I no longer live back east. This summer I was a dumb blonde. My a/c for the bedroom wing of my home wasn't working, so I called the a/c guy. The condensor outside wasn't running, and you know what the a/c guy did? He went in and turned on and off my freaking fuse box and it solved everything. I was embarassed, but I don't know this shit. Then he said after maybe five minutes in my home "That will be $125", just for turning my fuse on. Hell no, I would have nothing to do with that. He insisted that an inspection is 125 and you know what? I realized I had about a million things in my attic I needed him to look at, in the summer, 120 in the attic. He earned his 125 dollars that day, I don't play nice when it's not offered. Poor guy, that 5 minute thing turned into a three hour thing. Maybe they will get it right next time. But I don't trust furnace or a/c hooligans. Poor guy was searching for NOTHING in 120 heat for three hours, only because I thought it was bullshit that he would come to my home, turn on the fuse, and charge me 125. I got my money's worth out of my stupidity because I convinced him that something WAS wrong. And when he finally left, all sweaty and smelly, I said "God, I would have never asked you to look into my attic except you charged me 125 for five minutes of work. I hope you shall forgive me... Bless your focking heart...."
    Last edited by Alex Forrest; 01-29-2013 at 09:36 AM.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alex Forrest View Post
    Thank god I no longer live back east. This summer I was a dumb blonde. My a/c for the bedroom wing of my home wasn't working, so I called the a/c guy. The condensor outside wasn't running, and you know what the a/c guy did? He went in and turned on and off my freaking fuse box and it solved everything. I was embarassed, but I don't know this shit. Then he said after maybe five minutes in my home "That will be $125", just for turning my fuse on. Hell no, I would have nothing to do with that. He insisted that an inspection is 125 and you know what? I realized I had about a million things in my attic I needed him to look at, in the summer, 120 in the attic.
    There is always a charge for a service call, no matter what the problem may be, and it's the owner's responsiblilty to ask about the minimum charge before scheduling an appt. I've been charged $65 per call for washer repairs that involved nothing more than cleaning out the trap at the bottom of my front-loading washer. I know how to do it, but sometimes coins get stuck way up somewhere where I can't get them. This leads to the washer not emptying water. I just accept that the guy has to drive over to my house and spend 15 minutes there. His time is worth something. But I always try to think of other appliance repair tasks that might need doing at the same time so that I get more work done for the same amount of money. Or in the case of a furnace/AC unit, I schedule an inspection and get many things checked for about the same price as a service call.

    I don't know why there is so much bashing of appliance and heating/AC repairs guy going on here. I have had nothing but the best technicians who are reputable and show me exactly what is wrong. I get referrals from neighbors or else go online to read reviews about them before I call. Another thing I do is to research my problem online before calling a repairman, because sometimes I can find easy solutions to try there (like checking the fuse box) before I spend money on a repairman.

  11. #11
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    I've had both negative and positive experiences. I called the long time owners and long time friends of my folks when the central air was a problem. That was not pleasant and I know now that sometimes doing business with friends is not a good idea. I have an ancient furnace and the man who came out to fix it was ancient himself and a wonderful, thorough technician. He took it apart, showed me problem areas and why we are "living on borrowed time" with this furnace. He did not try to sell me anything. And his price was fair. Our furnace is quieter now and our heating bills have not been as high as previous winters. I don't know if that is due to his repairs but I'll certainly call him again when needed.

  12. #12
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    I would have charged you that much. It was his time...it isn't his fault you didnt do due diligent and look into obvious examples. Lesson learned but if I was that guy I would be letting my coworkers not to go back to your place.....

  13. #13
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    Why couldn't the part be fried *and* the batteries on their last legs? Also, sometimes a fried part will drain the batteries quickly so the two problems go together.
    Actual bumper sticker series: Jesus is my co-pilot. Satan is my financial advisor. Budha is my therapist. L. Ron Hubbard owes me $50.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jp1andonly View Post
    I would have charged you that much. It was his time...it isn't his fault you didnt do due diligent and look into obvious examples. Lesson learned but if I was that guy I would be letting my coworkers not to go back to your place.....
    Was this supposed to be a snarky comment? Makes no sense, please read before posting.

    And I did check obvious things - fuse box. Most people don't know about furnace repairs other than changing the filter and getting it inspected, which I did about a year ago.

    And when your furnace suddenly quits on the second coldest day in two years, you don't have a lot of time to research, but to ask neighbors/friends/coworkers if they know anyone decent. This was the second outfit that came over to give me an estimate. A few other places I called were already booked solid three days in advance. So I was left with little options. You are at the mercy of whomever is available to come over and check it out.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by MacMadame View Post
    Why couldn't the part be fried *and* the batteries on their last legs? Also, sometimes a fried part will drain the batteries quickly so the two problems go together.
    This is what I am hoping and praying happened. The furnace did work about 5 minutes after the new part was installed, then went out again. This time the thermostat went blank. That didnt happen earlier.

    But now in the future, I am going to replace those darned batteries every year on January 1 whether it needs it or not.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alex Forrest View Post
    Thank god I no longer live back east. This summer I was a dumb blonde. My a/c for the bedroom wing of my home wasn't working, so I called the a/c guy. The condensor outside wasn't running, and you know what the a/c guy did? He went in and turned on and off my freaking fuse box and it solved everything. I was embarassed, but I don't know this shit. Then he said after maybe five minutes in my home "That will be $125", just for turning my fuse on. Hell no, I would have nothing to do with that. He insisted that an inspection is 125 and you know what? I realized I had about a million things in my attic I needed him to look at, in the summer, 120 in the attic. He earned his 125 dollars that day, I don't play nice when it's not offered. Poor guy, that 5 minute thing turned into a three hour thing. Maybe they will get it right next time. But I don't trust furnace or a/c hooligans. Poor guy was searching for NOTHING in 120 heat for three hours, only because I thought it was bullshit that he would come to my home, turn on the fuse, and charge me 125. I got my money's worth out of my stupidity because I convinced him that something WAS wrong. And when he finally left, all sweaty and smelly, I said "God, I would have never asked you to look into my attic except you charged me 125 for five minutes of work. I hope you shall forgive me... Bless your focking heart...."
    Reminds me when I first bought my house and had a "friend" hook up my dryer for me in the basement. The dryer worked fine except it didn't dry my clothes, they were still wet! So I called appliance repair over, it turned out the gas valve was shut off to the dryer of all things! Cost me $100.00. But I wasnt a bitch about it and make him stay and check out other things in the house to justify the $100.00. It was stupidity on my behalf and this "friend" who I think just wanted to make a return visit when I found out it wasn't working properly.

    See, as a homeowner, you start to learn valuable little expensive lessons like this.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jenny View Post

    However, this is the part that had me



    Please tell us that you did not leave this stranger in your house unattended!
    That's weird, I have no problem to let a man who come to repair something alone in my house or telling him where is the spare key. And I've never been robbed or anything.

  18. #18
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    Yes there are times when you simply can't be home, but I would be VERY cautious about who had any time in your home unattended. Major or obvious theft may be unlikely because it's something you'd probably be able to trace right back to the person or company. But what if it's something you might not notice for awhile? Then there's identity theft - even if you have your purse with you, there may be all kinds of things in your house that an experienced thief could make use of, without actually removing anything from your house. And, there are things a person could do to plan for a future crime, perhaps even months down the road - from copying keys to rigging a door or window so that it can be accessed later.

    Even when you think it's someone you can trust, you never know if they've got someone with them or they subcontract to someone who is less than trustworthy.

  19. #19
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    WOW that's a lot of things that never cross my mind. I think I will be more cautious next time, thank you!

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    If your repairman is bonded, you are protected from theft and damages. Here are some tips for finding a good repairman:

    http://docsavageair.com/ac-repair-au...ioning-repair/
    http://ezinearticles.com/?Finding-a-...cts&id=3956518

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