From a email.. another social puzzle for me to figure out

When I moved to the new house in Seattle I replaced the oil burner with a heat pump. This was mostly self-preservation – the inverter-drive pump I chose draws about $200/month worth of power off the line, vs $600 worth of oil.

The installers managed to take many days to install it, despite it being a basicly drop-in kind of thing. Partially, I chose a Mitsubishi PUMY, which has a computer network between all the various components and requires assigning unique addresses to them all, something that apparently was too complex for your average HVAC guy, and partially they needed some help installing the thermostat. (Yes, I installed it. They had spent a day trying to get it to hang on the wall.. the old wires were too short. A couple of quick disconnects and short extenders later, while they were out on their lunch break, problem solved.

I have come to suspect the people who I bought it from are idiots.

It’s a multi-zone system.. multiple heat exchangers with multiple fans.. because me and Gayle have different ideas about what is a comfortable temp. After my first “free” tune up, the basement heat exchanger wouldn’t turn on.

I called and they sent a tech out. The tech reported it needed a new circuit board. I expressed dubiousness, but told him to go ahead and order it. Tech went away. Later, another tech came out to install the circuit board, and after testing reported that it needed *all* new circuit boards, because a “power surge had destroyed something”.

Now, I’m dubious as anything. First of all, all the other zones were working fine. I couldn’t think of *any* failure mode that would have all but one zone working but need a new, say, inverter drive board. So, I sent him away with a “well, order whatever parts you think it needs…”

Then I got out the manuals. After perusing the relevant bits, I got out the voltmeter, and measured the voltage across the network cable to the zone that wasn’t working. 0 volts. Hmmm. Pretty sure the manual says it’s a current loop and I should see 24 volts at all times.

I do some quick tracing, and discover that they had used wire nuts barely adequate for two 24AWG wires to bind together 5 20AWG ones. I tug on the bundle of wires, and one comes loose. I go and get the proper wire nuts from my toolkit, replace them, reboot the system (after a couple of false starts, turns out you must turn off the compressor last and turn it on first.. which is in the manual, but not in the obvious place) and lo and behold, my zone works again.

I’m better at troubleshooting a AC system than *two* technicians who do it as their *full time job*?

I could forgive them more easily if it had been something that was unique to a computer driven / networked HVAC system. But this issue would have broken even a plain ol’ relays and motors system.

I’m trying to decide what a appropriate thing to do is. I don’t want to be deliberately hurtful (i.e. call them and say “you guys are idiots..”) but at the same time I feel like they should in some way learn from their mistake.

What’s more, I paid for a year’s service contract, but there is no way in *hell* they are ever touching this system again. I’m scared what they might do to it. I have no doubt that if they’d replaced every PCB in the system, it would have *lowered* the reliability. Do I demand a refund? I also feel for anyone else who might be getting their system serviced by these guys. Do I publish my story?

Even worse, I looked at the PCBs.. they have surge suppression out the ying-yang. MOVs. zeners. Snubber caps. The idea that a surge could have knocked this thing out and not damaged any of the much-less-well-built electronics I have all over the place is laughable.

Meh. I have no idea what the right thing to do socially is. There has to be somewhere between “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all” and letting people walk all over you.

2 Responses to “From a email.. another social puzzle for me to figure out”

  1. sheer_panic Says:

    I think i’ve decided if they refund my service contract I’ll leave it at that- if not, this entry will get a name in it and i’ll give them a 1-star at yelp and angie’s list.

  2. Swipes Says:

    I’m not sure we actually have laid out what our optimum temps are, but in general I think we have a happy medium in the house most times.

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