Experience with Online Purchases

Old 11-20-08, 05:01 PM
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Experience with Online Purchases

Can anyone share opinion, good or bad, with purchasing large items such as boilers or hot water tanks from online plumbing websites? (Please don't mention specific sites.)
Old 11-20-08, 05:51 PM
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I have not done this personally, but have worked on a few systems where people have done this, and were very pleased with there savings and had no problems,


What happens if something is missing, or broken? What do you do when you need warranty service? Will you be able to find an installer that will install "Your" supplied parts? I usually end up charging more in labor and if something is missing or broken, the homeowner (you) is charged hourly while waiting for replacements. And there is no warranty from me on any parts I did not supply once I walk out the door. If there is a leak, caused by me (eg. soldered joint or threaded joint) within one year I will return to fix it, but if it was not really caused by my leak, you will be charged.

That being said, there is a lot to think about when trying to save a few hundred bucks.
Old 11-21-08, 03:19 PM
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I suggest you invest as much time locating an installer as you do shopping for a boiler; both need to be the best quality that you can afford.

Make it crystal clear to installers that you are asking them to install a piece of equipment that they will not be making mark-up on, and get written, signed bids on this installation, versus bids on installation plus sales of boilers they can supply. Also, check to see if they hold appropriate licensing for your state (it will differ from the "base" license req'd to slap in a forced-air system in many states--maybe all, I don't know). You will also want to see references.

Finally, spend some time talking (on the phone) with your potential supplier, and ask very specifically what level of support they can and will offer to your installer. It's vital that you understand who is responsible for what, particularly if things start going badly.

I purchased a boiler 4 yrs. ago online for a very modest savings, not knowing any of this, and wound up paying an installer (then the largest in the state, now out of business) for a bad install plus a good chunk of the markup the company would have made on selling me a unit they represented.

Further, the online sales co. didn't bother to point out that my new condensing boiler wouldn't be able to condense on the baseboard convector side of the house (very efficient on the radiant panel side, though, and a very efficient source of DHW).

I'm here now hoping to get advice on the last lingering problem caused by the bad install. That's how long you can suffer from choosing the wrong installer.

I wish you luck in this endeavor. Perhaps others can offer more positive experiences.

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