boiler installers all rip offs? why so much to install...

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  #1  
Old 10-29-07, 04:57 PM
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boiler installers all rip offs? why so much to install...

why do most boiler repair and installers have a bad reputraion for ripping people off? few people at my job just got ripped off. i priced a boiler my self 4 section peerless oil burner package unint with burner and 60 gallon stainless steel indierct water tank for 2700$ i got price quotes to install this same package from 5500$ to almost 9000$ and of all 8 or 9 prices i got not 1 person did the heat loss program.
last year i had a reapir guy from a company charged me 800$ for 15min of work to change the aqustat a 125$ part aand i told him what the problem was before he came to the house, i needed the heat on for my tenant while i was at work.
how many others have been ripped off?
 

Last edited by twelvepole; 11-11-07 at 04:01 PM. Reason: Removed company name.
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  #2  
Old 10-29-07, 05:21 PM
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Tony, Tony, Tony...

Dude, you gotta realize something here. It's called OVERHEAD. This is part of the cost of doing business. An employer has to provide wages, benefits, continuing education, pay rent on his building, carry insurance on that building, maintain vehicles, pay for vehicle insurance, pay for liablilty insurance, fuel for the vehicles, etc etc etc ...

C'mon, do you really expect a man to do a job and not get paid for it ?

Yes, some are higher priced than others.

I can't give an excuse for not doing a heat loss, but many years in the business and I'm sure that some of these guys are experienced enough that they can almost tell just by looking. I had a guy here last year that took one look at my boiler and said "That's too big" ... I knew he was right because I did my own heatloss. So, I asked him what he thought it should be... "around 100 mBH if you want an indirect, maybe 80 or so if not" ... guess what ? he was right!

But, if you want them to do the heatloss, ask for it, but also expect to pay for it.

See, that's part of the problem, everybody wants something for nothing, and to stay competitive they sometimes have to cut corners where they know they can.

Lighten up man, you are stepping on toes here, and that won't help win any popularity contests ! In fact, don't be surprised if mine is the only answer you get...

One more example: I've been known to do electronic repair. One irate guitar player was really p.o.ed that I charged him $125 to replace one itty bitty capacitor in his amp (I always give the customer the bad parts). "You charged me that much for changing that one small part ?! how come !?" I replied: "because I knew which one to change"

By the way, if anyone truly got ripped off, it was probably their own fault for not asking for and CHECKING references!

Good Luck!
 
  #3  
Old 10-29-07, 06:29 PM
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Tony45power-----What Trooper Said

Personally, I spent 4 years, two nights each week, 3 hours each night, ON MY OWN TIME, going to school just to get my journeyman's papers. That doesn't count the work time nor the $$$ & time I spend attending continuing education courses.
You want to talk about the cost of tools? My combustion analyzer alone cost $1500, not to mention all of the other tools I need to do my trade. Somebody's going to pay.
Find me an auto mechanic who will come to your house to work on your car, let alone at 3:00 in the morning or a dentist who will open his office at that time because you have a toothache.
I work in the trade all day, every day, then come home & spend a couple of hours a night trying to help people save some money. BTW, those of us who post here & offer advice do it because we want to. We don't get paid.
Maybe you should tread a bit more lightly. End of Rant.
 
  #4  
Old 10-29-07, 06:36 PM
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Sometimes people complain about our prices. Simple solution: call the other guy! They usually end up calling us back. We don't as much as most of the other local, larger companies do.

We don't do any heat loss checks. My boss has been doing it for so long that he just goes in and knows what the house needs. He hasn't been wrong yet.

The bottom line is, like NJ said, that there are overhead cost that need to be paid. Some companies might have more than others(gotta get new shiny trucks every year you know!).

Also, some companies might do things differently when installing a furnace. Maybe they use different parts or tools that might cost more. Like that huge electric crimper that I've seen on TV for boilers.

One last thing about you telling the repair man what was wrong at your house: If I got paid .10 cents for every time someone told me what was wrong at their house and they ended up being wrong, I would be a very rich man and retired right now. Also, you know you will PROBABLY have a bad day when they say "Oh, its going to be a simple repair!".
 
  #5  
Old 10-29-07, 09:39 PM
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Some people will rip you off -- they are incompetent. Other people charge a lot and do great work. They are worth every penny. The trick is finding them. My personal experience is that 60-75% of the p&h contractors in my area are incompetent, so you spend a lot of time getting educated and weeding out the idiots. Bummer, but that's the way it is.

Adam is correct that the experienced guys can do a walk through and size a boiler exactly where a detailed heat loss calc would put it. They've been doing houses for 20-30 years and they get it right.

Trooper I love the capacitor story! So true.

Good luck.
 
  #6  
Old 10-30-07, 07:05 AM
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The greatest rip-offs in the business are the lowball installers not performing heat-loss calculations, working without permits, inspections and cutting corners on boiler piping, boiler trim and other components. We see countless new boiler installations where the installers have installed a quality boiler but they've haven't re-piped, reused old piping, old circulators, air scoops, flo-checks, feedwater valves, expansion tanks, oil lines and haven't installed a LWCO, backflow preventer, isolation valves or chimney liner when necessary. Many of these lowball installers are no-shows when the customer has a problem.

The boiler and indirect are just part of the package. Installers save a lot of money on both expensive professional labor and expensive parts by cutting corners on system design, re-piping, heat-loss calculations, burner setup and additional hardware. The customer ends up paying in the long run when the equipment burns more fuel, breaks down, fails prematurely or is difficult and/or expensive to service due to poor layout, blocked access, lack of isolation valves etc.

The expense of running a professional business with highly skilled professional installers and service techs is insane. Between the the shop and service vehicles, some professionals have a small fortune tied up in equipment, replacement parts, tools and test equipment as well.

Fall is often a rough time of year for installations for some installers and service techs that are also doing service, annual service, upgrades and emergency service. They often rush boiler installations when they're very busy.
 
  #7  
Old 10-30-07, 11:22 AM
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Question Ask Yourself This Question

My 2 cents.

Beside all the correct reasons stated above, the easiest and best way to obtain the answer to this question is to ask this question.

"Have I ever seen a boiler explode?"...

Likely and hopefully the answer is NO!

If a boiler ever does explode, it would be some what equivalent to having a military war plane drop a 500 pound conventional bomb onto the structure.

Enough force to totally destroy the entire structure the boiler is installed in and very likely severally damage any adjacent structures.

Chances of this happening are rare. As a result of equipment knowledge by a professional and all the safety devices. But one has to know if the systems are working properly, as well as all safety devices, if attempting to make any do-it-yourself repair.

Paying a professional, when anyone does not have the knowledge, skills, expertise, training and tools, etc. often times is the best solution to a problem, in my opinion.

Same applies to most "Electrical" or "GAS" work.
Before doing any major electrical or gas work to your home as a do-it-yourself project, ask these questions.

Do I know exactly what I am doing???
Do I mind if my house caught FIRE and or totally burned down, as a result of my NOT knowing what I am doing?

The value of paying a technician or professional is often referred to as "Value Added" or "Peace Of Mind."....
 
  #8  
Old 10-30-07, 05:32 PM
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did not mean to say all people rip others off just there is at least by me high % that are known to and listed with better buisness buro. i complaing to the copmapny that charged be 800$ and said the part was 400 and change and they reinburst me no problem. what if i didnt know how much the part cot, just was not right. the labor i dont mind paying..... installer wanted 9000 to do the job, was he ripping me off???i almost had him do it to he was such a good salesman. but of all the other quots i got everyone was in the 5 and 6k range. sorry didnt mean to upset so many.
 
  #9  
Old 10-30-07, 07:13 PM
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Tony45. I don't think they are really ranting or being POed or upset. They're just trying to set the record straight. I go through this kind of thing all the time with my clients, as a home improvement contractor.

The best way to safeguard yourself is to ask for at least 3 references and CALL them. That is how I get most of my work.

And Adam I like your statement "When they say it's going to be a simple repair, your probably going to have a bad day" Not probably!! Almost always!!

Jim
 
  #10  
Old 10-31-07, 09:11 PM
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If you get several quotes, the ones in the middle are probably the good ones. There's always someone who will lowball it, but it's either shoddy work, shoddy parts, or he probably won't be there next year when you need warranty work. There's always someone who will try to rip you off with a high price.

There's a story about a plant where the boiler quit. They spent several hours trying to get it working, then management came down and spent several more hours. Finally, they called the boiler repair guy. He came out, took one look at it, tapped it 3 times with a rubber mallet, and lit it off. He wrote out a service ticket for $500.00. The manager freaked, and said "$500.00? You weren't even here 15 minutes. How can you justify that?" The repair guy took the invoice back, and wrote "tapping on boiler - $25.00. Knowing where to tap on boiler - $475.00".

Typically you pay for one or both of two things. The knowledge it takes to do something. Or the suffering it takes to do something. I re-shingled my roof once in November. 40 degrees and mist. I was miserable. I learned I can roof, but roofers earn their money in suffering. They can have it.
 
  #11  
Old 11-01-07, 08:11 AM
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We see boiler quotes that are all over the map. Homeowners and even many so-called pros don't have the knowlwedge to judge a good job from a bad job so they often don't know what they're getting for their money. I wouldn't put my name on the majority of installations I see, but many homeowners and some so-called pros think they're great. Many of the biggest crooks in the business have many repeat customers and get referrals from existing customers. As long as a boiler doesn't leak, water circulates, zones produce heat and the system doesn't break down, the customer thinks they're great.

The on-site/in-home professional service industry tends to be expensive due to overhead. Customers have no idea how much it costs for a professional company to put a well stocked service vehicle and a well paid highly skilled professional at their door. The mechanic that leases my auto service garage commented that plumbing, heating, cooling and oil service techs are charging their customers a fortune. I told him we don't have customers that drop off their equipment at our shop, pick it up when it's done and we don't have parts delivery guys that bring parts to our job location shortly after we call them. We're also on-call 24/7/365 and may have to drive through a snowstorm with our mobile machine shop on wheels. His auto customers can usually be without their vehicle for a while, but our customers can't be without heat when it's below zero. Supply houses aren't open nights, and weekends so you have to have a decent supply of expensive stock at your shop or on your service vehicle.

We see customers billed outrageous amounts of money becuase the service tech didn't have the proper equipment, tools, test instruments, knowledge, replacement parts, troubleshooting skills or billed the customer for multiple callbacks. Many bait & switch service people make money running for parts that they should have on their truck, or make money pushing new equipment and replacing unnecessary parts. It's not uncommon for techs with poor troubleshoooting skills to replace multiple parts until they think they've solved the problem at the customer's expense. They'll often sell the working used parts to the next customer at a discount. If an inexperienced tech smokes an expensive electronic part the customer or supply house will often pay the price.

We just had a customer that was billed for over $1,200 for 4 parts and several hours of labor for a simple wiring problem which should have been fixed for a cost of a service call plus an hour of labor. They were actually happy with the bill until their system broke down since the previous crook told them their 5 year old system was shot. The tech that billed them $1,200 also told them they didn't need a combustion test since it was a modern oil burner. You'd think for $1,200 they would have at least picked up their garbage.

Typically you pay for one or both of two things. The knowledge it takes to do something. Or the suffering it takes to do something.
Yes, you pay for experience, knowledge, education, equipment, tools, test instruments, shop stock, vehicle stock, degree of difficulty, suffering and guarantees.

We bring a second vehicle and trailer to some boiler jobs to haul our iron and copper piping, fittings, tri-stand vices, pipe cutter/threader, climbing hand truck and haul out the old boiler(s). We rarely have to run for parts or fittings. We've had customers that were amazed by the amount of parts going into their system when they were laid out on a long table. On a job with dual oil tanks, boiler, multiple zones, indirect water heater and chimney liner there's quite a bit of labor involved. We often have to beef up or repair basement stairs before we can even start the job and often have to cut up the old steel boiler or remove door frames if the home has been remodeled in the last few decades. We did a job this summer where the basement only had a small hatch and ladder access. You also earn your hazard pay and get your share of bumps, bruises and scrapes working in extremely low basements or working in crawlspaces.

I can't really complain though.... If it were easy, everybody would be doing it.
 
  #12  
Old 11-01-07, 08:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Sharp Advice View Post
"Have I ever seen a boiler explode?"...
I have. #6 boiler at the Ford Dearborn Rouge power house exploded on Feb.1 1999. It took 7 lives and shut the 1200 acre complex down for 2 weeks while they scoured the entire country for portable boilers and generators. Not a pretty sight indeed.
 
  #13  
Old 11-01-07, 10:32 AM
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Originally Posted by AxlMyk View Post
"Have I ever seen a boiler explode?"... I have. #6 boiler...It took 7 lives and shut the 1200 acre complex down for 2 weeks...Not a pretty sight indeed.
Although the boiler size, in the incident you stated is much larger then those used in a residential home, the devastation is still equal to the boiler size.

Word has it, a soon to air TV show segment in Mythbusters will show the explosive force of a water heater.

Although the water heater tank does not literally explode as a bomb would, it does rocket through a house. Landing some where nearby. Or as far away as several blocks...

Should be both an educational and worth while segment of the show to watch.

Somewhere on the internet are video clips showing a boiler explosion and a water heater rocketing through a house. Anyone willing to post links to such, kindly do so here.

Tanks (Thanks) AxlMyk for validating the point I made... "Not a pretty sight indeed."



Photo Credit: military-today.com/tanks

 

Last edited by Sharp Advice; 11-01-07 at 11:20 AM. Reason: Adding Photo Credit
  #14  
Old 11-07-07, 06:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Sharp Advice View Post
Word has it, a soon to air TV show segment in Mythbusters will show the explosive force of a water heater.
That episode is on tonight.
 
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Old 11-07-07, 07:00 PM
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30 gal. electric heater filled to 100% popped a seam.
30 gal. electric heater filled to 80% exploded and lifted off 500 ft in the air.
50 gal. @ 80% full exploded and lifted off to several hundred feet, destroyed the little house they built, and killed the dummy sitting in the bathtub.
It was quite impressive.
 
  #16  
Old 11-08-07, 08:42 AM
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...another consumer view....

Geesh 8 or 9 quotes??? I had only had the luxury of 2 quotes.
As I live in an area where there are as many cows as people trained Furnace people are hard to come by.
When I needed a new system both individual's came by and gave me quotes they both were within a $1000 of each other. Both had worked together for 15+ years for the the local oil company one branched out on his own.
I eventually went with the guy who branched out and he was higher....Why? this is going to be a long term relationshp and I genuinely liked the guy, not that I disliked the other guy, but there was more repoire with the guy who branched out.
I have not had occasion to need emergency service, but whatever he charges I am not going to argue, (too much)

So you need to find the company that you feel most comfortable with over time. They are out there somewhere.

Mark_ms
 
  #17  
Old 11-08-07, 04:39 PM
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[B]"The best way to safeguard yourself is to ask for at least 3 references and CALL them. That is how I get most of my work."[/B]

Jim I can't agree with that statement. IMO references provided by the contractor are worthless. The best reference and protection, in addition to a comprehensive contract, is a referral from someone you know and trust.

I once called several references provided by a roofing contractor bidding on a job. A couple of the references gave glowing recommendations, except one woman. She recited a litany of problems with the guy.

When I mentioned this particular reference's negative comments, he badmouthed her a bit and responded that he would remove her from his reference list. Like it was no big deal. That was the last time I ever called a contractor provided reference.
 
  #18  
Old 11-08-07, 07:02 PM
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Originally Posted by cwbuff View Post
[B]"The best way to safeguard yourself is to ask for at least 3 references and CALL them. That is how I get most of my work."[/B]

Jim I can't agree with that statement. IMO references provided by the contractor are worthless. The best reference and protection, in addition to a comprehensive contract, is a referral from someone you know and trust.

I once called several references provided by a roofing contractor bidding on a job. A couple of the references gave glowing recommendations, except one woman. She recited a litany of problems with the guy.

When I mentioned this particular reference's negative comments, he badmouthed her a bit and responded that he would remove her from his reference list. Like it was no big deal. That was the last time I ever called a contractor provided reference.
I don't give my customers 3 references. I give them a whole page with about a dozen contractors, several financial institutions, nearly a dozen government, and about 25 commercial customers of varying size. I won't give out residential clients.
 
  #19  
Old 11-09-07, 08:03 PM
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Originally Posted by AxlMyk View Post
30 gal. electric heater filled to 100% popped a seam.
30 gal. electric heater filled to 80% exploded and lifted off 500 ft in the air.
50 gal. @ 80% full exploded and lifted off to several hundred feet, destroyed the little house they built, and killed the dummy sitting in the bathtub.
It was quite impressive.
If you thought water heaters were impressive, you should see what a cast iron steam boiler does. It ain't pretty. Shrapnel everywhere plus the damage caused by the explosion. Thankfully, I've only seen pictures.
 
  #20  
Old 11-09-07, 09:09 PM
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  #21  
Old 11-11-07, 03:44 PM
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Relief valve

Originally Posted by MarkJames View Post
What do you want to bet Bubba either plugged the relief valve or removed it & installed a plug because it was leaking?
The article says relief valves have only been installed in the last 15 years. I've been in the trade for 20+ & have never seen a water heater without some kind of relief.
 
  #22  
Old 11-11-07, 05:37 PM
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The article said the heater was so old it didn't have the relief valve, and had a broken thermostat.
 
  #23  
Old 11-12-07, 04:52 AM
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Article

Originally Posted by AxlMyk View Post
The article said the heater was so old it didn't have the relief valve, and had a broken thermostat.
I know that's what it said but truth be known, I'd still bet it was plugged. Local fire chief knows not what he's talking about because he advised people not to check the relief valve because it may continue to leak. Better it leak & get replaced than not test & have it fused shut with corrosion.
 
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