lemon heat pump...long...sorry, at my wits end.

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Old 12-30-05, 06:12 PM
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lemon heat pump...long...sorry, at my wits end.

Some of you may remember my leaking refrigerant thread from a couple weeks back. Anyway, it has been another long couple weeks. Without going into all the details, this is the jist.

My completely brand new Trane system was installed approx 30 days ago. New outside and inside unit, duct work, etc - completely new Trane system. In this 30 days, I guesstimate that is has worked properly maybe 5 - 7 days. The installer has been back multiple times, inlcuding the last 4 days straight. Without too much deatil, the defrost board, coil, and expansion valve have all been replaced. I am still on electric coils for heat as we speak. And now it will be at least Monday - and probably Tuesday before they come back because of the holiday.

I feel like I have shown the patience of Job throughout - I have even paid the installer 80% to cover the materials cost and his staff's time - but I won't pay another cent until it has worked, satisfactorily, for some period of time. I keep getting the same story about how rare these problems are, etc. I DON'T CARE HOW RARE THEY ARE! Fact is, it is a problem, for me, right now. And for the last 30 days. A new heat pump is a significant investment - and I don't want some patchwork system put together that works for now - but who knows for how long.

Questions:

At what point do you demand an entirely new system? Is there not a lemon law like for cars?

Since I have been heating with my strips for 30 days, should the installer share some portion of my electric bill? Should Trane?

Do I have any recourse that I can take with Trane? Should they send out a factory rep/tech to look at and analyze the install? I already have another Trane installer lined up to come do a once-over after the guys have told me (for like the seventh time) that everything is working properly.

Thank you for any suggestions - or feedback that can make me feel better!!
 
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Old 12-30-05, 08:11 PM
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In your area this thing should work great. Sometimes things do happen with new systems and have to be worked out. It sounds to me like you should forget the other Trane dealer and contact a good refrigeration guy. Someone that understands refrigeration should have no problem with this one. I highly doubt the expansion valve, coil and defrost board were all bad. What are the symptoms?
 
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Old 12-31-05, 07:16 AM
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The symptoms...here is the laundry list:

first - the heat strips were running constantly - they came out and said the charge was off.

second - the heat strips kept running constantly - they said charge was off - blamed it on cold weather charging (~50 degrees F outside, we're actually in Wilmington, NC now)

third - heat strips kept runnung - they came out and said no refrigerant at all - "kids must be stealing it for a high" - whatever. They pulled vacuum to 300 microns - ironically, this is the first time they pulled on the manufactured systems and not just their installed parts. Said no leaks and charged the system. We left a day later for Christams - system was running when we left.

fourth - got back from the holiday with entire system stopped - wouldn't even run heat strips - said the defrost board was bad. This was this past Tuesday and started the weeks events. Replaced the board and it worked for several hours. That night it went out again.

Wednesday they said that me expansion valve was out and they had to overnight it - said this could have been a false reading on refrigerant levels and maybe there had been a charge all along. See you Thursday with the new valve.

Thursday - expansion valve didn't fix it - I didn't get all the details but they said that refrigerant leaving the oustide unit was 160 but was 80 by the time it got through the coil (?) - they suspected a blockage in the coil - and said it would have to be a manufacturer's defect - they overnighted a coil for Friday delivery.

Friday - replaced coil - still not working. Got the "we don't know what the problem is and are waiting on Trane's tech support to call us back" - oh and by the way, we're closed Monday - hopefully we can get some help from Trane on Tuesday.

EDIT - I went back in and added more detailed symptoms - I appreciate your taking time to read and respond. I don't like the fact that I have a problem leaving the company's best guy scratching his head.
 

Last edited by rikmoor; 12-31-05 at 07:39 AM.
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Old 01-01-06, 10:02 AM
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I still think its a simple refrigeration problem. Were they refering to temperature or pressure when they were talking about the difference through the coil. If it was temperature, the system is definitely undercharged. If it was pressure, there is something wrong with the feed system on the coil. When heating, this valve is not used and the freon should pass through it backwards freely with no drop in pressure. They should be checking superheat (they will have the correct setting from Trane) and making sure the reversing valve is working properly. If they had the system open, they should have replaced the filter drier. It is a special 2 way filter made for heat pumps only. Have them place a sight glass on the liquid line, it will help them with the correct charge. In both heating and cooling, the smaller line between the coil and the condenser is always the liquid line.
 
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Old 01-01-06, 04:18 PM
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Thanks thermo...a lot of that is fairly technical stuff that I can't do myself - and I'm not going to sit over a techs shoulder and tell him what to do. I may not think they are that qualified at this point either, but they are certainly better prepared than I am. I will be calling Trane tomorrow (assuming they are open) and dealing with them from this point. I can't imagine they will be happy when they hear about all the problems I have had.

To answer the questions about temp vs. pressure, I'm fairly certain he said it in terms of temperature. But I wouldn't bet my life on it. As for the drier, I know they replaced it. I think this was right after they replaced the expansion valve (Thursday) and not the coil (Friday).

I'll at least mention these things to the service guys when I see them again Tuesday. I'll have to pose it in terms of a question rather than a directive... Like "couldn't you put a sight glass on the liquid line"...rather than just telling him to do that.

Thanks again for the help. I'll update whenever I hear something else.
 
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Old 01-01-06, 04:35 PM
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Thats the way i meant it. No tech wants to be told what to do by an unqualified person. I was just giving you a place to start. The tech will appreciate your tactful approach. Oh, and as for dealing with Trane, they are in a tough spot too. They may not want to put the contractor between you and them as my experience has been when a homeowner calls, they call me and say get over there and see whats going on. This has only happened to me with warranties and was because of the red tape slowing things. Im not sure how they will react to this.
 
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Old 01-01-06, 05:00 PM
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The main reason I want to call Trane is to let them know how this situation has dragged on. I mean this is over 30 days from the end of the installation and I'm still heating on strips! And these guys just saw the need to call Trane last week? And I'm assuming they are being truthful when they say they have called Trane, but I don't know that for sure. I think (hope) Trane would be appreciative of this type of feedback on their factory authorized representatives and make sure the installers are doing what Trane wants them to do - as a company rep.
 
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Old 01-01-06, 05:25 PM
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I am currently in the middle of one of these heat pump nightmares. It is not a Trane but the installing contractor has had over 60 days to make it work with well over 10 trips. I was called by the homeowner, went and looked, and the problem was fairly obvious to me. I advised them to try and suggest to their contractor that it could be what i had suggested. They did and were ignored. Meanwhile, the heat pump still isnt working. I am reluctant to fix it for obvious reasons. I asked the homeowner to try and work it out with them. Its a tough situation.
 
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Old 01-02-06, 06:25 AM
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I would suggest asking them to calculate the charge and weigh it in. That will be much closer than trying to charge by pressures or temps. at low outdoor temps. Also be sure there is not a kink in either of the lines leading to your indoor coil. Check their braze joints inside and out and see if they look neat or if there are blobs hanging off of them. If they look bad, there may be problems with pieces of braze inside the copper lines. One thing that confuses me is how the system could be low or out of refrigerant and hold 300 microns. Is it possible that your neighbors huffed your charge??? How long did they hold vacuum? 5 minutes at least, I hope. I have to agree with the fridge on all points. However, your comfort is more important to you than it is to your contractor and you may have to do something borderline drastic at some point. It is obvoius that their understanding of the interaction between all components is not good. I also don't think that any of the components replaced were defective. You can be sure that Trane doesn't appreciate this kind of service because the contractor will be sending a whole box of parts back to them asking for reimbursement. When tested (if they did) none would probably show up defective. A problem needs to be isolated and confirmed, then repaired.

Ken
 
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Old 01-02-06, 03:54 PM
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Thanks for the insight Ken - I haven't inspected their joints yet - good point to check them out. The outside work looks pretty good, but that is easy to get to. The ones in my attic (admittedly a small attic) would be harder to do and therefore may not be as neat looking. I truly can't imagine the people around here huffing my freon. I won't say 100% it isn't something like that - but these guys hypothesized this one day so they charged the system and marked the valves. Hours later the system stopped working - they came back the next day, the caps hadn't moved and that is when they started finding all these other problems - first the defrost board then the coil. I just think the charge is the easy thing to blame. They said vacuum held for 15 minutes but I didn't see this so I can't say for sure.

As much as I hate to say it, I think you are on the right path - they don't understand the science of refrigeration at all (thermfridge hit on this as well) - they know how to install the system and hope it works right from the factory - but they can't debug it. They have shifted blame form one person to another or one piece to another - they have done anything but take accountability for the fact that I have a 30 day old system that still doesn't work. Tomorrow I anticipate these guys will have some problems with one of their very unhappy customers.

One last question - can all this screwing around with the system - charge, uncharge, remove and replace parts, etc have any long term detrimental impacts to my system? Said differently, should I have any concerns over the longevity of this system with everything that has happened thus far?
 
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Old 01-02-06, 06:32 PM
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I would not expect you to have any long term problems with the system. I would insist on a filter/drier for as many times as refrigerant has been added and the system opened. Make sure they use a bi-flow for the heat pump. If they appreciate your indulgence, they will not mind accepting your complaints about the long delay in having a working system. If you need to get help from the factory, ask them for a recommendation or to have a district rep assist your service people. That will get some instant results in having a knowledgeable person asess the situation. Good luck and please let us know how this saga proceeds.

Ken
 
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Old 01-03-06, 03:47 PM
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My installer came over today and took all the readings so he could discuss the problems with the Trane service tech. Well, the service tech never answered or returned my installer's calls after that. I have since called Trane directly - they are going to call the regional office (the same one my installer is calling). Said that I should hear something back in 3-5 business days since I at least have heat strips that are working. When the lady explained to me that there were people out there with no heat at all that took priority, I let her know that didn't give me much confidence in their systems. So either Trane is entirely understaffed or they have too many problems with their systems. I'll hope for the understaffed option...

What a fiasco. I'll keep posting updates until this is resolved.
 
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Old 01-06-06, 05:43 PM
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Today I finally reached the boiling point - it is supposed to be 28 degrees tonight - and I'm still heating on strips. It took me 30 minutes of pure evil on the phone with the Trane dealer. I don't like getting this way with anyone - it is not my nature. And I hate that this sort of behavior is 1- required to get service on any products we buy anymore and 2- rewarded by finally getting my way. Positive reinforcement for a negative behavior is bad. Anyway...

I finally got hold of the Trane service tech in the regional office - he has agreed to come to my house next week to look at the system and hopefully get things taken care of once and for all. We'll see next week. Even if he gets here on Tuesday to take care of it, that will be 39 days from the day the unit was turned on - heating on strips the whole time.

I'll keep you posted.
 
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Old 01-10-06, 09:53 PM
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Now this is suspensful. Give us something............its been 4 days.
 
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Old 01-11-06, 03:47 AM
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I was trying not to bore you to tears over this saga...finally got something after exhibiting way more patience than I should have to.

Regional Trane rep came out yesterday afternoon with my installer - he diagnosed the problem in less than 20 minutes. He turned the system on - the outdoor unit came on for about 2 minutes, it drew a vacuum and shut down. So he then turned the system over to A/C - everything worked fine. Dignosis? thermal expansion valve (TXV) on the outdoor unit - part should be in today and I "should" be up and running today.

I have a lot of confidence it will be. The Trane Tech's knowledge of a heat pump system in general (not just their Trane products) was obvious from first speaking with him. My installer has been just replacing parts one at a time to try and get the right part fixed (in my opinion) and wouldn't ever admit that his guys might be the problem or that they might not be technically smart enough to dignose it - always blame shifting and changing another part. For evidence of this, consider this (and I'm taking the Trane guy at his word - I am not an hvac guy) - they previously blamed and replaced the TXV on the indoor unit. Well in speaking with the Trane rep, the indoor unit's TXV doesn't even factor into the system with the heat on. It is only activated during the A/C cycle - and the outdoor unit's TXV is only activated during the heating cycle. Hence the reason the Trane rep turned on the A/C - if it worked properly, the only piece that could be bad (the only one that doesn't factor into the heating cycle other than the compressor) was the TXV on the outdoor unit.

So there you have it. I hope and pray that tonight I will get home, there will be a new TXV on the outdoor unit, and my hvac troubles will be gone. Well, except for dealing with my installer and the balance owed to him...
 
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Old 01-11-06, 05:36 AM
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disgusting. in following this post all i could think was "hack, hack,hack." your installer's tech need's some serious training. don't you dare pay the installer for all this , and while you're at it let trane corp know in a letter what you went through including all the parts and labor he likely claimed on a warranty. i send my mechanics to multiple updates yearly and when they try this the parts become part of their tool collection and the billable labor comes off. we all make mistakes but our own ignorance is not billable.
 
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Old 01-11-06, 03:13 PM
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Thanks for that info flopshot - it is good to know there are people out there doing the right thing. My question now is, what is all of the inconvenience and power consumption worth in terms of dollars? My power bill (the first of 2 that will be very high because of this) was over $200 more than usual. So I can see there being about a $300-$350 value on power. Then factor in the inconvenience of not having the system working for over 45 days. How do you put a value on that? I still owe him roughly $1600 - my gut says, pay him $1000 and politely tell him he is lucky to get that much.

However, there is a part of me also that says, he gave you a price for the job and stuck with it until it was done - all his profits on this job are way gone - don't factor in inconvenience. But I dismiss this because I truly feel like this is a situation that their ignorance significantly contributed to.

Anyway, just something me and the owner of that company need to work out. As for following up with Trane, you can believe I'll do that. I feel like I owe it to the other consumers to at least let Trane know what happened and how it was handled.

And for anyone that is curious, yes! It appears as though my heat pump is operating correctly for the time being!
 
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Old 01-11-06, 03:45 PM
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Glad to hear its working. If this company couldnt figure this one out they have a problem. I once had the same problem with a heat pump and it was pretty easy to diagnose. Understanding how the equipment they sell works is their responsibility. Good luck with the bill.
 
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Old 01-11-06, 07:11 PM
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loss of a "potential" gain can be a little tough to prove or quantify. as you most likely did not have a performance contract stating a completion/full function date you're lost there too. i'd let it ride and refuse any billing over and above the stated contract price, which, is what i would do no matter why the system didn't work. your satisfaction is to be had in the "second half" of the game where you out him to trane corp. and every possible future customer he may get. be nice, tell the truth, nothing but the facts. contact trane and list the activities and items needlessly replaced and request it be put into your records for future warranty consideration. you're only looking out for you intrest.
 
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Old 01-12-06, 04:34 AM
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Bad news. And let me start with my assumption yesterday that my system was working properly because the guys had set the therm from "emer" back to "heat" and it was warm in the house - but it was 70 here yesterday so the heat never came on until late last night. It didn't seem to be blowing very warm this morning when I got in the bathroom - once I got out of the shower it was off completely. So I turned the therm up 1 degree to get the heat pump going and ... nothing. I turned it up another degree and the aux strips activated. And much to my dismay, the outside unit was not running. Now I have to call my installer again and find out what is going on.

Just when I thought this was over...and I thought I was nearing my wits end when this thread first started.
 
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Old 01-12-06, 09:23 AM
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if this was a sit-com it would end with jerry finding out kramer had installed an a/c unit he picked up on the street from one of george's friends. but this ain't no sit-com. time for a nice friendly letter to the dealer, cc trane corp. from your lawyer documenting this fiasco and your intent to contact the NC attorney general's office. hey ! how about one of those local tv station consumer advocates ? businesses hate that
 
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Old 01-12-06, 07:16 PM
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Are you sure it wasnt working? If it turned off was the temp setpoint reached? Your thermostat Im sure has a delay that would not allow it to come back on for a few minutes if it just reached temp. This is to protect the compressor. Also, sometimes there is a timer in the heatpump as well and /or a delay in the circuit in the air handler. These timers are a nuisance to Techs because we typically are folks that do not like waiting around. Hope its not something serious.
 
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Old 01-15-06, 04:46 PM
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This should wrap up the case here - thermo, you are right. I placed a lot of blame on others through this ordeal so I have to admit that this last thing was my fault. Blame it on paranoia I guess - I was in a hurry to get to work while I was checking it and didn't know that outside unit has a 5-minute delay timer on it. So it was working after the outside TXV was replaced.

Let me say, it has been a nice weekend having the heat pump wprk the entire time! Hope this is the end of this saga.

Thanks to everyone for the advice throughout!
 
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Old 01-15-06, 04:52 PM
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Ok then its time for a party. Welcome all your friends and tell them how cheaply you are heating your home. Then pray it doesnt clonk out. Good luck.
 
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Old 01-16-06, 04:47 AM
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system working just in time for the Super Bowl. PARTY AT RIK'S HOUSE !!!!!
 
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Old 01-19-06, 06:36 PM
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Come on over guys! Just don't mind the mess - my old panel walls have come down for sheetrock - a couple walls have been torn out - the carpet is about half out - and the kitchen is in shambles. The heat pump was the first part of a major remodeling project - the whole kitchen/living room/family room/dining room is being opened up into one large room. What a fun/learning project this has been so far. One recommendation for those considering something like this...don't start it in November when your wife is due with your first child in April...
 
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Old 01-19-06, 06:41 PM
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you sound better already !!! good to know a fellow carolinian is getting off to a good start for the new year.
 
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Old 01-20-06, 08:25 PM
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Careful Rick, all that remodeling dust could choke your heat pump. Change filters every few days and see if you can filter the intake grills.
 
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