Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Check Is NOT in the Mail

Warning: This is a long story that repeats some previously blogged info, so feel free to jump ship right now!

Last year I replaced my furnace and AC with a two-stage Carrier system (including humidifier) that I absolutely love. My house is so comfortable now, winter and summer, that I cannot believe the difference. But I had some problems with the contractor on that job. During new room construction, I complained about the furnace contractor to the heating guy, and K said that his company services Carrier systems. I said, You do? That is good to know. He said, Oh, yeah, a furnace is a furnace.

To heat/cool the new room, the heating guy ran a new duct from the furnace to the new room and installed four registers under the windows. Four seemed like overkill, but K pointed out that if the room was too hot in winter or too cold in summer, registers could be closed, whereas the opposite would not be correctable. Made sense to me.

Now that the weather is turning wintry, the heat, or lack of it, in the new room is a problem. I bought a weather system thingy that includes a remote thermometer. The base unit is on the mantle in the family room, the remote is in the new room. When the furnace is running on high, the new room is nice and toasty. Otherwise, it is not unusual for the temperature at the thermostat in the dining room to be 70, while the family room temp is 67 and the new room temp is 62. The other morning, the new room temp was in the 50's. Not acceptable.

So I called the contractor and he called the heating company who called me. M, presumably the heating company owner, wanted to increase the low speed on my furnace. Won't that heat up the rest of my house faster and cause the furnace to turn off sooner? I asked. No, said M, because we will adjust the dampers in the ducts under the house, forcing more air to the new room. I said, Maybe I should just close some registers? No, M insisted, we can balance the system so you don't have to do that. OK.

I scheduled a time on Tuesday (yesterday) morning for the work to be done. I was told the heating guy would be there at 8:30 but he would call before arriving. Meanwhile, my boss scheduled a team meeting Tuesday morning at 10:00. In light of the recent job eliminations, it seemed imperative that I be at that meeting. If the heating guy comes at 8:30, he should be done by 9:30, and I can get to work by 10:00, I reasoned.

Monday I received a "certificate of completion" from the contractor's office. I confidently signed it and wrote out a check for the balance due on my new room, intending to mail them the next day.

Tuesday morning K called at 8:25. Yes, I said, I am ready for you. THIRTY MINUTES LATER he finally showed up. Will this take long? I asked, letting K in the front door. No, not too long, K answered. Because they told me you would be here by 8:30 and I need to leave for work soon. I tried not to sound whiny. They told me Tuesday AM, K responded. Hmmm.

So K went back to the furnace room. First, he could not figure out how to get the cover off the furnace, determined he needed tools, and made a trip out to his truck. Then his flashlight died, so I fetched one of mine. Then he couldn't figure out how to change the fan speed. The manuals are in an aluminum pocket on the wall by the furnace, so K started leafing through them. TEN MINUTES LATER he was still leafing through the manuals.

By now it was 9:20 and I was getting anxious about leaving for work, plus I was convinced this guy, the same one who said a furnace is a furnace, DID NOT HAVE A CLUE. I decided I did not want him screwing up my wonderful system and said, I gotta go to work, so we'll have to continue this some other time. I mentioned the dampers, and K said, I don't think you have dampers on your ducts. He should know since he has been under the house. As he was leaving, he suggested I try closing some of the other registers and run the fan all the time. WTF?!?

When I arrived home that evening, there was a message from the contractor, all chirpy and how did it go this morning and when can we get together for the final payment? I called him back and let him know exactly how it went and how unhappy I was and did he have a relationship with the company that installed the system because these people obviously DO NOT KNOW WHAT THEY ARE DOING!!! Oh, and by the way, I have your check but you are not getting it yet. (But I was nicer than I sound here.) So he called the heating company who called while I was at yoga, leaving a message that they would come back Wednesday morning at 8:30 (HA!) to install dampers on my duct work.

I called back the heating company to let them know I would NOT be home Wednesday morning because I had morning meetings to attend. Of course, no one was there at 8:00pm, so I left a message, which obviously did not get relayed to K because he called me at work at 8:30, wondering when he could come by and install the dampers. Not this week, I have morning meetings everyday and evening commitments. So he said the office would have to contact me about scheduling for next week. It is almost noon and I still have not heard from them.

Meanwhile, it occurred to me that one reason the room, especially the floor, is so cold is the vents in the foundation that are supposed to open and close automatically. I do not have these on the rest of my house's foundation; they are a new addition to the building code, to help eliminate problems with mold. I checked them this morning and they are closed, but it seems that covering them with some insulation board would be a good idea. My SO has some he is going to bring over tonight. I also asked him to crawl under the house and survey just what I have there. I'm wondering if there is any insulation under the floor or around the heat ducts, etc. I'm also wondering if it is dry, because a final grading of the construction site was not included in my construction package (my bad), which makes me uncomfortable because the yard immediately surrounding the room does not slope away from the house.

Last night I was crying because I spent all that money on the new room, only to have something that is actually less usable that the Florida room I had demolished. The Florida room was like a 3.5 season room, with a cement floor and two heating vents. In the dead of winter, I added a space heater and it was quite inhabitable. In fact, the rabbit lived out there and the cat had her litter box out there, so I left the patio door open enough for her to come and go, without compromising the comfort in the rest of the house. Now, the chill from the new room seeps into the kitchen and spreads to the family room. It's very discouraging.

The room construction, which was supposed to be over in October, is turning into a continuing saga. Wah!

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