Four or More Go Undetected

What do doctors, lawyers and furnace repairmen have in common? I mean besides the obscenely high bills? ;^) We can only help you if you’re willing to be helped. Quite naturally most homeowners are willing, but a few resist. You’ll see what I mean in a few minutes.

I visited our first home a few days ago. The homeowner called knowing that both her furnace and air conditioner were broken. Here’s what we found:

  • Her furnace has a heat exchanger known for cracking at its dimples. Fortunately, there weren’t any. I lowered the furnace’s temperature to help prevent those cracks from forming.

That’s one very expensive repair averted.

  • The main problem with the furnace was a bad circuit board. That particular circuit board has a known issue. I installed a new circuit board.
  • The main problem with the air conditioner was that it was low on refrigerant. Leaking service valve caps were to blame. I sealed the caps and added refrigerant.

That’s two repairs performed.

  • The furnace also had a weak capacitor. As this post explains, letting it go till later might have netted me hundreds. I didn’t let it go, so I netted ten bucks instead.
  • Old silicone carbide igniters are known for wearing out. Hers was due. I replaced it for $80. Replacing it later as a separate service call would have been $250.
  • The air conditioner has a time delay relay (TDR). TDR’s were a necessity twenty years ago, but no longer. They’re a somewhat common failure, so I bypassed it.

That’s three future repairs prevented.

The three little add-on repairs cost her $120 now and saved her many hundreds in future repairs. That wouldn’t have happened had she not embraced them.

I visited the second home today. The upstairs furnace had a tripped reset button. I showed the homeowner how to reset it. That’s all that was needed to get the furnace running, but that’s not all that was needed. As with the first home, the capacitor was weak and the igniter very old. Those are failures waiting to happen, failures that are a lot cheaper to take care of when I’m already there. The same was true of her downstairs furnace. She had me replace the capacitors, but that’s where we hit the proverbial brick wall. Changing the downstairs igniter would have been $80 spent now and $170 saved later, but she would have none of it.

It seemed like she viewed the money saving add-ons negatively. I had to stop before the negative vibe could bloom. Not only did I not replace the igniters, I didn’t check or even bring up the heat exchanger’s dimples. Catching cracked dimples before the warranty expires can save over a thousand on parts. Checking her two air conditioners had tremendous money saving potential as well. But I dared not bring any of that up. If one add-on was viewed negatively, I can only imagine the reaction four or more would’ve gotten. I might have saved her hundreds or even thousands in future repairs, but she was unwilling.

The lessons here are several. First, there are many small problems a technician can find and fix before they become expensive problems. The first homeowner spent an extra hundred and will save hundreds as a result. Second, those small problems can exist without you knowing it. That’s why I invite homeowners to watch the diagnostic process unfold. I don’t just want to tell you about the hidden problems. I want you to see them for yourself. Third, I can only go as far as you’ll let me. Shut me down and you’ll never know the money you could have saved. As the Plain White T’s might have sung had they been furnace dudes…

“There’s only one thing, two do, three words, four you… I love you. Lemme help you.”

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