#1  
Old 10-15-2019, 09:27 AM
tullsterx is offline
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HVAC Inspection and Potential Fraud?


I recently had a routine HVAC inspection at my house. The place I last called a couple of years ago didn't pick up, so I called another firm. They came and ended up telling me that one of my units was in terrible shape and I would be better off replacing my entire system. It's about 12-13 years old, so I thought that might not be a bad idea. So, he went ahead and gave me a quote for the work he thought necessary.

A couple of days later, after thinking about it, I decided to get a second opinion, and a second quote if necessary. I called another firm to take a look and I didn't tell them much about the previous inspection. They came, took a look, and said everything was fine. I told them what the other firm said about my unit being in bad shape. This new firm took some pictures of the unit, and showed me, and from what they could see, it seems that the first firm didn't even open the unit to look at what they claimed was wrong.

Is the first firm perhaps guilty of fraud to some extent by issuing a false inspection or something? I kind of feel like I should do something about this, but I'm not sure what.
  #2  
Old 10-15-2019, 10:24 AM
Joey P is online now
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It could be fraud, but it's difficult to say unless you tell us what they told you and what the new firm took pictures off. For example, you can take all the pictures you want of the compressor and it might look all nice and shiny, but only connecting a manifold set and watching the pressures while the unit cycles will tell you if the reed valves bad.

What did the first place tell you the problem was?
What did the second place tell you and what did they take pictures of?

A few other things. Something the first firm decided made the unit worth replacing, the new place may have felt it was easier to repair it or even let it go for another year.
There's also the possibility that the first place was 100% correct in their assessment and the second place wasn't thorough enough to catch the problem(s).

TL;DR, we need more information.
  #3  
Old 10-15-2019, 10:57 AM
tullsterx is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joey P View Post
It could be fraud, but it's difficult to say unless you tell us what they told you and what the new firm took pictures off. For example, you can take all the pictures you want of the compressor and it might look all nice and shiny, but only connecting a manifold set and watching the pressures while the unit cycles will tell you if the reed valves bad.

What did the first place tell you the problem was?
What did the second place tell you and what did they take pictures of?

A few other things. Something the first firm decided made the unit worth replacing, the new place may have felt it was easier to repair it or even let it go for another year.
There's also the possibility that the first place was 100% correct in their assessment and the second place wasn't thorough enough to catch the problem(s).

TL;DR, we need more information.

I have the write-up from the first firm. I can't quote it from memory, but, they basically said there was a freon leak and an oil leak, and corrosion on many of the parts. The second firm checked the unit and said that they could see no evidence that the first firm even opened up the unit. It's all tapped up and the dust-covered tape had not been disturbed at all. He ran a performance test and tested for a freon leak and could find no leak. He said in order for the first firm to find anything wrong they would have had to open up the unit, but there is absolutely no sign that they did that. And he showed me pictures. But, I did not suggest he open up the unit to verify what they said about it. So, my evidence is lacking there. I figure this might fall in the grey area of differing professional judgments, but I'm not sure.
  #4  
Old Yesterday, 08:36 AM
Patch is offline
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I'm not seeing how the first company can be trusted to be competent at all if they didn't open the unit and are recommending replacement.

I've had my HVAC unit inspected by several companies in a short time (new house, old unit, like yours). They all opened it up and took photos of what they thought was wrong. They even took photos of their electrical readings on various components so you could see how low the voltage was in some components, compared to what it's supposed to be.

When one company had the blower wheel out and commented on how dirty it was, I cleaned it with a toothbrush and an air compressor before they put it back in. Turns out if they do it it's a $250 job, so money saved right there.

Not knowing how an HVAC system works, I stood by and watched what they did. Components that they said were worn I made note of and purchased replacements on my own. Some of the stuff is quite easy to do, and will save you a TON of money if you do it yourself.

If you don't know who to trust yet, I would drop the money for a third company, but this time, hang around while they work. Watch what they're doing, and ask questions about the condition. Take your own photos -- if nothing else it will help you should you need to inspect it on your own. Everyone so far has been real nice about doing a show and tell of why some stuff is good, and why some stuff isn't, which is really helpful in deciding a course of action on repair or replace.
  #5  
Old Yesterday, 03:10 PM
Tride is offline
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Social media is quite influential these days, as are Yelp and Angie's list. You might save others from dealing with an unscrupulous company. The advice above is excellent, also. If you want to escalate you could call the manager (who is almost certainly complicit/driving the behavior) and tell them you are posting this to SM.
  #6  
Old Yesterday, 03:39 PM
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Either the first company is unscrupulous or the second company's tech is incompetent. I'd suspect the former but the simple solution is to call a third company & see which of the previous estimates they match. Whichever one they do, then rule out the other company.
  #7  
Old Yesterday, 10:57 PM
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I know that YouTube does not qualify as rigorous scientific evidence, but there are scads of videos where a media outlet sets up hidden cameras. They ALWAYS find at least one and usually multiple HVAC companies that scam people.
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