WaterFurnace Evaporator Coil Failure

Discussion in 'General Discussions' started by Hitch, Jan 21, 2013.

  1. Hitch

    Hitch New Member

    This post started as a response to the thread about failures of warranties to cover actual repair costs. My post was so long, I figured I should start a new thread....

    When I was going through the process of selecting an installer for my geothermal system, I learned that I would receive a 10 year parts and labor warranty from WaterFurnace. It was supposed to be one of the best in the business. WaterFurnace seemed to have a good reputation. When you hear that you are receiving a 10 years parts and labor warranty - by what is supposed to be one of the best in the industry - you think you are covered. With WaterFurnace, that is hardly the case.

    The evaporator coil in my Waterfurnace failed after about two years of service. After the part failed, I found out that it would cost me nearly $900 to have the unit repaired. In the middle of the winter, what was I to do? I asked the installer to move forward with getting my heater up and running again as soon as possible. I contacted WaterFurnace and was told that they have a labor allowance. She claimed that the labor allowance is based on industry standard rates and industry standard time to complete the repair. She asked if they sent me the warranty information AFTER the product was purchased/installed/registered. My first thought was - so much for being able to consider the value of the warranty when selecting a manufacturer/installer.

    Reading through the "Warranty Certificate", I see the following language "Applicable labor and/or refrigerant allowances will be in accordance with published WFI rate schedules corresponding to the original date of shipment of the Product from WFI." I have since tried to find these published rates on the internet, but have not located them. Perhaps someone else would have more success than I.

    I called WaterFurnace to discuss the labor allowance. The comments from the WaterFurnace representative surprised me on two levels. Although the representative advised that the labor allowance was based upon industry-wide hourly rates and industry-wide times to complete the repair, the representative's response quickly turned to the suggestion that I find a different WaterFurnace dealer to do the repair. There really was no effort to justify the labor allowance. The representative volunteered that some installers quote a low price for the Geo sale up-front, in an attempt to get the sale. She advised that these dealers will often charge extra for the repair. Other installers, she advised, charge more up-front and then are more able (or willing) to accept the labor allowance as payment in full. That's hardly a statement that gives me any assurance that she thinks the labor allowance is sufficient. It all rolled off her tongue rather quickly. In any event, she was quick to distance WaterFurnace from the dealer in general - even a GeoPro dealer.

    I was also surprised with how quickly she threw the dealer/installer "under the bus." My installer is a WaterFurnace GeoPro. I have a high amount of respect for the knowledge and abilities of my dealer. That apparently means little to nothing to this particular representative. I asked her about approved GeoPro dealer/installers and she told me more than once that this designation is given to dealers solely based upon the volume of purchases from WaterFurnace. I told her that I thought there was more to the GeoPro designation, but she repeated that there is not. This was disappointing to hear.

    In any event, the representative stuck with her recommendation that I find another installer to do the repair. Course, I don't understand how I would have been able to do so, as the premise of her theory was that I needed to have paid more upfront for the install - essentially requiring me to pre-pay at least a portion of the repair cost. Since I apparently didn't do so, according to her theory, how would I do that now? Would another WaterFurnace installer, that I didn't use for the original install (and, by definition, didn't charge extra for "warranty" repairs) be willing to apparently take a loss on my repair? It's January and I needed the unit to work. One of the big things that I learned from reading on this and other forums is that a knowledgeable installer is very important. Do I really bail on my dealer/installer because WaterFurnace has such an insufficient warranty? Note that I didn't "go cheap" on the geo. Indeed, there was another geothermal dealer/installer who would have charged me MUCH less.

    Not getting anywhere with the lady referenced above, I asked to speak with David W., although I don't know his exact title, I understand that he's the head of customer service. I left a message on his voice mail the week before last. He has not bothered to return my call.

    As I said above, the part that failed in my WaterFurnace was the evaporator coil. It lasted two years. $900 is certainly a big dent in any savings achieved.

    WaterFurnace is well aware of the issues with their coils. There are threads on various forums confirming that this has been happening for years. Over time, there seems to have been various theories as to the cause. As of a year ago, WaterFurnace was on one website blaming indoor air quality. Comments are made that this is an industry wide problem. That may be true, but to me this is a WaterFurnace problem. It appears that I paid a good bit more than WaterFurnace for the labor repairs to my geothermal. From what I understand, WaterFurnace at some point started to coat the coil, then later decided to double coat the coil. It sounds like the actual coating might have changed at some point. I understand that they are now washing the coils before shipping them out. I obviously don't know when my coil was built in the process, except that my unit was ordered during the 4th quarter of 2009. I don't have a thorough understanding of the entire process. I do understand that WaterFurnace disputes that the coils are defective. I don't understand how the coil can fail within two years and not be considered defective (especially with the apparent number of coil failures).

    I would appreciate hearing from any other WaterFurnace owners who have had issues with their coils. I heard that WaterFurnace may be willing to take the coil back for testing, in order to bring a claim against the actual manufacturer that the coil was defective. If WaterFurnace receives any money back from the manufacturer, they will provide that to the consumer. I'm not sure what to think of this as the one WF rep that I spoke with repeatedly told me that there were no options for me other than the labor allowance. When I directly asked about the testing option, one rep. agreed it was an option. However, if WF has issues with the manufacturer, that should be between WF and the other company, not me.

    Has anyone returned their coil to WaterFurnace to have it tested? If so, did you ever receive any funds in return? Has anyone had their labor fully covered by WaterFurnace? Have any of the installers on here had an instance where WaterFurnace paid more than the paltry labor allowance? Has anyone received any information as to how WaterFurnace believes that the repair/replacement can be completed within the labor allowance? I have not seen one post where an professional indicated as such. Is it possible?

    I'm really concerned that the coil will continue to fail, as I've read about that happening to others.

    Sorry for the long post. I'm a bit frustrated.
     
  2. JFLame

    JFLame Member

    This portion of your post confuses me a bit. If you have such high respect for your dealer, then why are you calling and complaining to Waterfurnace?

    What the WF rep is telling you seems spot-on. The dealer is/was aware of the warranty rates, and in choosing to sell you the system should have worked in a fair amount of warranty risk contingency cost as part of your install. The premise from the dealer perspective is that on some jobs he'll have no warranty issues, and on others he will, and in aggregate it's a zero sum game. Pretty standard stuff as far as warranties go. Buy a car lately? Labor allowances for warranty repairs on cars work the exact same way. I bet you've never been asked by your local Ford dealer to cover a portion of a warranty repair, even though the same rules apply.

    If your dealer did not fully disclose to you that you'd be on the hook for warranty items, or if he represented the warranty as zero cost to you and is now not honoring it, then I'd be pointing right back at your dealer as the culprit.
     
  3. Hitch

    Hitch New Member

    You seem to have confused two different issues. I am calling and complaining to Waterfurnace because they are the ones that sold me the part that failed. My dealer had nothing to do with the manufacture of that part. From my research, WaterFurnace has serious issues with evaporator coils failing. It's not an issue specific to my dealer. WaterFurnace issued the "warranty". WaterFurnace is the one who came up with the labor allowance for the repair. The WaterFurnace rep advised that the labor allowance is based on industry standards. I received no further explanation. So, I came here to ask the industry what their experience is. I have seen nothing to indicate that the labor allowance by WaterFurnace is enough to actually do the repair. Maybe I am wrong, that's why I asked the question.

    My reference to throwing the dealer under the bus was included because I was surprised by how quickly the WaterFurnace rep turned on the dealer. If she is correct, and that designation is based solely on the volume of sales, then I would a bit bummed if I were the dealer. What does it say for WaterFurnace's respect for a dealer who they have designated with this enhanced title - and apparently do a significant amount of business with?
     
  4. Hitch

    Hitch New Member

    Not sure what to think of all of the views to this thread, but only one response. The length of my post certainly can't help. I suppose the frustration in my post may have turned some people off as well.

    In any event, David from WaterFurnace still hasn't called me back and I would appreciate some help from you all.

    Is it the case that a large number of installers/dealers just accept the labor allowance and accept the loss? I suppose that any company who frequents this forum would not be anxious to volunteer that they charge extra. I certainly see posts on here from people who state that they just accept the labor allowance.

    Thinking through JF's post some more, the premise of this theory is that some jobs will require warranty work and others won't. I get that. However, there has to be an assumption as to how many will go bad. Obviously, assumption is much less critical when replacing a part where the labor allowance is, say, 30 minutes and the job takes an hour. However, in the case of a failed evaporator coil, my understanding is that the job takes many hours - and, at times, two people to complete. WaterFurnace is apparently providing about 3 hours for the labor allowance. An incorrect assumption by the dealer affects the bottom line.

    Once the dealer decides to cover the insufficient WaterFurance warranty, the dealer needs to make an assumption on the amount of failures (how many failures does the dealer bake in to the install quote?).

    What if you make those assumptions and it turns out that WaterFurnace's evaporator coils are failing at a substantially higher rate?

    What if you are a WaterFurnace dealer/installer and you are replacing 1 to 2 coils EVERY MONTH? It gets expensive quick.
     
  5. Mark Custis

    Mark Custis Active Member Forum Leader

    The one we did took all of 5 hours maybe more from two of us. We did it for a customer who we rescued from a dealer. I can not remember what the labor allowance was nor do I remember what they paid for R 410A, brazing rod, vacume pump time etc.

    To change the coil required not only dis-assembly of the machine it also required we remove the return duct work. If this was done in a lab, and there was no duct work attached then it might of been possible to make the change in the time allowed.

    Water Furnace went above and beyond industry standards getting us the coil, filter dryer, TXV and our check. I would do another one if asked. I did charge my customer the balance for what my normal rate are and what WF allowed.

    I would do yours if you were in my A/O.

    Mark
     
  6. Jerry_NJ

    Jerry_NJ Member

    I have an old Waterfurnace Premiere 2 speed unit, will be 20 years old this year. It still has the original evaporator coil, compressor, and almost everything else. Now I can't say the Watefurnace experience has been all roses. I in fact talked by telephone and email to a "VP" level person, but I did go through the Regional Rep first.

    My complaint about 4 years ago was the lack of parts support by WF. My unit, then 15/16 years old had a forced air fan failure, in the dead of winter. My installation guy had moved to Climatemaster so I couldn't call him back - I was very pleased with his installation. So, I contacted a Geopro, figuring I'd go with the best.. this company was rather far from my home, about 35 miles so that added time to their effort. Talking with them by telephone I got the impression they had other customers in the area and could multitask to same on windshield time. When this happened my wife was in California, thank god, and I heated the house with our wood burning fireplace insert. This kept the house from freezing, and a good thing, it took about 4 days to effect the repair, and over $1,000 (don't remember but can look up). Most of the delay was the repair guy didn't have any parts for such an "old" unit (so what do they have parts for, new units? why do they need repair?) and worse there was no expedited delivery from the factory - and the replacement had to be a retrofit of a newer design because the factory didn't have any parts either, that fan was manufacture discontinued. This added to the cost too. On the good side, the two who showed up to work on my system were effective and knowledgeable, one was the owner, the other at least 55 years old and seemed to have the skill of being in the business for some time. I don't recall where the discussion with WF went, but I may have made a small dent in the customer feed-back bin.

    Then a couple of years later I had to go another $1,000 plus (it may have been $2,000) for my dual loop pump set up. This time the owner showed up with a much younger guy who, it turns out was either dishonest or incompetent" They got my system back on line, the same day I think, but I noticed from my desk location in the basement that the loop pump was running 100% of the time. I opened up and started checking the wiring (I am a retired electrical engineer, a long past electronic technician and past apprentice electrician) and discovered the unit was wired to run 100%, there were also some fuse problems and further investigation suggested the original problem was not the pumps, that's why he had them hardwired on, it was the hot water tank pump which was blowing a common fuse on the circuit board. I'd have to go back to notes to get this fully recalled. I when back to the dealer who on checking saw I was correct and offered to replace the circuit/controller board for the cost of the board only. That too was a reto as the old board I had was also mfgdisc. By the time he got there to replace the board I had made further analysis and told him I my finding, the bad boy was the water heater circulation pump, and offered that he disconnect that pump and install all fuses with correct wiring and test. He did, and everything worked well, albeit. without any hot water heating. I said foget the new board, he can keep it. The system has been running fine since, but my trust in Geopro was destroyed - I have no idea if the tech he had with him on the original repair was fired, but this last time he again had the older guy I found effective on the first repair. We talked about replacing the HW pump but I declined given the overall age of my system.

    I am now, and have posted here, thinking about a replacement or major rebuild of my system. While the higher efficiency and tax rebate makes a new system (using my existing loop) attractive, this thread doesn't. I think I get an estimate from a WF dealer (the one who I describe here doesn't come up on the WF dealer list, may be I was not the only one to have problems) for a new compressor - and I had thought about the evaporator too, but if they don't just wear out, like a motor does, I may save by keeping what I have. My system seems to deliver a COP well over 4 in Starge I heat, and about 3.5 in Stage II heat. So, if a new verses rebuild cost more than $10K (just off the top of the head) it isn't worth it for efficiency savings. Then too there is some evidence WF quality may have slipped.
     
  7. Hitch

    Hitch New Member

    Thanks, Mark. I've been reading (and lurking) on this site for many years. It would be neat experience to be able meet regulars like you!

    When you say 5 hours, was that 5 hours times 2 people (for a total of 10 hours) or 5 hours total between 2 people?

    This issue is just rubbing me the wrong way. My installer replaced some 18 coils last year. Between that and all of the posts I have seen, WaterFurnace has a real issue with these coils. For what is supposed to be such a stand up company, they are letting a lot of people down. It is particularly troubling that one of their excuses is that they don't manufacture the coils. They are the ones installing the coils in their systems and it isn't something that the installer has anything do to with.
     
  8. Mark Custis

    Mark Custis Active Member Forum Leader

    Two people, (Lead mechanic, me and Helper, my wife Stephanie), X 5 hrs +/- = 10 man hours. I am not sure that is a good total, because I have slowed down for two reasons, age and the desire to only do a job once.

    I am not sure the coil issues are just with WF.

    Where are you? We tend to get around a bit. Not many folks do what we do.

    Mark

    The unit and the back up hot water system.
     

    Attached Files:

  9. Hitch

    Hitch New Member

    Mark - Thanks for the response, but I'm back up and running. I had my original installer do the work and they spent about the same amount of time as you.

    WaterFurnace told me that some installers charge more up front for the install, so that they have essentially received the payment up front to do the repairs. She also told me that some installers charge less up front, to get the sale on the install, and will later charge for the repair.

    WaterFurnace suggested that I find someone else to do the repair. This didn't make sense to me as I just don't see how someone who I have no existing relationship with would decide to step in to do a repair at a loss. I have yet to see any arguments that WF's labor allowance comes anywhere close to what it costs to actually do the repair. The rep. I spoke with certainly didn't say that.

    I am starting to wonder if WaterFurnace has an expectation that installers absorb the cost for their failed coils. She was certainly very quick to tell me to go somewhere else. Are they trying to punish their installers who don't eat this cost?

    If WaterFurnace was a stand up company, they would admit that they are selling coils that aren't holding up. Some amount of failure is expected, stuff happens. However, these coil failures seem to go beyond that. While they refuse to stand up, customers like me get screwed.
     
  10. WF_Inc

    WF_Inc Member

    Our Director of Customer Support has left a message for Hitch. We have also been in contact with the contractor and are working to resolve this issue. Once we have more information we will repost.
     
  11. WF_Inc

    WF_Inc Member

    Jerry_NJ,

    We will be more than happy to look into this concern further. Can you please provide your model number, serial number, and the name of the contractor you were working with? If you do not wish to post this information publicly, please feel free to send us a private message.
     
  12. Hitch

    Hitch New Member

    Well, I have not been able to speak with the Director of Customer Support (I think that he is David W. - who I referenced in my earlier post). I originally tried to reach him on January 11. When I asked to speak with him, I was essentially told that he would not have any additional information to share - other than what the original rep. told me. My impression of what the CSR said was that I shouldn't bother to speak with him. I asked, nonetheless, to do so. I ended up in his voice mail and left my work number for him to call back.

    I don't know what he did with that voice mail, except to say that I have no information that he has ever called that number.

    He did, however, call and leave a message (during work hours) on my home voice mail. He apparently got that number from my installer. I understand that he did speak with the person at my installer who deals with warranty issues. He made a comment about me posting on the internet and confirmed that the installer replaced my coil. He was under the mistaken belief that WaterFurnace had already sent a shipper to pick up the failed coil. It was, however, still in my installer's shop. A shipper later picked up the coil for shipment back to WaterFurnace.

    After seeing WaterFurnace's post above, I heard the voice mail on my home machine and called him back. That was on Feb. 13. His voice mail indicated that he was out till Tuesday (the 19th). Once again, I left my work number. I have not received a return call.

    In sum, I originally left him a message on January 11. It is now been 6 weeks. If there is a proposed resolution, I am interested in hearing what it is.
     
  13. Jerry_NJ

    Jerry_NJ Member

    I just noticed your post above. I will have to be home to get the serial number off of the unit - this can be done. I do have the following information.

    Water Furnace AT045 2-Speed Heat Pump installed by Sodan from Trenton, NJ in November 1993. Sodan is no longer a Water Furnace dealer. All repairs were done by Gus (owner) and others from to Cooper Mechanical who was/is a GeoPro. Mr. Fink was the regional WF representative I communicated with about the concerns expressed by me in this thread on the 3-speed fan.

    As stated in my reply I have had good reliability from my WF, and until the failure after 15 years of faultless service, I considered WF excellent.. and the installer too. My dissatisfaction with WF on the fan repair was the delay in parts delivery (it was during cold weather and the failure prevented the resistive backup from working) which included no part, had to take a retrofit at extra cost. On the second repair two years later the repair work was defective and if I were not an engineer and past electronic tech it might have gone unnoticed. Gus recognized I had caught them in error and made every effort to make corrections including replacing the motherboard at cost only (no labor). I told him to come and correctly connect the loop pumps (I took pictures) and disconnect the hot water pump (which was in fact the problem that took the HP out of service, not the loop pumps, two of them and were replaced at full cost - I did not demand any compensation for the pump work, I at least had new pumps). I have not yet replaced the hot water pump and would do myself it the part were available to customers.

    I did not complain to WF about the second repair problem, but needless to say I'd look for a different dealer if I decided to replace (I expect the compressor to fail in the near future it is 20 years old) my existing unit. Again, my experience with WF and the original installer were very good and encouraged repeat business from me. This thread, more than my experience with repairs, makes me question any further purchases from WF.

    Thanks,
    .
     

Share This Page