Massachusetts Yearly Maintenance

Discussion in 'Maintenance and Troubleshooting' started by Russ, Feb 3, 2016.

  1. Russ

    Russ New Member

    I installed a WaterFurnace Series 5 system ( 6 ton system with 2 units ) about a year ago. Everything is working great so far. Glad to be off oil. Savings are significant.

    I am wondering if there is anything I need to do to maintain this system or what is entailed in a maintenance checkup? I keep reading that there is very little maintenance if any. I change the filters myself every 3 months.

  2. docjenser

    docjenser Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    That's it. You also might want to keep a pipe brush handy to clean out the condensate pipe when needed.

    Other than that there is nothing you can do in regards to preventive maintenance.

    In my opinion, if someone tries to sell you a maintenance contract for geo system, don't walk away!
  3. urthbuoy

    urthbuoy Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    While we don't sell maintenance contracts, people still want them. Peace of mind and all that. It is a fairly expensive investment.

    edit - so yes, we have maintenance contracts. But we never talk people into them.
  4. docjenser

    docjenser Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Yep, we have one customer who wants us to to do the seasonal changeover to A/C. So we stop by and flip the switch. Older Lady, she always waits for us with freshly made cake, cookies and coffee. And we always pop in a new filter. We don't charge her anything....
  5. engineer

    engineer Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    I also disagree with DJ on this one. Most clients don't keep up with air filters. Someone oughta periodically run an HR / HE calculation on the system to ensure continued performance. Condensate drain line clogs are probably our (humid Florida) most common point of failure, and left unchecked, can cause serious damage depending on system location. Most of our systems are splits, incorporating field-installed copper refrigerant linesets. Building envelope fails cause sweaty air handlers, ponding water in secondary drain pans, moldy ductwork and supply registers.

    While we don't routinely attach refrigerant gauges to geo systems, if HR or HE wander off the reservation it is well to investigate why. We also check capacitor uF and replace if off by > 10%

    We check that wiring stays strapped down and particularly kept from rubbing on copper refrigerant lines. Missing wire ties have resulted in some fairly dynamic failures in our loss of system charge, even a compressor burnout.

    I agree that a package unit operating in a benign basement 80-90% of the time in heating mode in Buffalo might have fewer of the issues I cite above. OTOH, a slow loss of heating performance resulting in creeping use of heat strips has the potential to cost serious $.

    Our PM contract pricing basically just (or don't) cover costs, and our techs are in no way incentivized to fish for fake component failures (despite rampant practice in our area). PM keeps us engaged with our client base and responsive to their needs. We are a building-science / energy performance based company largely dependent on repeat business and referrals, so that engagement is mission critical.
  6. docjenser

    docjenser Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    May be you are in a different scenario. Indeed none of the issue are present in basements in Buffalo NY, with 2 exceptions.
    Condensate drain (being plugged) and filter.

    Again, I was referring to preventive maintenance.

    1) Every customer in my opinion can change a filter.
    2) Overflow sensor in condensate pan will stop the unit and prevent water damage. 90% of our customers will never have an issue. We routinely leave a pipe brush to clean plugged condensation line in 2 seconds, and walk the customer through it in 2 seconds.

    Remote monitoring via symphony is now standard on our systems. If a condensate plug occurs, we know about it immediately. Either the customer is mechanically inclined enough to do this procedure himself, or we stop by and do it for him and charge for a service call. Still cheaper than stopping by once a year for something they can easily do themselves, without having caused damage.

    HR/HE is also done remotely. Electric strip heat turns the thermostat screen red. Then our customers call us.

    Our customers enjoy the low costs of geo, low amount of service issues, and continue to refer because of the well functioning systems....and the lack of maintenance needs.
  7. urthbuoy

    urthbuoy Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Doc, clients can shovel their driveway or clean the leaves out of their eavestrough themselves as well (generally). But they still pay people to do it for them.

    We monitor as well. As you know, it is extremely effective.

    Once again, we offer the maintenance option as clients' want it. If clients' wanted aftermarket airbrushing of units, we'd do that as well:).

    Also their is a sordid history of installation work without service work in N.A. in general. I think, overall, it is good for our industry to support all systems out there. Whether it be termed preventive or an inspection or maintenance or service.

    I'm only responding due to the blanket statement you used - "don't walk away!" I know the conventional world has a "sell maintenance contracts" outlook that I'm assuming you were criticizing, but this is not a line to use to determine a good vs. bad contractor.
  8. Mark Custis

    Mark Custis Not soon. Industry Professional Forum Leader


    Foot pain!!!!!. Staying out of this one I see and have done both sides of the debate.
  9. docjenser

    docjenser Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    You are right, it should not be a blanket statement, and no one is a bad contractor just because he comes and checks out the unit, changes the filter, and ensures the condensate drain is clean. We are nut putting in splits, only packaged units, and a lot of w-w units, where there is certainly no preventive maintenance.

    So my attitude is that they should call me when they need me. We leave a box of extra filters, plus a online order instructions, after commissioning.

    I am annoyed to see the TV ads, "...furnace tune up special...$19.95" and then the tech shows up "Oh no, your furnace needs to be replaced." Preying especially on the elderly. Hope that this does not disseminate into the geo industry.

    But again, I did not mean to imply that those who offer maintenance are bad installers. Some customers want a hand glove service, however, geo gets to the point where regular preventive service is not necessary anymore.
    urthbuoy likes this.

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