Geothermal unit and duct work installed. After less than three years, duct work has separated from installation nails and fallen to ground.
On September 8, 2010 ***** ****** provided an estimate for a Geothermal unit including all duct work. Down payment of 10,000.00 paid on 11-1-2010. Remainder of 9,053.00 paid on 12-29-10. On the week of June 10, 2013 complainant went into crawl space to inspect a separate issue. At that time a four foot section of the duct work, supply line was found laying on the ground. Further inspection of the duct work found that nails were placed through the fiberglass duct work and into the floor joists. Only two straps were used as additional support. The duct work pulled away from the floor joists, leaving smalls holes in the top of the duct work and the nails remaining in the joist. The entire supply line sagged from 1 to 3 inches between the only two support straps used. Photographs taken and the issue was brought to the owner. Complainant asked for repairs to be made and the supply line to be replaced since it was no longer air tight. On June 9, 2013 a service tech was to arrive for repairs. The crawl space was opened and lights turned on. At this time the entire supple line between the straps was on the ground. When the tech arrived he advised that he was instructed to tape the holes and not to replace the supply line. The tech used metal flexible support straps to hang the duct supply line. The straps used only provided support at the bottom corners of the duct work. The straps were pulled so tight that the duct work began to tear. This was brought to the techs attention who then placed duct tape under the straps. The straps still however only provide support at the bottom corners and over time will tear. There are form fitted straps that are available that would provide equal support through the strap, however they were not used. Only one had been used and that was with the original installation. At this time the complainant attempted call the owner and discuss the repair utilizing the improper support straps. The complainant was advised that he was on another line and would return the call shortly. The owner never returned the call to attempt to resolve the issue. Additionally two room supply lines were found not to be fasten to the duct work. Further inspection revealed that the tech did not tape all of the holes that were created from the nails pulling out of the duct work. The supply line would not be air tight with heat and or air free to escape into the crawl space. With the original installation of the duct work, aluminum duct tape was used to connect sections of the supply line. Due the the collapse of the supple line some of that tape has separated and was not replaced. The return lines were installed in the same fashion as the supply line. Complainant asked for that to be strapped so the same issue does not occur. That was not done and the return line has begun to separate in a couple areas. The complainant again returned to the owner with photographs and demanded that proper repairs be made. The owner has accused the complainant of tearing down the duct work and at this point has refused to resolve the situation.
Complainant wants all repairs to correctly be made and the supply line to be replaced since it is no longer air tight and the Company to honor its warranty agreement.
Business' Initial Response
Contact Name and Title: ***** ******
Contact Phone: XXX-XXX-XXXX
Contact Email: *******@hlfraas.com
The complaint time line appears to be accurate. The customer Mr. ****** ***** did present photographs of ductwork that appeared to have fallen in the crawl space. In those photos there appeared to be floor insulation that had pulled down as well. Mr ***** stated that he had a separate problem in the crawl space that he was correcting at the time.
Mr ***** originally demanded that all of the ductwork be replaced at no cost. I explained to him that the installation used standard techniques and fasteners and should not have fallen due to gravity. I suggested that there was a possibility that the ductwork had gotten wet which would have made it extremely heavy and caused the situation. Because it had been three years since the original installation and our company had no control over the conditions which existed I offered to have a service tech at his home the next week to evaluate / repair the ductwork. Mr. ***** declined as he indicated he would be out of town. Eventually a service tech was assigned upon the return of Mr. *****.
According to the service technician that was sent to evaluate the condition of the installation, it was not obvious how the detachment took place. It appeared the nails which have very large 2" diameter washers on them were actually broken off the head of the fastener. Dry ductwork is very light and one 4'x10' sheet can easily be picked up by one hand. The technician called the office and suggested that Mr. ***** was not happy and acted in a somewhat irrational manner in conversation. Although the service technician sounded uneasy about the situation I asked him to complete the job and work with the customer in a professional manner.
At the end of the day that the service technician was at Mr. ***** home, Mr. ***** stopped at the office and demanded to see the owner. Mr. ***** was asked to come into my office and immediately started yelling and throwing photographs of what he felt was unacceptable work. I let him rant and rave for several minutes as he stood next to my desk in a somewhat physically threatening manner. I asked him to calm down and he pretty much ignored me and kept complaining and yelling about how unhappy he was. At this point I asked him to leave the building or I would call the local authorities. He didn't really seem to care about any kind of authority and continued to yell and scream. I finally got up from my desk and escorted him to the front door. NEVER IN MY 35 YEARS OF BUSINESS HAVE I HAD TO THROW SOMEONE OUT OF MY BUSINESS.
I had offered and would have worked with Mr. ***** to resolve this issue however it appears his ability to work with individuals or a company are limited by his inability to control his anger.
At this point my stand is as follows. It appears that in the three years since installation was performed there have been circumstance that are out of this companies control that lead to this situation. (IE, flooded crawl space, ductwork used to support something else, etc.) This being said, I accept no responsibility for the condition of the system / ductwork.
Consumer's Final Response
(The consumer indicated he/she DID NOT accept the response from the business.)
In response to Mr. ****** statement that there was a separate problem in the crawl space was incorrect. There was an issue in the bathroom, I went into the crawl space to check on the ease of replacing a bathtub. It was at that time when I observed the initial problem of the 4 foot section of duct work laying on the ground. There is currently no work being done in the crawl nor had there been.
As for Mr. ****** excuse of moisture in the crawl that is absolutely not true. This is a ranch house on a crawl with vents at each end. The house is built in a non flood zone and has never been flooded or retained or obtained moisture other than normal atmospheric conditions for a crawl in this weather zone. The duct work never got wet at any time.
The insulation that has fallen is due to age. The house is 37 years old and the insulation is original. The Insulation was stapled to the floor joist by the paper strip tabs. After 37 years the paper tabs have deteriorated resulting in insulation falling. It had nothing to due with moister as stated above. The crawl is dry.
I have obtained two separate independent inspections of the duct work system. Both inspections have indicated that the technique used for installing this type of duct work was incorrect. They both indicated that industry standards were violated. One of the inspectors also indicated that, not only was there a violation of industry standard but also a violation of state building codes. One of the inspectors also pointed out two additional violations that this complainant was not aware of. 1) There are two Plastic/PVC lines that enter the crawl from the outside. They provide the gas/fluids for the Geo system. The lines are secured to the bottom of the floor joist with U-shaped clamps that require a screw on each side of the clamp to be screwed into the floor joist. Of the 13 or so sets of clamps used, only three are secured with all required screws in each hole. The remaining sets are either screwed on one side only, with the other end hanging. Or two of the clamps are together, one end on top of the other and one screw securing both clamps to hold two PVC lines. The second issue brought to my attention by the inspector, was that due to the crawl space not being conditioned, any metal parts are to be wrapped with insulation to prevent condensation when air conditioning is used during humid conditions. There is exposed metal between vent lines and the supply line which should be insulated. I also asked for the assistance of a 3rd heating and air professional, he too stated that the installation techniques is far from normal. While he did not provide me with a report he has referred me to NAIMA, which govern the standards of proper fiber duct board fabrication and installation.
Mr. ****** indicated that very large 2 inch washers were used with the nails to secure the fiber duct work. Due to the improper installation of the duct work and the fact that it fell to the ground, 3 vent lines leading to the supply line detached and separated. They were not re secured as requested when the second technician responded. The three vent supply lines were witnessed by the inspectors. The fact that the vent lines separated allowed a camera to be inserted into the supply line. Several photographs were taken and there appear to be no washers visible as indicated by Mr ******..
Most of the nails that pulled through the fiber board are still in the floor joist. A couple of those nails have been removed. Those nails are 1 1/2 inches long. The fiber board is one inch thick. If in fact a washer was used, it would have been at least 1/32 to 1/16 of an inch thick, that would leave less that 1/2 inch of the nail that was available for securing the fiber board to the joist. Regardless of the industry the standard nail size to use is 2 and 1/2 times longer than the material being nailed. The nails used to hang this fiber board are a full inch short
The nails that are still in the floor joist were also measured. The visible portion of the nail from the head to the floor joist was measured at 3/4 of an inch. If the nail was 1 1/2 in long then 3/4 of an inch was pounded into the floor joist. And if the fiber board is 1 inch thick, then the nail head had to have been nailed threw and into the fiber portion by at least 1/4 of an inch. The nail head itself is only 1/4 inch wide. With the nail head being nailed into the fiber and no additional straps for support as required by industry standards, it would only be a matter of time that with gravity and constant vibration from walking, that the nail heads would slowly cut threw the fiber and the duct work would separate and or fall, as stated by both inspectors. Maybe if the correct length of nails were used the tech would not have needed to pound the nail heads into the fiber which in turn would not have started the tearing and cutting of the fiber by the nail head.
I have attempted to get Mr. ****** to take responsibility for his work. I talked with him in person. The conversation was heated, but there was no yelling or threatening manner as he indicated. His response was to divert responsibility back onto to this complainant when in fact his company and technician are responsible for the inadequate quality of his work with respect to the duct system. The fiber duct board that has fallen is because he did not follow industry standards. The following is what I still expect from Mr. ****** and his company.
1)Remove the steel hanger straps that his second technician installed that has been pulled so tight that is is crushing the fiber and will result in additional problems.
2)Install proper form fitting straps ( like the individual 'one' used on initial installation) that will secured the fiber duct board.
3)Properly cover all holes in the fiber board that were created when the nails pulled through
4)Properly secure the vent lines leading to the supply lines that were left hanging.
5)Properly install screws in all of the u shaped clamps that is securing the PVC lines
6)Properly secure the vent lines to the supply lines, especially those that have separated.
7)Properly secure the return line with form fitting straps according to industry standard.
8)Properly insulate any expose metal to prevent condensation as per industry standard and state building codes.
9)Reimbursement of inspection costs
Business' Final Response
This is a one time offer from my company.
We will remove the hanger straps installed by the second technician. Cover all holes with tape that is designed for this product. Secure vent lines leading to the supply lines. Install screws in all u shaped clamps. Secure vent lines to supply lines that have separated. Secure return line with new straps.
We will not insulate metal fittings as they are extremely small and are not an issue for a properly maintained crawl space.
We will not pay inspections costs as requested by Mr *****.
This customer will need to contact another Climatemaster dealer for all future warranty repairs to the system. The warranty is transferable using the model and serial number from the unit. If you need a list of approved dealers I can supply that.
Because we have had and continue to have no control over the conditions which exist in Mr ***** home, HL Fraas is to be held harmless from any future claims.
If this is acceptable, contact the office and request scheduling to this case.