Dangerous furnace install hack

I came across this beauty when I received a call about a thermostat that wasn’t operating properly and blowing cold air randomly when calling for heat. Even worse, not one, not two, but THREE technicians had been out there previously for the same issue and left with the same result… “not sure… everything seems to be running perfectly!” yet, again and again, this customer would have the same issue. This is sad because it shows the level of intelligence in the field today by technicians in some companies which aren’t willing to pay for experienced technicians.

Watch out for these companies!

You can spot them usually by a sales pitch as they walk in the door and are more concerned with selling unnecessary add-ons. This customer attributed his issue to the thermostat, one look at the furnace installation and I knew better! First off, the unit was installed illegally on its back. This is illegal because it can easily catch fire. Next, (photo above) I noticed grossly undersized plenum ducts.

I then noticed the poor tin work with no transitions, further slowing airflow. Next, I noticed a completely blocked air filter (shown above).

Last, but certainly not least, I noticed the awful flu vent installation which they actually reduced in size after the terrible use of elbows to curve it around! I have seen a lot of hack jobs, but this one takes the cake! The result of this disaster was……drum roll please…..you guessed it…over-heating and going off on hi-limit safety! Lucky for this customer, it worked!

The furnace installation above was also installed by an amateur who thought that he could easily replace a furnace but forgot about the necessary load calculations required for duct sizing! He installed this unit, built a little tin box the size of the top of the furnace and installed a single 6′ round pipe to the ceiling duct board, sat back, and looked proudly at his hard work completed. “mission accomplished!” he proclaimed, then fired it up. Once he fired it up, however, it would only run for about 2-3 minutes and shut down. After double-checking his installation and trying everything he could do in order to get this furnace to run properly, he came to the conclusion that he was sold a lemon furnace. He called the distributor where he purchased the furnace and they informed him that he could not return it. With no other options, he called in the pros’ and one look at this installation….well, you know the issue!

The next furnace installation is by far the worst. This client owned a dual-family home which he rented out. However, he lived in another state and was unable to be there for any work to the home at all. He hired a friend of one of the renters to install 2 new furnaces in the rental home. The guy purchased 2 furnaces, threw them anywhere that it was convenient for him, hooked up gas and electricity, and put a pre-fabricated tin supply plenum on top of both furnaces. He then took a close-up view picture of each unit running and sent them to the property owner for payment. The client happily paid the man and that man laughed all the way to the bank. The colder weather came and the new renters attempted to turn on the heat for the first time but got no heat so they called the landlord and he attempted to call the guy who installed the units. Guess who’s number was disconnected? Yup. So the client called me out to address the issue and what I found was unbelievable. The supply plenum was sealed and went nowhere, not a single take-off. The return was still sealed as well and never cut out. Even worse, the exhaust flue opening was never knocked out and no flu pipe was ever installed! Thank goodness for those renters that the many safeties on a furnace wouldn’t allow the furnace to run more than a few seconds. These photos I took, say it all. You have to see it to believe it, so see for yourself!

The moral of the story here is that some jobs are just better left to the real professionals and to know your limits. Trust is also a key point here. It is always better to use a reputable company, registered with the BBB if possible. You should also remember that cheaper isn’t always better when it comes to HVAC and you pay for what you get. 

If you have any doubts about an installation or are just looking for guidance, please reach out through our instant messenger tool or Virtual diagnostic tool for help!

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