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Homeowners Beware...The Internet Is No Place To Buy HVAC Equipment

Posted by Bonnie Bornstein Fertel on Wed, Feb 27, 2013 @ 07:45 PM

Is buying Heating and Air Conditioning Homeowners beware .do not buy everything on the internetequipment online a good idea? What about a generator?

Who will stand behind the product when there are problems?

We love the internet, honestly we do...BUT...

You've got a question, or are looking to solve a problem...so you login to one of your social media accounts and start gathering opinions.  Still not satisfied, you search to see what Google, Bing and Yahoo have to say.

Why we love the internet...

All of the information you seek is at your hands within seconds. Pretty great! The internet has become our 'go-to' source for information.  And can sometimes create a way to do some price comparison. We understand that you want to save money. We totally understand, the bottom line is, well, the bottom line. And that's great for buying shoes, towels, beauty accessories, electronics, computers and hundreds of other retail items.

But, is it a good idea to buy a furnace, boiler, ductless unit or a heat pump through the internet? Why not a generator? A motor? A pump?

We love Amazon; frequently shop there and visit Staples site nearly as often, along with dozens of other retail sites. It's convenient, the items arrive fast, and I can't think of a reason not to shop online. But the thought of DIY-er meets a ductless AC unit? Hmmmm, second thought, um, no...

And, here's why we're making such a fuss...

Consumers, even the smartest, most educated and resourceful, given the time and opportunity, may be capable of selecting the kind of heating or air conditioning unit he or she would like to have in their home. Perhaps a consumer might even be familiar with the calculations and measurements necessary to properly size a system in their home. (What do you mean calculations?!), you say? But, by and large, unless the consumer is an experienced contractor, there is no way for him (or her) to know all of the nuances integral to an installation. And, without the training and knowledge needed, one would expect that properly running gas ines and or electricla lines and making connections would be either unsafe or way above the heads, all due respect, of the smartes of the bunch.   

Shall we tell you more?

Our intention here is to bring a few very important points to the forefront.

  • An air conditioning or heating system must be sized properly in order to work correctly and provide comfort.
    • An air conditioning unit too large will never remove the humidity properly and therefore the home will not be comfortable.
    • A boiler or furnace too large will cycle continuously....producing heating bills that are unnecessarilly high.
    • A boiler or furnace too small will never heat the home adequately.
  • Licensing Agencies issue, to qualified, trained professionals, licenses to protect the welfare and safety of the public. And, not every so-called professional has a license.
    • Often homeowners are concerned with the permit process, unnecessarily focusing on increased taxes rather than the peace of mind found when an inspector approves an installation.
  • Once you've purchased HVAC equipment online it's yours.....you own it. Whether it's right or not, works or  not, was size properly or not!

Even as professionals, we understand why someone might think that they can save a few dollars. After all, we're consumers, too. But after these efforts, one might find out that they've wasted their time and money and are now in a jam.

Why are we telling you this? Well, here are a few conversations we've had with existing and prospective customers:

"I bought a ductless unit on 'the internet'. I found someone to install it and it never worked properly. Now the person I paid to do the job won't answer my calls. This has been a headache from the day the work was completed."

"I saw a furnace on the internet, how can you justify charging me so much more? I know what it costs."

A customer recently purchased a generator on 'the internet' after conferring with her electrician. The unit was delivered, and set in place, wired and our office received a call to do some gas piping. Sounds good, right? Wrong! The size of the gas line to the home was inadequate and the customer has wasted a tremendous amount of money because the proper steps that an experienced licensed contractor would have taken would avoid this type of problem. "Now what am I going to do?" Would you buy a whole house standby generator on the internet? Ask us about a few prospective customers that did and why they're sorry!

Our response - ask the interet. (Although, we don't think 'the internet' will take the unit back.) And do we, as professional plumbing contractors, feel empathy? We do.

What's our point?

We recently received a call from a customer requesting service on a ductless unit. We were more than happy to provide service to him. Our customer inquired about the warranty, not an uncommon question. Our respone: Warranteed by whom?  Our company had not performed the installation and therefore the warranty should come from the installing contractor. Well the installing "contractor" was nowhere to be found. Of course, the customer was not very happy. "But it's not yet a year old.",  he challenged. That may be true. Warranty? Ask the internet.

  • Some consumers are concerned with permit fees.
    • Many contractors include permits in installation quotations. (We do)
    • Permit fees cover the cost born by the municipality to provide inspections...for the benefit of the homeowner.
  • Occasionally, consumers feel that they can purchase mechanical equipment 'online' and have a friend, relative or neighbor install it 'on the side'.
    • But what about the warranty? ...ask the internet.
  • A contractor makes a fair, legitmate profit on an installation, but along with this profit comes a warranty.
    • Does 'the internet' give a warranty? Go ask the internet.

This opens a whole can of worms and my hope is that I've given you pause to stop and think before you click, at least when it comes to mechanical equipment. Be dollar-wise, not penny foolish. Don't forget to thank your local heating contractor when you speak with him or her next. Then tell them why!

Oooops, I've got to run now, there's a great pillow I saw on the internet, and I want to order it before I forget. When it arrives and I rest my head on it at the end of the day I'll sleep well knowing I've done the right thing by sharing these thoughts with you.

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Topics: how to choose a great contractor, Professional Tips, DIYers

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