how many repair calls before a heat pump is considered a "lemon" ???

If you've spent roughly $5k on a new furnace/heat pump that is supposed to pay for itself in just a few years with lower electricity bills, at what point (how many repair calls) would the heat pump unit be considered a "lemon"?
We have had the company who installed the Rheem furnace (and 'Weather King' heat pump - which is a Rheem subsidiary) out about 5 times in the year since it was installed. Each time the issue turns out to be that the coolant has leaked out of the unit. The unit actually had this problem right at the start - there was a crack that was determined to be a manufacturing defect, and they had to come out within a week or so to fix that and fill it back up with coolant.
Recently I found out that the heat pump hasn't been engaging for some time. Obviously it wouldn't on the coldest days, but even on the warmer days I saw that it wasn't working. When our electric bill came in at about $180 more than I was expecting, I sat up and took notice, and finally realized it wasn't just an issue of the extra cold winter that was causing the heat pump not to run.
So the guy came out about a week and a half ago, determined that it was another leak - no coolant left. I asked him at that point when the company would consider it a lemon, and replace the unit. He laughed, and said they don't replace them - they just keep sending him out to fix it. (that was NOT reassuring) He fixed it yesterday, and the 'fix' went bad in less than 16 hours. No working heat pump today. No fan, despite it being up near 50 degrees.
What are my options? Should I just keep putting up with the thing conking out, and hope they eventually get it right? I'm really starting to suspect that the thing is really a piece of junk. At this point I would never recommend that anyone install a Rheem or Weather King heat pump, due to all of these continuing problems.
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Ohioguy wrote:

Hi, It is mind boggling. If there is a leak, find where it is leaking and repair or replace the whole unit. Isn't it still under warranty? Is the installer known good one? Did you call Rheem? Did you call local BBB?
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ANother possibility is the Consumer Protection people at the State Atty General's office. If the state has some kind of lemon law, they would be the ones who would know. Call one of the local TV stations if they have a consumer dude or dudette.
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koala bears: food, water, shelter and something to crap on."
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Years ago we had a split unit installed at work....refrigerant kept leaking out. About the third time they came out to fix it they sent the guy who originally brazed all the pipes. While watching him repair a couple of leaks we realized this guy didn't have a clue to what he was doing. Company came out and re-accomplished all the piping on the unit.
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On 3/4/2011 7:48 PM, Ohioguy wrote:

Is the company who installed it and is servicing it a factory authorized distributor? Either way, I'd call Rheem direct and give them your story. Ask if they can send a pro out to fix it right. I don't service them but find it extremely odd to have so many leaks, I would assume these leaks would continue to happen after the warranty expires. I'd *think* the system itself can't be that troublesome, and I'd be looking for all of the piping/tubing between the condenser and the evaporator to be replaced and start from there (if that's were the leaks are happening). Maybe they went cheap and used inferior tubing? But I don't know where all your leaks are popping up. If the leaks are all in the condenser and/or evaporator, I'd be thinking it was a bad quality control day at the factory and insist the unit with all the leaks be replaced.
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On 3/4/2011 6:48 PM, Ohioguy wrote:

Have you thought of contacting the manufacturer? We had a customer who called us to repair his AC/furnace that was installed by others and we gave him all the information on how to contact the manufacturer. The manufacturer actually reimbursed him for some of the repairs and extended his warranty. Your complaint has to be heard by the right people and things will usually work out.
==================================================================== Contacting Weatherking
Mail: Fort Smith 5600 Old Greenwood Road Fort Smith, AR 72903
Phone: (479) 646-4311 Weatherking's Warranty
WeatherKing offers a standard 5-year limited warranty on all parts.
===================================================================== Contacting Rheem
Phone: Customer Support: (479) 648-4900 Note: the 479 area code is located in Arkansas, USA Rheem's Warranty
Rheem provides a limited warranty on parts. Extended warranties are also available.
====================================================================== TDD
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Have you also had problems with the furnace? You have a heat pump AND a gas or oil furance? Isn't that rare?

About AC and maybe about furnaces, more than once I have heard that the installer is more important than the brand.
So far you've been taking this one guy's word that he found the leak. Especially this last time, how knows if he found any leak at all. Maybe he thought he did and he patched something, but regardless, maybe what happened is he just refilled it and it took 16 hours to empty again.
I agree with the ohters, contact the manufacturer.
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There is no natural gas available in this 200+ house development. Evidently the population out there was too sparse to support putting a natural gas pipe in, and then when the development happened, they just went with electric for everything. I'm sad about that, too, because I really wanted a gas clothes dryer and kitchen stove. I called the natural gas company that services this area, and they told me it would cost about $120,000 to run a gas line out there, but they would be glad to do it if I paid for it. (right!)

I sure hope that isn't what is happening. Thanks for the ideas. I have already called the company that installed everything, but it has been a couple of days (weekend) Now I'll contact the manufacturer, and see if anything happens in the next week or so. I suppose I should also couple this with a complaint to the Better Business Bureau, considering that the problem has been ongoing, and that the guy laughed when I asked about when it is considered a lemon, and when they would just replace it instead of continuing to try to repair it.
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Now's the time to start keeping notes and repair documents. Typically even with warranty work a company will give you an 'invoice' stating the work performed and $0 due. Have you got those from the past incidents? If they are not providing them start asking for them. Have you got anything from the prior incidents? If not make some notes now as to the dates and what you were told was fixed based on what you can remember.
The key to winning anything is to be better organizaed than your opponent. Having said that there are not many standards for when is too much, too much. If the republicans have there way there will be less.
Without more details on what was repaired each time it's difficult for anyone to give you a good evaluation of the installer. Just about all the hvac systems today are similarly constructed. There are only a few companies left. Many of the parts originate from the same manufacturers. A large number of problems can often be traced to the installation.
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<SNIP to this point>

Does your development have an HOA? If so, maybe the HOA can make itself useful and get the gas line into place.
Homewoners there - better attend the HOA meetings, speak up, and do so enough and converse enough to give HOA board mermbers fair warning that the incompetents and the power-hungry busybodies will not be re-elected.
And if current board members don't deserve re-election, then prospective replacements need to put in the time commitment to run for election and serve office.
(That's good advice even if you don't need a new gas line to be run into your development.)
--
- Don Klipstein ( snipped-for-privacy@misty.com)

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I don't have gas either, but I can get some for only 15,000!

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One very important missing piece of info here is exactly where the leaks are occuring each time. If they are all in the heat pump unit or all at the brazed joints would make a big difference in terms of who is likely at fault.
I agree with the advice to contact the manufacturer directly. Rheem has an excellent reputation and should stand behind their product.
Given the track record so far, I'd be very concerned that something unusual and very wrong is going on here. Unless it's corrected the right way, you could experience similar failures down the road when the warranties run out.
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Its not rare to have a heat pump AND a gas furnace these days... its called a dual fuel system.
In case you didnt know a dual fuel heat pump furnace systems is an air-source heat pump that is designed to be installed in your home works with a typical forced air furnace heating system. However the forced air furnace air handler can be fueled with natural gas or propane. These dual fuel heat pump systems work in conjunction with your furnace, regardless of fuel type where the gas furnace will kick on when the temperature drops below 27 degrees. A bonnet sensor is used to work this system.
Here are some heat pump prices on teh internet if you need them:
http://www.acoverstock.com/heat-pump-prices
Anthony Gates
On 2011-03-11 10:49:30 -0500, " snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net"

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Fortunately it is rare to have a skunk using 3 different names in 3 different threads here trying to get you to a commercial website that sells HVAC eqpt. Folks, beware!
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Besides the warranty there are laws governing the merchantability of the device. The device has to work as advertised. I wouldn't advise this but it happened to me unintentionally. I visited a friends church one Sunday and as the Sunday school class had finished a little early the quality of services had come up in conversation. I didn't know the owner of a company I had been having trouble with was in the classroom. Well I told my story and my opinion of the service I had received. Monday morning there were 3 service trucks in my front yard. Never had another problem with them.
Jimmie
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On Fri, 04 Mar 2011 19:48:59 -0500, Ohioguy wrote:

I would bet there are plenty of people with the same system that don't have these problems. You might want to research for a 'lemon law' that covers home heating and cooling equipment. I know there is a lemon law for vehicles. I about put it to the test 10 years ago on a Dodge truck that had the engine replaced twice and repaired once the final time. If I had to take it back for the same thing a 4th time I would have sought to have Dodge buy it back for the full price I paid.
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