Why I dont work on HVAC - - OT AND LONG

In another thread, somebody named Gidget accused me of being smug when I advised a poster to not play with their furnace.
And, I suppose I was.
But please, allow me to explain (Yes, I'm bored.)
In the winter of 2000, my furnace went out... a furnace I had just bought in 1998. (I could be off in the exact years here, but the timespans are accurate).
I had also just lost my job at Sprint; I had ZERO $$$.... I was cold and I thought that I couldn't afford a service call.
And like so many who had come before me and like so many who would come after, I posted over in alt.hvac expecting (more like - DEMANDING) help.
What did I get? I got my ass flamed, thats what I got. And I bitched and screamed and cried 'BUT THIS IS THE INTERNET YOU HAVE TO ANSWER ME' and I went on and on and on and on ... for a long time, and eventually, when it occured to me I couldn't possibly fix the furnace without help, and that no one was going to give me any help, that I would have to call for repair.
And so I did. And they swapped out the control board.
BUT NOT BEFORE he replaced the blower cap, and then the blower motor, which it turned out that neither had anything wrong with them.
And then a week later, it went out again.
And so I called them back.
And a different tech swapped out the control board.
And then another week later, it went out again.
And so I called them back.
And a different tech swapped out the control board and the variable speed motor controller board.
FAST FORWARD TO WINTER, 2001
My furnace quits. And so I called the same company.
And still another tech comes, swaps the control board.
Are you getting the picture here?
FAST FORWARD TO WINTER, 2002
In the interest of brevity, I'll just say that all boards were replaced again; this time with factory modified boards that prevented a simple 'swap'. Cables were cut, new connectors installed, boards mounted in different places. And of course, nothing worked on power up.
After about 4 hours of talk between the tech and some geezer back at the shop, 3 different techs were on site. Finally a 4th tech showed up, pulled out a schematic that could just as easily been for the space shuttle instead of a furnace. And he schooled the 3 other techs. He schooled them BADLY. And that night I thanked the HVAC gods for finally sending someone competent.
Bottom line on the whole deal: There was a design flaw in the circuitry that my furnace used.
FAST FORWARD TO WINTER 2003
New inducer motor. New gas valve. Some other new things I no longer remember. The only original part on the thing is now the frame.
-----------------
And so, what did I learn?
Lesson 1. If I had gone ahead and swapped the board myself, back in 2000, I would have thought the problem was fixed.
Lesson 1 moral: I would have thought WRONG.
Lesson 2. Even companies that have supposedly well trained techs don't always know what they are doing. Do I care? Not unless I have to pay for their incompetence. And I didn't. Never paid a dime for ANY of this work.
Lesson 2 moral: You might not always pick the best company to do your work. But if you do it yourself, you are going to pay, sometimes A LOT more than you ever thought possible.
Lesson 3. After this experience, I made peace over in alt.hvac; and apologized for my complete and total lack of understanding of exactly what I was saying when I asked for help. And then I became a lurker over there, as it is quite fun to watch person after person get their ass handed to them on a silver platter. Being a lurker, I also read the bi-weekly reports of joe homeowner burning down his house, killing his kids, getting electrocuted, suffocating on gas/exhaust fumes - etc... etc... etc.... all because the dumb bastard thought he could save $150 by fixing it himself. I bet $150 don't seem like a whole lot of $$ when you are 6 feet under.
Lesson 3 moral: When it comes to HVAC.... don't play with it. Call someone. These things are no longer a gas valve, a limit switch and a blower. They are computers which happen to be hooked to gas lines. How many of you (non mechanics) work on your cars engine (and I don't mean an oil change)? None of us do. In the pursuit of efficiency, cars have become too far complex for the average joe to even think about fixing it.
Why do you think your furnace is any different? Because it's inside your house?
Well, I'm done ranting.
Let the flames begin!
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I was about to bring this up before I got to this part, but you beat me to it.
You'd be surprised how easy it is to work on cars today. Diagnosis is easier than it ever used to be. Computers are a wonderful thing.
I can't tell you the last time I brought my car to a repair shop (unless it was still under warranty). When I make a fix, it's not a guess or process of elimination like it used to 15-20+ years ago. It's a given. At the very least, it's narrowed down already for you to a couple of possible issues that common sense will help you solve.
I see this as no different than working on HVAC. If you have the ability to do it, then do it. With HVAC, I'm not saying I'm as good as any tech out there but certainly no worse than the clowns you ended up with. However with car repair - yea I'm saying I'm as good as any "certified" mechanic out there. It all depends on who you are and what your abilities are.
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In other words - you have the tools and knowledge to fix HVAC and automobiles yourself?
You attend regular training to keep abrest of changes in the equipment, and you are certified by the cities and states you work in to do this?
More power to you (Personally, I think you are kidding yourself, but that's just my opinion).
You sir, are the unique example, and by all means - repair away.
But I ask you to think twice before passing on any of your advice to a stranger whose abilities or training you have no idea of, and whose problem you cannot possibly understand, or criticising those who chose to not 'help' others in their own destruction.
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'Lesson 3 moral: When it comes to HVAC.... don't play with it. Call someone. These things are no longer a gas valve, a limit switch and a blower. They are computers which happen to be hooked to gas lines.'
Here here ! Im an HVAC Owner/Serviceman. Modern day furnaces are computerized and theres a reason for Trade Schools. I appreciate your frankness and like Clint Eastwood once said in a Dirty Harry movie :" A man's got to know his limitations " !
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Read HVAC HACK boy!
Modern day furnaces are > computerized and theres a reason for Trade Schools.
It's a pity you never went to one!
And when are you going to post your licence HACK
I appreciate your > frankness and like Clint Eastwood once said in a Dirty Harry movie :" A > man's got to know his limitations " !
Yes you should certainly live by that one davey boy!
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'I posted over in alt.hvac expecting (more like - DEMANDING) help. What did I get? I got my ass flamed, thats what I got. '
Over in Alt.HVAC, you will find many fine examples of hvac servicemen who represent the darkside of the Trade ; they resent a HO coming to 'their little nest' of a newsgroup . Their attitude gives consumers something to be gravely concerned about , and, a nightmare thinking that someone like them might be assigned to fix their furnace. Frankly, a HO has every right to be cautious when a serviceman comes out -- the entire service industry is filled with Immoralists having defeatist attitudes.
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On Thu, 27 Jan 2005 17:02:00 -0600, snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net (DN B) wrote:

and they should be very very wary if you show up, Dave. Bubba
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and they should be very very wary if you show up, Dave
not to mention the fact that Dave gives major discounts to the HO, if they leave their kids at home alone while dave "works"
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No Davey boy we are professionals, and the group was set up for professionals working in the trade, and not for Home Owners or Hacks like you!
Their attitude gives consumers > something to be gravely concerned about , and, a nightmare thinking > that someone like them might be assigned to fix their furnace.
Better someone like them than you Asshole! It has been proven time and time again that you give dangerous advice and you have no idea about the trade!
Frankly, > a HO has every right to be cautious when a serviceman comes out -- the > entire service industry is filled with Immoralists having defeatist > attitudes.

We are immoral because we tell you to "Fuck off"? And tell the world about your hack work!
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On Thu, 27 Jan 2005 17:02:00 -0600, snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net (DN B) wrote:

A Homeowner who's asking for help fixing his home furnace in Alt.Hvac has demostrated a basic unwillingness to do basic research, to understand and follow directions, and to exhibit even rudimentary good manners, and thus automatically identifies themself as someone who is not to be trusted to do their own work.
It's not that you shouldn't ask the questions, it's that you shouldn't do it *THERE*.
--Goedjn
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What a dork.
Please provide links to those "bi-weekly reports of joe homeowner burning down his house, killing his kids, getting electrocuted, suffocating on gas/exhaust fumes - etc...". I've been lurking in alt.hvac for YEARS and I recall only one such post, and it was later invalidated.
Servicing residential HVAC equipment isn't rocket science. This stuff is less complicated that the typical car nowadays.
You had a bunch of these *competent* techs work on your furnace and as you admit they didn't know what they were doing. Frankly, I'll take my chances with my own capabilities.
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Matt wrote: <snipped>

Now, why does that not suprise me....?
Jeff
--
Jeffry Wisnia

(W1BSV + Brass Rat '57 EE)
  Click to see the full signature.
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Oh yeah, and then there is this gem from the OP.....posted without further comment.
Newsgroups: alt.home.repair From: snipped-for-privacy@msn.com (Matt Morgan) Date: 24 Aug 2004 06:51:29 -0700 Local: Tues, Aug 24 2004 6:51 am Subject: Compressor start relay
Sorry if this is the wrong newsgroup for this question.....
I have a Kenmore model 106.8590581, whose compressor start relay burnt up. FSP part no 1105046.
Looking around last night, it appears that they just plain old stopped making this part. I did find one site that had one...... for
$175!!!!!!!
Jeezy Weezy..... it's just a darn relay.
So... 2 questions:
1) Anyone know a place to get hard to find/obsolete parts? 2) Could a start relay for a compressor with similar electrical characteristics be used instead? I know it wouldn't fit exactly where the old one did, but for some reason I have to think this darn relay isn't as complex as the space shuttle.
Any comments welcome.
Matt - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - From: snipped-for-privacy@msn.com (Matt Morgan) Date: 30 Aug 2004 16:48:47 -0700 Local: Mon, Aug 30 2004 4:48 pm Subject: Re: Compressor start relay
OK All...
Got the new start relay (took the old one apart, completely charred inside).
Hooked it all back up, and all that happens is the start relay clicks on and off, on and off.
Reviewing the board for similar problems, I've found 3 steps to take from here:
1) Replace run capacitor. 2) Buy a "hard start" kit to squeeze maybe another year out of the thing. 3) Call the dump to come pick it up.
I left my ohmmeter at work, so no way to test the cap tonight. Just thought I'd see if anyone wants to place any bets on how this turns out.
Option #2 is not something I will consider, BTW :)
Thanks Matt - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Matt Morgan      Aug 30 2004, 5:33 pm Newsgroups: alt.home.repair From: snipped-for-privacy@msn.com (Matt Morgan) Date: 30 Aug 2004 17:33:27 -0700 Local: Mon, Aug 30 2004 5:33 pm Subject: Re: Compressor start relay
Whoops.
Sorry folks, there was a 4th possibility not even counted upon. Not even Sheriff Obie considered it.
4. Stupid homeowner who has no business messing with compressors, start relays or capacitors..... realizes that he hooked the new start relay up wrong. Fridge is cooling now.
Thanks all, for your help and comments!!!!!!!!
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Matt,
I appreciate you sentiment and advice, but I disagree a bit on your general advice. For those who take the time to educate themselves and who KNOW their limits, there are many DIY repairs which we can perform.
I'll also admit that there are many newer devices which are much more complex than they used to be. I'm facing that current situation with my cars. Do I invest in high tech equipment for some of my auto repairs or do I pay for repairs which I once handled myself? I'm going to buy the equipment and enjoy the sense of self-sufficiency. I can rationalize that I enjoy that sense and that I can teach my son to do some repairs on his own. Others will take a different approach.
I also intend to do my own install for a new furnace and AC unit for my house in the next year or so. Among the many criteria for the new units will be the (hopeful) criteria that these will be units which I can service most of the time on my own. Time will tell.
I must take a bit of exception to the somewhat global doom-and-gloom warnings that you set out for those of us who choose to work on our own HVAC (auto, etc.) systems.
Morons sometimes kill themselves and their families, but those of us who are reasonably competent and who are cognizant of our limitations generally do little or no harm and save ourselves a small fortune in auto, appliance, computer and HVAC repairs.
You sound like a person perfectly capable of doing many maintenance and repair jobs on your own successfully. Don't give up. It is always very rewarding to be able to do a fix on your own at 3AM, especially when you can't get anybody to show up in less than 24 hours (HVAC, auto, appliance, etc.)
Just my two cents worth.
Gideon
In another thread, somebody named Gidget accused me of being smug when I advised a poster to not play with their furnace.
And, I suppose I was.
But please, allow me to explain (Yes, I'm bored.)
In the winter of 2000, my furnace went out... a furnace I had just bought in 1998. (I could be off in the exact years here, but the timespans are accurate).
I had also just lost my job at Sprint; I had ZERO $$$.... I was cold and I thought that I couldn't afford a service call.
And like so many who had come before me and like so many who would come after, I posted over in alt.hvac expecting (more like - DEMANDING) help.
What did I get? I got my ass flamed, thats what I got. And I bitched and screamed and cried 'BUT THIS IS THE INTERNET YOU HAVE TO ANSWER ME' and I went on and on and on and on ... for a long time, and eventually, when it occured to me I couldn't possibly fix the furnace without help, and that no one was going to give me any help, that I would have to call for repair.
And so I did. And they swapped out the control board.
BUT NOT BEFORE he replaced the blower cap, and then the blower motor, which it turned out that neither had anything wrong with them.
And then a week later, it went out again.
And so I called them back.
And a different tech swapped out the control board.
And then another week later, it went out again.
And so I called them back.
And a different tech swapped out the control board and the variable speed motor controller board.
FAST FORWARD TO WINTER, 2001
My furnace quits. And so I called the same company.
And still another tech comes, swaps the control board.
Are you getting the picture here?
FAST FORWARD TO WINTER, 2002
In the interest of brevity, I'll just say that all boards were replaced again; this time with factory modified boards that prevented a simple 'swap'. Cables were cut, new connectors installed, boards mounted in different places. And of course, nothing worked on power up.
After about 4 hours of talk between the tech and some geezer back at the shop, 3 different techs were on site. Finally a 4th tech showed up, pulled out a schematic that could just as easily been for the space shuttle instead of a furnace. And he schooled the 3 other techs. He schooled them BADLY. And that night I thanked the HVAC gods for finally sending someone competent.
Bottom line on the whole deal: There was a design flaw in the circuitry that my furnace used.
FAST FORWARD TO WINTER 2003
New inducer motor. New gas valve. Some other new things I no longer remember. The only original part on the thing is now the frame.
-----------------
And so, what did I learn?
Lesson 1. If I had gone ahead and swapped the board myself, back in 2000, I would have thought the problem was fixed.
Lesson 1 moral: I would have thought WRONG.
Lesson 2. Even companies that have supposedly well trained techs don't always know what they are doing. Do I care? Not unless I have to pay for their incompetence. And I didn't. Never paid a dime for ANY of this work.
Lesson 2 moral: You might not always pick the best company to do your work. But if you do it yourself, you are going to pay, sometimes A LOT more than you ever thought possible.
Lesson 3. After this experience, I made peace over in alt.hvac; and apologized for my complete and total lack of understanding of exactly what I was saying when I asked for help. And then I became a lurker over there, as it is quite fun to watch person after person get their ass handed to them on a silver platter. Being a lurker, I also read the bi-weekly reports of joe homeowner burning down his house, killing his kids, getting electrocuted, suffocating on gas/exhaust fumes - etc... etc... etc.... all because the dumb bastard thought he could save $150 by fixing it himself. I bet $150 don't seem like a whole lot of $$ when you are 6 feet under.
Lesson 3 moral: When it comes to HVAC.... don't play with it. Call someone. These things are no longer a gas valve, a limit switch and a blower. They are computers which happen to be hooked to gas lines. How many of you (non mechanics) work on your cars engine (and I don't mean an oil change)? None of us do. In the pursuit of efficiency, cars have become too far complex for the average joe to even think about fixing it.
Why do you think your furnace is any different? Because it's inside your house?
Well, I'm done ranting.
Let the flames begin!
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