A Long Backup
The cooling coil that’s under the furnace had been leaking for years. Ach Tune Air got the call. Per their invoice: “Blew out (cleared) drain with high press. nitrogen & water came out at the outside end of the drain.” That’s followed by: “Note: If problem persists, the drain pan to evaporator coil is cracked & the evaporator coil will need to be replaced.” The problem persisted, so that’s when I got the call.
The reality is that the drain line was never clogged. Neither was the drain pan cracked. The real problem was that the drain pan’s right port was blocked by plastic. It was a factory defect that went undiagnosed for over 25 years! The left side of the third picture above shows the offending plastic before I drilled through it. The right side shows what it looked like after drilling through it.
Ach Tune could have figured that out by removing the cooling coil’s cover (fourth picture). That’s standard procedure when diagnosing a coil problem. Their grand total was $112. If their visit took 45 minutes to complete then the apparent labor rate was about $90 per hour. That would have been pretty darn good if their visit had been the least bit useful.
A circuit board that controls a multi-zone HVAC system (1st pic above) was blowing fuses. Per their invoice, Ach Tune spent considerable time diagnosing a bad thermostat cable. The invoice doesn’t say how much time, but based on what the customer said I believe it was around 5.5 hours. That would make their apparent hourly rate $125. That’s entirely reasonable.
But of course there’s more to the story. Ach Tune installed the system less than three years before. The customer just couldn’t believe that a low voltage cable could fail on its own in that amount of time. Apparently Ach Tune was unsympathetic, so he had me look at it. It turns out the short was caused by a staple that was hammered down too hard during the installation.
I tracked down the exact location of the cable’s defect (left side of the 4th pic), repaired it and had the system back online in less than 5 hours. I also found a great many poorly installed ducts. The right side of the fourth picture shows just two of them. One is kinked and the other is not insulated properly. As I understand it, Ach Tune dialed up the sympathy not long after my visit.