Avoiding Customer Callbacks

Do you want happier customers and fewer headaches? Don't make these five common mistakes.

Lennox' field training representatives see the same errors on jobs across the U.S. It's seldom because the installers lacked knowledge; more likely they were rushing to finish the job and move on. But the customer complaints these errors generate can cost more time and expense to fix than was saved by that haste.

Here's how to avoid the top five.

Check the electrical service. Make sure the service can handle the new HVAC system's energy draw, and that the wires are properly sized and tightly connected. The consequences of skipping this step range from high energy usage to premature system failure.

Evaluate the ductwork. Existing ducts are often overlooked on many replacement jobs, but callback expenses for duct-related problems can double or triple labor charges—and eat up all your profit. You really need to do a thorough duct inspection before submitting a proposal.

Look for undersized or leaky ducts, and make sure the registers and filters can handle the new system. Failure to upgrade these will force the new system to work harder than it's designed to, and may keep it from delivering the needed airflow. Possible outcomes include uncomfortable spaces, poor air quality, and premature system failure.

Upgrading the ducts can range from replacing a few runs to a comprehensive overhaul. Either way, it's crucial to disclose the results to the homeowner. Should they decline the upgrade, that fact should be noted in the contract. Some contractors have the customer sign a comfort waiver with language along the lines of “if the system experiences performance or comfort-related issues, additional charges may be required to address them, as the suggested duct repairs were declined at installation.”

Read the manual. Plenty of experienced installers tend to skip this step. They already know how to do the job, right?

The fact is that different models possess different nuances. Ignoring these could prevent the equipment from running at peak performance. For instance, while a traditional heat pump might be fine with a standard thermostat, a high-efficiency model may require a digital thermostat. New Wi-Fi enabled thermostats run on low voltage DC power, where poor connections or excessive wire splices can create electrical resistance that causes them to stop working.

Inspect refrigerant tubing. Tubing that's not properly sized or has too many bends can vibrate and create noise (copper tubing shouldn't have more than two 90-degree elbows). If the tubing isn't isolated from the house, this noise can flow through the structure, causing an annoying hum in adjacent rooms. Avoid this by using the right tubing and inspecting it to make sure it's properly isolated.

Ensure drainage. Poorly designed or clogged drain lines can back up and overflow, with consequences that range from water and mold in ceiling cavities to stains on exterior siding. It's important to make sure that all drains are unobstructed, and that the system has the filtration needed to keep dirt out. And make sure you talk with the homeowner about a schedule for cleaning the drains.

These errors are very common; installers who take the short amount of time needed to avoid them will easily differentiate themselves from the competition.

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