Air Force Heating Blog

TOP 6 Furnace Installation Horror Stories!

My list of things I’ve seen and heard while working in this Industry…

People need to be aware of the potential dangers of hiring incompetent, unprofessional contractors.

Measure Twice & Cut Once!

I’ve seen pics of more “hole coring” mistakes than I’d like to admit, but this was the first.

Concrete coring is commonplace.

When high-efficiency furnaces first become standard in Calgary, there was a significant influx of damaged homes due to installer error, and the bulk of them seemed to focus around hole coring.

Still to this day you hear a lot of mistakes occurring around this job requirement.

High-efficiency furnace venting system requires holes cut in the side of homes. Though commonplace today, it was new for most guys back in the day and many failed at this new job requirement.

The installer mismarked the hole location, and instead of going through the basement header and into the mechanical room he accidentally cored right into the living room and into the couch the homeowner was sitting in.

The apprentice on this job told the story so well; he said the look of shock and aww on the homeowner’s face was priceless and only outdone by the redness of the journeyman installers face.

In the end, the home got repaired, the couch replaced, an ego bruised and a lesson for everyone in that company.

Measure twice, drill pilot holes first and don’t allow just anyone to core holes in peoples homes.

How Much Water Did You Say?

Once again, these things amaze me! How incidents like this happen is mind-numbing, they’re all avoidable with a little precaution and professionalism.

Another hole coring failure I call, The perfect storm.

In most cases when concrete drilling or coring, the use of water is an everyday occurrence, it keeps the dust contained and the bits cool. 

In this story, the lead installer measured and marked his hole locations, cored, inspected them, and drove offsite for a nice lunch with his apprentice.

The Horror!

I must mention that the homeowners weren’t home, they opted to go to work and come back at the end, for the inspection and payment collection. Happens a lot and usually is just fine.

Who would expect a flooded basement?

The installers return after an extra long lunch break and walk downstairs to 1-2” of water in the basement!

Upon closer inspection and investigation, he had drilled through two ¾” copper lines.

The storm darkens, they can’t find the main shut off and can’t get a hold of the homeowners either, they helplessly watch the basement filled with even more water over the next two hours.

Needlessly to say when the homeowner got home they were furious!

The contractor had liability insurance, and everything got corrected but what a nightmare.

The run down

The installer failed to inspect or verify the holes located behind the drywall and blindly cored through assuming it was good. 

In his defense, the reno was without permits and the water lines installed in an odd location.

Secondly, he saw some water before leaving for lunch but assumed it was just from the machine. When interviewed by the manager,

his response “I was in a hurry, I was super hungry and out late last night, so a little hungover.”

Third, he took an hour lunch instead of the allotted 30 mins and he left the job site, which was against policy.

The fourth issue, the mechanical room floor drain was installed on the other side of the basement and covered with vinyl flooring.

Fifth, no work contact number in case of an emergency, only the client’s cell which was turned off.

The result

GPS tracking in company fleet, a fired employee, insurance premiums hiked and new furnace installation protocols.

You DID What?

This story is a tough one because I liked the guy. This story goes back to when I was an installations manager.

Thomas was a great guy and an even better installer, but man was he a terrible driver.

He was a terrible driver.

I get a call around 9 in the morning; I can barely hear Thomas talking because of the angry customer yelling obscenities in the background.

Thomas was apologizing profusely; I asked him to spit it out.

He said, “I backed into this guys house with the truck?”

He knew this was the last straw. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the first time Thomas damaged something with a company vehicle, and he had no more chances.

I can’t recall what had more damage, the truck or the client’s home; both were expensive repairs. The client took the company through the wringer.

Fortunately, they’re a larger outfit in town and can rebind from such instances.ound from such cases.

That won’t buff out!

Out of all the damage I’ve seen done over the years, the most common in our industry.

Scraped and dinged walls.

Caused by having to carry old heavy & large furnaces up stairwells that curve.

It’s a very difficult and stressful part of the job.

Damaged floors

The second most common in our industry. 100% avoidable with some patience, proper equipment and knows how.

This client had just remodeled an old home, and part of the upgrades was a new furnace. I was still an installations manager at this time.

I got called out to the job to assess the damage and to handle the situation.

Boy, what a mess they made of this guys floor. I’m glad he was a nice guy!

The office had informed him everything would be okay, we had insurance and that he would be 100% taken care of in this matter.

Wrecked floors

The story is as follows

The two installers fought to get this furnace to the top of the stairs. It was an ancient beast of a machine, five-foot-tall, two-foot-wide and about 3 foot deep. The sucker weighted over 500 lbs

They should have taken the time to break the unit down into smaller, more manageable pieces.

Instead of getting the dolly from the truck, they opted to wiggle the unit over to the front door. Roughly twenty feet away. His floor was gouged, scraped and dented the entire distance!

They thought that since there were cloth drops down, it would be okay and protect the floor.

The kicker

It was specially imported flooring, “six-inch-wide spalted birdseye maple”!

The flooring contractor just finished completing it earlier that month, thirty-something days and $12,000 later and all was right in the world again.

It had to be internationally shipped and climatized before installing.

Of course, it had to be a NEW Mercedes!

I spoke of Thomas in another story, that was a story about the last thing he damaged before being released from that company.

I figured why not tell the story of the first item Thomas ruined while on the job.

If you read the other story about Thomas, you know he’s a terrible driver.

Thomas had requested that the homeowner remove his vehicle from the driveway so he could back in without risking damage to his car.

What a great idea, it was also one of the company’s policies.

Disastrous

Thomas still managed to back into his brand-new Mercedes though.

He managed to almost scrape the entire length of the car with his bumper. The client had pulled on to the street adjacent the home.

Thomas failed to mention to his supervisor that his mirror was partially damaged and needed replacing.

In his defense, Thomas stated,

“I didn’t feel or see anything until my apprentice noticed what was happening and pointed it out to me.”

“Truth is stranger than fiction,” I believe that’s how the saying goes!

Did you strap that down?

Here’s another avoidable disaster but “stupid is as stupid does”

As part of any new high-efficiency furnace installation, we have to go on the roof. The existing chimney is now 1 to 2 sizes too big, a sleeve or liner needs installed to meet city safety codes and so that the atmospheric water heater can still vent correctly.

It can be moderately challenging in some instances but usually quite easy and routine.

Two simple yet critical points

To remember as an installer when going on the roof. Support and anchor the ladder correctly, so it doesn’t slide out or fall over and second, be careful. Use proper PPE, so you don’t fall off the roof yourself.

Well on with the story, apparently, it was a typical gorgeous fall day in Calgary, warm with a gentle breeze. The installers apprentice climbs up on the roof to do the chimney portion of the project and does so in impressive time. As he goes back to descend the ladder, he notices it’s missing!

He quickly calls the lead installer laughing, thinking he was pranking him.

The lead installer runs upstairs and dashes outside as quickly as he can. The apprentice hears F-Bombs amongst other obscenities ringing out from the lead below.

A lead hand understands that installations start and end with him.

Maybe a free window isn’t so bad.

By now the homeowner is outside too, they’re both standing there staring at each other and glancing in disbelief at the bright orange, thirty-foot ladder impaling the front windshield of his BMW!

The apprenticed later stated, “I thought since it was so nice out and that I would be up and down so fast that anchoring the ladder wouldn’t matter.” 

Air Force Heating

We tell these stories so homeowners can be aware of the dangers involved with furnace installations.

We can guarantee we will protect you from such cases and you won’t become a story in someone else horror list.