I was reading, with great interest, the other day a story posted on an Internet chat room (Groom Lakeatwww.area51hvac.com). I often go there to catch up on the latest industry buzz, along with a stop at Dan Holohan’sThe Wallatwww.heatinghelp.com.

The writer told his story about how he installed an hvac system in a house five years ago but recommended to the homeowner that he install two systems in the 3,500 sq-ft, two-story home. He suggested it for maximum comfort, since there was the potential for a difference in temperature from the first to second floor.

He said the owner decided to go with one system. The owner subsequently never complained about comfort in his five years in the home. When he sold the home, the new homeowner was unhappy with the system and got quotes on a second hvac system. When the new homeowner found out the costs of adding a second system, he contacted the original contractor (who posted this story) and said he should take responsibility for not installing the second system.


The storyteller said he felt ethically correct in not caving in to the pressure from the second homeowner. Others posting messages at Groom Lake were less diplomatic. One respondent quipped, “I think you should fix it for free, then come by my house and add two more return vents for free. While you are over here, could you also trim my hedges for free?”

Another said “Tell him to take responsibility for his decision to buy the property. He didn’t contract the installation — he bought a piece of property.”

Taking Responsibility

This incident highlights the importance of taking responsibility for a job and, ultimately, accountability. It was obvious from this scenario that the second homeowner was looking for “something for nothing.” And I’m glad the storyteller stuck to his guns.

One respondent said that maybe the second homeowner would give him the job of installing a second hvac system anyway. That would be the ideal scenario while creating some goodwill.

The storyteller sent in his final post to the discussion, saying, “I know we have taken accountability when it is clear that’s what we should do; even taking accountability for things we are not responsible for including repairing manufacturer’s defects, problems caused by builders and homeowners themselves.

“I have never had an attorney or CPA offer anything more than an ‘I’m sorry’ when they screw up. [But] everybody makes mistakes.”

It was refreshing to see that so many good ideas and comments came out of an issue that is near and dear to the hearts of many hvacr contractors — accountability. If contractors were to walk away from being responsible for their actions, the results could be harmful if not deadly to homeowners.

The latter struck close to home in early December when a story came out of Clare County in mid-Michigan. A homeowner installed a “secondhand” furnace in his home, which wasn’t vented properly. If it weren’t for the calls for help from an employer who questioned why the man hadn’t shown up for work, an entire family of six might have died from carbon monoxide poisoning.

If the homeowner had called a professional, chances are a contractor in his area would have eliminated the possibility of a carbon monoxide leak by being accountable for a proper installation.

I’m glad I work with hvacr professionals who take responsibility and make customer comfort and safety their top priorities. If you’d like to join me in the Hvacr Forum at www.achrnews.com, we can throw out a few more “ilitys.”

Hall is business management editor. He can be reached at 734-542-6214; 734-542-6215 (fax); halljr@bnp.com.

Publication date: 12/07/2000