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Free Furnace Inspections

At our previous house there was an interesting tactic used by Furnace companies that I must tell folks about, when we got called for a free furnace inspection.

Our house, at the time, was part of a larger development where most of the houses

These can be very expensive!
These can be very expensive!

were built by the same builder, at about the same time. The Furnace Repair companies knew what kind of furnace was installed in most of the houses, and knew of a fault in the design of these furnaces which caused the Aluminum heat exchanger to crack prematurely (i.e. but still long after any warranty on the furnace).

The furnace installation companies had a neat trick, where they would offer folks a Cheap Furnace Cleaning and a Free Furnace inspection. Inevitably the free inspection was done first and if the furnace did have a cracked heat exchanger it was “red tagged” (i.e. turned off and not allowed to be turned on again until repaired or replaced) and then the chap who did the inspection would then say that his company couldn’t repair the problem and the furnace would need to be replaced. Coincidentally, this same company sold furnaces as well, and you can guess how the story might end.

Is This Dishonest?

Was it dishonest ? I fell for it, and ended up having to get a new furnace, thanks to this fun bit of “salesmanship”, you can draw your own conclusions. However, I didn’t buy from the firm that did the “free inspection”.  I called 3 different firms to get quotes and chose the one I thought was best.

Feel Free to Comment

  1. My dad has had great service with the same company that has been working on his furnace for decades. Back when he started with them he knew the guy who did the service, and he was very fair. He has had some extra items added to the furnace system over the years, (some kind of air filtration system) and his ducts are clean as a whistle because of it. I am just miffed that my room was the one furthest from the heat, and I being a complete wuss when it comes to being cold, ended up always being cold. I am still a wuss when it comes to being cold to this day.

    But the house has always been well taken care of, and he has never regretted doing business with that company. There are still SOME good people doing good work out there, but you have to be careful! Second opinions are good, and being aware of the ongoing scams in your region is even better.

    Those scams are getting interesting too! My dad got a personal letter from Africa (some Nigerian lotto scam) and was wise enough to ask me about it. I knew it was a scam and he highly suspected it was, and wasn’t going to send a dime to anyone. When I looked it over a few days later, I called the local cops to advise them about this (to me) new scam, they had already heard about it and someone local had already been duped. That evening it was again in the newspaper about the latest scams and to not get caught. The police there do a “lookout for scams” thing in the local newspaper about every 2 months and people still get caught.
    Scammers will be roof inspectors, furnace checks, water purity, and many other things, and will have convincing patter to try and get in your home, to try and get you to sign on the line.
    It is good to talk to your elderly friends and remind them about the newest scams as they seem to be the more gullible and more likely targets.

    Funniest one my dad has had, was the “Grandson is in jail and needs bail money”. My dad went into the kitchen to ask his grandson what he was doing in jail! Only one Grandson, and he was visiting and there in the house at the time! lol Called that one a scam right off the bat!

    The more people are told about scams the better off they are.

  2. I would have called another furnace company and got a second opinion just in case. There are a lot of sneaky salesmen just waiting to take advantage of the unsuspecting and ill-informed.

  3. While the tactic seems to be a bit suspect but I don’t think it was dishonest. Thought I would say they should have been more upfront about the situation rather than red tagging the furnace.

    Did you know that the furnaces were likely to have this defect before they gave you the inspection?

  4. BCM,

    I am curious as to why you felt obligated to buy a furnace from them. Once they discovered the problem, couldn’t you call up another company to get a new furnace?

    l see a similar problem with the emmissions test for the car. I would mnot be inclined to get the repair done at any place that found the problem.

    Maybe I am just paranoid….

  5. Was your heat exchanger actually cracked? If so, they did you a favour telling you about it, due to the risks involved with carbon monoxide poisoning. One way to avoid the pressures of having to replace your furnace during heating season is to have it inspected/maintained at the end of summer.

  6. At least you know those furnaces were prone to cracking so you probably would have had to replace it sooner or later. According to Ellen Roseman, there are some people scamming using the same technique who will lockout a furnace when there is actually nothing wrong with it. It’s almost enough to make you refuse to let anyone near your furnace in winter!

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