The Receiving End of HVAC Service

Well, it finally happened.  It’s the middle of winter in Chicago, with snow on the ground, and the furnace isn’t putting out any heat.


As I noted in one of my earliest columns, I live in an area where natural gas has been the dominant heating fuel for many decades, limiting my heating options.  And it turns out my furnace has been around for many of those decades ‘ at least 25 years so far.  Symptomatically I could hear the igniter sparking, smell a faint odor of gas and noted that the blower is functioning just fine. 


Having spent several years during my in ‘between college” days fabricating and assembling heat treating furnaces for the steel industry, I am handy with tools, somewhat knowledgeable about combustion and halfway competent with electricity.  I similarly understand that where gas or electricity are concerned that is just enough knowledge to cause serious injury or death. So, it was time to find a professional to come out and solve the problem, which brings us to the tie-in with this issue’s focus on HVAC service. 


I was really at ground zero. As with most natural gas customers, I not only lacked a service contract of any sort, but had no relationship whatsoever with a company that could provide that service. Fortunately, though I’m sure she would disagree, my stepmother had recently went through some furnace repair issues and had a company to recommend.  I gave them a call and a technician came out immediately.  The technician was well dressed with a clean uniform.  He was courteous and personable and made sure his boots were covered.  It did not take him long to diagnose the likely problem with a system and provide a reasonably priced repair. He outlined the issues I could expect with a 25-year-old furnace and offered an upgrade option to a more efficient furnace, should I be interested.


This is the part I believe that most customers fear the most.  What’s wrong, how much is it going to cost and is the technician being honest?  In my case, while I knew my limitations on doing the work myself, I did have enough knowledge to come to the same conclusion as to the likely source of the malfunction. Similarly, I appreciated the issues he outlined between making this repair and several others over the course of the next few years vs. buying a new unit.  I could be very comfortable with both the work that was done in the realistic assessment of my options moving forward.  Even without my personal knowledge of the equipment and its function, I would probably have been comfortable with the technician’s professional demeanor and the simple, step by step explanation he provided for how he analyzed the problem and the future issues I might face with the furnace. So, all in all a positive outcome for the type of expense no homeowner wants to incur.  It was a pain writing the check, but the technician left me with no lingering doubts about the need, and the company has my business going forward.



There was an editing error in the February article: ‘Price Protection: Have we Learned or Lesson?” submitted by Steve Abbate. In paragraph seven: ‘Something has to make up for that $0.40 call option or the $0.50 out of the money put down that was purchased to cover the cap.

It should have read: ‘Something has to make up for that $0.40 call option or the $0.50 out of the money put that was purchased to cover the cap.



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