Do I have a bad furnace, bad zoning or both?
January 3, 2018 8:46 AM   Subscribe

We purchased a Lennox furnace (EL296UH090XV36C) in late 2014. We've had nearly 30 service calls for either no heat or problems with one of the three zones maintaining temperatures. The HVAC company claims all of these are unusual, or freak occurrences. Lots more details inside!

Do we have a bad unit? Bad zoning? Bad dealer? We have no idea if this dealer is taking us for a ride or if they are clueless. We don't know anything about HVAC!

In October 2014 we purchased a furnace and an AC unit for our home. We also purchased zoning because my husband's grandmother lives with us and she likes to keep her room warmer than we like the rest of the house. My husband also likes to keep his office and our tv watching room cooler at times. At the same time, we also purchased a smaller unit for our 2nd story and it has worked flawlessly.

Since the install, we have had constant issues with this system. And we have had a few issues with the pressure switch and water in the inducer. The zoning has proved to be extremely frustrating. Zone 1 is our main living area consisting of living room, study, dining room, kitchen. Zone 2 is an office and a tv watching room. Zone 3 is small office and large bedroom. Zone 3 borders zone 1 on the right and zone 2 borders one room of zone 1. they are separated by a hallway with no vents.

*Zone 3 heats and cools as it should. It can maintain the set temperature, and with the most recent update they made to the air flow, now exceeds the set temperature in the winter.

*Zone 1's temperature will not be able to keep the set temperature if zone 2 is set to a lower temperature. For example, if my husband sets the thermostat to 68 in zone 2, zone 1 will not call heat when it dips below the set temperature. In the summer, if the AC is turned down in zone 2, zone 1 will also drop to the same temp, despite showing a different set temp.

*During the recent cold weather this last holiday weekend, zone 2 could not achieve a temperature higher than 61 degrees. We had a pressure switch issue (see below) and the unit stopped heating twice in one day. While they were working on the unit, it had gotten down to 67 in zone 2. Once the heat was again working, the temperature continued to drop and hovered at 61. Zone 1 as a result was anywhere from 67-69. They had also turned off our humidifier in an attempt to test their theory that the humidity was the reason zoning wasn't working.

The dealer has adjusted the air flow 14 times in an attempt to fix this issue, they've installed a second air return in zone 2 in an attempt to fix it, as well as inspected dampers. Now they want to install a separate humidistat independent of the thermostat to try to resolve it. They now claim that the unit is trying to send humidity to zone 2 which makes zone 1 lower it's temperature because of the air flow.

In addition to the zoning never working right, we have had other issues.

*Pressure switch has failed a total of 4 times since install. It was replaced after the 2nd failure and it went 18 months (that winter plus a second winter and now it's failing again). It failed two times on 12/31 - once at 1 AM and once around 2 pm. Both times, the heat shut off. Every time they claimed there was water in the inducer, and have replaced the box when they replaced the pressure switch. During the 1 AM visit, he found leaves in the fan and an icicle on the flue. The tech claims that this is not related to the afternoon call. These are all "freak accidents".

*The unit won't consistently call heat when the zones dip below their set temperature. It's sporadic. The last delay, when the techs were on site, was approximately 45 minutes before the heat kicked on. They claim that was also a "freak accident". They can't explain it, nor can they find anything that would cause it.

We are extremely frustrated that we are having service calls all the time. I also don't like worrying that my heat will stop working.
posted by bodgy to Home & Garden (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Is there a reason that you haven’t called out another company? Your Lennox warranty is good no matter who does the service calls. Unless you have purchased a service warranty through this company, just get another HVAC company to come out.

I agree that what has happened this far is ridiculous- you paid to have a reliable HVAC system and you have not gotten what you have paid for. Get it solved with another company and take the first to small claims to get the service calls reimbursed.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 9:01 AM on January 3, 2018 [5 favorites]

You have incompetent service folks and possibly a bad unit. Go check ratings on service folks and see what someone highly rated can do. I'd also call Lennox and complain to them. We've had a boiler replaced by the company after the third service call, but it was still under warranty.
posted by summerstorm at 9:01 AM on January 3, 2018 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: We’d been discussing paying for someone else to go over our system. Thanks for the validation. I’m calling someone else out this afternoon.
posted by bodgy at 11:23 AM on January 3, 2018 [1 favorite]

Is your zoning system also a Lennox product, maybe one of these? The furnace model number you mentioned doesn't include zoning, that would be an add-on product with thermostats and dampers for each zone, plus maybe a central control unit that everything would be wired into. If it's a Lennox system, you should be able to get another service company that handles Lennox equipment to come take a look. If it's a cobbled-together thing it will be harder to troubleshoot (and also more prone to weird mysterious problems like you've been having).

I agree it's time to get someone else involved to figure this out. If the dealer has been charging you for all these visits I would start raising a ruckus with the dealer, Lennox's customer service, and maybe small claims court. You're right to be frustrated, this is nuts.
posted by beandip at 11:39 AM on January 3, 2018 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Yes, that is our zoning, the iHarmony.

The dealer has not been charging us for visits.
posted by bodgy at 12:18 PM on January 3, 2018

Your Lennox warranty is good no matter who does the service calls.

FWIW, the Lennox warranty covers defective parts only. Lennox doesn't cover anything having to do with the (apparently poor) installation. If the Lennox pieces are working as they should, but are failing because of conditions due to the installation, the warranty generally won't be honored. Lennox is famously hardcore about honoring their warranties.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:04 PM on January 3, 2018

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