Complaint Against Advanced Comfort Systems, Inc. of Virginia Beach, VA

Posted on Friday, November 4th, 2005 at 12:00am CST by 8f9bf47a

Company: Complaint Against Advanced Comfort Systems, Inc. of Virginia Beach, VA

Category: Other

Complaint Against Advanced Comfort Systems, Inc. of Virginia Beach, VA

November 3, 2005

Here is the full text version of our complaint against Advanced Comfort Systems, Inc. of Virginia Beach, VA: Chronology of Events: Tuesday, 19 July 2005: Thomas and Deborah Moriarty (complainants) enter into contract with Mr. Sal Butera of Advanced Comfort Systems, Inc., to have original, builder-installed air conditioning system at our home replaced with new Trane air conditioning system. Signed contract and provided Mr. Butera with a check for the full amount of $6,980.00. Installation was initially scheduled for 21 July but was rescheduled for 26 July by mutual agreement. (Copy of contract attached) Tuesday, 26 July 2005: Mr Butera’s sons arrive at our home to install air conditioning system specified in the contract. System components include an outside compressor unit, air handler, hot water coil, and new thermostat as well as a pad for the outside unit. Deborah was at home during the time they installed the system. The installation was completed that afternoon and the system was operating and cooling our home. While neither my wife nor I went into the attic to inspect that portion of the work (air handler), we did inspect the outside compressor and the new thermostat and were satisfied with our new system. It seemed to be working fine. NOTE: At no time on either 19 July or 26 July or any time thereafter until Friday 21 October 2005 were we informed by Mr. Sal Butera or his sons who performed the installation that: 1) the new air handler (located in the attic) to be installed as part of our new system required 240 volts as opposed to the previous air handler which used 120 volts, and 2) that the new air handler’s increased voltage requirement required the wiring modification made by Thomas Butera to our circuit breaker panel to provide that increased voltage. This is an essential fact that has a causal relationship to all the events which follow. Wednesday, 19 October 2005: From 26 July until this date, our air conditioning system had been working well. We were pleased to be owners of a high-quality system designed to give us years of trouble-free performance. All this was about to change because on this morning, my wife decided to clean the master bath which includes a Jacuzzi tub. She never actually uses the tub but does clean it two or three times a year by running a vinegar and water solution through the Jacuzzi system to prevent mildew and odors. That morning when she turned on the Jacuzzi, nothing happened. She went to the Jacuzzi pump motor access panel in our bedroom, opened it and unplugged the Jacuzzi pump motor from its GFI outlet and plugged it into a regular wall outlet. She went back into the bathroom and the Jacuzzi turned on. She finished her cleaning, but was concerned as to why the Jacuzzi wouldn’t work when plugged into the GFI outlet in the access panel. She called Calvary Electrical Construction Company to have an electrician come out to fix the problem and an appointment was made for Friday morning October 21st. Later that afternoon, before I arrived home from work, my wife noticed that the air conditioning didn’t seem to be working. She mentioned it to me when I got home and I agreed with her that it was not working. She called Advanced Comfort Systems owned by Mr. Sal Butera, installers of our system, to report the problem. An appointment was made to have the system looked by someone from Advanced Comfort Systems on Friday afternoon October 21st. At this point in time, neither my wife nor I could have imagined that these two seemingly unrelated problems were about to cause us the serious difficulties that would follow in the days ahead almost leading to the loss of our home by fire on Monday afternoon October 24th. Friday 21 October 2005: As promised, Calvary Electrical Construction Company sent two electricians to our home on Friday morning to fix the problem my wife had encountered with the Jacuzzi tub in the master bathroom on 19 October – two days earlier. They found that the GFI outlet had blown and required replacement. They went to the circuit breaker panel and discovered a white wire attached to the breaker labeled “Jacuzzi” and asked my wife why that wire was there and told her that it didn’t belong there. My wife replied that she did not know why the wire was there or how it got there. The electricians, not realizing why that wire had been placed there by Thomas Butera to get 240 volts to the new air handler when he installed the air conditioning system, removed it and proceeded to fix what they thought was a problem solely related to the Jacuzzi tub and the GFI which supported the Jacuzzi pump motor with 120 volt power. The reason that the GFI had blown and the Jacuzzi did not operate when my wife turned it on is because it was receiving 240 volts as a result of the white wire Thomas Butera had attached in an effort to get 240 volts to the air handler. That is why, the Jacuzzi pump motor worked normally when my wife plugged the cord into a wall outlet receiving 120 volts. Additionally, when my wife turned on the Jacuzzi and it blew the GFI outlet it was plugged into, it also tripped the circuit breaker labeled “Jacuzzi” in the circuit breaker panel. This had the effect of eliminating 120 of the required 240 volts to the air handler rendering it inoperative and shutting down the air conditioning system. But of course, neither my wife nor the electricians realized this at the time. The electricians from Calvary Electrical installed a new GFI for the Jacuzzi tub and adjusted the wiring in the circuit breaker box (the white wire placed by Thomas Butera on the breaker labeled “Jacuzzi”) to properly restore that circuit. My wife paid them $137.00 (copy of invoice attached) and they left. The problem with the Jacuzzi seemed to be solved. As promised, that afternoon, Mr. Sal Butera’s son Thomas arrived at our home to fix the problem with our air conditioning system. My wife was there and observed as he checked the outside compressor unit, the thermostat and the air handler. While checking the air handler he noted that it was only receiving 120 volts. My wife accompanied him as he went out to the circuit breaker panel in the garage. After removing the cover to the panel, he saw that the white wire he had placed on the “Jacuzzi” beaker had been removed and asked my wife what had happened to that wire. She told him about the electricians that morning coming to fix the Jacuzzi and that they told her that wire should not have been there. At that point, Thomas Butera informed my wife that he could not fix the air conditioning because of the wire being moved, replaced the panel and left my wife with an invoice giving his recommendation for fixing the problem – the problem he created by placing the wire there in the first place. (See attached invoice) When I got home that evening, Thomas Butera had already left and my wife explained what had happened and showed me the invoice. Needless to say, we were both very confused and dissatisfied with what had taken place. My wife again called Calvary Electrical Construction Company and asked them to send out electricians to see if they could fix the problem we were having and restore the air conditioning system to operational status. An appointment was made for Monday morning, October 24th. The weekend passed without any further problems; however, our air conditioning system remained inoperative. Monday, 24 October 2005: Two electricians (Josh and Greg) arrived Monday morning from Calvary Electrical Construction Company and began their attempt to fix the problem of the air handler not getting the required voltage. They replaced three breakers in the circuit breaker box and rearranged some of the wiring in an effort to restore 240 volts to the air handler. I was at home as they were accomplishing this work and by the time they had finished it appeared that they had solved the problem because the air handler was now working. I paid them $270.00 for their services (invoice attached) and they left our home at about noon. I returned to work thinking that the problem had at last been solved. I was still not happy about the additional expenses that we had incurred and planned to address this with Mr. Sal Butera later that day. At about 2:30 p.m., I received a call from my wife at work telling me that she had been in the kitchen and smelled a strong odor – like something burning – fumes of some kind. She went out into the garage and the fumes were overpowering, especially near the water heater (gas). She thought that maybe there was a gas leak so she turned off the hot water heater at the breaker box and called the gas company. A gas company representative arrived at our home, checked for gas leaks in the garage and did not find any. He then had my wife turn the power to the water heater back on and the exhaust blower/fan motor assembly on top of the water heater began smoking. He had her turn off the power immediately which she did. She then called Calvary Electrical Construction Company back because she felt that the problem with the water heater had to be related to the earlier visit by the electricians (Josh and Greg) since we had never had a problem like this before. Calvary said they would send an electrician out that afternoon. At around 5:00 p.m., two electricians (Chris and Mark) arrived at our home from Calvary Electrical Construction Company. I arrived home from work at about 5:15 and began discussing with Chris what could possibly be causing the problems we were having. We focused on the fact that everything pointed to the new air handler as being suspect because it was the only thing I could see that had changed from the original air conditioning system to the one that had been installed on July 26th by Mr. Sal Butera’s sons. I let him know that I thought the change in voltage from 120 volts to 240 volts was a critical element of the problem and that it was causing a “cascade effect” on the electrical system. We then got onto the subject of the white wire that had been attached to the breaker labeled “Jacuzzi” discovered by the Calvary electricians on Friday morning as they attempted to fix the problem with the Jacuzzi in the bathroom. I mentioned how on Friday afternoon, Thomas Butera showed up to fix the air conditioning and when he opened the circuit breaker panel he asked my wife who had moved the white wire and she told him what the electricians had done earlier that day to fix the Jacuzzi. When she told him that, he then told her that because the wire had been moved he couldn’t fix our air conditioning. I mentioned what he had written on the invoice he left us. From there, we proceeded to what had in all likelihood happened when the Calvary electricians (Josh and Greg) attempted to solve the problem of getting 240 volts to the air handler that morning and how their actions led to what happened with the water heater due to their not realizing they shared the same circuit (REMEMBER: the previous air handler was 120 volt, same as the water heater). We determined that Josh and Greg’s efforts to get 240 volts to the air handler allowed 240 volts to go to the hot water heater causing an overvoltage situation that caused the exhaust blower/fan motor assembly to overheat, caused the outlet the water heater was plugged into to burn, and caused the water heater plug to char from the heat (see attached picture of outlet). The two electricians, Chris and Mark, and I agreed that had my wife not been home when the water heater problem happened, it is very likely that a fire would have resulted possibly causing the loss of our home. The electricians and I agreed that they would remove the damaged water heater outlet, tie off the wires (now carrying 240 volts instead of 120 volts) and cover it with a blank plate. The electricians told me that they could install a new 120 volt wall outlet directly from the circuit breaker panel on the wall next to the water heater. I agreed. They did not have the materials with them and they told me they would return in the morning to complete the job. They left at about 7:00 p.m. After the electricians left, I called Mr. Sal Butera to tell him what was going on and discuss the problems we were having; however, there was no answer at either of his numbers (757-430-4904 or 757-635-0608) and I left messages requesting that he contact me so that we could address the problems we were having since they now seemed to be directly related to the installation of our new air conditioning system on July 26th – specifically to the new air handler with the increased voltage requirement and the manner in which his son Thomas altered the wiring in our circuit breaker box during the installation without informing us of the actions he took and why. That evening, my wife called our home warranty insurance company (not our homeowner’s insurance company) regarding the water heater which was now not working as a result of the overvoltage situation. They said they would send someone out the next morning to check it out. Tuesday, October 25th: At around 7:00 a.m., electricians (Chris and Mark) from Calvary Electrical Construction Company arrived at our home to complete the installation of the 120 volt wall outlet in the garage to provide power to the water heater. Chris and I again discussed and reviewed the events that had occurred up until now and again we both agreed that lack of knowledge with regard to the purpose for the white wire attached to the breaker labeled “Jacuzzi” in the circuit breaker box contributed to all of the events that had taken place up until now. That wire had been placed there by Thomas Butera when he installed our new air conditioning system on July 26th 2005 and he never communicated that information to us nor did he annotate the change he made on the circuit breaker panel label. At about 9:00 a.m. I received a call from Mr. Sal Butera of Advanced Comfort Systems. I told him about all that had happened so far and about how it all seemed to relate back to the installation of our system by his sons and the fact that we were NOT told about the new voltage required by the air handler or about the modifications his son had made to our circuit breaker panel by attaching the white wire to the breaker labeled “Jacuzzi.” I told him about how our home could have been lost to fire yesterday afternoon save for my wife being home and noticing the fumes coming from the water heater. I mentioned that the electricians were still here at the house and he asked if he could come over as he was just a few minutes away. I agreed. At around 9:15, Mr. Sal Butera and his son Thomas arrived at our home. We met in the garage and we discussed with the electricians the series of events that began when my wife tried to turn on the Jacuzzi on October 19th and it wouldn’t work. From there we progressed through the entire chronology and the attempts at correcting the problems that only seemed to create more problems (cascade effect). Mr. Butera openly admitted that we were not told about the change in the voltage requirements of the new air handler for the air conditioning system they installed. His son Thomas admitted that he did not tell either me or my wife about what he had done with the white wire in our circuit breaker panel in order to get 240 volts to the air handler to allow it to operate. I am firmly convinced that their failure to tell us these two critical pieces of information contributed to all the unfortunate events that followed. All that was required was for my wife to turn on the Jacuzzi tub in the master bathroom to set the chain of events in motion. Because she did not use it for bathing, it took from July 26th until October 19th when she decided to turn it on for cleaning that the chain of events was set in motion. While we were in the garage that morning, I also pointed out to Mr. Butera and his son that the workmanship in the attic with respect to the air handler installation needed some attention. Specifically, the wiring needed to be looked at, the heater coil had separated from the unit and was allowing air (for heating and cooling) to exhaust into the attic, and the foam insulation covering the pipes into the unit was not properly installed (see pictures). He agreed to have his son take care of those things and he did. I also showed Mr. Butera the invoices for all the electrical work that was required as a result of this and said that I felt it would be fair if he agreed to at least pay half. Instead he suggested the amount of $200.00 which I agreed to at the time. He told me that he would either drop off a check at my home or mail it to us. In retrospect, I do not feel that this was fair and believe that Mr. Butera and Advanced Comfort Systems, Inc., should bear full responsibility for all of the electrical repair expenses and also be liable for the expenses associated with repairs to our water heater. Later in the morning, the technician arrived to inspect our water heater. He told us that the parts required to fix the hot water heater were not available locally and that it would be 7-10 days before the parts arrive. This means that we will have no hot water in our home for that period of time and no hot water for heating as our hot water heater is also our home heating system. Furthermore, the full extent of the damage to the hot water heater is not known based on his initial inspection. The water heater may have to be replaced if the 240 volts damaged additional electronic components beyond the exhaust blower/fan motor assembly of which we are currently unaware. We will only find this out when the parts arrive, are installed and the water heater is tested to see if it will work or whether additional parts or replacement will be necessary. So far, the costs to us have been $137.00 for replacement of GFI related to the Jacuzzi problem, $270.00 for replacement of three breakers and wiring adjustments at the circuit breaker panel in effort to get 240 volts to air handler (which unfortunately resulted in damage to water heater and need for new 120 volt outlet), and $275.00 for installation of new 120 volt outlet for water heater. The total is $682.00 of which Mr. Butera has only agreed to be responsible for $200.00. This does not include what it will cost to repair our water heater or possibly replace (if required), not to mention the inconvenience of being without hot water or heat for 7-10 days. We ask that Mr. Sal Butera and Advanced Comfort Systems, Inc., accept responsibility for their failure to perform a proper and professional installation and for their failure to inform us regarding the change in system voltage requirements and the methods they intended to use to meet those requirements through changing the wiring at our circuit breaker panel. This work was done by Mr. Butera’s son Thomas who is not a qualified electrician. They admitted that we were not informed regarding the change in system voltage requirements and that we were not informed regarding the changes made to our circuit breaker panel. Both Mr. Sal Butera and his son said that this is something they do all the time and that they didn’t think it would be a problem. As you can see from what I have described above, it did cause a problem that led to additional problems, and ultimately almost caused us to lose our home to fire. Virginia consumers need protection from these types of practices that could have deadly results. We ask you to consider our complaint based on the facts we have submitted and to hold Mr. Sal Butera and Advanced Comfort Systems, Inc., liable for the financial costs we have incurred (and will incur with regard to the water heater) as a result of their actions. Thomas J. Moriarty Deborah S. Moriarty Contact information: Thomas and Deborah Moriarty


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