Troubleshooter: Long Hot Summer

ANGIER Angela Crenshaw just wanted her air conditioner fixed when she hired Barry Lewis Electric. He replaced her air handler for $900.00. She tells Troubleshooter Diane Wilson, "He told me you won't have to worry about it. It will be fixed the first time and you won't have to worry about it anymore but that hasn't been the case." A few months after the repair, her air went out again and it was tripping the breaker box. So she called Barry Lewis. She adds, "He said the breaker box is old. It needs to be repaired. You probably just need to get a new breaker box she said she would flip the breaker and the air would work for a few days but then go out again."

After the third time this happened, she said Lewis now told her she needed a new compressor. She said, "He told me it was going to cost me $850.00 and I just paid him $900.00 dollars." Something didn't seem right, so Angela called two other HVAC companies for a second opinion. Both confirmed her compressor was bad, but also gave her more bad news.

She adds, "He said there is no way you can put a 2 ton unit on a 2 ½ compressor, it will kick it out every time. It's not compatible, it will not work." Both companies told her that Barry Lewis Electric put in a smaller air handler under her house than she previously had. They also stated it's not an industry standard match with her outside unit. The manufacturer also confirmed it. When she called Barry Lewis, he didn't agree. She adds, "He said he could repair compressor and took it down to $600.00 and he said I'm not going any further and that's all I can do."

Angela questions why Lewis even removed her original air handler. She says, "My unit was only 3 years old, he shouldn't took out unit to start with. Anything he needed to work on should have been under warranty." Troubleshooter Diane Wilson talked with Barry Lewis, he agreed the unit he replaced was not a perfect match, but added that before the state code was changed in 2006, the unit he put in was a match, which his supplier confirmed. He also said the two units will work together. He said he was trying to save Angela money.

Instead of saving money, Angela's now looking at a bill of more than $2,000 to get her air and heating unit working again. She says, "It has been a long hot struggle and I just want my air fixed." Angela filed a complaint against Barry Lewis with the state. When Troubleshooter Diane Wilson asked Lewis why he replaced the entire unit, even though the current one was under warranty, he said it looked like it had been struck by lightning. That's even more confusing to Angela, since she said he never stated that to begin with, plus the unit is under the house, off the ground, and nothing around it looks like it's been struck.

Troubleshooter Diane Wilson talked with several HVAC technicians, and they all say while technically they can get any unit to work with each other, the key is to follow state code and the guidelines of the American Refrigeration Institute so they perform efficiently, and to safety standards.

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