The potential customer wanted a price to replace his natural-gas-guzzling boiler. He already knew what he wanted: a Navien NHB modulating condensing boiler set up with outdoor reset and at least one other brand.
Upon arrival to survey the job, his wife explained that hubby could not be present, but here is a list of questions he wants you to answer — in writing.
1. Do you measure for an actual heat loss to size the boiler? Yes — I use the ACCA Manual-J program.
2. I do not want the new boiler to be sidewall vented. Can it be vented into the chimney? You have a gas-fired tank-style water heater vented into the chimney flue. High- efficiency appliances cannot be directly vented into a masonry chimney. We cannot install a plastic polypropylene liner down the same chimney flue with the water heater exhaust and there is not enough room inside the terracotta flue for two liners: one plastic and the second one insulated metal. I’ll provide you with an installed price for several combi boiler brands that do both heating and domestic hot water. I’ll also price an option for an indirect water heater that can be used with boilers that only provide hydronic heating.
3. Do you include a seven-day programmable thermostat? Yes, but only with high-efficiency boilers utilizing outdoor reset that also incorporate programmed modification to raise outgoing water temperatures that overrides the outdoor reset curve if a call for heating exceeds the programmed time limit.
And the list went on for more and more questions. By now, I’d had the time to observe the piping in the basement and could see this was a mono-flow system. Wonderfully simple in design as just one pipe loops around the perimeter of the home with both the supply and return tees connected to the single pipe. A diverter inside one, or both, tee acts like a Btu traffic cop that directs a portion of the hot water to take a detour through the heat emitter and rejoin the flow downstream. The only good a purge valve will do after the new boiler’s installation is to flush air from the main loop. Each of the heat emitters, which were convectors and baseboard, would need to have their covers removed to bleed air individually and that adds time.
The proposal, with its many options, was delivered via email, which is a great way to communicate as embedded links can be incorporated. That way, the owners can click on each link and visit the manufacturers’ websites where brochures and more technical information can be studied.
Within minutes, the first reply arrived. “I can buy the Navien NHB, New York Thermal Trinity or their combi units online for less than $2,500 and no doubt the rest of the components you need would cost less than $300. I want an itemized break down of all parts and the labor.”
I paused and did a slow count to 10! Then I responded… What can’t you find online these days? It seems like virtually anything can be found for sale on the Internet. No doubt you’ll understand any business has to turn a profit or they won’t stay in business over the long haul. Your price for either boiler brand will be slightly higher, but not by much, and we provide a labor warranty on all products we sell. Products provided by others are not covered under our warranty and you’ll find the manufacturers will not provide any warranty for Internet sales. As for the BOS (balance of system) components, you are substantially off the mark with the $300 price.
I asked you for an itemized breakout and I expect you to provide one. Once again I counted to 10, and then responded. Sorry, but we do not do that and will not be providing one. You asked for an installed cost and we provided one. I would encourage you to shop around with other mechanical contractors. Not everyone incorporates the same methods and manner for incorporating new boilers into older hydronic systems.
I’ll give him this: he was a persistent bugger and continued sending me messages. One thing was certain; under no circumstances were we going to agree to install this, or any other product, for someone who throws up this many red flags before we set foot on their property!
No doubt he would have picked apart the job by getting product numbers off each item and gone shopping for the lowest online price to be found and then refuse to pay one red cent more for his combined total. This guy was a true one percenter if ever there was one. You know: where 1% of the customers provide 99% of the problems you’ll have to deal with in your business.
His last nasty gram stated he had found someone considerably cheaper. Thank God and God help them!
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