Report: #687477

Complaint Review: American Residential Services

  • Submitted: Thu, January 27, 2011
  • Updated: Thu, September 20, 2012
  • Reported By: Nancy — Westminster Colorado U.S.A.
  • American Residential Services
    15750 East Centre Tech Circle
    Aurora, Colorado
    United States of America

Show customers why they should trust your business over your competitors...

American Residential Services at 15750 East Centre Tech Circle Aurora, CO 80111 did a furnace inspection/service at my house Monday 01/24/11. They are the vendor of choice via Home Depot. Matt Stringer was the technician they sent out along with another young man - an apprentice maybe. Matt said the furnace was overheating/cycling off every 5 minutes because of a big crack in the heat exchanger and that carbon monoxide was at dangerous levels. Matt said my furnace was condemned and it could be deadly to use it.He had me sign an Unsafe Furnace Safety Disclaimer.

Matt gave me a bid of $3862 to replace it - which he claimed was the lowest price they could give me. Since I've been unemployed most of the last 3 years and now have no income (which I told them), I decided before signing the purchase contract to look for financing. I spent hours working with my credit union to get a loan. I spent hours filling out the LEAP application and drove across town to get it approved. I spent 3 days trying to get financing instead of job hunting. I found out about the federal weatherization program through my county that might pay for a new furnace. After spending3 days applying for the assistance and making numerous phone calls, I got LEAP approval and contacted the Arapahoe county weatherization office.

After 2 days of living with no heat during 20 degree weather, on Wednesday 01/25, the Arapahoe County weatherization office sent out a contractor from Bob's Heating and Air Conditioning in Arvada. At 4 PM the 25th, the contractor named John tested the furnace and told me the furnace was cycling off early and overheating because the air filter was choking the air supply - not because of a crack! He said filters that get out pet dander and pollutants actually choke furnaces and cause over heating. He had me watch his test to confirm his conclusion. When the air filter was removed, the furnace performed normally!

John was in my house for an hour with a carbon monoxide detector that is sensitive to 1 PPM and the digital readout stayed at 0, even next to the running furnace. He tested all over the house. He said the carbon monoxide levels that ARS got me scared about as lethal was less than what a cigarette generates. In the Unsafe Furnace Safety Disclaimer, ARS noted "4 PPM in the air flow" as if it was a deadly danger. Cigarettes emit 12 PPM. There was NO carbon monoxide danger in my house! John also told me the $3800 bid for a new furnace was at least $1000 more than what Bob's Heating and Air Conditioning would charge me for the same furnace.

I had also asked ARS to relight the pilot light of my gas fireplace. Matt told me he couldn't get it to light and the fireplace needed new parts which they couldn't provide. When John from Bob's Heating tried to light the pilot light, he found that one of the fake logs was blocking the gas flow to the spark igniter. It took 5 minutes to remove the glass, move the log, and light the pilot light.Problem solved!

So I spent 3 days without heat in 20 degree weather because of them. I had also purchased space heaters to try to stay comfortable. I was put in great stress because of this! I spent many hours driving around town, making phone calls, and filling out applications - all for nothing!!! ARS didn't care my dire financial situation. They just wanted to sell me a furnace I didn't need.

ARS used a camera with a bendable scope to look into the furnace and take a picture. They showed me a picture of a crack in "my" furnace, but the scope was not in the furnace at the time they showed me the picture. This means that the camera has a memory to store pictures. I suspect that the camera has a stored picture in it of a cracked furnace. Once in a persons house, they display the picture from the memory card and tell the customer the picture is from their furnace. I'll bet this is part of their ruse to dupe customers. John from Bob's Heating said he sees lots of fraud in his industry. He told me he's seen lots of fraud with ARS.

Be smart and get multiple bids and inspections when dealing with big ticket items. Buyer beware!!

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Updates & Rebuttals


#1 UPDATE Employee

ARS Rescue Rooter

AUTHOR: ARS Rescue Rooter - (United States of America)

ARS is the premier provider of heating, air conditioning, indoor air quality, plumbing, drain cleaning, and sewer line services to homes and businesses.  While current marketplace trends determine our pricing structure to continue providing exceptional service, please contact us at (866) 803-0879 to discuss your specific situation.
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#2 General Comment

Here is a thought

AUTHOR: Homer - (United States of America)

I have been in the business several years.  I have an opinion on this so here it is.  Anyone that uses a limit switch as a control switch is messing up.  Your furnace comes with a limit switch to protect your furnace from getting to hot.  It is not supposed  to cycle the furnace.  There is what they call "heat rise" Most furnaces are 30 to 60 degrees.  This is the ambient air going into the furnace to the heat going out of the furnace.  If it is 70 degrees into it, then you should Not be about 130 degrees.  Or whatever your heat rise is supposed to be and yes it is on the furnace tag inside it.

As an outsider looking in and listening to both sides...... which I do Not condone any price gouging or ripping off of the customer.  It would seem the first guy, would be my choice on who would work on my furnace.  He offered to come out again and show that guy the crack.  He told you what equipment he was using and Yes it is top of the line equipment.  He said he showed you the problem with the heat exchanger and it sounds like he did do that.  4 ppm in my furnace and it would be out the door if it did not have 4 ppm going into it.  His price?  He's right, some furnace companies do have more overhead and therefore reflect the price.  Schooling is pricey too.  Here is one more thought, I would Not put your furnace back into service after hearing this, cracks may be small but one night when it's cold out and your furnace is running at capacity, that little crack can split and open up due to the heat.  Heat Exchangers do one thing,,, Crack,, It's not if it's going to crack it's When it's going to crack.  It heats up and cools down about 90 times a day when it's cold, every fifteen minutes, just how long does metal do this before it cracks?  Another thing, when those rivets come off that heat exchanger is junk.

I would say Change That Furnace.
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#3 Author of original report


AUTHOR: Nancy - (USA)

The last reviewer claims that Matt has a sterling reputation and rips me for hurting it.

So how come inspections from 2 other companies read his report, did their inspections and concluded that he was trying to gouge and mislead me.

I've had the house for more than a year after the ARS inspection and the furnace is working fine, I didn't die from CO poisoning!

He didn't care that I'd been unemployed a long time. He condemned my furnace and was going to overcharge for a new one. Do a search for complaints against ARS Rescue Rooters and you'll see nationwide complains about ripoffs - especially the elderly, and outright fraud
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#4 Consumer Suggestion

Joe Ledkins- Hvac Senior Technician N.A.T.E. ID#7498504

AUTHOR: Joe - (United States of America)

I am a Technician that worked in the Denver area at one time. I have practiced Hvac in 4 parts of the country. I hold 8 certifications from North American Technician Excellance, and about 6 years of schooling in my proffession. The Denver market is is by far the most un-educated area I have ever been to. I know Matt Stringer mentioned in this complaint. I have no direct knowledge of this matter first hand, BUT....I do know that he would NOT tell you that the furnace had a cracked heat exchanger if that was not the case. Matt Stringer has been trained to look for bad chambers in furnaces from a class in Fort Collins called "Heat Exchanger Experts" which is the finest training for examining chambers anywere. You can find the class on the internet.

For the record.....just because a furnace has a bad chamber does NOT mean that it is generating carbon minoxide, it does have the "potential". The furnace may not be generating "co" at time of the service call - but under the right conditions, it may at some point in the future. VERY FEW TECHNICIANS IN THE DENVER AREA HAVE BEEN TRAINED TO INSPECT HEAT EXCHANGERS!!!! If I were you, I would call "Bobs Heating" and ask if "John" has been to this very important class, especailly with what was written in your complaint!!!! 

Even 1 PPM of "co" out of the supply ducts is VERY BAD!!!! Humans become affected by "co" at 9 PPM!!!!!.

The VISUAL inspection of a heat exchanger supercedes any "co" levels in the home....if a technician can see a crack in the heat exchanger, the furnace needs to have a major repair or install a new furnace.

 So what is so BAD about the Denver market for furnaces???? The duct systems a very restrictive for air flow...and the furnaces are always too big/oversized for the homes!!!!! This will fracture a chamber in just a few years of operation!!!! This is like running a marathon breathing through a straw. And then according to this complaint.....there was a very dirty filter as part of the scope????  

Depending on the year/make and model of the furnace....I would have extracted the heat exchanger and showed you the failure, OR you can cut out the back of the furnace for inspection.

Reading your complaint, Knowing Matt Stringer personally and from being a very experienced Technicain servicing the Denver Mtero area, there are a lot of "holes" in this complaint.

You might be "Riping off" a good technician of his reputation and ARS Denver with what appears to be an un educated second opinoin who couldnt see a cracked heat exchanger if his life depended on it....including your own.
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#5 Author of original report

ANother update

AUTHOR: Nancy - (U.S.A.)

The ARS report said:

§         Found crack in heat exchanger
§         Furnace is not safe to operate
§         Carbon Monoxide hazard
§         4PPM CO level in airflow
§         Furnace overheating
§         It is oversized for ductwork
§         The evaluation checklist of 20 items listed EVERYTHING as Unsatisfactory

On 02/25/11, I had a 3rd heating company in Denver come and do a furnace inspection. The inspector who has been in the business since 1988 and was using the same equipment as Matt tested the furnace and said that it WAS cycling off at 135 degrees which is lower than the recommended temperature. He said the house would heat up better and I’d save on electricity for the blower and gas if the limit switch was replaced and was recommended if I was staying in the house a while. He replaced the switch for $45.

He said there was NO CO problem, there was NO CRACK in the heat exchanger, the coils were fine, the blower wheel was clean, the duct size was just fine and THERE IS NO NEED TO REPLACE THE FURNACE!!! He also said his company would charge $2500 to replace the furnace with equal size, dual stage (similar to the bid from the other Heating company) – but a new furnace
is NOT needed. The ARS bid for a new furnace was $3862 for a single stage.

So in other words, Matt was full of _ _ _ _! 

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#6 Author of original report

carbon dioxide report

AUTHOR: Nancy - (U.S.A.)

The ARS rebuttal said " A person will start having issues with headaches and other side effects living in an environment of 9ppm over a 30 day span. If a furnace has a 10 ppm CO reading in the supply airflow, it is industry standard to condemn the furnace and consider it a safety risk."

I did some checking on the internet and found this:

At what level does carbon monoxide become toxic?
For healthy adults, CO becomes toxic when it reaches a level higher than 50 ppm (parts per million) with continuous exposure over an eight hour period.. When the level of CO becomes higher than that, a person will suffer from symptoms of exposure. Mild exposure over a few hours (a CO level between 70 ppm and 100 ppm) include flu-like symptoms such as headaches, sore eyes and a runny nose. Medium exposure (a CO level between 150 ppm to 300 ppm) will produce dizziness, drowsiness and vomiting. Extreme exposure (a CO level of 400 ppm and higher) will result in unconsciousness, brain damage and death.  

I was led to believe I would die if I continued using the furnace with a 4PPM reading in the air flow. I was told that the crack was allowing the carbon monoxide to get into the air flow. The technician from the other company didn't find any carbon monoxide in the air flow.
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#7 Author of original report


AUTHOR: Nancy - (U.S.A.)

The condemnation report I was shown listed 4PPM of carbon monoxide in the air flow. So why was it condemned if the level needs to be 10 PPM before condemnation? The report also listed 20 items as being unsatisfactory. Really? You expect me to believe that? I'm not sure all 20 items were inspected.

The camera scope was NOT in the furnace when I was shown the picture of a crack. We were 10 feet away from the furnace at the time.

The carbon monoxide meter that was used by the technician from Bob's -who has 30 years experience - is sensitive to 1 PPM. It was put inside and all around the furnace. He checked all over the house and was there an hour with the furnace running the entire time. The meter never got above zero. He pointed out that it is in his best interest to be truthful about the carbon dioxide levels because he could be libel in a lawsuit if someone is hurt because of someone's furnace work or lack of warning about a problem.

Judging by the other complains about ARS nationwide, it seems that overcharging and making false claims about work that is needed is a standard practice.
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#8 Consumer Suggestion

I Stand Corrected

AUTHOR: John - (U.S.A.)

ServiceMaster did sell this company back in 2006 to an investment firm. Nonetheless, if you do a web search on ARS Rescue Rooter you'll find many reports of similar sales tactics used in other locations. This is not an isolated incident.

Do the formal complaint with Home Depot and the BBB.

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#9 Consumer Comment

Do your Homework

AUTHOR: curious george - (United States of America)

ServiceMasters hasn't owned ARS for years. So before you put your 2 cents in make sure you know what you are talking about.

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#10 Consumer Suggestion

The ServiceMaster Way

AUTHOR: John - (U.S.A.)

Keep in mind that ARS is owned by ServiceMaster. Look up the many reports of ServiceMaster owned companies and see how they operate.

Matts explanation leaves out one major issue. If he's a multi-trained/certified expert how did he miss the clogged filter? Does ARS fire techs who miss fundamental system checks???

IMO, I suspecthis numbers for the month were a little low and he needed a big score.

I recommend you file a formal complaint with Home Depot.

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#11 REBUTTAL Individual responds

Nancy's furnace

AUTHOR: Matt - (United States of America)

I am sorry that you were given the information you were given. I am proud of my work and integrity. American Residential Services is a great company with a good reputation. The HomeDepot has chosen ARS to service all their clients with HVAC needs in most of the stores in the Denver metro area. The HomeDepot has the right to choose whichever company that they like, and they feel comfortable having ARS represent them. There is a lot to be said about that. ARS will fire a technician if he falsely identifies a crack!

I have been in the industry for over a decade and I have been certified by Heat Exchanger Experts, Inc. This certification states that I have demonstrated competency in inspecting furnace heat exchangers for defects. My certification expires on November 13, 2012.

There are a few parts of the claim which are accurate. I will go over them. I did not say thatthe furnace was short cycling BECAUSE of the crack.The crack is a result of your furnace overheating. Anytime a furnace is overheating, the heat exchanger is getting too hot. When I initially observed your furnace short cycling, it gave me reason to suspect a damaged heat exchanger. A brand new furnace heat exchanger can and will crack in very little time if there is air restriction which can result from a number of things including, a dirty evaporator coil for your A/C, a clogged or restricted filter, an oversized furnace, a caked blower wheel, and ductwork which is not properly sized.

When I first found the crack, I had the scope in the furnace at the crack and I asked the gentleman riding with me to go get the customer. I proceeded to show Nancy the crack in the scope screen while the scope was inside of the heat exchanger cavity. I moved the scope up and down in the heat exchanger to illustrate to Nancy that this was indeed a live picture. I do not believe that I even took a picture of the crack, because I was able to show Nancy the crack on the live screen. I would never show a customer a crack from another customers furnace!

I condemned the furnace because of the crack. If a crack is found in the heat exchanger, the American Gas Association requires that the heat exchanger or furnace must be replaced. This is why I had Nancy sign the Unsafe Furnace Disclaimer. This disclaimer releases ARS of any liability as a result of the costumer using a furnace which is deemed unsafe.

I did not condemn the furnace because of the carbon monoxide levels. I stated that this furnace does have carbon monoxide in the supply airflow. The technician which stated that cigarettes omit a 12ppm reading failed to mention some important facts. If you stayed in a room with a constant 12ppm reading, your health will be affected. A person will start having issues with headaches and other side effects living in an environment of 9ppm over a 30 day span. If a furnace has a 10 ppm CO reading in the supply airflow, it is industry standard to condemn the furnace and consider it a safety risk. If I measure a low reading of 0-2ppm, I do not worry about it, but a customer needs to know when it is higher even if it is not yet at 10ppm.

Nancy, there are some questions which should be observed about this situation. What method did the other tech use to examine the heat exchanger? What equipment did he use? What equipment was used to measure the carbon monoxide? Is his equipment calibrated? What method was the carbon monoxide test performed with? Finally, what are the qualifications of the technician to certify that the heat exchanger is not compromised?

Here are the answers to those questions when I serviced your furnace. The method I used to examine the heat exchanger was a visual inspection which revealed the crack. I usedthe before mentioned fiber optic scope with a LED screen to observe and show the customer the crack. I used a Bacharach Monoxerm III single gas carbon monoxide analyzer to observe the carbon monoxide level. This analyzer is a high end device which most technicians regard as one of the better single gas analyzers available. Carbon Monoxideanalyzers must be calibrated every 6 months to ensure accurate readings. My analyzer was calibrated last on October 19, 2010 and is due to be recalibrated April 20, 2011. The correct way to analyze the carbon monoxide output of a furnace is to drill a hole in the supply plenum and insert a probe pump which will pump air samples and display readings. A test will take about 10 minutes to get the accurate reading. The description of how the other tech measured the CO level is a walk around method. This tells me that he likely did not have a device on par with the devices which have a pump. They are very expensive. Finally, I am certified as a Heat Exchanger Expert.

Unfortunately, it is apparentthat John from Bob's Heating and Air does not have the knowledge to safety inspect a furnace. He does not have the tools to safety inspect a furnace. He had no right to throw me or ARS under the bus like he did. He stated that he has sceen lots of fraud from ARS. In reality, it seems like he has been giving out false information and giving customers a false sense of security when they should be very concered about their furnaces. I invite you to schedule both myself and John to reinspect the furnace. When I find the crack (and I assure you it is there!) you can ask him to pay the service call. I will pay his if the crack is not found!

Your furnace does have a crack in it. The crack is located on an eyelit which is like a very large rivet which holds the two sides of your heat exchanger together. Your furnace is not safe to operate. The crack is in the middle chamber on the right hand side in the eyelit closest to the burners.

I tried to light your fireplace, but I was unable to. I am sorry. I am not a fireplace technician and therefore I will not work on them. It is comparable to asking a plumber to fix your furnace. He might know something about your furnace, but it is not a good idea for him to get into something that he is not sure about.

Finally, our price. I do not apologize for our pricing. Do you really want to save $1,000 bad enough to use a company that doesn't train or require that their service technicians to carry the tools to properly inspect a furnace for safety. If this is the case, do you think that their installs will be anything but subpar? Our pricing is very competitive and reflects well with other companies with similar service standards.

I am not sure if you can edit on this site, but I do firmly request to have my full name taken off of this report. It is not fair to me as the information that this report is based off of is very inaccurate.

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#12 Author of original report


AUTHOR: Nancy - (U.S.A.)

In my original complaint, Imisquoted thetechnician from Bob's Heating. He said he's seen lots of scare tactics used in the industry and over-charging. He didn't use the "F" word in reference to ARS.

It wasmy anger and frustration (and ice cold hands) that prompted me to conclude that the technician representing ARS was using fraudulent tactics. Draw your own conclusions - and see what others have said about this company.

A former employee of ARS pointed out that the company rewards employees for bringing in more business/making more sales. I propose that technicians be paid strictly by the hour and maybe get yearly bonuses based on the number of happy customers, not the number of dollars in sales. Don't be encouraging people to sell appliances that aren't really needed -especially in this horrible ecomomy where many people are on the edge financially and emotionally.

We should all be supportive of each other in hard times - not looking to figure out how to take advantage of each other! Do you really want to take the chance of forcing someone into bankruptcy or suicide? Think about it!!! HOW DO THESE PEOPLE SLEEP AT NIGHT???

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