Our local gas & electric utility used to have a pretty good in-house home maintenance plan. Then they decided to outsource it to an out-of-state company called Pivotal Home Solutions. Since then, their service has been piss-poor.
I was changing out the filter from our furnace and decided to inspect the burners. Unfortunately, this wasn’t possible because the access panel could not be removed since the screws had eroded. (The screws just spun and spun when turned.) I called PHS to report the problem and told them I noticed rust and a small leak near the edge of the access panel.
- “I’m pretty sure there’s a water leak inside and that’s what caused the screws to erode. But I can’t confirm that because the screws won’t come off.”
- “We don’t cover rust.”
- “I understand that you don’t cover rust damage, but you must surely cover the water leak inside, no?”
- “Well, if you can’t see the water leak inside then I’m not authorized to send someone out to fix it.”
It took a while to explain to the agent that I was positive there was a water leak inside because I could see a small amount of seepage from the corner of the panel, even though I was unable to remove the panel. Clearly a chicken-and-egg problem with how they diagnose issues!
Finally, they agreed to send someone over. A tech from a local shop called Platinum Home Services came over, spent 5 minutes trying to turn the screw before giving up and saying there was nothing he could do. I asked him if he could cut the screw off and he said no, I’d have to do it. So I immediately got down and attempted to do this myself with my Dremel, but he wouldn’t wait around. In 10 minutes, I chopped the screw off and called him back, but he was already on his way to another call and wouldn’t return, so I had to make another appointment.
In the meantime, I was able to confirm that there was a leak inside the furnace and water had pooled under the burners. I cleaned up what I could and waited for my next appointment.
When the same tech returned and I showed him the problem, he said, “Oh, the water is leaking from the heat exchanger. That component isn’t covered by your plan.” Okay… I asked him whether there was anything he could do to alleviate the problem, like seal the damn leak. “No, you’ll just have to get a new furnace.” Okay… Seems a bit extreme, I thought. After 5 minutes he left again.
Long story short, I did find multiple YouTube videos showing how this is a common problem with aging furnaces and the leaks can be stopped with high-temperature sealant. Did the trick, no more leaks!
In hindsight, I should’ve gone straight to YouTube and saved myself multiple phone calls and waiting around for useless appointments. What a waste!