General Landlording & Rental Properties

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Tenant says AC not working AC Contractor says otherwise

Posted Jul 2 2022, 08:22

We have a single floor 1300 sqft house with 6 year old Trane hvac system. Yesterday, Tenant messaged me and stated that the system was not working around 3AM, so we dispatched a AC contractor to check the system that same day, they found nothing. I was told the system is in good condition and functioning properly. Today tenant messaged again about the same problem, I asked AC contractor to take another look. 

I know as Landlord we are required to make and pay for any repairs to make the unit livable that are not caused by the tenant. If ac contractor finds no issue with the system again, who would be responsible for the payment? Landlord or Tenant? 

Nashville, Tennessee

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Chris Seveney#4 All Forums Contributor
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Chris Seveney#4 All Forums Contributor
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Replied Jul 2 2022, 09:09

@Dave Mills

Simple question: what’s the temperature in the house?

That will tell you whether it’s working or not.

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Replied Jul 2 2022, 09:22

@Chris Seveney
He said it is set to 74 degrees. 

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Chris Seveney#4 All Forums Contributor
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Chris Seveney#4 All Forums Contributor
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Replied Jul 2 2022, 09:25
Quote from @Dave Mills:

@Chris Seveney
He said it is set to 74 degrees. 


 if set to 74 degrees and tstat says its 74. I would say its working. Also if tenant complains again ask them specifically why they think that? Ask them what does the tstat say? Now some rooms may be warmer than others based on many factors, but that is the first question I always ask. Also depending on where they are located, make sure its set to cooling and not heating...

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Replied Jul 2 2022, 09:27

@Chris Seveney

He said it was set to 74, but he checked thermostat around 2am and it was showing 78. 

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Replied Jul 2 2022, 09:34

@Chris Seveney

Ac contractor said the system is in good shape yesterday, and I asked them to check again today. If they say system is good again, who would be responsible for fees? 

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Richard F.
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Richard F.
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Replied Jul 2 2022, 09:54
Aloha,

You can easily find a battery operated data logger for as little as $25 that will record and chart the temperature over a period of time. Typically you connect to your phone or a computer to read the charts. You will then be able to see the cooling cycle and actual temps. These work great to validate or dispel tenant complaints for cooling and for heating in the winter. Just be sure to place it in a fairly central location, away from direct draft from either vents or windows, and out of reach of kids and dogs.

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Replied Jul 2 2022, 10:09

Aloha, 

Its good idea, I can definitely get that track the temperatures. 

However, if the AC contractors say HVAC is working fine, who is going to cover the fees? How many times I have to send AC contractor? 

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Bill Brandt
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Bill Brandt
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Replied Jul 2 2022, 10:11

Try AC company should state in their inspection invoice the temperature coming out of the vents. You could also buy an infrared thermometer for less than $20. But you might as well have an official reading from an “expert”

A quick google say the vent air should be 15-w0 degrees cooler than the room air to indicate a working ac unit. 

So have the technician note the room temp and the vent temp. They SHOULD want to charge you for fixing something. So it should be obvious there we no problems if they don’t. 

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Replied Jul 2 2022, 10:24

Thank you guys for great tips. 

They charge more after hours and weekends visits, service call fee about $100 just for showing up, plus diagnostics fee. They are going to waive the service call fee this time, but I still have cover another diagnostic fee. 

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Richard F.
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Richard F.
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Replied Jul 2 2022, 10:36
I would tend to believe the AC Tech and not waste time and money sending them out again, at least until you document the actual temperatures over time. It is possible there is a malfunction that short cycles the system, or, the tenant is just overly sensitive/demanding. Most tenants believe that if you set the thermostat at 65, the house should get to 65...even if ambient is 95, and that's not going to happen!

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Replied Jul 2 2022, 10:49

I also thought about short cycle but it keeps happening early mornings when temperatures are not as bad as day time. 

We are going to set realistic expectations, and get the tools to track temperatures.  

Thank you for your feedback. 

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Chris Seveney#4 All Forums Contributor
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Chris Seveney#4 All Forums Contributor
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Replied Jul 2 2022, 11:00
Quote from @Dave Mills:

I also thought about short cycle but it keeps happening early mornings when temperatures are not as bad as day time. 

We are going to set realistic expectations, and get the tools to track temperatures.  

Thank you for your feedback. 


 My guess is they set the tstat on some programming schedule and did not even know it. You could get a wifi based system that you also can monitor.

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Replied Jul 2 2022, 13:25

@Chris Seveney

When others suggested devices to track temperature, I immediately start searching wireless thermostats. Its a bit more expensive but a great investment. 

Thank you! 

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Richard F.
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Richard F.
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Replied Jul 2 2022, 13:35
"Monitoring" only provides the current setting and possibly temperature, however using a logger to record the actual temperature over time provides you a graphical chart to see the cooling or heating cycles, which is substantially more useful, and reliant, when trying to address subjective complaints about operation. Saving the charts also provides you with actual evidence if a tenant drags you into court over it.

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Replied Jul 2 2022, 13:41


@Richard F.

In my primary residence, we have echobee and it has homeIQ thermostat data, basically it shows outdoor and indoor temperature for selected date range.

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Replied Jul 2 2022, 14:02

hope I am not infringing privacy by wireless thermostat?  

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Corby Goade
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Corby Goade
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Replied Jul 2 2022, 14:02

There is definitely a problem here, but I wouldn't immediately jump to finding a way to charge the tenant for another visit from the contractor. I've had many, many issues like this where the simple answer was that the tenant didn't know how to operate the system. Can you ask the contractor to call the tenant and walk them through basic operations? Most contractors would do this after a service call without charge. 

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Replied Jul 2 2022, 14:09

this is their 3rd year tenancy, so I think they know how to operate the thermostat, interestingly, it does not happen during day time when its 95 degrees outside. 

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Greg H.
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Greg H.
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ModeratorReplied Jul 2 2022, 14:11
Quote from @Richard F.:
"Monitoring" only provides the current setting and possibly temperature, however using a logger to record the actual temperature over time provides you a graphical chart to see the cooling or heating cycles, which is substantially more useful, and reliant, when trying to address subjective complaints about operation. Saving the charts also provides you with actual evidence if a tenant drags you into court over it.
You would need to access the tenants WiFi in order to do this. Personally, we would never ask or if I was a tenant expect to be asked 

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Replied Jul 2 2022, 14:17

I don't think I would need their wifi, we will create a shared ecobee account, they will install and add device to the app using their wifi. 

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Replied Jul 2 2022, 14:20

@Greg H.

Nevermind you were replying to Richard, I am not sure how I will be tracking using that device. 

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James Kim
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James Kim
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Replied Jul 2 2022, 15:02
Quote from @Dave Mills:

this is their 3rd year tenancy, so I think they know how to operate the thermostat, interestingly, it does not happen during day time when its 95 degrees outside. 

Just a thought, but maybe they have the setting on 'cool' and not 'heat' amd they want the heat to come on but it doesn't? 

We've also seen situations where a home has central ac but one room get much colder than others, just the way the air flows through the vents. So had to make some small adjustments to the vents, not perfect but helped a little.

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Bruce Woodruff#3 All Forums Contributor
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Bruce Woodruff#3 All Forums Contributor
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Replied Jul 2 2022, 15:09
Quote from @Dave Mills:

hope I am not infringing privacy by wireless thermostat?  


No. It's your house. You can even put a limiting T-Stat on a set the temp ranges so they can't run the system too high or low. 

If the HVAC Tech said it's working ok and they still complain, just ask them if they are willing to pay the bill if the results are the same this time...

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Richard F.
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Richard F.
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Replied Jul 2 2022, 15:27
Here is a device similar to what I have used in the past. It is battery operated, completely standalone, and reports are accessed by plugging in to a usb port on your win or mac:
Google:   Elitech RC 5   they sell for around $25 on the big A

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Vicky L.
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Vicky L.
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Replied Jul 2 2022, 21:04

@Dave Mills I don't know much about AC but could the evaporator be frosting over/freezing overnight when the temp dips? I don't know where this unit is located...

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