Lemon laws can be different from state to state. These laws protect consumers mostly from defective cars and trucks. A federal law called the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act that says if you have any service contract or warranty in effect for appliances including HVAC equipment, companies are prohibited from disclaiming their implied warranties.
To use HVAC lemon laws all you have to prove is whether or not the problem is related to an equipment fault or a fault of the installer. It’s crucial to know who created the problem. Did the factory create the problem or was it your installer.
I am not an attorney and am only referring you to an option to be investigated by you, and maybe your attorney. There are a number of myths surrounding lemon laws. The National Lemon Law Center names a few of them.
The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act was created by Senator Warren Magnuson of Washington, Rep John E. Moss from California and Utah’s Senator Frank Moss and made federal law in 1975.
It’s intention was to keep consumers from being hoodwinked by unscrupulous companies trying to renege their way out of warranties.
This law says you need to give the contractor a reasonable number of tries to make a repair within a reasonable amount of time. Reasonable being a very ambiguous term. Probably a loophole or place for judge to decide if there is anything like a lemon law for air conditioning units.
The lemon laws of the various individual states may be difficult to apply to residential heating and cooling products because installation issues become a scapegoat for manufacturers due to the lack of skill or mistakes made in the installation process.
If an installer, either by neglect or by accident allows any dirt or particles into a refrigeration line before welding and evacuation then troubles such as stuck reversing valves or plugged TXV’s could haunt a system for a long time.
Along the same lines, a poorly designed duct system or even the wrong type and size of filter could damage an air conditioner, heat pump or even a furnace. Incorrect static pressures for an air handler or furnace will damage compressors, heat exchangers, indoor blowers and more.
With a faulty installation it’s highly unlikely that a furnace lemon law would apply. To a consumer those types of equipment failures could easily be construed as defective equipment, when actually is not.
So the blame game could be in effect. If you keep really good records you may have a running chance at some recovery of expenses.
Claiming your equipment to be qualified under a lemon law would require a great deal of diligence. Keep all receipts, document every service call and phone call made or received. Just keep a journal of all events related to your problem.
What Happens When There Is A Breach Of Warranty?
A sales contract should include an expressed warranty. When a seller breaches an expressed warranty a cause of action can be initiated by the buyer for breach of contract.
But if you look for actual court cases such as a class action against Rheem Manufacturing Co. in 2016. Rheem Manufufacturing Co. had many claims obviously to bring on a class action and a federal judge in New Jersey threw it out saying that the plaintiffs didn’t plead their cases sufficiently.
The class action suit against Rheem and Ruud said the units were made substandard with small leaks developing in the coils.
In another case, Vullings v. Bryant Heating and Cooling Systems, Bryant being a brand name under United Technologies which is also related to Carrier was filed the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Vullings claimed the defendants violated the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act by selling defective heating and air conditioning equipment that needed constant and costly repair.
The Court order is below:
I’ve done some extensive research and haven’t found any consumers winning these cases using the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. That doesn’t mean their are no winners, they are just very hard to find.
As a consumer you are also up against a statute of limitations, meaning you must react within a reasonable time. The two seem to go against each other. By the time you give your contractor a reasonable amount of time, your reasonable amount of time has expired. Just being ridiculous, sorry.
What To Do First When I Realize I May Have A Lemon
By now you have probably exhausted all your energy in complaining to the installing contractor and perhaps the equipment manufacturer. It time to act in another direction.
If you haven’t already done so, then gather everything you have related to the installation and consult an attorney. Find one familiar with lemon laws in your state, even though the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act is a federal law.
Depending on the amount of damages you feel you have incurred your attorney may advise you to file in a small claims court.
I have actually gotten the attention of a contractor by leaving a sour review on Google maps. As a contractor myself, as a part of training our employees we would explain to them that if we made a customer happy they would tell three people. If we made them mad, they would tell ten plus all their relatives for years to come. It is a very true scenario of how consumers act when receiving services.
Can I Get A Second Opinion And Still Have A Valid Warranty?
Getting a second opinion to validate your concerns regarding your equipment being a lemon would be a good step. Consider the definition of insanity. Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
If you want another opinion, consider calling a company that sells the same brand as your equipment if possible. They would be familiar with what you have and be more likely to get support from the factory.
I’ve never had a problem getting warranty parts on a brand for which I was not a dealer. You will just have to ask around until you find that that company you are comfortable with for that second opinion.
Tell them you need a thorough examination of the complete system. You want their honest opinion of the quality of work including the refrigerant charge, static pressures, size of equipment in relation to the size of your home and anything else that could contribute to your ongoing problems.
If they say some of those things are not necessary, get another contractor. Do as much of this as possible over the phone so you save time and expensive service call fees.
They want you as their customer. Find a company with an attitude which says the customer is always right. And if the customer is wrong, they are still the customer.
After all you’ve been through, I’m sure you’ve considered just throwing out the old system and starting over. Please consider a few things before you take any drastic steps.
Installing a new system on the same duct work could put you in the same position. It wouldn’t be the first time that a duct system was the cause of failure. Too much static pressure.
Take the time to do some research. If you need the help of a professional HVAC company and you’re nervous about being stuck with another poor installation, then read this article about questions you should ask when buying a new HVAC system.
There are 30 questions in this article that will help you know if your new contractor knows his stuff.