Through out my career as an air conditioning, heating and refrigeration technician, I have seen thousands of jobs with the same problems over and over and over. I have seen just about every mistake you can imagine. I’ve been in the field going on 23 years now.
I came across one job a few years ago where the contractor (so called professional) installed a replacement digital thermostat in the same spot where the old unit was located. In between two door jams in a hall way. This guy used the old wires that were attached to the old thermostat, which is not a problem in it self, but the location of the wires is where he ran into trouble. The problem here was the person who installed this thermostat, installed it sideways because it was too long for this location. Instead of telling the customer he needed to go get a thermostat that fit the application or moving the wires to accommodate the thermostat he had on his truck, he installed what he had with him at the time and he told the customer “that was how these new digital thermostats needed to be installed” so they could operate properly. Of course the customer was a senior citizen in her late 80’s and he had no morals or values. The funny thing is that this digital thermostat would have actually worked properly installed this way, because the sensor was a solid state device on a circuit board. Except for reading what the display said and reading what the buttons said, this thermostat actually operated correctly. You should have seen the way he installed the duct work but that is another story.
The reason the lady called was because it seemed to her that the furnace would always shut down too early or it would sometimes run for a long period of time making the room warmer than she wanted. I had to laugh when I arrived on the job and saw what this guy had done. The biggest issue mechanically with this thermostat was not the way it was mounted, but that it was mounted and covering a very large hole, where the thermostat wires came though the wall. The sensor was very near the hole on the wall and it was reading the cold inside wall cavity temperature. I removed the thermostat and installed a new one for her, free of charge and then filled the hole with sheetrock mud to stop the stat from reading the wall cavity temperature.
The customer wanted to pay me for my trouble and my materials but I told her that the next time she came across someone that needs a new furnace or air conditioner that could could simply give my name and phone number out and that would be enough. She agreed and thanked me for my trouble.
I still get referrals from her today. It has always bugged me to see someone take advantage of elderly people, especially when they have no business doing the work in the first place.
The digital thermostats today can do a lot and they are generally pretty reliable, most of the time its either that its installed wrong or programmed wrong, wired wrong or there are not enough wires to it. Maybe the thermostat needs the common wire from the thermostat hooked up to operate properly. The majority of these problems are the result of poor technical knowledge on behalf of the installer, or perhaps they simply don’t care enough to read the installation instructions. Sometimes people get into the trade and learn how to install duct work and put sheet metal screws in with a drill gun and bam they think they have enough experience to go out and become a contractor and sell you a system.
Unfortunately home owners have no way of knowing whether or not the service company they chose has enough experience or knowledge to do the job right. The NATE Rating is about as close as you can come to being sure you hire the right people. However” I was trained a long time ago in a technical school that focused on the theory and operating principals of electrical, refrigeration, air conditioning and heating. Long before the NATE Training certificate came about. My schooling was 990hrs and the course took place over 9 months. I don’t have the NATE certificate badge myself. I guess I should go get it to look more legitimate and I probably will get it as that seems to be the standard today. I have not looked into the certificate yet but eventually will.