The Trane/Gembecki Affair 2 Print
Written by Steven Estrada   
Friday, 03 July 2009
Q. How many techs does it take to fix a three year old Trane Air Conditioner?

A. Beats me. Mine broke for the fifth time May 9, 2009. After three GEMBECKI techs, six visits, a complaint to Trane, and visit from a Trane rep - it's still not working as good as it did, and my electric use is over 10kwh per day more than it used to be.

It was Sunday, May 10, 2009. The AC started blowing out hot air. A Gembecki tech came over about two hours after I called, filled it up with freon to get it working, and charged me $45 (even though I got a 10 year parts + labor warranty) for a weekend callout. A week later they did a leak test, found the evaporator coil bad, and replaced it a few weeks after that.

That's where this story starts.

The 48,000 BTU, two stage, super-deluxe, high-efficiency, and awfully expensive, Trane XL16i I bought from Gembecki three ago has been nothing but trouble.  It's failed now five times,  leaving me air-conditioner-less for days - and this last time is left SEMI-COOLING the house after our heroes at Gembecki replaced the warrantied evaporator coil to FIX A LEAK almost three weeks ago.  The darn thing is running nonstop now, I'm sweating, and they say they have to consult with Trane before taking further action.

Three years ago I selected Trane based on their reputation and energy efficient models.   Three years later the energy savings never manifested, and the reputation of both Trane and Gembecki - waning.

Complaints to Trane have been unproductive, and the performance of Gembecki's staff sometimes downright unprofessional.

The tech (Brett) that came out on 6/13 said "I think I know what's wrong with your unit, but my boss told me not to tell you. He'll call you Monday".  Then left.

How do you think you'd feel if an AC repairman showed up at your house to fix your AC, you give him a cup of iced tea, let him use your bathroom, then got fed that crock of crap?

Monday came and the boss didn't call. So I called in the afternoon. Rick, the service manager came over, took some readings, and I pointed out the spread between inside (77) and outside (81) temps is only four degrees, while  the thermostat's set at it's usual 72, and the AC's been running constantly since the coil was replaced.  He came back the next day and took some more readings. The diagnoisis: he thinks replacing the TXV VALVE may fix the problem, then says he can't do anything else until the Trane people review his paperwork.

That's two professionals telling me they think they know what's wrong.

I think there's a bigger problem here.

Gembecki got the OK from Trane to replace the TXV VALVE, ordered one, and it arrived at their place about a week later. We scheduled the install the day after that, and I took the afternoon off from work to wait for someone to show up to put it in.  While home, anxiously waiting for a tech in my 81 degree living room, Gembecki calls, says the part arrived broke, and cancelled the appointment. You think these people would have opened the box when it came in. And you think Trane would have some quality control. Keep dreaming. Now I have to wait another week, and take more time off from work.

While I'm waiting for the replacement's replacement, the air handler's REFRIGERANT PIPE, and all the metal near it, are all soaking wet, with cold water dripping down the side. At least the pipe's not ICING UP. After ruling out the drain line, air filter, and return ducts, I dutifully advised Gembecki, and put a bunch of rags around the wood platform the air handler sits on to protect it from turning to mush. Just dandy.

I called the regional Trane distributor in Maitland twice, and left voicemails both times. The calls haven't been returned, while the AC is still blasting, and I'm still sweating. I filed a complaint with Trane corporate office. It wound up being little more than an exercise. The customer service folks referred me back to the local Trane folks not returning calls.

Customers should never be exposed to business' internal policies, and having that used as an excuse not to do the right thing, shines a light on a company's commitment to customer service.  Moreso when it's an air conditioner we're talking about in the hot tropics of Florida. My expectation is a new coil shoud have been ordered immediately, or a qualified Trane employee sent out to my house the next day.

Thank goodness my elderly mother isn't down here in Florida burning up in her son's house, and having to put up with Trane and Gembecki's stellar examples of how not to treat a customer.

On 7/1 the TXV valve finally got replaced.   Result - it's just as hot in the house, and the stream of water dripping down the side of the air handler onto the wood base slowed down, but hasn't completely abated.

I had another local AC dealer come out and price me a new system. After seeing I got a nearly-new Trane, he asked why - so I told him, and we TALKED A LITTLE.  The guy says Gembecki should have installed return DUCTS for all the rooms when they put the system in three years ago per FLORIDA BUILDING CODE, and the water leak is probably low freon, or airflow trouble through the coil, either cause it's blocked, defective, or set up wrong, then finished with some remarks that the AC may not be cooling because it's staying in low speed, and noted that half the unit is a four ton, and the other half a 3+1/2 ton, a mismatch he doesn't recommend.

July 3, 2009

Dear Trane,

Since purchased less than three years ago, my XL16i air conditioner hasn’t run a year without something breaking, but this last time it broke - the problem is far worse because the servicing dealer can’t seem to fix it after half a dozen tech visits, over a month’s time.

Repair efforts undertaken to solve a trouble that began with a service visit from Gembecki Mechanical May 10, 2009 - haven’t been resolved, and introduced a new problem, so now there’s two things wrong with the AC - leaving me with inadequate air conditioning - and if left uncorrected - the possibility of respiratory illness, and water damage to parts of my home.

The AC’s running nonstop, yet fails to adequately cool off the house. Freon was added or removed multiple times, the evaporator coil was changed, and TXV valve replaced.  Besides not fixing the original trouble - AC not cooling - these repairs led to a new issue of water dripping down the side of the air handler, threatening wood rot to it’s base due to water damage, growths like mold in my ducts from excessive moisture, health issues from those growths circulating through the house’s ventilation system, and who knows what else.

On 7/16 Ferran Services came out to do a duct test and showed me Gembecki's horrible job of not sealing the duct boots or return plenum - with the installation done three years ago. They plugged the leaks, but the AC still isn't cooling the house.  This month's electric bill - $432, and I don't have a pool.

Update 11/15/09

Russ White from Trane, and Rick Smith, Gembecki's service manager, showed up together in late July.   Russ changed settings on the circuit board in the air handler and now the AC goes down to 72 as expected, and the water issue completely disappeared.  But the AC still runs constantly, and my electric bill is in the stratosphere.   Next I had more insulation ($600) blown in the attic to see if that would help cover up the AC's problem. And it did. Sort of. Now the AC shuts off at night.  But My electric bill is about 15kwh/day more than before this ordeal started. 

I'm pretty sure this AC will never function properly.  I place the blame equally on Trane's lack of quality in workmanship, and poor customer service, along with Gembecki's failure to properly install and adequately service the product they sold me, and are contracted to maintain.

After reading all the gripes about Trane on the internet - this isn't an isolated case.

I will never, ever, buy a Trane anything ever again,  or recommend Gembecki.

Are you a resident in the AC business, or lawyer that can help me get back the money I paid for this hunk of junk, bad installation, and pitiful service? Give me a call or send me an .

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