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Question DetailsAsked on 2/4/2018

My furnace was red tagged today, it was installed improperly & city inspector didn't catch it. Can I sue them???

Gas Company came out today to look at my gas water heater & noticed the gas furnaced was installed improperly in August 2015. He told us that my family could have died from Carbon Monoxide poisoning. The city Inspector who came out to my house didn't find any issues with the install & said it was good. Do I have any legal right to take against either of them? Should I hire a lawyer & pursue this with either of them? The gas company technician has reported the problem to his company

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Ok - not knowing what the problem was, can't say if this is a major or minor thing - but because installed over 2 years ago any installation warranty (from the contractor) is undoubtedly expired even if the manufacturer warranty (which does not cover installation errors) may still be in effect.

You also did not say why you called the gas company in the first place - but sounds like you had gas smell ?

On the city inspector - I am presuming you mean when it was installed ?

The gas company tech reporting it to his company will, unless it was so incompetent a job that they are going to report it to the city inspector, is just a CYA - getting in their records that they red tagged your unit for a dangerous violation, so if you turn it back on and die from it they are protected from lawsuits.

Anyway - you need to get a copy of the field call report if he did not leave one with you or note the problem on the red tag, so you knopw WHAT he found. Might be pretty minor, especially if it was causing a gas smell - could just be a bad connection or wrong type flex tubing or such.

Then you can decide whether to contact the original installer company and ask they come out and make it right at no extra charge - most reputable companies will if actually a code violation or contradictory to the manufacturer's installation instructions.

If they refuse, you have two choices - the slow one (maybe not good this time of year if you need the heat functional) and the fast one which is to call a different well-rated and reviewed Heating and A/C (your Search the List category) contractor to come make it right.

The slow approach is to call the city inspector to come look at it - sometimes they will put pressure on the vendor to make it right, at risk of losing their license if they will not - this assuming it is a significant violation. In most cases, with furnaces, assuming they did not do a hack job on the unit itself to make it fit or something like that, typically a couple to few hundred $ will make installation errors right (assuming we are talking the unit, not out-of-code duct installations throughout the house). Or if city/county inspector will not put pressure on the contractor, filing a complaint with the state licensing board, who can suspend or revoke the contractor's license if significant errors are made and not corrected by them upon notification. But of course that takes months to get a resolution.

Depending on your opinion of the contractor (and maybe on their ratings, and on whether a one-man outfit or a larger one who can send out a different tech to correct the work), the normal first step would be contacting the installing company owner/manager and explain what was found and ask that they come out and correct it at no additional charge, and see where that takes you. Course, if you do not trust them, or they refuse, that takes that easy route away.

Contacting their bonding company to make it right or cover the cost of a repair is a long shot, especially if there is no contractor installation warranty in effect.

Suing - I seriously doubt, unless you have time to kill in Small Claims Court, that this is worth a lawsuit. Generally, a flawed installation causing a safety problem, agains assuming he did not physiclaly modify the unit itself, is almost always going to be hundreds, not thousands of $ of work to remedy.

As far a suing the city or their inspector - forget it. Not only protected by sovereign immunity in most cases, but unless you can prove the inspector either saw and recognized a significant violation AND intentionally did not flag it, or that he was grossly negligent in doing the inspection (like he never showed up and falsified the report while drinking coffee and eating donuts at Dunkin Donuts), you would not win. And your "damages" are pretty minimal - the repair cost at most.

Answered 9 months ago by LCD




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