UPDATE ON EXTENDED AC UNDERGROUND
REFRIGERANT LINE SERVICE WARRANTY
In the October Bulletin we reported on the new, broadened, AC Underground Refrigerant Line Service Warranty provided by the Developer. In case you missed it, we are again providing a copy of the Extended Service Plan which can be found on page ---.
The POA is continuing to follow this issue as homeowners make their applications to Home Warranty for reimbursement of expenses related to the copper tubing that has already been replaced. We have heard from some residents who have benefited from the Extended Service Plan, as well as others that have been unsuccessful in obtaining refunds.
The most frequent question we have received is how to proceed with new failures, especially if they would occur on a weekend. We contacted the Warranty Department and the following is the advice they provided: "Residents should always contact the Warranty Office first. If a problem arises after regular business hours the recording at the Warranty Office business number will refer them to an after hours emergency number. That number is active 24 hours a day if the Warranty Office is not open."
Reminder to residents who will be seeking coverage under this Extended Service Plan: 1) If you sent the POA the survey form with your original documents attached, and you did not retain a copy of the receipts for yourself, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will return your copy as it will assist you in applying for reimbursement with the Warranty Department. 2) It was noted in the article in the September 16, 2011 edition of the Daily Sun that if you paid for this repair previously but do not have your receipts you should still go to Home Warranty with as much information as you have because, "…they are committed to solving all the issues related to the leaking refrigerant lines." 3) You will find the required Request for Reimbursement Form HERE.
While we're very pleased that the majority of residents are having success in getting refunds for the costs associated with replacing their defective underground copper line sets, we are disheartened by some of the feedback we've received, which shows that The Villages Home Warranty is still avoiding responsibility and denying some claims in a way that seems contrary to the intent of the new extended warranty on copper line sets offered by Mr. H. Gary Morse.
In one instance, homeowners Don & Anna McTigue in Lynnhaven, an area that has been affected with a particularly high rate of failing line sets, applied for a refund and were denied. We've been told their air conditioning failed in 2009 and their regular AC vendor convinced them to put a whole new system in their 5-year-old home. The new system was installed without replacing the original underground refrigerant lines. Within a week of the installation there was no cool air. After several refills of coolant had also leaked away, the original copper was finally replaced with new lines running through the attic instead of underground. The new copper lines fixed the problem, but this work was not billed out separately by the vendor. It seems obvious that the copper tubing was the culprit in the first place, and was very likely the cause of further damage to the system due to moisture from the underground lines getting into other system components. It's even conceivable that because of leaking copper line sets the McTigues were the victims of a possibly unscrupulous AC vendor who recommended a whole new system costing thousands of dollars, instead of replacing the failing components of their original, 5-year-old system. This vendor is now out of business.
In a similar case, Lynnhaven resident Rosemary Finnerty was also convinced by a vendor that a whole new AC system was needed when her cooling failed this summer in her 7-year-old villa. A neighbor who was aware of the ongoing copper tubing issue pointed out that the copper line set was probably the culprit and that a new line set should be run for the new system instead of relying on the original underground tubing, as the installer had intended. Because of the high rate of line set failures occurring in the neighborhood, leaking copper lines were very likely causing or contributing to the failure of the system. The suggestion was accepted by the vendor and the new system was installed using new copper lines through the attic instead of reusing the old underground lines. But again, the billing was a lump sum, not itemized.
These homeowners did not ask Home Warranty for reimbursement of their entire systems, only a reasonable amount for replacement of the line sets, like others in their neighborhood are receiving. Yet they have been denied because the billing was not itemized. Understandably, the Developer has limited the new warranty coverage so as not to include entire new AC systems, but isn't the intent of Mr. Morse's program to resolve line set related failures? It is simple enough to test the abandoned underground copper lines to determine whether they have the same formicary corrosion and pinholes as found on other copper tubing in the area. POA members are willing to pull the abandoned copper tubes for the McTigues and Ms. Finnerty in order to examine and test them, which will prove whether or not the copper lines had been leaking.
If an AC vendor is no longer in business, the charges cannot be broken down on a revised invoice. But in one of these cases, we're told, Dennis Stradinger of Home Warranty dismissed the homeowner, saying that it wouldn't matter, even if the homeowner were to obtain a revised invoice from the vendor, the claim would still be denied.
We are confident the new underground refrigerant line warranty plan was written by Mr. Morse in good faith to resolve problems related to leaking copper line sets, and not to provide loopholes to exclude homeowners who did not follow a procedure that wasn't even in existence at the time of the occurrence. We feel that Home Warranty is misinterpreting the intent of this plan which Mr. Morse developed in an effort to make good on the cost of repairs for failed line sets within a 10 year window for each home.
We urge Home Warranty to reconsider their position with regard to instances such as these, and offer compensation for these line set replacements in an amount similar to that being refunded to homeowners that do have itemized billing, if indeed "…they are committed to solving all the issues related to the leaking refrigerant lines." How could the McTigues, Ms. Finnerty, or other homeowners possibly have known at the time to request an itemized statement from their vendors? These homeowners are not asking for reimbursement of the entire system, only a fair and reasonable amount to compensate for the failure of the original copper refrigerant lines. They simply needed to get their AC working, did what their vendor recommended and paid what was billed!
Even though this issue may not affect you at present, it would be wise to take note of it for the future. Should your air conditioning fail to work due to leaking underground copper line sets during your home's first 10 years, be sure to follow the specific procedures outlined in the Plan to obtain coverage under its terms.