When a home improvement, isn’t

Quite a number of years ago, we had our basement finished into a rec room with TV, pingpong table, futon, and a small bedroom with a tiny closet that is the preferred bedroom for Son 1 when he visits. At the time we built the house and had the HVAC system installed, we began paying for an annual maintenance contract that provided twice a year maintenance and 10% off parts, free labor if a repair within reason needed to be done.

Shortly after the basement was finished, one of the HVAC maintenance visits was done and only 2 of the 4 damper motors was left in an accessible location and 1 of them had a door jamb that prevented the open/close lever from moving. The HVAC guy was able to chisel out enough space for the lever to move, but on the last visit, he realized that motor had failed. We didn’t have it repaired that day, but had a tech here today to replace it only to find out that the replacement motors are physically larger and don’t fit in the space and that if that damper or any of the dampers ever need to be replaced, that the contractor that did the basement work did not leave enough room to remove them from the ductwork. While trying to check the other motors, he couldn’t get to one of them, so I guess it hasn’t been checked since the work on the basement was finished. I think some creative carpentry will allow enough space to replace the failed motor, but don’t know what will happen if the inaccessible ones fail. The system is 15 years old now.

We had left much of the designing to the contractor with only our wishes known. The tech today said this happens often in basement completions as the owner or contractor is trying to get the most finished space possible. Though the basement looks great, this isn’t the first problem that has been revealed, not all the contractor’s fault, but some are. So far, Son 1 has had to tear out the wallboard on a soffit and build a wood siding removable panel that allows access to the space above the wallboard. And most recently when trying to repair ceiling damage from a failed dishwasher, he discovered the drywall ceiling was bowed under a drain pipe so that a new piece of drywall didn’t really fit so another removeable panel has been placed there.

I’m not sure what we will do, but for now, the damper motor that failed serves the basement, and as three sides of the basement are below grade and the fourth side is south facing, it stays mild down there even when it is cold outside.

I would love to hear your comments on this post.

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