CHICAGO, ILLINOIS -- As a replacement for our aging furnace/AC we decided to purchase a 95% efficient Lennox G61MPV furnace, a XC14 AC unit (16 SEER) and a HC10 air filtration system from Four Seasons Heating and Air Conditioning. We picked this company because installation is so important when purchasing an HVAC system, after meeting with sales reps from 5 or 6 other companies - Four Seasons was by far not the cheapest but it claimed to be the biggest and the best, employing only factory trained, EPA certified technicians, it has an Angie's list award, it is a Lennox Premier (and biggest) dealer, it has a BBB A+ rating, etc... We thought we were in good hands.
The technicians arrived in time, and started working. They had a humidifier in the truck instead of the filtration unit we purchased, but another crew brought it in. It didn't look like they would be able to finish by the end of the day, so the dispatch send one more install team, then another install team. They were doing their best to finish, we were leaving on a short vacation the next day, and they were done around 9PM. Shortly before that, I was looking at the new return duct work they put in, when I noticed a piece of white tape sticking out from the old duct work. I suspected it is asbestos duct tape.
I questioned the lead tech about it and he acknowledged that it was asbestos, he stated that this is no big deal, I should wash my hands really well after touching it. In the mean time, his helper was done sweeping the rests of the duct tape from the basement floor. They had ripped off part of the old duct work, along with asbestos tape, and weren't going to even tell me about it. Everything was put in a plastic bag, loaded in the truck and hauled away - next morning we found asbestos tape on our deck and in our yard. I should mention that we purchased the house 6 months ago and had no idea that we could have asbestos anywhere in the house.
We left the next day on our short vacation, soon we learned that if in a good condition, like ours, asbestos duct tape is no threat to health, but becomes one if it is removed like that, when it becomes airborne. When we returned, we called the service department and asked for assistance in dealing with the asbestos contamination. The next day, we were promised that a specialized company will perform an air quality test. The next day, the person said he was asked to take only samples of the asbestos tape and send them to a lab, instead of the expensive ($600) air test.
I called the Service department again. Was told that this is all they will do, since on the invoice that I signed there is a statement saying Four Seasons is not liable for identification, detection, abatement, encapsulation, transport, removal or transportation of any hazardous substances including asbestos.
Next day, a Saturday, we were trying to replace the furnace filter with one that would trap approximately 95% of the 0.3 microns particles - it is a $138 filter. None of the hardware stores stocks such filters, so we called Four Seasons again. I was told we can get the filter for $138+$69 for delivery, I asked them, if they would at least deliver it to us for free, since we have the asbestos problem. The operator contacted a manager, and again, we were told, they wouldn't do that.
We paid for testing ourselves, a reputable industrial hygiene company ran a test on the furnace filter and found asbestos fibers 0.3 microns, which means asbestos fibers were in the air and the whole family was exposed to it. They recommended immediate decontamination. The local EPA agency recommended the same. Four Seasons declines any wrongdoing or liability.
A quality control technician that was sent by Four Seasons a few days later stated that the company has a policy in place for dealing with asbestos - upon discovery of asbestos, they should have stopped working right away and notify the owner and their business office. Decontamination and testing cost us $3117. All the assistance we got from Four Seasons was the testing of the tape - $150. We can only hope that our exposure to asbestos fibers in the air will have no health consequences...