I woke in July 2015 in my then two-year-year-old Lennar home to seeing something odd on my hallway wall. It looked like water damage along parts of the wall. When I touched it, it was ice cold. I had already had countless air conditioning malfunctions through a rash of HVAC issues. This appeared to be the next.
The circuits that constantly trip in the electrical panel is on the other side of this wall. The utility room that has documented water damage from flooding is also on the other side of this wall. This water damage might help explain the constant electrical issues in these areas.
Dear Mr. Fannin,
WCI has recently a call from your assistant requesting emergency service. Although you are out of warranty, WCI will inspect this for you as a courtesy. Please advise when you would be available.
The entire email chain contains almost 60 communications total, so I’ll spare you most of them.
After WCI/Lennar came to inspect (Jamie Moore did the inspection), I get this email back from Jennifer Sipperley on July 30th, 2015:
Dear Mr. Fannin,
Jamie has determined the source of the water intrusion was caused by the air handler in the attic. The pan is full of water and the condensate line is not draining due to a clogged drain line. Jamie has advised and explained to Pamela that the leak is maintenance related and an air-conditioning contractor would need to be contacted for service. This is not a warrantable concern, as mentioned on Page 39 of the WCI Homeowner Manual.
That’s Lennar’s answer to everything – send the homeowner manual. I’ve memorized it front-to-back at this point. I had just had this unit serviced. It was not a maintenance item.
My question to the builder was this:
Even if it was a lack of maintance, the A/C unit is supposed to shut off before the drip pan overflows and causes a flood. It didn’t. Here is the sticker on the utility box.
Don’t buy from them. We had a Lennar home built in Texas and they left our drains open slightly, leading to about 8 years of toxic mold exposure. They did fix the bathroom but ignored our complaint about our persistent toxic mold illness that nearly killed us.
— Denise (@Crossroads_30) November 30, 2017
Improperly installed unit and secondary float switch
I had Bay Area Heating and Cooling come that evening to inspect the flooded A/C unit. What they found were two things wrong:
- A rapid build of algae, which is an indication of ventilation and/or improper installation
- The secondary float switch that was designed to stop the flood was both defective and improperly installed by the builder. In other words, even if it had worked, it was installed in the wrong place to make a difference. That’s not my fault – that’s the fault of the builder.
As a side note – many of the A/C units in this phase are not properly installed. A neighbor of mine recently had a flood caused by an improperly installed A/C unit and it caused tens of thousands of dollars in damages. The insurance company found that the unit was not installed properly during construction and is a builder issue. Others have experienced horrible mold.
Here is the history on this issue that’s gone on for several years.
Here’s the summary of all of the construction issues I keep in a spreadsheet.
*Note: For simplicity, the Lennar and WCI Communities names here are used interchangeably as Lennar took over WCI in February of 2017.
2013-2014 – First issues were reported to WCI. The initial responses were from Joel Fedora who is now a Vice President of Construction with Lennar.
Late-2014 – Towards the end of the year, I retained Amanda Buffinton (at the time a shareholder at Bush Ross) to start working the legal side of the issues, because nothing was getting resolved. The first Lennar in-house legal response happens around this time.
July 2015 – The case expands and WCI moves the case from in-house to outside legal. The outside legal responses are from this time.
September 2015 – Amanda Buffington files a 558 complaint against WCI/Lennar to start the process of filing a construction lawsuit.
October 2015 – Lennar’s outside legal sends a response to the 558 complaint. Their response was completely untrue. It’s the same attorney who provided the first outside legal response in July 2015.
A/C issues description
The HVAC system cools below industry standards (13-degree temp, split) and the suction line is hardly cool. The unit has gone out numerous times (at least three) within a one year period. It shorts out the television in the living room when it kicks on and it does not efficiently cool. The dual capacitor had to be replaced within only a year and a half which is not typical. A more efficient unit is needed to effectively cool and maintain the temperature in the main house.
Original response to the A/C issues Joel Fedora
WCI will have the system evaluated. Per the Florida Building Code, energy calculations must be completed for each home that is constructed. An A/C system cannot be oversized, otherwise, there will be mold issues. The A/C not only cools the air but removes moisture. It needs to run enough to remove the excess moisture from the air.
Lennar in-house legal response to A/C issues
WCI to schedule Payne Air Conditioning to evaluate the system.
Amanda Buffinton legal response to Lennar about A/C issues
Accepted; however, Mr. Fannin demands that not only an inspection occur, but that the repair is made to alleviate the problem. Should a repair not alleviate the issue, Mr. Fannin demands the replacement of the HVAC unit. The unit has been overly stressed with faulty installation and draft issues. Mr. Fannin had the unit inspected at his own cost.
Buffinton response to Lennar outside legal (prior to filing the 558)
See Item No. 57. The parties are at an impasse on this issue.
Final WCI outside legal response to 558 complaint
The Homeowner has demanded a replacement unit which is unacceptable to WCI as this is not a construction defect.
Lennar executive’s response on 5/22/2017
Replacement of air handler in main home and guest retreat/office. Redesign condensate drain line with a trap installed. Replace supply and return air plenums. Seal connections at the air handler. Replace 5” media filter.
Although Lennar was only going to replace the A/C unit in the main house, Jim Yeadon of Lennar indicated in August 2017 that Lennar would replace both the unit in the main house and the one in the guest retreat/office.
Lennar has still not made the repairs. All of this and still nothing. This is how exhausting dealing with this builder has been over the years. See: Jim Yeadon of Lennar Has No Response to Mold Issues.
Here was my original detailed outline of both issues that caused the A/C flood (Lennar AC AGAIN – Root Cause Summary):
Bottom line – Regardless of anything of clog cause – the installation was wrong (second sign of faulty installation – the first being that duct was not correctly connected after the first 3-4 A/C outages and this was confirmed BY DEL-AIR).
And the clog was likely caused by a number of defects and/or design issues by WCI (now Lennar Homes).
You can continue reading the A/C root-cause document I prepared for my attorney at the time.