Local swim coach and gardener trying to go green needs Consumer Watch help

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by Andy Treinen

WHAS11.com

Posted on June 29, 2011 at 2:56 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jun 29 at 6:04 PM

(WHAS11)  A Louisville swim coach and gardener dedicated her life to going green, but now her geo-thermal home is wasting thousands of gallons of water every month.  Before wasting any more money, she called WHAS11’s Andy Treinen for this week's Consumer Watch.

Michelle Ward is a green-thumbed gardener with a passion for Mother Earth.  "I need help,” insisted Ward.  She's also a swim instructor with an eye on her carbon footprint.  So, she decided to invest in a geothermal system to heat and cool her home.  Ward paid Elite Heating and Air Condition Refrigeration $35,000 to install the geothermal system; it heats and cools both her home and pool instruction area.  "That was really my number one reason for going geothermal, is just so I could run the pool year round and be able to afford the monthly cost for heating and cooling," explained Ward.

The entire geothermal system sits outside underneath a garden; it's about 200 feet beneath the garden, consistently pulling 60 degree water back to the surface.  Elite broke ground on the job in September of 2009 and all the work was completed May of 2010; by late 2010 a leak was detected in the line.  "The unit kept shutting off and so they just ran a pressure test, and they said it's not holding pressure,” claimed Ward.

In January, as a temporary fix, a garden hose was set up by Elite to keep the system running; it's constantly feeding water into a leaking line.  "Now I’m wasting water, it's terrible," said Ward.  While ward is running by her estimate 9,000 gallons of water per billing cycle into Mother Earth, the contractor and sub-contractor are battling.  Elite paid Medley’s HVAC and Plumbing $15,000 to install the lines.

Elite's owner, Matt Roberts, didn't want to talk on camera, but he did issue a written statement.  It pointed out the companies A+ Rating with the Better Business Bureau and 18 years in business.  It implied that only Elite equipment was covered in the 10 year warranty, but not equipment installed by the sub-contractor; stating: “Medley's HVAC and Plumbing installed the geothermal ground loops for Ms. Ward and offered a warranty on the geothermal loops at issue.” But did it?  

The only contract that exists on the job is between Ward and Elite.  Chris Medley told WHAS11 that they agreed to dig the lines for Elite on what he calls a "good old boy contract;" that means that there's nothing in writing.  Ward hired and paid Elite, only, to do the job.  Ward confirms she had no contract with Medley.  “He looked right at me and told me when he would be back, and told me what to have moved for him; so I trusted it was all going to happen,” said Ward.

Medley says he has no problem with Ward; he simply wants Elite to pay him.  He estimates $2,500 for the job.  Meanwhile, Ward waits, and waters Mother Earth.  "I don't like wasting water, so it's disgusting," said Ward.

Both the contractor on the job and the sub-contractor say they've never seen a geothermal line fail on one of these jobs.  They're all hopeful that they can reach some kind of resolution.
 

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