Monday, 10 March 2014

Writing a nice letter

It's taken over a month to write to the supplier of heat but not a lot of light.

This is a translation of the first letter I wrote:

Dear @?x@*,

Thank you for your visit to our house to look at the third incident of leaking water from the ventilation system you installed. A couple of weeks later I went into the room where it lives, and found an overflowing bucket, which made me realise that the problem had not been fixed. I was shocked to hear that you expected me to pay for you to come again, so I got the manual and looked at it myself, following the clear and straightforward instructions on removing the cover, taking out and cleaning the heat exchange unit. Instructions that would be difficult to miss, unless you did not look at them.

While doing this, I noticed that the water was not draining properly from the pan in the bottom of the machine, even when the drain was clean and water was flowing smoothly through that. Water was collecting at the front of the machine, allowing crap to build up, as you can see in the enclosed photograph. Excuse my use of an engineering term.

Using a spirit level showed that the whole system is not level, and in fact the way it has been installed, hanging from the wall, it was really never likely to be level in the first place.

I'm not sure whether this is a design fault of the system, a flaw in the manufacturer's installation instructions, or if there is any other way of passing the responsibility on to someone else, but there are a couple of ideas you could use.

If you, or other companies, continue installing heat exchange ventilation systems in Japan, it would be nice if you could take problems like this seriously and ensure installation and maintenance that will not lead to leaking. Somewhat counter-intuitively, heat exchangers with better efficiency have bigger temperature drops so more condensation will come out of them. If it does not have a well made path, this water will make a new one, likely through the part of the house where it will do the most damage.

At the moment I'm thinking of the best way to make the system level.

In the mean time, please don't worry about our health. We will clean this regularly to avoid an outbreak of legionnaires disease.


Of course, I didn't send this. Actually I didn't really write most of that until now, but that's what I wanted to say. I know that at most it would have caused still more heat, and not achieved any of my goals, except for some short-term satisfaction.

Obviously my main priority is to get my system working properly, although I think to do that I'll probably have to learn how it works and do the maintenance myself.

Another very big priority is stopping this happening to other people. These kinds of systems are essential to highly efficient buildings, and if they cannot be installed correctly people will stop using them.

So here's the second letter:

Dear @?x@* san,

Thank you for coming to look at our leaking ventilation system. Two weeks afterwards I realised that the system was still leaking, so I followed the manual to clean it, including the heat-exchange element. While doing this, I noticed that water was not draining properly from the bottom of the system because it was not level. You can see in the enclosed photo how dirt has built up at the front of the drainage area. Using a spirit level showed that the system itself is not horizontal.

If you have any suggestions as to how the system can be made level, please let me know.

I hope that you will be able to avoid this kind of problem in future installations of heat exchange ventilations systems.


Stick to the facts. We need to stick to the facts.
Here's the final version of the letter:

Dear @?x@* sama,

Sorry for the delay in contacting you.
Thank you for coming to look at the water leakage from our heat-exchange ventilation system on 17th January. Two weeks later I realised that the leaking had not stop, so I cleaned inside the system and the heat-exchange element, as described in the manual.
At this time, it became clear that the system was not level, and water was not effectively draining from the system. Water was collecting at the front of the draining pan, leading to a build up of dirt, as can be seen in the photo.
Upon measurement, the system was not level, and was out by about 5 mm in 100.

I'm now thinking of a way to make it level.


The morning after sending this, a reply came back:

Long time no see.
I looked at the attached photos.
I can't see whether it's level from the photos, but we will think about this.