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low humidity in a customer's house causing splits1/9
i suspect this is what is going on, but how do you handle any potential warranty claims? i loosely outline this in my warranty (not warrantied against extreme swings in temperature and/or humidity), but it doesn't stop them from asking.
what do you do?
What kind of splits? Splits on panel glue seams or splits in joints between rails and stiles? I've never had a call from a customer with a split, so I'd suggest it's a manufacturing issue and is up to you to repair.
it is one house with two types of splits - one along a small desk top (in the grain, not at a joint) and one in a panel at the joint. the home is in maryland where heaters have been running none stop for a couple weeks now and they aren't using a humidifier. the work is almost a year old.
I have a house full of furniture I've built over 40 years, besides my professional work. Not a single crack in site. Here in Peoria, IL, we had wind chills of 30 below. Days at a time when it never got above 5, a couple where it never got to 0. Also no humidifier in the house. This is the time when we see the proof of how much we allowed for wood movement. How was the top mounted? Was the panel frozen in a frame with glue? Did you make sure it rattled after the glue up? We have to really build for the movement so mistakes don't bite us this time of year.
Same here. I have a house full of my furniture and never a split.
i'm sorry i didn't mention the installation. everything was installed to account for seasonal movement.
i really think the heat has sucked all the moisture out of the air and that is what has caused these cracks to develop.
keeping your 100% non-splitting record aside, how would handle this if you were in my shoes? i see it as lose-lose, but don't want to fall on my sword and replace/fix at my sole expense for something that i didn't contribute to.
Try heating a house with a wood stove everyday. Now we are talking dry. You know its dry when the dog's water bowl starts evaporating.
We do it every year. Likewise no cracks. You did something incorrectly.
thank you for nothing. i'm glad to hear another chime in that they have never had this sort of issue and routinely light their pieces on fire without so much as a little charring. i guess this confirms my suspicions - i'm in the wrong industry, because most of my days aren't perfect and i cannot subject my finished goods to torture that the big boys in the wood industry wouldn't stand behind.
never mind the put "yourself in my shoes" - have you ever had something near related (customer is pushing the limits of what should be possible and needs help now that there is trouble) that you can tell me how you handled? maybe they regularly wet their cabinets and the finish is starting to deteriorate, etc.
Read the rest of the posts on ww. Everyone wants to blame damage & defects on a cold winter. Sure its colder, but as far as failures go, we always seem to find error in construction and/or installation.
Unless you can reasonably prove that the customer did something beyond normal its hard to walk away from a defect.
"pushing limits" not sure what you mean?
Finish damage: In my own personal experience its been obvious whether I did something wrong or they damaged it.
I was taught to get signatures on work that is pushing the limits. The vast majority of our work are rough designs by architects & designers or the customer. We redesign and try our very best to build things that don't fail. If anything looks sketchy, we have them sign a no warranty doc. Often they make a smarter choice.
i was indirectly quoting the "limits" as david s. reference in my post in the architectural forum from boos, specva, and steinway, but i'm sure they aren't the only ones who pepper their warranties with exclusions (and it sounds like you do this as well). if you run your humidity levels too low, intentionally or not, and wood products fail, why should it be a build failure. i cannot shift after the redline and not expect a shortened lifespan from my drivetrain. am i really blaming toyota for poor quality?
ignorance is bliss, but doesn't exonerate any unintended harm caused (ask your local law enforcement). i do have a hard time swallowing it from either perspective - mine as the guy that built it, and from the homeowners, who didn't know they were doing anything that could cause harm. is the root cause something else, maybe, that's why i posted this. is there a semi-agreeable solution, maybe one that someone else has used in a similar situation with good results - that's why i'm asking.
have you ever had something go wrong after your work was delivered that you don't believe you were responsible for?
Sure I have. Early in my career, I was getting ready to redo an entire kitchen because I used a pigment lacquer. It was cracking and peeling near the dishwasher, the sink base, the range hood, and the uppers on either side of the stove. Wrong finishing product. By a divine act, while they were gone a vacation, the washing machine hose in the second story laundry burst. The entire kitchen was drenched for days. A total lose down to the floor joists. Of course then didn't come to me for a new set of cabinets based on my error. I've always felt that the only point of honor I could carry in this business, was my word to produce a good product and stand behind it. If it fails, I fix it! How else could I expect people to give me a deposit on just my word if I didn't stand behind it. Does your customer have other pieces of furniture or cabinetry cracking in their home?
i don't know about other pieces but solid wood with a mineral oil finish is a completely different dog compared to anything with finish applied, especially to anything veneered.
so what do you think steinway, given their written stance? tune the piano?
Sure it's different with a paint finish. But I was responding to your question about if we ever had a job go bad because of the customer and how we handled it. If my customer would have wiped down their cabinets and used an adequate fan in the range hood, my cabinet finish would not have failed. I really don't equate a butcher block table with a Steinway. My wife bemoans the fact of humidity swings with her mountain dulcimers, and she's only playing in front of a crowd at the nature center. Steinway wants a conditioned atmosphere for the health and tune of their instruments. Just like a concert violin or wood instrument like an oboe. You didn't answer if they have other furniture cracking, or only yours.
I've had many things go wrong before, after, and during.
We don't have many exclusions. Our warranty is if we made it wrong we fix it within 2 years. It sets us aside from the 1 year companies. As Dave S. mentioned on another recent damage thread, if it makes it thru 2 seasons it should be there forever.
We also do it, because the majority of big jobs are referrals from our long term builders & designers. They tell the clients that we stand by our work.
Our basic exclusion is if the builder, customer, or subcontractor damages it, then we will fix it asap at our hourly rate.
The major exclusion is for what we determine to be risky designs. Wrong wood, finish, or construction. Those instances where the person signing off on it, knows better than us. We push all of the risk onto that person.
Have we negotiated a repair job in the past? Yes, after the job went sideways because they chose to disregard our suggestions. The negotiation is we will fix it our way, not yours.
We have negotiated if its their fault when more work is on the table. If we are half way thru one year's of contracts. We are kinder to the customer. We offer to provide the material at our cost. I may drop the labor rate enough that we are paying our selves, but no extra. I make all of this clear in a damage invoice. If you add all of that up it can save them a fair amount of money. If we don't help financially then we may lose the rest of the work. Also it gives them a reason to bad mouth us to another prospective customer.
As for this situation, it really depends on whether this is a repeat client or not. If they aren't, then I wouldn't fix it without charging them. Even if they are a repeat client, I would at least explain that your millwork needs to be in a controlled environment and ask to be paid for any rework.