Connecticut homeowners are speaking out about what they say is shoddy, potentially dangerous heating and cooling work done in their homes.
Through state licensing data, NBC Connecticut Investigates found at least one person had been approved to do HVAC work listed under CT Heat Pros, but they are no longer connected to the company.
State officials say Justin Lanno, the owner of the company, is not licensed to perform any occupational work, such as heating, cooling or ductwork.
“It’s hot up here. This is a living hell,” said Erika Kelly of Putnam, as she showed us her central air and heating system on a steamy day this summer.
NBC Connecticut Investigates could hear the unit making noise, but Kelly says when she turns it on, the lines freeze and leak. She pointed out water damage throughout her home.
“It’s gross. It smells in here. I hardly let them play in here. I tell them just to take their toys out,” Kelly said of her kids’ playroom.
Kelly says CT Heat Pros installed a working unit in 2019, but the trouble started when she had them move its location in September 2020.
Kelly called the process a nightmare.
“He was supposed to just move the unit across the floor and everything just stopped working,” she said.
Kelly said as a result, she also did not have heat all winter.
In the meantime, she says she continued to have CT Heat Pros contractors into her home to fix the problems, which she says hasn’t helped.
“I've got six kids living here, I don't have the money to hire another contractor to do the work.”
DCP says Lanno is cooperating with the ongoing investigation.
He has disputed the complaints to NBC Connecticut, saying that the pandemic has caused delays in equipment and the workforce and that “we recognize we have not been perfect as we grow.”
His lawyer says they’ve already resolved some of the matters and will continue to do so, but he did not get back to us when we asked specifically about Kelly’s case.
“I had tenants who had no heat at 11 o'clock at night in February, he came right down,” said Lisa LeDoux of Sterling, who says she put out a call for help on Facebook.
She says Lanno got her tenants’ heat back working in 2019 until a burner was found destroyed just days later, a situation she says could have turned deadly. She had another HVAC specialist come in for that call.
“So I had someone else come in who said, ‘Oh my gosh, what the heck. All the metal was melted,’” she said.
LeDoux says she’s since gotten her money back from Lanno, on a condition she now wishes she never accepted.
“Lots of headache, crazy round around text messages. He finally agreed to give me back most of my money if I wouldn't tell anyone which I probably shouldn’t have agreed to, but I really needed the money back, so I said fine.”
LeDoux showed NBC Connecticut texts between her and Lanno and his company’s helpline which read, “…I need A (sic) document stating that you’re releasing me from responsibility and I’ll refund the $1,000…” and “Lisa I’m looking to get this resolved and a $300 check in your hand. There has to be some conditions to this. I’m looking for you to retract all negative comments on Facebook and replace it was a positive one saying that we did do what we honored by paying you the money you are looking for…”
LeDoux says she’s now speaking out in the hopes of protecting other Connecticut consumers.
Almost three dozen alleged customers living in Connecticut have joined a Facebook group in response to these issues.
There are currently three lawsuits pending against CT Heat Pros.
Lanno’s lawyer told us he can’t comment on matters in litigation, but he added, “CT Heat Pros will do their utmost to come to a resolution on each matter.”
Kelly wants just that, a resolution.
DCP says always do your homework before hiring a contractor of any kind.
DCP reminds consumers that licensed “home improvement contractors” are very limited in the scope of the work they can do.
Workers who install HVAC systems must be specially licensed through the state, after passing an occupational licensing exam.
You can request to see the licenses of those working in your home.
We spoke to a longtime, licensed HVAC specialist who says he’s been called to assess issues he says were created by CT Heat Pros.
His advice: search for businesses with years of experience and get three opinions.
If they’re pros, he says at least two of their opinions should be similar.