Corrective Action Without Root Cause Analysis: Air Conditioning

May 23, 2006 at 5:47 pm 8 comments

In my work with QualTrax, I often deal with concepts such as "Corrective Action", "Preventative Action" and "Root Cause Analysis".  And during my tenure here, I've come across plenty of examples of how moving forward with corrective action when you don't understand the root cause can be dangerous.  Here's one that stemmed from my personal life!

Air Conditioning
Last summer, our downstairs air conditioning broke.  The damage was such that unit had to be completely replaced.  This month (yes over a year later), Sean and I finally got a quote and scheduled the install.  The quote was for $1700 which was workable within our budget. 

Yesterday, the worker came and spent a few hours installing the unit.  When he was done, the worker came in the house and bid his farewell.  And then he said:

Oh yeah, I figured out why that other unit broke to begin with.

It turns out, another unit in the basement (I believe he said "air distributor") isn't functioning properly– and it is sending flow back to the air conditioning units outside.  The worker told me:

You're going to need to get that replaced, or else it is just going to break that new $1700 machine you got out there.

Now, let's ignore the fact that this company missed this little tidbit in the five other times they visited our house since the unit broke.  And let's ignore the fact that now we have to spend more money then we were expecting.

What we are left with is a great example of the necessary teamwork between correction action and root cause analysis.  If this worker was not savvy enough to notice the other failing unit, then Sean and I would have invested our time and money into a corrective action ("Installing a new air conditioning unit")— but the source of the problem would have remained and it would have cursed us with issues in the future.  In the end, we would have not fixed a darn thing.

Instead, we would have paid good money to be just as irritable and just as hot and sweaty as before.

Entry filed under: CAPA, Root Cause, Sean.

Ian Herbst New Twist on SQL Server does not exist or access denied.

8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Clint  |  May 23, 2006 at 6:09 pm

    Take some advice from me: Whenever anybody says they need to sell you anything, treat it very skeptically. I have little doubt that they knew the real cause but were just feeling you guys out to see if they could sell you a whole new unit. They had to wait almost a year, but it paid off.

    Timmy Sawyer has also helped show me how true that is with cars. Two quotes in two separate incidents: $1000, and $800 or $1600 (depending). Timmy fixed both for $170 & $210 or so, respectively.

    Our builder sold us a new heat pump for $10,000 then later said he could have installed a new boiler for $1,300. (Of course, we needed more air conditioning power too, but they threw the old unit away — something I wasn’t expecting and may bring up in any future potential legal action. I bet the old unit could have been enhanced for cheaper.)

    Also: ALL preventative maintanence guidelines are scams. Repeat after me: ALL. Yes, P.M. is needed, but not to the extent that it is commodotized and sold. Save yourself some hassle, buy synthetic oil and only go to Jiffy Lube every 10,000 miles.

    Reply
  • 2. tgaw  |  May 23, 2006 at 8:56 pm

    Hehe. When I posted, I knew that you would definitely have some tales to share!

    Your last thought reminds me of something the vet told my mother. At the time, Moon was overweight. The vet asked Mom how much she was feeding Moon.

    “X cups,” Mom said.

    “X cups?!” the vet said, “That’s too much.”

    “Well that’s what the dog food bag said to feed her.”

    “Ma’am,” the vet said, “The dog food companies are in business to sell you dog food. That’s too much.”

    P.S. I’m still going to do my preventative maintenance on my car. It’s a prerequesite to my extended warranty and the last thing I want to do after all my troubles with the last car is void that warranty. I also can’t submerge the vehicle in water. The sacrifices I make…

    Reply
  • 3. tgaw  |  May 23, 2006 at 9:11 pm

    On a similiar note– the Food Pyramid:

    http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/pyramids.html

    “According to federal regulations, the panel that writes the dietary guidelines must include nutrition experts […] Selecting the panelists is no easy task, and is subject to intense lobbying from organizations such as the National Dairy Council, United Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association, Soft Drink Association, American Meat Institute, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, and Wheat Foods Council”

    “If the only goal of the Food Guide Pyramid is to give us the best possible advice for healthy eating, then it should be grounded in the evidence and be independent of business.”

    Reply
  • 4. Clint  |  May 25, 2006 at 8:02 am

    Unless you get out what you put into an extended warrantee, it’s not worth it. Now if the warrantee is free, that’s a different story. But if it REQUIRES preventative maintenence (mine didn’t), then it’s not really free.

    Reply
  • 5. tgaw  |  May 25, 2006 at 10:00 am

    Eh. I’m pretty comfortable with the extended warranty and its preventative prerequesites.

    Maybe in a few years, I’ll change my tune. In which case, you’ll get to have the utmost satisfaction of saying, “I told you so!” 🙂

    But for now, I’m content.

    Reply
  • 6. root cause analysis  |  March 17, 2007 at 1:14 pm

    Don’t like any extended warranties that you have to pay for, they are generally too expensive and the real margin-makers, especially in the computer business.

    Reply
  • 7. (ISO) Quality Manual Chat  |  September 13, 2007 at 12:57 pm

    Responsibility for Corrective Action

    Who assigns corrective and preventative action requests, and who has to remedy them?

    Reply
  • 8. Enquinibum  |  December 27, 2008 at 8:59 pm

    vffdfzlpvwodvyzzwell, hi admin adn people nice forum indeed. how’s life? hope it’s introduce branch 😉

    Reply

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