Shoddy repair work causes Nashville man’s gas bill to triple

Technician found duct work in attic had separated causing furnace to work harder to heat house.
WSMV4 Investigates' Stacey Cameron reports.
Published: Jun. 9, 2023 at 6:53 PM CDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - A warning for people choosing to dispute their soaring gas bills as one East Nashville man recently learned why your high bills doesn’t always result in a lower bill.

In April, WSMV4 Investigates reported how Andy Jones had been going back and forth with Piedmont Natural Gas since January over his bill.

For four months, Jones’ gas bill nearly tripled his gas charges from last winter, with some bills topping $500.

Jones had a company come out and inspect his appliances and the technician found nothing wrong and no leaks at the home.

After insisting Piedmont send out a technician, the company ended up replacing his gas meter and sending the old meter which appeared to be “freezing” off to Georgia for testing. But after several weeks of testing, Piedmont determined the meter was not malfunctioning and not the cause of Jones’ high bill.

Finally, last week the mystery over Jones’ high bill was solved when an HVAC technician came to his home and found a previously unseen problem in the attic.

“When the HVAC guy got up in the attic, he found a gap in our ductwork,” Jones said. “And apparently it was damaged, and instead of repairing it with metal and screws, they used duct tape. Over time, the tape melted, creating the gap.”

While not that large, Jones said the HVAC tech told him that the small gap was enough to cause his gas bill crisis.

“He said the gap would just pull the air meant for our home into the attic, basically forcing our furnace to work harder to heat the house,” Jones said.

“No one, none of the other inspections found it, and even Piedmont guys said there was no way a home our size could use $500 worth of gas a month. I was glad to find out what the culprit was.”

Turns out billing disputes over faulty gas meters are rare. WSMV4 Investigates filed a public records request with the Tennessee Public Utility Commission, uncovering just four customer complaints over the past three years, claiming a bad meter caused their high gas bill.

But two of the four cases ended just like Jones’ dispute with the customer losing and the past bills coming due immediately.

“I had to pay an additional $700 last week,” Jones said.

There is good news if you dispute your gas bill and lose. In the cases WSMV4 Investigates reviewed, Piedmont worked with its customers, lowering their bill as a courtesy, or spreading the charges out over several bills. If you land in that situation, call Piedmont and ask for help.