Like any industry, the HVAC business has its fair share of fraud and dishonest “professionals.” As most homeowners do not have extensive knowledge about heating and cooling systems, they are most vulnerable to scams. Knowing how to spot these scams can help you avoid them, saving you time, money, and grief. Here is a look at some of the most common HVAC repair scams and how to steer clear of fraudsters.
1. Replacing Parts That Do Not Need Replacing
This common scenario has happened to many homeowners. The air conditioner or furnace is making an odd noise or is not working as effectively as it should. You call in an HVAC repair technician only to find out you will need several components replaced. These parts are usually costly and may even have you considering purchasing a whole new unit. While this situation is certainly not impossible, it is rare. In the majority of cases, it comes down to just one faulty part that is causing problems throughout the whole system. If you feel that the technician is being dishonest, it may be in your best interest to get multiple diagnoses.
2. Pressuring You to Buy the Biggest Unit Available
When it comes to heating and cooling units, bigger is not always better. The size of your HVAC system should depend on a variety of factors, such as the square footage of your home and quality of insulation. Most standard homes do not need large units to remain warm and cozy. However, some contractors will pressure homeowners into buying a unit that is too large simply to make a bigger profit. While bigger units heat more quickly, they cycle off and on frequently which wastes energy and puts extra stress on the unit.
3. Refilling of Refrigerant without Repairs
If an HVAC repair technician tells you that your air conditioner simply needs more refrigerant but does not actually make any repairs, you are likely being scammed. It is a common misconception that AC units use up refrigerant over time. If a unit remains in good working order, it should maintain a consistent amount of refrigerant. Air conditioning units will only lose refrigerant if there is a problem that needs repair, such as a leak. HVAC repair technicians that only refill refrigerant expect for you to continue making payments for refills.
4. Asking for a Cash Payment Upfront
Never make the mistake of paying for any type of service before acquiring the final product. No reputable HVAC repair technician will force you to make a cash payment before he will provide you with services. If a technician does ask for cash up front, be wary as he may take your money and run. Only deal with professional, local businesses that have clear, fair policies that do not involve upfront payments or hidden fees. Also, avoid businesses involved in bait and switch scams. This type of scam usually involves baiting new customers with dishonest promotions in an attempt to sell services.
5. Unlicensed Technicians Posing as Professionals
There are many HVAC “professionals” out there that offer services without the proper certifications and licenses. These individuals often have limited experience and knowledge of heating and cooling systems and most have had no training to perform the job. While most of these imposters perform freelance, others will present themselves as employees of legitimate companies even though they have no official connection to these businesses. They may initially draw you in with cheap prices or major discounts, the results are often inferior and sometimes even hazardous.
What to Look for in an HVAC Repair Business
Who repairs and maintains your heating and cooling systems has a major impact on their lifespan and long-term performance. It is crucial to choose an HVAC repair business that has the characteristics that you are looking for, such as honesty, dependability, and detail-oriented. Take the time to check out the company’s reputation. Do they have good reviews? You will also want to make sure that the business is properly certified and that any technicians hired are knowledgeable, efficient, and professionally trained.
Also look for an HVAC repair company that you can trust. Do not work with a technician who gives you a price before they even look at your HVAC systems. A qualified professional will first come to your home and inspect your cooling and heating systems for problems before giving you an estimate. This can also result in another form of bait and switch. Some companies will provide low estimates over the phone, then after arriving at your home will dramatically jack up the price. You typically do not want to go with the lowest priced company as you will likely not get the quality service you are looking for. However, that does not mean you need to go with the highest bid either.
When dealing with HVAC contractors, do not rely on verbal contracts alone. It is important to have a bid or estimate down in writing. Any reputable HVAC business will provide a written bid or quote. If you do decide to go forward with a contract, you will want to make sure that it contains paramount information before signing. A standard contract should include all details pertaining to dates, such as when the work will begin. It should also contain a detailed breakdown of equipment and labor costs, as well as payment due dates and an estimated project completion.
Call Presidential Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc.
The HVAC industry contains many honest and hardworking contractors who want to help you make essential repairs to your heating and cooling systems. Of course, there is also a small percentage that simply aims to defraud and scam innocent homeowners. Knowing what red flags to look for can help you avoid these types of scams and find HVAC contractors who will provide high-quality work. Schedule a service date today or get a free estimate when you call Presidential Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc.