Too often it seems you see stories on television about another heating and air conditioning scam aiming homeowners young and old. It can be a dangerous situation, putting not only your money at risk, but also your home and health at risk.
Here are some key phrases to be wary about if you hear an HVAC technician say them during your appointment:
“See this? This is bad. You need a new one.”
Sure you may run into needing some parts replaced from time to time, but when a technician is being vague about why a certain part needs to be replaced (especially if it’s a big ticket item), it’s alright to question. Think about how your system has been working lately—is the unit noisier than usual, is there a bad smell? Is there an issue with your home being properly cooled? If no to all of these, there may not be anything really wrong with your system.
Yes, you need to regularly maintain your home comfort system, but if someone is trying to schedule them every season or more (four or more times a year), that’s way too much. You only need a regular tune-up for your air conditioning system once a year (in the spring, specifically) and a regular tune-up for your heating system once a year (in the fall).
In some cases, used items are just fine for use, but not when it comes to your heating and air conditioning unit. An honest contractor will never install a used part in your system because there’s a reason it’s been removed from a previous customer’s system. And it just won’t last.
A very common scam will see a technician claiming to have replaced a part, with a guarantee that the problem will be gone in a few days. You don’t want to have to call the technician to come back out multiple times, racking up service call fees and more “replacements.” Any fix to your air conditioning system should see an instant improvement. Besides watching the technician’s every move, the only way you can prevent this is by avoiding shady companies that use this tactic.
One big money scam is when a contractor says your system is leaking carbon monoxide, so you need to replace your entire furnace immediately. Ask the contractor to see the leak, and if he/she cannot show you a crack in the heat exchanger or show a reading on the carbon monoxide meter, it’s time for a second opinion.
When it comes time to hire a contractor to work on your heating and air conditioning system, take your time finding the right one. Read reviews and ask for suggestions from friends and neighbors. And don’t be afraid to ask for a second opinion when it comes to estimates—if the price sounds unbelievably high, it just might be. If something just doesn’t feel right, whether it’s a phone call or a visit, trust your gut.