8 Ways to Avoid Getting Tricked Into Expensive HVAC Repairs
HVAC systems can be costly to purchase and to repair. If you are in a desperate situation, you may feel especially vulnerable and concerned that you are getting your money’s worth from a contractor. Be informed and stay alert to avoid common HVAC repair scams with these helpful tips.
1. Get a written estimate for repairs
Getting an estimate in writing is always a smart practice so that you know what to expect and can question any additional or excessive charges later on.
2. Get a second opinion
Whether you are purchasing a new system or getting major repairs on your current system, it pays to get a second opinion. Legitimate companies want to help consumers avoid scammers.
3. Request the broken part
If the contractor says a part needs to be replaced, ask for the broken part. If you’re not sure the replacement was necessary, you can bring it to a certified HVAC repair company for a second opinion. And never buy used parts.
4. Avoid “free” or frequent tune-ups
Companies that advertise free tune-ups are often trying to entice customers to purchase unnecessary services following the “free” inspection. It may sound like a good deal at first, but could end up costing much more for work you don’t even need. Similarly, do not pay for tune-ups more than once a year. An annual tune-up is all that is necessary to maintain your warranty and keep your equipment in good shape.
5. Beware of low, limited-time offers
Contractors that advertise “buy now and save,” may just be planning to price-gouge you when they return to fix the unit a second time.
6. Don’t pay upfront
Contractors often ask for a down payment to begin work, with the final payment due once the work is completed. Beware of contractors who ask for the full amount up front. Once you’ve paid, you have little recourse if they do a poor job, or if they disappear altogether.
7. Be sure your new system is sized and installed correctly
Ask for the calculations used to determine the load and size of the unit and compare two or three bids. An incorrectly sized unit will not work properly. It will cost more to run, wear out sooner and likely have difficulty maintaining a comfortable temperature throughout your home.
8. Research the contractor – make sure he or she is certified on your equipment
Before agreeing to any work, do your homework. Make sure the contractor you hire is certified and insured. If possible, get referrals from people you trust who can vouch for the company, or ask for references and follow up. Also make sure the contractor actually works for the company he claims to be representing.