Air conditioning cooling and heating systems hold an important role to most home owners in St. Petersburg Florida. When they fail, expensive repairs can occur. The facts are that most homeowners aren’t familiar with how their HVAC systems work and the must rely on the service contractors honesty and expertise when it comes to AC repairs. By nature, when your HVAC fails during a vulnerable time such as a hot summer day, you could be tempted or pressured to make snap decision and be vulnerable to unscrupulous sales tactics or AC repair scams. Before you call an AC repairman, know these tips for avoiding AC repair scams.
1) Research for a Reputable Contractor
Just as you should for hiring any service contractor, go to the internet and search for online reviews before you start making calls to schedule. If your contractor is an established professional in your area there will more than likely be 3rd party reviews available online. There are many resources available such as your cities BBB, Google Reviews, and Yelp. In addition to analyzing reviews, it is very important to make sure your AC contractor is licensed and insured. Most all reputable contractors will display their legal business information, licenses, and certifications online and link back to the agency for verification. If you can’t find this information online, ask your contractor for them before you schedule and do your homework.
2) Never Pay for an Entire Job Before the Work is Complete
In some instances, and AC repair specialist will ask for a down-payment before they order parts or start work. This is especially true when a repair requires the installation of expensive new components such as a new condenser unit. In such cases, it is O.K. for the contractor to ask for a down-payment. A general rule is that if a air condition repair contractor asks you to pay him for a repair under $1000 before the work is done, then hang up and try someone else.
3) Get Multiple Estimates
Make sure you get options before you make a decision on which contractor to use. We recommend that you get estimates from at least 2 or 3 contractors before making your decision then use the estimates as leverage to figure out the average cost of the repair in your area.
4) Look Up the Average Cost of the Repair in your Area Online
There are many websites that offer the average cost of AC repairs in your local area such as ImproveNet. Use your estimates to compare what others have paid for the same repair and then negotiate with your contractors.
5) Beware of Freon AC Repair Scams
Freon is the common refrigerant that is used to help cool the air your HVAC delivers inside of your home. There are 2 different types of air conditioning refrigerant that are most commonly used in residential cooling systems. They are R-22, known under the brand Freon and R410A sold under the brand Puron. Both are expensive, and Puron is considered to be more environmentally friendly. Unfortunately, and the two types are not interchangeable.
In our experience, we’ve heard of a few types of “Freon” scams. The first one is where a contractor tells you are system is low on Freon. Refrigerate is not used up like gasoline in your car. Your air conditioner is a sealed system and there shouldn’t be a way for the refrigerant to escape unless there is a leak. If your contractor tells your system is low without performing a leak test, you should be weary. According to the BBB, this is common tactic used by less scrupulous AC repairmen who “find” the issue during a free maintenance inspection.
Another Freon scam has to do with the cost of the refrigerant. Older air conditioner units use R-22 and because it is bad for the environment our government is phasing it out. This means they are controlling how much R-22 is produced each year. Based on the law of supply and demand, the price has skyrocketed. If your AC repair requires the replacement of refrigerant, make sure that the cost is listed in the estimate and then compare it to rate on your comparison estimates. If one rate is much lower than the others, this usually means the contractor is making it up by overcharging on parts or labor somewhere else. In some horror stories we’ve heard, some contractors will go so far as to tell you that your AC system uses R-22 which is not available and that the entire system must be replaced. If this happens to you, without any doubt, you should call another contractor for a second estimate.
5) Keep All Broken Parts that were Replaced
Some AC service repair companies will try and make you pay for parts that were never actually replaced. One of the best ways to to keep check on your contractor’s honesty, is to request that they leave all broken parts with you. In this case, it is best to ask for them after they finish to avoid a contractor breaking a good part on purpose to charge a higher rate on parts and labor. If your contractor refuses to provide you with your parts this is a good indication that an AC repair scam has occurred.
6) Always Get Everything in Writing
Getting everything in writing will help prevent bait and switch. To avoid this, get a written contract which complete details including itemized list of parts and materials, labor time and cost, as well as the start and completion dates. All contracts are not created equally. As with any legal contract, make sure you read all terms and conditions on the contract and if you don’t understand something ask questions or go online to research.
Avoid AC Repair Scams in St. Petersburg, Florida
Don’t fall victim to the many AC repair scams that are reported each year. If you’re are having a problem with your HVAC system, call AM Aire or schedule online for honest and affordable service. We are licensed, certified, insured, and have plenty of positive reviews to back this up. Best of all we offer 24/7 emergency service for the times when you need our help the most.
Contact AM Aire today to schedule an appointment for diagnosis and repair in St. Petersburg Florida.
Our expert air conditioning repair specialists will inspect each of your cooling and heating components and to determine exactly what is causing your problem. Once we find the issue, we will always recommend the best options for repair or replacement. As with all of our service requests, you will receive a detailed estimate outlining all parts and labor and you are not obligated to complete any repairs or replacements.