There’s a certain amount of trust that’s involved with most business arrangements. When you take your car in to be serviced, you trust they’ll diagnose and repair the right problem. When you go to the dentist, you trust only the tooth that needs fixing will get fixed. However, things are not always what they seem. If something doesn’t seem quite right, it’s best to go with your gut instinct and perhaps get a second opinion.
The same is true with HVAC services. Today’s heating and cooling equipment is technologically advanced, and the average person doesn’t understand how to service, repair or even maintain it. You have to trust the people you’re doing business with. No one wants to get scammed.
It’s best to form a long-term relationship with an HVAC service provider you can trust. But how do you know? Here are some things to look out for when you’re dealing with an HVAC technician for the first time.
Ask for credentials
That includes making sure the van they show up in has local license plates and a legitimate logo on the side. Check out their website and see what certifications they advertise. Also, make sure they’re certified to work on your exact equipment; there are different types of certifications for different types of service and equipment.
Thanks to the internet, we live in a pretty transparent world. Go to review sites to see what others in your area have said about an HVAC provider. Check to see how they’ve handled the feedback, both positive and negative.
Get a written estimate
No legitimate HVAC contractor will hedge at giving you a written estimate. If you don’t have everything in writing, you’re liable to end up with a much higher bill than you anticipated.
Make sure your air conditioner isn’t too large
Bigger is not always better, especially when it comes to air conditioners. If your air conditioner is too big for the space it is cooling, it won’t run very long because it cools the space quickly. That causes two problems:
- It puts more wear and tear on your equipment, shortening its lifespan
- It won’t run long enough to dehumidify your interior as well as cool it
So, the thing to remember is: don’t supersize.
Free estimate is one thing – free tune-up is another
Economics 101: There’s no such thing as a free lunch. It’s one thing to offer a free estimate – but a tune-up is a lot of work and requires a lot of labor. Be warned that if you’re getting a free tune-up, it’s likely you’re going to “need” a lot of expensive parts.
Beware of frequent tune-ups
Speaking of tune-ups, if you’re starting to feel like you’re getting to know your HVAC technician a little too well, you might be getting too many (unnecessary) tune-ups. It’s best to have a regular maintenance contract which spells out all the necessary work. A qualified professional will spot any problems during these regular calls – and you won’t be likely to get any nasty surprises.
Never pay everything up front
When you’re buying new equipment, most reputable contractors accept half down and half upon successful installation. Asking for everything up front is a little shady – either they’re having cash flow problems, or they’re simply scamming you completely.
Ask to see the part that was replaced
Unsavory technicians will sometimes replace parts that don’t need replacing. It’s okay to ask to see the old part that was replaced and have them explain why it needed to be replaced.
Caveat emptor – buyer beware
Dealing with heating and cooling system problems is enough of a hassle, you don’t want to have a scam compound your troubles. There are a lot of qualified and reliable HVAC companies out there. Just remember to follow these tips so you can hire someone worthy of your trust.