The hot weather is here to stay, and that means it’s air conditioning season in Philadelphia. If you have an air conditioner breakdown, you’ll need emergency HVAC service to get your house to a comfortable climate ASAP. It’ s important to hire the right HVAC company when you need quick service. While the majority of HVAC companies are honest, there will always be a few bad apples out there who will try to take advantage of your situation with a variety of common HVAC scams. At HVAC Philly, we want to provide you with tips to identify and avoid common HVAC scams, so you can protect your wallet and report predatory HVAC companies.
HVAC Scam #1: The Tune-Up
Have you ever seen an ad or been contacted about an air conditioner tune up for a price of around $59? The price seems too good to be true, and it is. If you fall for one of these tune-ups, you’re really just paying a contractor to come give you a sales pitch. 9 times out of 10, they’ll perform a “tune-up” and proceed to tell you about a serious problem they found that needs replacing. If you think about it, these tune-ups only benefit the HVAC company if they can sell you an expensive repair or new part. When contractors are paid an average of $35/hr, they’re losing money to send a technician to drive out to your house and perform a tune-up for only $59.
In general, you should be avoid these tune-ups. If you do have one, don’t be surprised if the technician finds a “problem” that needs repairing. Remember, you can always get a second opinion if you want to be sure that there’s no problem. You’re not obligated to the company who performed the “tune-up” to fix it.
HVAC Scam #2: The 12 Year Warranty
Popular manufactures of air conditioning and heating equipment such as Lennox, Bryant, Trane, and Goodman all provide free warranties on their parts that are attached to the serial number on your unit. Often, you can extend these warranties by 2 years for just a few dollars more. Some HVAC companies might try to sell you on an extended warranty for your newly installed air conditioning system. Again, if the warranty seems too good to be true, it probably is. Commonly, these companies will offer a 12 year parts and labor warranty for FREE. What’s the catch? Well, hidden in the contract you sign, there will be a preventative service agreement stating that you’ll agree to pay hundreds of dollars per year in preventative service to be eligible for the warranty.
If you see these kinds of warranties, be sure to ask about any preventive service agreements and carefully read anything before you sign it.
HVAC Scam #3: The Ever-changing Estimate
Whenever you agree to pay a HVAC company for services, make sure you have an agreed upon price in writing. If your HVAC technician tells you a repair will be “about $_____”, he might as well be waving a big red flag around. In other words, he’ll probably try to charge you a higher price when the repair is over.
A written estimate protects you from paying predatory prices and allows you to protect yourself if the repair isn’t completed. You can also use a written estimate to get a second opinion and make sure you aren’t paying too much for a simple repair.
HVAC Scam #4: The “Professional” Contractor
Out of all the HVAC scams we’ve covered so far, this one will cost you the most money. Have you ever had an amateur repair job? They usually cost you more money than you should have to pay. Beware of amateur contractors who try to pass themselves off as licensed HVAC technicians. Do your research before hiring a HVAC company; read their reviews, and check their rates online. It’s perfectly okay to ask for a HVAC technician’s license when they come to your house. If a company has too many bad reviews or gives you excuses as to why they can’t show you their license, look for another company.