Don’t Be Misled – How to Be a Smart HVAC Customer

Professionals who repair and install air conditioning and heating equipment are licensed by the state of Texas or they are working under a licensed contractor who is charged with overseeing their work. While regulating the temperature in your home is often as easy as adjusting a thermostat, the equipment that makes that possible is complicated and highly technical. Special tools are required, knowledge of how to safely work with electricity, flammable materials, and refrigerant. Yes, it also requires a lot of math skills.

But sometimes, there are contractors who are banking on a consumer’s inexperience to try to sell more equipment than is needed or who are simply not skilled or experienced enough to diagnose or explain the nuances of how the equipment should safely operate. Here’s tips to be a savvy customer when you’re working with an HVAC contractor for an installation or repair.

1. Beware of an HVAC Technican Who Won’t Show You a Faulty Part

If a part needs replacement, an air conditioning and heating contractor should be able to show you the part or component and explain what has gone wrong. They should be able to give you the broken part because it belongs to you. Don’t simply rely on pictures because those could be from anywhere.

An important caveat is that if the part is under warranty, you’ll need to give it back after you’ve seen it. If your technician is providing warranty service, they will need to return the faulty part to process the warranty.

There are many parts within air conditioners and heaters that wear out, but it does not always mean that the entire system needs to be replaced. Replacing a motor or capacitor is a common maintenance task, especially when you consider how hard the equipment works when it’s really hot or cold outside. In Texas, we have had some really extreme weather recently.

Most HVAC systems of any make or model should last about 12-20 years if properly maintained. News stories abound with contractors who have been caught not giving good advice, so it pays to be mindful of scams or deals that are too good to be true or that must be decided in an instant.

2. High Pressure Sales Are a Red Flag

If an air conditioning company is pressuring you for an answer on a new air conditioning system or heat pump, be careful and do more research. An air conditioner is one of the largest appliances in your home, so we encourage people to take their time. Ask the questions you need, so you’re comfortable with the company you’re working with.

If you are not sure – get that second or third opinion. Even if a company charges for an estimate, it will potentially save you thousands in the long run to pick the HVAC company that is above board with their pricing and service.

3. Ask for a Second Opinion

If you’re getting a second opinion, keep your technician honest and let them do the diagnosis without your suggesting a specific part was diagnosed as “bad” by another company.

That just gives disreputable companies a shortcut, and they may not spend the time to look over your system the way they should. Do not discuss findings from a previous company until after the second company has given your AC system a once over.

4. Is the Part Under Warranty?

An honest HVAC company will always check the warranty to see if a part is covered. They can check this on an app on their phone no matter who last worked on your heating and cooling system.

If the part has been registered, any HVAC company can make a quick phone call or search online to verify if any brand part is under warranty.

Ask your contractor if you’re not sure they have completed this step. Most companies don’t make much money from fulfilling a factory warranty, but companies who take the long view and want to keep a customer for life will.

5. Be Aware of the Latest EPA Regulations

International climate agreements and EPA legislation have led to higher efficiency standards and phasedowns of refrigerants. As air conditioners become more eco-friendly, the new technology also comes at a price.  AHRI-matched systems that guarantee a minimum efficiency are required, which is why you’ll be advised more often than in the past that you may need to replace your entire system instead of just one component. EPA rules are backed up with financial and legal penalties for manufacturers and HVAC contractors. Learn more about the latest regulations.

6. Do They Guarantee Their Work?

Another clue that an HVAC company may not be completely above board is if they won’t guarantee their workmanship. Many companies WILL guarantee their workmanship. If you’re not sure, ask. There are times when equipment is fixed and then something goes wrong later. If your contractor is willing to come out at no charge to make sure it’s right, you’re probably dealing with a good company.

On the other hand, if your system was working before they arrived, and then it goes out and they want to charge more money to come back, something might not be right. Most reputable outfits will come out at no additional charge and make sure the job was done right. Keep in mind that mechanical things can break down at inopportune times.

What makes the difference is when the company you choose isn’t rattled by mechanical hiccups, keeps you informed, and is just as committed as you are to keeping your home or business comfortable no matter what.  (Read More: Questions to ask before hiring an HVAC contractor)

Need Smart Advice for Your Heating & Cooling System?

We hear stories from new customers call us for a second opinion or had a feeling something wasn’t right. It’s bad business in our opinion to be dishonest, which is why we welcome second opinions and as many questions as you’d like to ask. Call Summer at Terry’s A/C and Heating at 281-495-7830. We are a family-owned and licensed HVAC contractor and Ruud ProPartner, serving West Houston, Memorial, Katy, Richmond, Fulshear and the surrounding area. We want to be your home comfort concierge and welcome the chance to earn your business.