When selecting an HVAC company to repair and maintain your HVAC system, it’s vitally important to take the time to find a reputable contractor. As with any industry, the HVAC industry has its own share of common scams that end up costing business owners and homeowners alike--scams that are completely avoidable if you know the red flags.
Below are three common HVAC scams to beware of, along with the red flags that should tip you off.
1. Refrigerant “Refills”
You call a technician for regular maintenance on your AC system or for a repair because your AC isn’t cooling properly. After inspecting your AC unit, the technician tells you that it was low on refrigerant but that refilling your refrigerant should solve any issues or potential issues.
Spot the Scam
There are only two reasons why an air conditioner’s refrigerant is inadequate to provide proper cooling:
There’s a leak through which refrigerant is escaping.
The refrigerant was not properly charged upon installation.
Air conditioners do not “use up” refrigerant, so there is no reason to refill the refrigerant as a part of regular maintenance. A disreputable technician is counting on you not knowing that, and this leaves the window of opportunity open for them to return and “refill” your refrigerant once again.
In short, if a technician tells you that your unit is low on refrigerant, ask where the refrigerant leak is. After all, repairing that leak is the only way to keep your AC from losing refrigerant in the future.
2. Scammers Posing as Reputable Contractors
You receive a call from someone who says they’re calling on behalf of a reputable HVAC contractor, and they are offering you some sort of free service (system inspection, maintenance, etc.). The vehicle that shows up to the appointment has no company branding on it. During the free service they’re offering, they find something “wrong” with your system that they say requires a repair or replacement.
Spot the Scam
Some less reputable companies will pose as larger companies to try to trick people into using their services. This type of underhanded technique can also be paired with the “bait and switch” scam, in which the company comes in to offer a free service but then will tell you that a major part of your system needs to be replaced. They may try to confuse you with a lot of industry jargon instead of trying to communicate the issue in more common terms.
3. Repairs with Used Parts
The technician tells you that your system has a broken part (compressor, fan motor, blower motor, etc.) but that he can fix it for you on the spot with a used part that he just so happens to have in his vehicle. All you have to do is buy the used part at a discount and pay for the repair service.
Spot the Scam
One has to wonder how the technician obtained that used part. It could very well be a bad part that he removed from a different system he worked on earlier. It’s also worth mentioning that a reputable HVAC technician wouldn’t repair a system with a used part. It would operate less efficiently and not last as long as a new part. Overall, it would simply be a disservice to the customer. In short, don’t accept used parts for repairs.
Established in 1980, Del-Air Mechanical Contractors, Inc. is the largest family-owned and family-operated commercial HVAC company in Knoxville. We are honored to have received recognition from great organizations including the ACCA and INC 5000. Learn more about us and our team here.