Your HVAC system is an important part of your home, so it’s not surprising that there are unscrupulous people who pretend to be heating and air conditioning contractors to try to scam homeowners out of their hard-earned money. The AC contractors at Air Pro Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc. share some of the most common HVAC scams and how you can protect yourself from them below.
Selling an Oversized HVAC Unit
Bigger isn’t always better. In terms of heating and cooling, your unit should be “just right”. Oversized HVAC systems result in a stop-start operation, also known as “short cycling,” which can lead to higher energy costs. Installation costs are more expensive, and scammers use this as an excuse to inflate the installation estimate. When asking for a quote, make sure the contractor includes a load calculation, represented in British Thermal Units (BTUs).
You’ve probably met salespeople who make minor matters seem like urgent ones. During HVAC inspections, they might say things like, “I’m amazed this is still running,” or “you need to get this fixed today”. Even the tired “this price will only be valid this week” is still heard from time to time. A legitimate HVAC contractor will be upfront about the condition of your HVAC system and within a short time will have your estimate ready. You should be able to call them back when you’re ready to sign the contract, instead of being asked to sign it on the spot.
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Beware of contractors who call and offer “free tune-ups,” which is usually an attempt to trick you into paying for a service that you don’t really need. Tune-ups are a real paid maintenance service, and when performed by a legitimate HVAC contractor can help locate potential problems before they get worse. Scammers will pretend to inspect a perfectly working HVAC system and incur some damage, after which you’ll then be charged for “repairs”.
Asking for the Full Payment Upfront
As with all types of home remodeling and repair work, legitimate contractors will never ask for full payment upfront. A typical payment plan starts with a down payment of up to 30% after you sign the estimate, then one or two installments after milestones such as delivery of the replacement HVAC unit. A final installment will then be paid once the installation or repair is satisfactorily completed.