How to Identify a Common HVAC Scam
Q: Is the technician actually being thorough, or just saying so?
A: Did the technician hook up a gauge to the outdoor unit? Did they take temperatures of the air coming in and going out at the indoor unit. Here’s a rare one, did they even go into your attic to look at the ductwork?
Q: How do I know if I really need to replace my A/C or furnace system?
A: What is the age of your system? If it’s over ten years old it is theoretically a candidate for replacement, however that is far from saying you must replace it. It may simply be a hundred dollar capacitor keeps it going for another five years. Ask the tech a lot of questions. What did they find exactly? Have them write it all down on the invoice, because you will want them to have a checklist that walks you through each of the components of the system with amperage and details on each of the line items. That is what your $100 “diagnostic” charge is paying for after all.
And if you’re still not sure…
Call someone else. The fact that you may have a hot night, or could potentially have to buy a temporary window unit is frustrating, but by calling someone else and taking the information from both companies to compare, it may pay dividends for you in the long run. You would be astounded at the price differences of diagnoses that can and, unfortunately, do occur.
You WILL be told you have to replace the entire system because of a change in refrigerant the government is phasing out. This is often a really good idea for efficiency reasons, to be fair, but if you can’t afford the upgrades or plan to sell your home for instance, you certainly don’t have to buy the whole system. There are many replacement refrigerants available that are much more cost effective than the R-22 that is being phased out. For example, you can convert a new indoor coil to the new refrigerant after the fact, if the other components also goes out later. The salesperson WILL NOT tell you this.