For all kinds of home and business owners, choosing the ideal AC repair company isn’t a luxury, but a crucial task. When an air conditioning system starts to break down it jacks up monthly bills. When a unit fails entirely, it can create miserable living conditions. However, something that can be easily as miserable as a broken air conditioner is a repair company that is manipulative, overpriced or just unqualified at repairs.
Here are a few useful tips to avoid the headache of not only a broken AC but also of working with a poor air-conditioner repair company.
Where to Find Professional AC Repair
Although the best method for locating quality residential or commercial services is generally to bolster your search. Sometimes it’s better to remain close to home with air conditioner repair. Talk to your friends, neighbors and read reviews. It’s likely someone you know or who lives nearby to have hired an air conditioning repair company at some point. While 24/7 repair services aren’t as necessary for an air conditioner as they are with a furnace that breaks in the dead of winter. Hiring local technicians generally provides a better chance for fast and professional service.
Finding a Knowledgeable/Respectable Company
Try to find the awards and certifications an AC repair company has won, such as:
- Are they NATE Certified?
- Are they an award-winning, Factory Authorized Dealer?
- Are they a BBB Accredited Business? And if so, what's their rating?
- Are they a registered contractor with Austin Energy?
- Are they AHRI Certified?
- Are they an ENERGY STAR®Partner?
- Are they a member of ACCA?
In addition to awards and certifications, ask around. Lots of fellow home and business owners have dealt with trial and error in finding a quality AC repair company they can trust. Some fail to do the work; others made it to the jobsite but couldn’t adequately address the problem, while still more have charged 3-4x the industry median for quick repairs.
Fortunately, their bad experiences are to your benefit as people generally aren’t silent about these situations. Check out online review sites such as Yelp or Angie’s List and find word of mouth inside your community about who you should hire and who you should avoid.
Make Sure the Company Is Licensed/Bonded/Insured
Even the number one AC repair contractors will experience an occasional accident or mishap so it’s useful to be sure they’re insured “just in case.” Depending on state ordinances, an AC repair company could have to own some sort of license and/or permits (apprentice, journeyman, master HVAC contractor) just to be permitted to work on your home or business.
Having the needed licenses and permits will help you know the contractors are educated, experienced and caught up on HVAC codes. You are protected as long as the contractor is bonded, which basically states there’s recourse if the company fails to show up to do the work or does work improperly. Insurance also covers the home or business owner if the contractor’s work leads to property damages. So making sure the company is licensed, bonded,and insured is extremely important.
AC Repair Company Intangibles
So what should you do if all local companies are fully licensed and all have generally positive reviews? There are a few intangibles that can help make the decision less stressful. Some things to consider include:
- Customer Service—Does the business answer service calls promptly and do they have an enthusiastic demeanor? Since these people will be in your home or business it doesn’t hurt having a contractor who understands the value of customer service.
- Free Estimates—Quality companies will generally always arrive at your home and offer a free quote on what repairs are needed and estimated costs.
- Options—With HVAC units there’s usually an A, B and at times C route to take in getting your system back in shape. Watch out for the company who only tries to pressure you into getting new equipment (although sometimes it might be the only remedy).
- Timeline—The sooner the company can show up to patch up your AC the better, but unfortunately a quality company might simply be too busy. In some occasions “first come first serve” will have to be the approach to take for the hire.
Common Air Conditioner Repair Costs
In reality, there isn’t usually “typical” AC repair costs. Repair costs will differ based on the most pressing needs/fixes for every HVAC System. This is a tough thing to consider when hiring an AC repair company. Diagnosing the specific problem your HVAC System is struggling with may be a wide range of things, from something as simple as a clogged filter to severe problems such as a defunct condensing unit coil. That’s why we encourage you get at minimum two to three AC Repair companies to share an estimate.
Being Sure You’re Not Overcharged
Since repair costs can differ so broadly the simplest way to ensure you’re not being ripped off is by securing several quotes on a job. It’s best to work with at least three contractors for an estimate just to
- clarify which repairs are necessary and
- recall an average price tag for the fix. It’s important to not only avoid a price that is just too high, but one extremely low could cause a red flag that the company may be a fly-by-night, “salesy” operation.
Of course, prompt preparation is the simplest way for finding a dependable AC repair company you can trust job after job. Waiting until a system goes down could leave you scrambling, which might result in higher costs and poorer service. In addition, the air conditioner should have maintenance service completed at least once each year to make sure it’s running up to par and to identify problems early. Once you find a company that excels at the basic stuff, they’ll likely be equally as dependable for the emergency fixes as well.