For lots of home and business owners, choosing the ideal AC repair company isn’t a luxury, but a necessity. When an air conditioning system starts to malfunction it jacks up utility bills. When a unit breaks permanently, it can produce highly uncomfortable living conditions. However, something that may be just as miserable as a broken down air conditioning system is a repair company that is unreliable, pricey or just incompetent at repairs.
Here are a few beneficial tips to manage the headache of not only a busted AC but also of working with a poor air-conditioner repair company.
Where to Search For Pro AC Repair
Although the best practice for getting quality residential or commercial services is generally to expand your search. Sometimes it’s best to stay close to home with air conditioner repair. Ask your friends, neighbors and read reviews. It’s likely someone you know or who lives nearby to have called 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. Finding local technicians generally gives a better chance for prompt and professional service.
Selecting a Knowledgeable/Respectable Company
A sign of quality work can be found in the awards and certifications an AC repair company has acquired, 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. Many fellow home and business owners have dealt with trial and error in finding a professional AC repair company they can rely on. Some never arrive to do the work; others reached the jobsite but could not adequately address the problem, while still more have charged 3-4x the industry median for basic repairs.
Luckily, their poor experiences are to your benefit as people typically aren’t silent about these situations. Spend some time on online review sites such as Yelp or Angie’s List and find word of mouth within your community about who you should hire and who you shouldn’t.
Make Sure the Company Is Licensed/Bonded/Insured
Even the top AC repair contractors will experience an occasional accident or mishap so it’s crucial to ensure they’re covered “just in case.” Depending on state ordinances, an AC repair company could be required to own some kind 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 make sure the contractors are educated, experienced and well-versed 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 start the work or does work improperly. Insurance also covers the home or business owner if the contractor’s work results in property damages. So making sure the company is licensed, bonded,and insured is crucial.
AC Repair Company Intangibles
So what can you do if all local companies are fully licensed and all have generally positive reviews? There are several 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 can’t hurt having a contractor who knows the significance of customer service.
- Free Estimates—Reliable companies will generally always arrive at your home and provide a free quote on what repairs are necessary and estimated costs.
- Options—With HVAC units there’s usually an A, B and occasionally C route to take in getting your system back to normal. Beware of 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 arrive to repair your AC the better, but unfortunately a quality company may simply be too busy. In some cases “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 vary based on the particular needs/fixes for every HVAC System. This is a tough thing to consider when deciding on an AC repair company. Identifying the specific problem your HVAC System is struggling with could 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 suggest you get at minimum two to three AC Repair companies to share an estimate.
Ensuring You’re Not Overcharged
Since repair costs can differ so widely the simplest way to ensure you’re not being ripped off is by getting a number of quotes on a job. It’s best to work with at least three contractors for an estimate just to
- specify which repairs are required and
- recall an average price tag for the fix. It’s important to not only beware of a price that is just too high, but one just as low could cause a red flag that the company may be a fly-by-night, “salesy” operation.
Of course, early preparation is the simplest way for finding a dependable AC repair company you can trust job after job. Waiting until a system breaks down could leave you scrambling, which might result in higher costs and poorer service. In addition, the air conditioner should have maintenance service performed at least annually to make sure it’s running up to par and to catch problems early. Once you find a company that excels at the simple stuff, they’ll likely be just as trustworthy for the emergency fixes as well.