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 drives up utility bills. When a unit fails permanently, it can create highly uncomfortable living conditions. However, something that can be easily as miserable as a broken down air conditioner is a repair company that is manipulative, overpriced or just terrible at repairs.
Here are a few useful tips to avoid the headache of not only a broken AC but also of hiring a poor air-conditioner repair company.
Where to Find Experienced AC Repair
Although the best way for getting quality residential or commercial services is generally to bolster your search. Occasionally it’s better to stay close to home with air conditioning repair. Ask your friends, neighbors and compare reviews. It’s not uncommon for someone you know or who lives nearby to have used 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 cold of winter. Finding local technicians often offers a better chance for prompt and courteous service.
Finding a Knowledgeable/Respectable Company
Look for awards and certifications an AC repair company has been given, 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 identifying a professional AC repair company they can trust. Some never arrive to do the work; others made it to the jobsite but couldn’t adequately fix the problem, while a few particularly bold companies have charged 3-4x the industry norm for quick repairs.
Luckily, their unpleasant experiences are to your benefit as people usually aren’t silent about these situations. Check out online review sites such as Yelp or Angie’s List and find word of mouth in your community about who you should hire and who you should avoid.
Make Sure the Company Is Licensed/Bonded/Insured
Even the top AC repair contractors will have an occasional accident or mishap so it’s useful to be sure they’re protected “just in case.” Depending on state ordinances, an AC repair company might need to own some type of license and/or permits (apprentice, journeyman, master HVAC contractor) just to do work on your home or business.
Having the needed licenses and permits will help you know the contractors are educated, tested and up to date on HVAC codes. You are protected as long as the contractor is bonded, which essentially states there’s recourse if the company fails to show up to start the work or does work sloppily. 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 critical.
AC Repair Company Intangibles
So what can you do if all local companies are fully licensed and all have largely positive reviews? There are some intangibles that could help make the decision simpler. Some things to consider include:
- Customer Service—Does the business answer your calls promptly and do they have a generally good demeanor? Since these people will be in your home or business it doesn’t hurt having a contractor who understands the importance of customer service.
- Free Estimates—Reliable 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 up and running. 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 get in to patch up your AC the better, but unfortunately a quality company might 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 truth, there isn’t really “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 having can 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 advise you get at minimum two to three AC Repair companies to give you an estimate.
Making Sure You’re Not Overcharged
Since repair costs can differ so widely the only way to ensure you’re not being ripped off is by getting a number of quotes on a job. It’s best to bring in at least three contractors for an estimate just to
- specify which repairs are necessary and
- recall an average price tag for the fix. It’s important to not only beware of a price that is way 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 best option for finding a dependable AC repair company you can trust job after job. Waiting until a system goes down may leave you scrambling, which could result in higher costs and poorer service. Plus, the air conditioner should have maintenance service handled at least once each year to make sure it’s running up to par and to catch problems early. Once you find a company that excels at the basic stuff, they’ll likely be just as trustworthy for the emergency fixes as well.