For many home and business owners, choosing the best AC repair company isn’t a luxury, but a requirement. When an air conditioner starts to break down it increases energy bills. When a unit shuts down permanently, it can create terrible living conditions. However, something that might be just as miserable as a broken down air conditioning system is a repair company that is manipulative, expensive or just incompetent at repairs.
Here are a few helpful tips to escape the headache of not only a broken AC but also of working with a poor air-conditioner repair company.
Where to Look For Pro AC Repair
Although the best practice for locating quality residential or commercial services is typically to widen your search. In some cases it’s best to keep close to home with AC repair. Speak with your friends, neighbors and compare 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 crucial for an air conditioner as they are with a furnace that fails in the cold of winter. Choosing local technicians often offers a better chance for fast and comprehensive service.
Selecting a Knowledgeable/Respectable Company
Look for 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 experienced trial and error in identifying a professional AC repair company they can rely on. Some never arrive to do the work; others reached the jobsite but could not adequately fix the problem, while a few particularly bold companies have charged 3-4x the industry median for quick repairs.
Thankfully, their bad experiences are to your benefit as people usually aren’t quiet 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 shouldn’t.
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 vital to be sure they’re protected “just in case.” Depending on state ordinances, an AC repair company might need to have some type of license and/or permits (apprentice, journeyman, master HVAC contractor) just to be allowed to work on your home or business.
Having the needed licenses and permits will help you know the contractors are educated, capable 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 doesn’t show up to start the work or does work poorly. Insurance also covers the home or business owner if the contractor’s work causes property damages. So making sure the company is licensed, bonded,and insured is critical.
AC Repair Company Intangibles
So what do you do if all local companies are fully licensed and all have generally positive reviews? There are some intangibles that could help make the decision simpler. Some things to consider include:
- Customer Service—Does the business answer service calls promptly and do they have a generally good demeanor? Since these people will be in your home or business it can’t hurt having a contractor who understands the value of customer service.
- Free Estimates—Trustworthy companies will generally always arrive at your home and give a free quote on what repairs are necessary 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 to normal. Avoid the company who only tries to push new equipment (although sometimes it can be the only remedy).
- Timeline—The sooner the company can show up to service your AC the better, but unfortunately a quality company could simply be too busy. In some instances “first come first serve” will have to be the approach to take for the hire.
Common Air Conditioner Repair Costs
In actuality, there isn’t usually “typical” AC repair costs. Repair costs will vary based on the most pressing needs/fixes for every HVAC System. This is a hard thing to consider when hiring an AC repair company. Identifying the specific problem your HVAC System is wrestling 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 suggest you get at least two to three AC Repair companies to share an estimate.
Ensuring You’re Not Overcharged
Since repair costs can fluctuate so broadly the ideal way to ensure you’re not being ripped off is by finding 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
- know an average price tag for the fix. It’s important to not only beware of a price that is way too high, but one just as low could feel like a red flag that the company may be a fly-by-night, “salesy” operation.
Of course, swift preparation is the simplest way for finding a professional AC repair company you can trust job after job. Waiting until a system breaks down might leave you scrambling, which may result in higher costs and poorer service. Plus, your air conditioner should have maintenance service performed 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 simple stuff, they’ll likely be equally as dependable for the emergency fixes as well.