Myth 1: Craigslist is a great way to find cheap AC repair technicians.
Yes, it is fairly easy to find A/C repair people that say they work for less, especially on Craigslist.
Two problems though:
A) Neither of you know what’s wrong until they arrive and diagnose the problem. When they do give you a price there is really no way to know if it is fair or not, or if it is even diagnosed properly.
B) A low price to diagnose the problem is a sure-fire way for them to get their foot in the door and then make it up on the repair (assuming they are less than honest).
It’s a lot like being billed by an attorney; you have to trust first and verify later. So why not start with an A/C repair contractor that has been around and proven themselves over years or decades? Getting your repair done to factory specs and have it completed right the first time is a heck of a lot cheaper than having to deal with the same problem twice.
If you select an A/C contractor or individual without knowing who you are dealing with, it can easily cost you more over time. If an incorrect diagnosis occurs (which happens a lot), you will end up with extra headaches and expenses in getting the repair problem solved.
Myth 2: Call 3 local A/C repair companies and see who has the lowest price to come to your home.
I admit it; I’m guilty of being influenced by what appear to be low upfront prices. In the world of air conditioning repair there are 3 components to pricing your repair:
1) The trip charge, or diagnostic fee is what it will cost for the A/C repair contractor to come to your home and diagnose the problem
2) The price of the part required to solve your problem
3) The price of the labor and materials required to install the needed part
And this is where it is easy to be taken advantage of by an unscrupulous technician or repair company. Number one is usually a fixed fee that is quoted up-front, over the phone with very little room for manipulation.
But number two and three are entirely in the control of the technician that arrives at your home. And, this is where the trust issue arises. If you are dealing with a reputable repair company, chances are high that not only is the repair properly diagnosed but it is priced fairly and is in line with the pricing in your market.
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Myth 3: Central air conditioners don’t require regular maintenance
While it is true that those of us in the air conditioning repair industry do have an financial interest in selling our customers on maintenance, it is a belief that is well founded. There have been repeated studies by major utility providers over the last 30 years that have uncovered the long and short term benefits of annual system maintenance.
Here’s what the federal Energy Star Program has to say about regular air conditioning maintenance:
Maintain your equipment to prevent future problems and unwanted costs. Keep your cooling and heating system at peak performance by having a contractor do annual pre-season check-ups.
Contractors get busy once summer and winter come, so it's best to check the cooling system in the spring and the heating system in the fall. To remember, you might plan the check-ups around the time changes in the spring and fall.
Here are a few of the benefits these extensive studies have uncovered:
Be sure the read next week’s article on 3 more expensive myths about A/C repair myths
When your Orlando area air conditioner starts blowing warm air, don't automatically assume that it is low on refrigerant. Have your unit checked by an AC repair contractor.
When you do contact the company, avoid suggesting that your air conditioner “probably needs a refrigerant charge” to prevent any preconceived notions on the part of the contractor.
Here are a few common reasons your air conditioning system fails to cool properly:
1. It's possible that the problem could be caused by a dirty air filter, a faulty compressor, or dirty cooling coils. A correct diagnosis is possible only if the AC repair expert actually checks the unit.
2. It could be something simple, such a capacitor, which is a relatively inexpensive fix.
3. If the refrigerant in your AC needs to be recharged, it indicates a leak. So, unless the leak is fixed, any refrigerant added to the unit will soon leak out again and the same problem will resurface pretty soon.
Ideally, the contractor must look for a leak, and once it's discovered, evacuate the refrigerant, fix the leak, and recharge the system to factory specifications.
If your AC system is an older model, replacement may be the better, smarter solution for another reason: the high retail cost of R-22 coolant (Freon). R-22, a refrigerant commonly used in older air conditioners, is a Class II controlled substance (all hydrocholorofluorocarbons), which are currently being phased out beginning in 1994.
Starting in 2017, production of this ozone-depleting substance will be reduced by an additional 28%, with further increases slated annually. The retail price of Freon has consequently risen, and consumers are already feeling the pinch.
This development offers more reason to invest in a long-term AC replacement and considering an upgrade to a more efficient unit using the earth-friendly refrigerant replacement now in use, R-410a.
Many local utility providers offer generous rebates and credits on the purchase of high-efficiency heating and cooling systems. You can also look for manufacturer rebates and local contractor dealer rebates for even more cost savings.
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Michael Haines is a veteran A/C contractor and founder of the largest and oldest e-commerce site in the heating and air conditioning industry. His HVAC websites have served 10's of thousands of customers.