For lots of home and business owners, finding the right AC repair company isn’t a luxury, but a requirement. When an AC unit starts to malfunction it increases monthly bills. When a unit breaks entirely, it can create miserable living conditions. However, something that might be just as miserable as a malfunctioning AC unit is a repair company that is unreliable, expensive or just useless at repairs.
Here are a few useful tips to manage the headache of not only a broken AC but also of struggling with a poor air-conditioner repair company.
Where to Find Professional 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 AC repair. Talk to your friends, neighbors and compare reviews. It’s not uncommon for 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 malfunctions in the dead of winter. Finding local technicians often provides a better chance for swift and comprehensive service.
Choosing a Knowledgeable/Respectable Company
Try to find the 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. Many fellow home and business owners have experienced trial and error in locating a professional AC repair company they can depend on. Some never arrive to do the work; others arrived at the jobsite but failed to adequately fix the problem, while a few particularly bold companies have charged 3-4x the industry median for quick repairs.
Fortunately, their poor experiences are to your benefit as people usually aren’t hush-hush about these situations. Take a look at online review sites such as Yelp or Angie’s List and seek 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 have to deal with an occasional accident or mishap so it’s useful to make sure they’re insured “just in case.” Depending on state ordinances, an AC repair company could have to possess some type of license and/or permits (apprentice, journeyman, master HVAC contractor) just to complete work on your home or business.
Having the needed licenses and permits will help you know the contractors are educated, capable 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 does not show up to complete the work or does work poorly. 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 crucial.
AC Repair Company Intangibles
So what can you do if all local companies are fully licensed and all have mostly positive reviews? There are a few intangibles that can help make the decision easier. Some things to consider include:
- Customer Service—Does the business answer all 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 knows the significance of customer service.
- Free Estimates—Trustworthy companies will generally always show up to 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 sometimes C route to take in getting your system back to normal. Watch out for the company who only tries to sell you new equipment (although sometimes it may 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 occasions “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 specific needs/fixes for every HVAC System. This is a tough thing to consider when hiring an AC repair company. Pinpointing 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 provide an estimate.
Being Sure You’re Not Overcharged
Since repair costs can vary so widely the ideal way to ensure you’re not being ripped off is by securing multiple quotes on a job. It’s best to ask at least three contractors for an estimate just to
- distinguish which repairs are needed and
- know an average price tag for the fix. It’s important to not only avoid a price that is way too high, but one surprisingly low could feel like a red flag that the company may be a fly-by-night, “salesy” operation.
Of course, swift preparation is the key for finding a professional AC repair company you can trust job after job. Waiting until a system fails could leave you scrambling, which might result in higher costs and poorer service. In addition, your air conditioner should have maintenance service performed at least annually to make sure it’s running fine and to identify 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.