For lots of home and business owners, picking out the best AC repair company isn’t a luxury, but a requirement. When an air conditioner starts to malfunction it jacks up cooling bills. When a unit fails permanently, it can produce miserable living conditions. However, something that could be just as miserable as a broken down air conditioner is a repair company that is unreliable, expensive or just incompetent at repairs.
Here are some useful 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 Professional AC Repair
Although the best practice for getting quality residential or commercial services is usually to bolster your search. Occasionally it’s better to keep close to home with AC repair. Chat with your friends, neighbors and check out 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 critical for an air conditioner as they are with a furnace that shuts down in the dead of winter. Choosing local technicians often offers a better chance for swift and professional service.
Choosing 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 finding a qualified AC repair company they can trust. Some fail to do the work; others reached the jobsite but failed to adequately solve the problem, while others have charged 3-4x the industry average for basic repairs.
Fortunately, their bad experiences are to your benefit because people usually aren’t quiet about these situations. Take a look at online review sites like Yelp or Angie’s List and find word of mouth within your community about who you should hire and who you should avoid.
Make Sure the Company Is Licensed/Bonded/Insured
Even the best AC repair contractors will have to deal with an occasional accident or mishap so it’s vital to make sure they’re covered “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 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 extremely important.
AC Repair Company Intangibles
So what can you do if all local companies are fully licensed and all have mostly positive reviews? There are some intangibles that can help make the decision less stressful. Some things to consider include:
- Customer Service—Does the business answer all calls promptly and do they have an enthusiastic demeanor? Since these people will be in your home or business it doesn’t hurt having a contractor who knows the importance of customer service.
- Free Estimates—Reliable 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 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 can be the only remedy).
- Timeline—The sooner the company can get in to service your AC the better, but unfortunately a quality company may 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 truth, there isn’t usually “typical” AC repair costs. Repair costs will differ based on the particular needs/fixes for every HVAC System. This is a difficult thing to consider when hiring an AC repair company. Locating the specific problem your HVAC System is struggling with might 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 around two to three AC Repair companies to share an estimate.
Making Sure You’re Not Overcharged
Since repair costs can vary so widely the simplest way to ensure you’re not being ripped off is by getting several quotes on a job. It’s best to get at least three contractors for an estimate just to
- specify which repairs are needed and
- have an average price tag for the fix. It’s important to not only stay away from a price that is much 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, prompt preparation is the best option for finding a professional AC repair company you can trust job after job. Waiting until a system fails can leave you scrambling, which will result in higher costs and poorer service. In addition, an air conditioner should have maintenance service handled at least once each year to make sure it’s running fine and to uncover 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.