4 Red-Flag Phrases of an HVAC Scammer

July 20, 2016

Imagine your AC suddenly acts up and you’re in need of a professional, fast. So you (unwisely) pick the first available technician to have a look.

Next thing you know you’ve fallen victim to an expensive AC scam. Now you’re wondering where things went wrong.

Aside from not doing your research, you probably missed some red flag phrases that scammers often use.

Read on to learn the telltale phrases of an HVAC scammer and how to avoid falling victim to them.

Scam #1: “It’s time for your regular refrigerant fill-up.”

How it works: Tech says your air conditioner isn’t cooling well because it’s low on refrigerant. So they suggest it’s time for your regular refrigerant refill/recharge.

So why is this a scam?

Basically, there’s no such thing as a “regular fill-up” when it comes to refrigerant.

Your system doesn’t use up refrigerant like a car uses up gas. Refrigerant flows through a closed system (meaning it should have no way to escape). The only way your system would need a refill is if you have a leak.

So let’s say you actually DO have a refrigerant leak and the tech offers to recharge your refrigerant.

Seems honest enough, right?

Not if the tech offers to add more refrigerant without fixing the leak.

Adding more refrigerant without repairing the leak is a waste of money because you’ll eventually need more refrigerant again. Meaning he’ll continue charging you for the recharge service without actually fixing the root problem.

How to avoid it: Familiarize yourself with how refrigeration works in your AC system.

The first thing you should know are the signs of low refrigerant.

If your tech says you are low on refrigerant, ask him to run a leak test.

Leak tests can be performed with electronic leak detectors, nitrogen leak detectors, dye testing or even soap and water aka “bubble testing”. Once he finds the leak, have him repair it before recharging the system.

The leak test and repair will add more to that individual service cost but will save you thousands of dollars in the future.

Scam #2: “You can pay cash or make the check out in my name.”

How it works: A scammer claims to be affiliated with a reputable private company and comes out to service your AC system.

According to the Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book, the second most common consumer complaint was imposter scams just like this.

How to avoid it: Keep an eye out for the following warning signs:

  • A tech who doesn’t take credit card payment but pushes you to pay in cash or write a check in his name instead of the company’s.
  • A tech who doesn’t drive a company vehicle and doesn’t wear the company uniform.

If you notice either of the above, call the company right away to verify the identity of the tech.

Scam #3: “You need a complete system replacement now. Why? Because, uh, the SHR isn’t compatible with the SEER of your HVAC system…”

How it works: Tech pushes for an expensive replacement that isn’t needed. And when you ask him to explain he uses confusing jargon or gets defensive and doesn’t explain.

A scamster tech who is trying to push for unnecessary repairs/replacement may also offer a “low” price for the job but warns that the price won’t last long, hoping that you’ll agree then and there.

How to avoid it: If you aren’t sure whether you need a new system or expensive repair, don’t agree to anything. Get a second opinion first.

Scam #4: “Your air ducts are ready for their routine cleaning.”

How it works: A dishonest HVAC tech convinces you that your ductwork needs regular cleaning to keep your system efficient.

Sounds legit, right?

Not exactly.

According to the EPA, you shouldn’t have your air ducts cleaned regularly, only as needed.

So when is duct cleaning needed? Only when your air ducts are clogged with excessive dust, contaminated with mold or infested with vermin.

How to avoid it: First off, just ignore any HVAC tech that insists your ducts need “regular” cleaning. You probably want to avoid using that company or individual in the future as well.

But if a tech suggests that your ducts are actually dirty or contaminated, ask for picture proof. Many HVAC companies use remote photography to document the conditions of your ducts.

Steer clear of scams, choose a reliable Ft. Myers AC repair company

Is your AC not keeping you and your family as comfortable as it used to?

Looking for an AC tech who won’t take advantage of you? Trust the professionals at Advanced Air.

We’ve been serving the area for over 25 years and are proud of the honest and reliable service we provide.
Contact us today for AC questions or repairs.

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