We bring to you another scary tale for our Halloween HVAC blog series this week. Halloween is the scariest time of year here in the states. Ghost and goblins are creeping and witches and vampires are on the prowl around every corner. It’s during the month of October you need to watch your every step to avoid run ins with these ghouls.
When it comes to air and heating, however, it doesn’t need to be Halloween to have a scary encounter. Throughout the United States air and heating is a huge business and unfortunately that has created a lot of shady HVAC contractors that are on the prowl every single day, waiting to prey on home and business owners that don’t know any better.
Recently a news channel in Atlanta contacted four companies for a general check-up on a heater that worked perfectly. One company did great, but the others recommended repairs ranging from a few hundred dollars to over a thousand dollars for what their experts said were completely unnecessary repairs. When they investigated these HVAC contractors they installed hidden cameras in a home where the heater was located to document each sales pitch. Then they had their heater inspected by an expert, Staton Conditioned Air, who has a complaint-free history with the Better Business Bureau, just to make sure the heating system they would be having the other companies look at was in perfect working condition.
When the first HVAC company came out to the house to inspect the heater they told the homeowner that gas was leaking out of the unit and if they didn’t do anything about it it would eventually put the homeowner at risk for gas exposure. He then tried to up sell the customer with a $264 hot surface igniter. The second HVAC contractor came out and misdiagnosed the dual-fuel heater and said it wasn’t working properly. They recommended replacing the control board and a new thermostat. The thermostat would be $300 and the control board an additional $350.
Next came the third air and heating company. They recommended more than a thousand dollars of repairs that once again, weren’t needed. “When these start to go bad they just explode and stop working,” the technician said about the heater’s air conditioner capacitor. “I recommend the booster, it is extra protection,” he said.
The technician also suggested a refrigerant top-off, to fix what he claimed was a leak. “It isn’t a huge leak, it’s a microscopic leak,” the technician said. They also recommended cleaning the heater’s air conditioning coils and cleaning the flame sensor. The flame sensor cleaning is a service that takes about two minutes, which another company did for free, but this company charged $79 for it. Their biggest sales pitch was a duct cleaning for $875, padding the bill for more than $1,400. “If you get everything done, we will give you half off the entire job,” the technician explained during the hidden camera investigation.