How to not get scammed by your HVAC contractor

When it comes to the temperature in your home, you want to make sure it is comfortable and safe. Find out how to not get scammed by your HVAC contractor.

Air conditioning and heating may not be necessary every day of the year, but when you do need them, you want them to be in proper working order.

The worst thing on a hot day in the summer is going to turn on the air and getting nothing but more hot air. When this happens, you need someone you can trust to fix your home’s cooling system.

Trethowans
Trethowans

Whether it is your heat or air acting up, finding a reliable HVAC contractor can certainly be a challenge. There are people out there that will take advantage of those looking for affordable help. So, how do you avoid getting scammed by a less-than-trustworthy Craigslist contractor?

Do your research

The first thing you need to do is do a bit of research. Search for HVAC professionals near you. Most people with a legitimate business have either a website or a Facebook page, but at the very least, they will have a Google business page. If they have no information online, including contact information or reviews, this could be a sign of a scammer.

You can also ask your friends and family for recommendations. Finding a professional through word of mouth happens pretty frequently. You may know someone that has a contractor that they have been using for years. In cases like this, you may also be getting a powerful endorsement or dismissal of the quality or professionalism of the contractor.

Always get a proposal in writing

When it comes time to choose a professional to help you, an important step is having a proposal drafted to ensure the contractor doesn’t rip you off. Whether they write it up from scratch or use an HVAC proposal template, this document needs to include:

  • A guarantee that the project will be completed properly
  • A service summary highlighting what part of the HVAC will be repaired/installed, etc.
  • The estimated budget, including the cost of design, materials, and labor
  • Timeline of the project, broken down by section (design, demo, installation, etc.)
  • The company’s legal verbiage

If you find a reputable contractor, writing up an agreement that satisfies both parties should be no problem at all. 

Ask questions

Once you have some contractors in mind, you should contact them and ask some questions. One of the most important things to find out is if they have the proper certifications. When it comes to your furnace and heating system, things need to be sealed properly, as carbon monoxide and fires are both very serious and deadly consequences that can happen if not done correctly.

If the contractor is legitimate, they will have no issues providing their certifications, licensing, and insurance information to prove they are trustworthy. You don’t want a contractor that is going to take shortcuts or look for the easy way out.

Remember that cheaper isn’t always better

If you are getting estimates or proposals for a job, be wary of anyone who gives you a suspiciously low quote price. This is often a tactic used to lure people in and get them to agree to the initial service, after which the unnecessary services or parts push that invoice total higher.

This goes for the opposite as well, in most cases, the repair will be a part, or perhaps a series of parts. Only in rare cases (often involving catastrophic damage) will an entire furnace or air conditioning system needs to be replaced. If someone says you need a whole new unit, get a second opinion.

Photo by Tim Mossholder