Heating and AC repair is a stressful task for a lot of homeowners. The average cost of a new HVAC unit is anywhere from $5,000 to $12,000 with outliers on both sides depending on other factors that are often outside of your control. In addition, you have to pay labor to install a new system, which is why so many people cross their fingers and hope that a repair is an option when they call out an HVAC company to take a look. Unfortunately, in some situations, the best option is to replace a system, but that is not always true.
It can be hard for homeowners to know which HVAC company to trust with heating and AC repair, and how to proceed if they have to choose between a repair and a replacement. That is a tough decision that some of the best HVAC technicians don’t even want to make. All they can do is lay out the facts and let the homeowner make the call because no one can see the future. Despite this fact, sometimes people end up in messy situations because they either make the wrong call or they choose the wrong HVAC system to work with.
The best way to approach your HVAC system is by looking at it as an investment. In the same way you aren’t going to let someone walk into a bank and look over your 401K, you don’t want to let just anyone waltz into your home and start playing with your HVAC unit. These systems are extremely sensitive, and if the wrong technician gets involved with the heating and AC repair process you could end up paying a lot more than just their service fees. Simply put, there are a lot of things that can go wrong.
You want to choose an HVAC technician that will make sure that everything will go right, instead of a technician that is guessing at what could be wrong while setting off even worse problems. If both you and the HVAC technician are guessing at what might be wrong, then you have a definite problem brewing that probably isn’t going to be solved with just one more visit or repair.
The following is an example of a few cautionary tales that ended badly for the customers involved. Each story looks at a different scenario where choosing the wrong HVAC company costs the client a lot. Take a minute to read through these nightmares, and you hopefully understand why screening an HVAC company is so important.
As a homeowner, your job is to protect your home, but putting up dozens of Ring cameras isn’t going to help if the largest potential loss is hidden inside of it and you let the wrong technician willingly in through the front door. Always take a minute to review and screen any service person that you are thinking about hiring to make sure that you don’t end up in civil court attempting to recoup major damages from shoddy workmanship following heating and AC repair.
Flaky Service Leads to Flaky Furnace Performance
Leslie Ann didn’t know much about furnaces, but she did know that hers was not working right. Some nights her home would be nice and toasty while other nights it seemed like the furnace was not even turning on. While the winter nights don’t get too cold in Texas compared to other climates, they get cold enough that Leslie Ann wanted to make sure that her furnace was back in proper working order. The thing was she didn’t know that much about local HVAC companies and since she was newer to the area she didn’t know a lot of people to ask about who she could call for help.
So she decided to call a company and just see what they had to say. The first company she called told her that the motor was the issue, but she wasn’t sure that was it. She called back home to talk to her dad and her brother and they told her that she should get a second opinion. While it would be nice if the only problem was the motor, they were skeptical based on what she was telling them about the way sometimes it would work and sometimes it wouldn’t. That seemed like it was a different type of issue and one that probably couldn’t be fixed so quickly.
Leslie Ann could understand this logic, as it seemed like it had more to do with something falling in and out of place, and a motor or any worn-out pieces probably wouldn’t cause that. It had to be a positioning error in her mind, but she wasn’t a professional and knew next to nothing about furnaces so she went ahead and called a second HVAC company for a second opinion.
The technician came out the same day and Leslie Ann explained to him that she already had one heating and AC repair company out to take a look at the furnace, but she was looking for a second opinion. The technician asked to see the paperwork from the first visit. Leslie Ann handed it over because she thought that the tech just wanted to see pricing so he could compare, but she quickly regretted letting him see the papers before he actually took a look at anything. Once he had the paperwork he told her that the motor was going to need to be replaced or she needed to replace her entire furnace.
Leslie Ann butted in a few times to say why would she replace her entire furnace if it was a part wrong, but the technician was insistent and told her that he would need to replace the entire furnace. He kept quoting her a price (that was lower than the first company) but did not even look at the furnace. In fact, during the entire visit that he was at her house all he did was eyeball the furnace. He never once picked up a tool to actually examine the furnace or look at it. While he was there the furnace happened to be running so it would have been a good time to really watch the mechanisms to see what might have been lagging behind.
However, once he saw that sheet from the other HVAC technician he seemed to back off from the job altogether. It was clear that he was too lazy to examine the heater when another technician had already done the examination prior to the heating and AC repair. That was not what Leslie Ann wanted though, because the entire point of having him come out to her home was to take a second look so she could make sure that the right choice was made about her furnace. She was furious and kept pushing him to actually look at the problem.
Out of frustration, Leslie Ann asked the HVAC technician what exactly his service fee covered if he wasn’t going to do any actual work. It seemed absurd to her that she was going to pay him $175 just to come stand in her house for ten minutes and then tell her the same thing that a piece of paper she held did. She had expected him to actually look at her furnace and then make his own decision about its condition and offer her advice and a detailed estimate. He on the other hand seemed to care very little about what she wanted. To him, the issue was open and shut and he was ready to move on if she didn’t want to take action.
The HVAC technician informed Leslie Ann that the $175 covered the gas money that it cost the technician to travel to her home with an extra charge because he had come out on the same day as her phone call. She was a bit incensed because no one had told her on the phone that waiting a few days would have saved her a little money. She wasn’t in a rush yet and she would have been happy to schedule a second opinion at their convenience instead of her own, but that little detail was lost in translation it seemed. At this point, she felt a little trapped and didn’t know what to do, because she was certainly not going to pay a third service fee for another opinion from another heating and AC repair company. At this rate, she would spend just as much paying for opinions as she would actually paying for the needed repair.
The only way to get around the service charge was to agree to a service, but Leslie Ann wasn’t quite sure she was ready to replace the entire furnace yet. She needed a second to get her mind around the idea and the technician was waiting for an answer or to take her money and leave. While she was thinking about what she should do, the tech said she could just replace the motor for $1,000. That still seemed to be a lot, but it was certainly less than replacing the entire HVAC system, and maybe if the motor was the problem then that would solve everything.
Leslie Ann didn’t want to pay the service fee and then still end up paying another grand for the repair, and at this point, she was thinking that if this second guy agreed with the first then maybe it was the right direction to go. She only wished he had actually looked more at the furnace or taken it apart a bit like the first one had, but given her small amount of choices she ended up telling him to go ahead and replace the motor and they would go from there.
Of course, the right motor had to be ordered so Leslie Ann had to wait about a week for the piece to come in. While this was a bit annoying since she never knew if her furnace was going to fire up or not, she appreciated that it is impossible to keep parts in stock for dozens of different furnace models. So she waited patiently and she learned how to double up the blankets and dress warm on the nights when the temperatures dropped a bit lower than she liked without the furnace.
Finally, the day came and the HVAC technician came back out to her house to replace the motor and complete the heating and AC repair. It wasn’t the same one as before, and Leslie Ann thought about asking their opinion before they started the job. She was curious to see if this person would also instantly agree that it was the motor, but she had already agreed to the service and hated to cause any more issues so she let it be. Within a few hours, the new motor was installed in her furnace and the technician had left the house after ensuring that the furnace would power on.
Things were okay for a few days but within a week the same issue was happening again. Sometimes the furnace would turn on and sometimes it would not. Leslie Ann was upset that once again she needed heating and AC repair and she had no idea who to even call again. Clearly, she didn’t want to talk to the second company again, everything about them had seemed a bit too laid-back and lazy and she didn’t appreciate that they piggybacked off the work of the first company. On the other hand, if a mistake had been made then she didn’t want to pay someone new to fix yet another problem. She felt that the company who replaced the motor and told her it needed to be fixed should have to take some type of responsibility for the issue. So in the end, Leslie Ann ended up calling the second company back.
The afternoon they were supposed to come Leslie Ann was more than a bit nervous. She had no idea who they would send this time, if it would be someone she had already met or if it would be someone new. She also was unsure what they were going to say after all of the hassle so far. All she knew was that she had a furnace that seemed to work or not work whenever it felt like. It was just not working out for her and she needed a solution that would stick so that she could be comfortable in her home once again. She shouldn’t be counting down to the hot summer months just because she couldn’t get her heat to work right. In fact, Leslie Ann may have been the only one in Texas hoping for the summer heat wave to arrive a bit early.
This time around however the heating and AC repair company sent out an older gentleman who was very friendly and open while talking to her. The only thing he didn’t have was a good solution for Leslie Ann, but he was very open and at least honest with what he told her. He not only brought a large bag of tools into the home, but he took many of them out and used them to open the furnace and take a deep look at its inner mechanisms. He also checked the thermostat and looked around at the vents and the electrical connections.
In the end, he told Leslie Ann that he had looked over everything that he could before making any recommendations, but the bottom line was that this was simply an older furnace and he couldn’t give her a straightforward answer for why it wasn’t working right. He told her that he wished he could tell her exactly why it seemed so fair-weathered, but sometimes machines can be like that as they get older. While there was no easy heating and AC repair solution he could offer her since he didn’t know why it wasn’t working, he did honestly tell her that he wished he could do more.
Now that she was out a grand, Leslie Ann was feeling a bit more brash, and she asked the HVAC company what good they were if all they could do was say they didn’t know. The older man replied that this happens a lot with older furnaces, so when you get to this point the sensible thing is to replace the HVAC unit versus continuing to toss money at repairs that may not work. That was how she ended up in the situation in the first place. It was hard not to agree with that, so Leslie asked how much it would take to replace her furnace.
However, she was flabbergasted when he answered. He told her a new furnace would cost close to 10k and if she wanted to install an entirely new HVAC system including the AC unit, it would cost her over 15k. While she knew that furnaces and AC units were expensive, Leslie Ann knew that she owned a small home. This should have meant she could get by with smaller heating and cooling devices which should therefore have cost her much less money. It was hard for her to hide her surprise any longer with the situation.
Finally, Leslie Ann trusted her gut instinct and told the technician that she was not going to install a new furnace or AC unit at this time and that he could leave. She thanked him for his help but made it clear that she wasn’t paying a dime more to this company which so far had just helped her get more in debt. They certainly did not help her actually solve any problems with her HVAC system.
She ended up going back to the first heating and AC repair company which had much better reviews and was willing to talk to her at length and answer all of her questions. After this ordeal, Leslie Ann wanted a company that would take the time to listen to her and really inspect the furnace they had in the first place. While she didn’t entirely regret the idea of getting a second opinion, she regretted that she hadn’t looked up the furnace and AC repair company a little more so that she could have gotten a better one. Not only had she wasted an afternoon, but she wasted a lot of money on a home improvement task that still needed to be completed.
In the long run, Leslie Ann did end up replacing her furnace because it was the only surefire way to solve the problem, and her furnace was a few decades old. It just made sense to take action that would end this perpetual cycle instead of adding to it. Plus, the company she was working with came highly recommended by a colleague and had much better customer service. She felt that really did want what was best for her, and she liked that feeling. Now she had a number in her back pocket that she could lean on again if she had future worries about her new furnace or AC. However, with any luck, the only thing she would have to worry about was booking an annual service given all of the hassle this entire process had already been.
The Lazy Bird Loses the Call
Jack had an issue with his AC system that he could no longer ignore – mainly because the temperatures were growing and his AC was fighting to keep his home cool. Jack used the word “fighting” to describe what was happening because it really did seem like the AC was working its hardest. The problem was his home simply would not cool down. In fact, his AC could run virtually all day and his home still felt warm. When Jack Googled this issue online, he found that his AC was “rapid cycling,” which basically meant it was unable to produce enough cool air to actually change the temperature substantially. However, it constantly was aware of that fact which is why it continued to turn on over and over again.
At this point, Jack knew it was time for heating and AC repair. There was a very short time frame before the weather would turn and his house would become unlivable. It was just Jack and his dog at this point in life, his kids had moved out and he was divorced. Still, he didn’t fathom sitting in a baking house in the middle of summer, so he thought it was best to reach out to someone to see what his options were for dealing with this problem. Jack was a pretty laid back guy, so at first, he didn’t bother to read reviews or worry too much about how to call for help. He simply found a company online and then gave them a call to get started. He figured anyone who came up in the local search results surely had to be good enough to help with what appeared to be a basic problem.
After all, what could be more basic than an AC that was not actually cooling a house down? That seemed like the number one type of AC call that any heating and AC repair company would get. Therefore, it didn’t really matter who he got to come out to investigate his home issues a bit more, they should be able to quickly fix the problem. He left a message for the first plumber that he found, but after a few days they never called him back so he moved on to the next HVAC company. This one sent out two techs within two days, which wasn’t the worst time and at least got things moving for him.
The problem was that their initial estimate and advice was to replace the entire central air unit. This is not what Jack wanted to hear, and he did not want to jump into the process at the price tag they were suggesting. He thought the technicians would come out to his house and really take a good hard look at his HVAC unit. They thought they would take apart the AC unit and then check the thermostat and the air vents before arriving at any type of conclusion. In short, he thought the visit would be more like an annual service visit, which would give the technicians enough information to offer some solid advice.
The one thing Jack knew was that he was not going to jump right into replacing the entire AC unit, not when he felt like more due diligence had to be done. So instead he changed directions and asked the team if a new thermostat would help with the issue or if a general tuneup visit could help resolve the issues. He thought that if the guys said yes, they would run down to the closest Lowe’s, grab a new thermostat, and then install it. In his mind, this seemed like a simple enough thing that it may just work. In fact, if the technicians said no then Jack may just try it himself.
The guys seemed reluctant at first, but then they told Jack that sure, they could try to change the thermostat and see if that helped even though they warned him that the system was aging. At some point, he would have to acknowledge that wear and tear will break it down to the point of no repair. Jack was aging himself, so while he understood this idea he was not yet ready to toss in the towel. Apparently though getting on the schedule for any type of repair was difficult. The techs said they were booked a month out for replacements, but that if he just wanted to start with the thermostat they could come back in a week.
Jack agreed that he could make this work, and dealt with his home feeling hot and muggy all week as the temperatures slowly started to rise but nothing had been done. They were slated to come Monday at 10 am and Jack canceled his plans for the day to make sure he was home with the heating and AC repair technicians all day. They had agreed at the last service call that if the thermostat didn’t work they would have to start their contingency plan -replacing the unit. Jack wanted to make sure that he was home and prepared for whatever would have to happen. As the heat became more intense, Jack didn’t really care what was happening so long as progress was getting made.
Slowly Jack sat in the hot house watching the front door willing the doorbell to ring. Before too long it was 10 am, and then it was 11 am. By noon Jack thought either he got the day wrong or something had happened, so he called the company to see what was going on. The receptionist said that arrival times were just window times, and sometimes it could take a little longer. The techs had never said anything to Jack about window times or mentioned it could be anywhere from 10 am to 12 am, but he figured at this point what was a few more minutes.
However, by 1 pm Jack was starting to feel a bit disgruntled. He called the receptionist again who told him that actually an emergency HVAC situation had come up and they were going to have to reschedule Jake’s visit. Jack was angry for three reasons, and all of them were very good reasons. 1. He canceled his day just to have nothing happen, and now he would have to take more time off work or cancel more plans in order to get this done. 2. The company did not call him, he was forced to call them to find out what happened. He felt like they should have at least called to apologize when they knew the technicians were not going to make it. 3. He was hot and uncomfortable, and now due to some scheduling errors, it looked like he was going to have to be hot and sweaty even longer.
It crossed Jack’s mind that maybe if someone took a ball bat to the AC unit then he would get bumped to the top of the list. However, as uncomfortable as he felt, he at least still had at least a little fresh air circulating in his home to take the edge off his home. Sure it wasn’t comfortable, but it wasn’t unbearable either. He didn’t want to end up at a hotel by doing something brash so he chose not to do anything and instead rescheduled the visit.
While he was setting up the visit for the second attempt, it crossed Jack’s mind that maybe he should just choose a new company. He wasn’t 100% happy with this team anyway, but the idea of starting over fresh seemed like it might push the project back a few more weeks, and he didn’t want to deal with that either. Instead, he chose to go ahead and make the appointment a week from now.
The day arrived and once again Jack was downstairs sitting in his recliner near the front door waiting anxiously for the heating and AC repair technicians to come into his home and fix what was wrong. Jack watched the clock intently waiting for the team to come, but in a situation that felt way too familiar a few hours passed and still no one showed up at the door. Confused and angry by now, Jack called again and asked for a manager. He didn’t understand how this was not working out. He was a paying customer who had a job with an already completed estimate. How on earth was it still not done yet?
When he called this time he was given the runaround that he didn’t have an appointment for today until it was finally revealed that he did have an appointment but it was given to someone else. Jack was furious. He knew other people had cooling emergencies as well, but he had been waiting for over five weeks at this point and he had enough. It wasn’t his fault that the heating and AC repair crew was never available to help him after he had been promised help. It was time for him to find another HVAC technician.
Jack’s largest mistake is that he didn’t look into the heating and AC repair company that he chose at all until he was already left dealing with their awful customer service. Had he explored their reviews a little more he may have discovered that the lazy scheduling team didn’t do much work when it came to customer service. Appointments would get broken all of the time, and customers were supposed to just deal with it. Well, not Jack, he had enough and he was going to get help. That is until the company called him back ten minutes after he hung up and said to cancel his service.
Someone from the company finally apologized and offered him 10% off his next heating and AC repair job if he would stick with them and give them one more chance. Against his better judgment Jack did, but things didn’t work out. Despite waiting weeks for a new thermostat, the heating and AC repair crew was still unfamiliar with his home and took forever to assess it and actually purchase a new one. Jack had thought about upgrading to a smart thermostat because he thought it might save him money, but the HVAC technicians he was working with stated they don’t handle those types. So he was forced to let it go even though he felt that having a smart thermostat could save him a lot of money.
Another week passed and his appointment rolled around. It turned out that the third time was not the charm, because the technicians still did not show up. Jack didn’t even bother to call and ask for an excuse this time. He knew now it was time to close the book on this particular venture with this heating and AC repair company. His mistake was being too trusting, and thinking that they would be able to get their scheduling together and get out to his home. Clearly, they were unprofessional from start to finish.
In the end, it worked out better for Jack anyhow because the heating and AC repair company he called explained to him that the wear and tear is what was causing the problems with the AC unit. While he could have changed his thermostat, likely that would not have helped anything at all for him. Here he was stalled on a repair step that he actually didn’t need help with, but this was the first time that someone actually told him that. In fact, watching the new technician Jack learned there is a very quick way to figure out whether a home thermostat works or not.
Simply take a mercury thermometer and place it near the solar sensor for the thermostat. After waiting five minutes look to see what the thermostat reads. If the number reads the same then our thermostat is fine and there is no reason to consider replacing it. If you notice that the number is dramatically wrong, then now is the time to replace your thermostat. This one-minute trick was all the previous crew would have had to do, but they would have needed to show up for it.
Unlike other people on this list, Jack didn’t lose a lot of money in his fight for heating and AC repair. He had the opposite problem, he couldn’t seem to pay people to show up. The one thing he could have done differently is read reviews and screened the HVAC companies he chose to work with a bit better. Had he taken some time to read reviews he could have found a trustworthy company a lot sooner, and maybe even considered getting the construction work done before another year brings new challenges.
If you are searching for a professional heating and AC repair team that will show up when you are in need, call One Hour Air Conditioning & Heating of Dallas today. With years of experience in the local community, we value your business and can’t wait to show you what real customer service looks like.
See our previous blog on this topic here.
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