If you own an air conditioning unit, then at some point you will have to deal with air conditioning service and repair. Sometimes you will need to have your system repaired, other times it is simply smart to have your system serviced once a year so that it lasts longer. A lot of people hear about regular AC service plans, but many people skip the plans because they don’t think they will really be too beneficial. Other people look for cheaper options and discover that cheaper is not always better.
The following are a few horror stories that help outline the importance of choosing the right company for air conditioning service. While cost is a factor that no one can ignore, sometimes you have to balance the cost of a company with its experience and certifications. In most cases, you stand to gain more by picking a company that is experienced because it will save you money in the long run. Paying a bit more upfront is better than dealing with repeat repair costs down the road because things were missed during your AC service that could have been fixed.
To help demonstrate that principle, the following offers a few air conditioning service stories that show just how important it is to work with a reputable air conditioning company. Spending a bit of time reading reviews and spending a bit more money could have helped save the following homeowners from a lot of stress. Take a minute to read these stories, and then think about what the better choice would have been in retrospect. Learning from other people’s mistakes is a great way to make sure your decision about your HVAC system is always spot on.
The Results of Trading Experience for Cost
Barry knew that at some point he was gonna have to replace his air conditioning unit, but he had been putting it off as long as possible because it was an expense that he didn’t wanna deal with. However, when his AC quit again, he decided that it was time to replace it versus continuing to sink money into repairs. There was only so much money that he was willing to waste at one time on this AC unit, and he had reached his limit. There was no quick or cheap air conditioning service that was going to fix all of the problems of his aging system.
Plus, at this last AC service Barry had been told by the technician that it was probably time to start thinking about a new unit. There was a long list of parts that showed signs of wear and tear, and every single one of them was poised to break at any time. While Barry appreciated that the air conditioning service technician was honest, he didn’t like the price that he had quoted him for a new unit. Barry felt that he could do better so he thanked the technician for his quote and said that he would think about it.
Once the air conditioning service was over he jumped online to start investigating new options for his HVAC installation. A simple Google search revealed dozens of names of companies that offered AC services and new installations. While he liked the company he had been working with for the past few years, right now he was focused on the overall cost of the installation. He should have been looking at things such as proper certifications, experience, and great customer service, but he was only looking at the pricing. He wanted somebody who could get the job done quickly and for an affordable price and he was willing to shop around until he found somebody that offered a low enough price to fit his budget.
While it is fair that everyone wants to get a good price on an air conditioning installation, sometimes when you go with the cheapest person, you lose access to other things that you expect from your heating and AC repair company. In this case, Barry traded the experience and great customer service for a low price, and the results were not good, he quickly learned. He learned that sometimes you truly do get what you pay for and that next time when he was doing his research, he wouldn’t let price be the only factor that was affecting his decision. Choosing a middle road option probably would have served Barry better, but it was too late for that once everything was said and done.
Barry found a company that installed AC units basically at cost, and the labor fees for the installation undercut almost everyone. There was a reason for that he would learn, none of the techs were certified and the owner was pretty much just a handyman who had tacked the term HVAC into the company name. However, Barry didn’t know any of that when he agreed to sign an air conditioning service contract. He loved the price he was quoted and was very happy that this made the installation much more affordable for him.
The company showed up about a week later with his new AC unit, which should have been the first indication of trouble because most HVAC companies will have the manufacturer deliver the unit directly to a homeowner instead of the company. This is because the less an AC unit is moved the less chance there is of damage. However, the installers at the family-owned handyman business clearly were not aware of this fact, so they had all units shipped to their business and then moved them again in the back of their company trucks.
The second sign that this AC service company may not have known what they were doing would be when they showed up to install the unit without removing the old unit first. Typically this happens if the old unit is still working to keep the home cool, but if an old unit is done typically the company will come out the day before to remove it to help expedite the process. After all, an HVAC installation is a long process so anything that can be done to help streamline the process is usually beneficial. When they removed it they also would have taken a look at the platform and positioning of the old unit to see if anything needed to be repaired prior to setting the new unit down. Once again, this is done to minimize the time that is needed to install the new unit and to help reduce the potential for damage to the new unit.
Basically, the main goal of any air conditioning service and installation crew should be to move the new unit as little as possible, and that was not what happened in Barry’s case. While it was hard to say for sure if that was what caused his persistence issues, it certainly did not help at all. There are other factors that also played a role as the installation progressed. In short, the company he worked with cut corners and it was evident once the unit was installed.
The installation at first seemed to go okay. Barry chatted with the owner of the company briefly before the technicians got to work removing the system and he was friendly. They talked about what to expect and how the day would go and Barry then grabbed a lawn chair out of his garage and sat down to watch the process. It was just as hot inside his home as it was outside his home, so at least if he sat outside he had a bit of wind blowing and he could watch. He found that when he watched people they tended to do a better job. Unfortunately, in this situation that was not going to be enough.
The first problem occurred when they got the new unit out of the truck and set it on the platform. It was obvious right away that the unit was crooked. While it was hard to tell prior to seeing the new unit set down, the concrete platform had sunk into the softer ground over time and was now not level. That presented an issue since this would affect the lifespan of the new unit. It also meant that the unit had to be moved again while they dealt with this issue. Had they checked the leveling of the platform prior to coming out or pulling the unit out of the truck they would not have felt so pressured to figure it out, but that wasn’t the case. This is a situation where a bit of procedure and experience would have helped resolve some issues.
The team chatted for a bit about the problem while Barry tried to eavesdrop and then walked away to call the owner. It was clear they didn’t know what to do but they also didn’t want Barry to know that. After a few minutes, they came back and told Barry that they would have to dig some under the platform to try to make it level. Barry wasn’t sure how they were possibly going to manage to get this thing level, but he also didn’t want to wait a few days for a new piece of concrete to be installed (what a professional company probably would have insisted on), so he said okay.
For the next hour, he watched them struggle to get under the block to try to level it and had a few laughs inside while watching. It didn’t occur to him that this could actually affect the performance of his AC unit. If it had, he may have stepped in more. Barry just saw this as a temporary block to the situation. Finally, the technicians decided that the platform was “level” enough and firmed up the dirt around the foundation, and then started to get to work on the platform.
Barry would later learn that there were a lot of problems with this approach. To start, if your AC unit is not installed on a level ground this can impact the way that your fan circulates. The fan needs to circulate evenly, and the blades can easily get off balance which then impacts the entire way the outdoor unit works. In fact, this is the number one way that blades break, requiring the unit to need replacement sooner.
Two factors impacted the ability of the unit to sit straight. First was the fact that the platform was not completely flat when the unit was placed on it. It was closer than it was when they started, but it was not fully straight. The approach that they were taking was never going to be the best, but it was a shortcut that enabled them to get the AC unit in on the same day so they didn’t get behind. It wasn’t really to Barry’s benefit even though he felt like it was because he didn’t want to wait a few more days either.
The second issue was that the dirt underneath the platform that was dug out and then redistributed was soft. The first time it rained the soil shifted under the concrete which also shifted some due to the weight of the unit, so it ended up shifting the platform altogether. While this didn’t harm any of the connections, the platform ended up not level at all. Therefore, all of that work was for nothing, but now that the unit was installed the team was gone. Barry never thought to check it again so he was not aware of how unlevel the unit was until he had the old company come out for his old air conditioning service.
They let him know that this was probably going to lead to problems, but uninstalling it and attempting to fix the platform, and then reinstalling the unit would probably lead to even more problems. Instead, the AC service said that it was better if they just let it go but monitored the situation. It would have been good if this was the end of Barry’s problems, but it was only the start.
The installation of the AC system ended up taking well into the night and the crew didn’t leave until almost 8 pm. While Barry wasn’t sure of everything that was happening, he knew enough to know that some of the things that were happening were not probably great. It seemed like the crew took a lot of breaks to call the boss and ask for advice and that things didn’t appear to be going smoothly.
At the end of the installation, however, the AC turned on and the home cooled so Barry happily paid the invoice for the air conditioning service and enjoyed the evening in peace. Things seemed fine for a few weeks. The AC worked without any problems and he had no reason to suspect that anything was wrong with the unit. From the outside, the unit was quietly humming and the inside unit was also working just fine. However, one morning he woke up and went into the kitchen to make breakfast when he noticed something wet on the floor.
It puzzled him because he lived alone and there was no reason why anything should have been wet. He just got up. He looked up and saw that his ceiling was sagging a bit. Now he was very concerned because the bathroom was not above the kitchen, the utility closet was. He was instantly concerned about what could be leaking up there. The washing machine wasn’t on, and the laundry room wasn’t exactly in that spot anyhow.
As he headed up the stairs he realized that the utility closet and indoor AC unit were up there, but it made no sense why there would be water coming out of his AC. Even refrigerant wouldn’t be leaking in enough volume to cause this type of damage. Once he opened the door it was clear that the leak was coming from the AC, although he didn’t understand why. He turned off the AC and immediately called back the installers for an air conditioning service.
At first, they tried to tell him that he had to wait a few days for them to come out, but he was quite angry and demanded to talk to the owner. There was water everywhere and his kitchen ceiling was sagging. Whatever they had done wrong needed to be fixed right now. He couldn’t risk turning his unit back on until they discovered what was causing this problem.
When the AC company showed up they claimed that the problem was the result of a clogged drain line, but Barry knew there was no reason to think this would happen. It hadn’t been an issue in the 25 years he had lived at this home, and if the drain was clogged then it was something that they had put into it when they installed the unit. He saw the mess they left behind, and could easily believe that they had just swept stuff into the drain without paying attention.
The owner wasn’t flexible in taking the blame, but they said they would clean the drains for a reduced price since the installation was so recent. This was something that they should have checked during the original installation at any rate, but the owner couldn’t say for sure whether they had or not since he wasn’t there. Barry also noticed that they changed out the piping and lifted it off the floor, which he suspected contributed to the backup.
Barry had a friend who had something like this happen because the kill switch wasn’t put back in place after an air conditioning service so he asked the technicians if the switch was properly installed on the condensate pan. They informed him that this wasn’t an issue, because his AC unit did not have a killswitch. Barry couldn’t believe it, what modern unit wouldn’t have this very important safety feature? It turned out that one of the reasons that the HVAC company was able to offer the lowest prices was because they used the lowest-level AC units. THe AC unit that they had installed had almost no extra features, and that meant a lot of the extra safety features that were supposed to prevent this type of situation.
Now Barry was nervous because he didn’t know what else was going to happen down the road. While he rearranged his routine to include a quick check for leaks in his utility closet once a day while he was winding down for the night, he couldn’t predict what other types of situations would jump up that he hadn’t planned for when he chose this company. It made him think that now might also be a time to replace his thermostat, so at least one thing in his home HVAC system would be dependable, but he knew that he was going to go back to the old air conditioning service for that.
For the time being, however, he had to focus on cleaning up the mess he was dealing with, and the owner of the HVAC company made it clear that they were not going to take any responsibility for the mess. Plus, he found out that they were not insured or bonded so there was no point in taking them to court because he probably wasn’t going to win enough of a settlement to make the situation worth it.
Barry ended up needing to call a water damage company to inspect his utility closet floor and the ceiling of the kitchen. His biggest concern was that mold would grow in that space due to the humid weather. Hopefully, his AC would continue to work just fine and that wouldn’t continue to be a return, but the last thing he wanted to deal with was mold. He ended up eating the cost of this because once again he didn’t think it was worth fighting over it with the HVAC company.
However, problems continued to occur with the HVAC system causing him to have the company out for air conditioning service three more times before he decided to toss in the towel and go with a new company. While they offered cheaper pricing, it seemed that he needed them all the time to correct problems with the system because it wasn’t properly installed. In the end, he hadn’t saved anything and he was worried about the lifespan of his new unit.
Things in the outdoor unit seemed to be wearing down and now he sometimes heard odd noises coming from his outdoor unit. Almost like something was rubbing. He made a note to talk to the guys at the next annual air conditioning service. He liked that company and knew that he should have just gone with them in the first place. They always knew what they were doing and talked him through anything they had found.
Things would have probably gone entirely differently if he had just chosen the company he was comfortable with instead of the company that offered him the lowest price. It was a hard lesson to learn, but it was one that was now ingrained in him. He was well aware that this unit was probably not even going to make it to the ten-year mark (and it didn’t, by year six it had to be replaced because the fan blades had become bent which was the noise that he was hearing). He did know that when it was time to replace it he was going to choose a company that was certified and worth the extra money.
Trading an Ounce of Prevention for a Host of Problems
Laura was a young professional who had just purchased a new home. She knew there were a lot of tasks that she had to take care of as a new homeowner, but she figured that some of them she could put off. She didn’t have a lot of experience with any type of appliance and also didn’t have a huge budget to work with. One of the things that she figured she could probably skip was an annual air conditioning service. How important could it be after all to have the AC cleaned out? She didn’t remember if her parents had ever done this or not, but they had definitely never talked to her about it.
The previous homeowners had their home AC serviced regularly once a year, but she figured that she could skip it and things would be okay. The unit had plenty of upkeep so was it really going to matter if she didn’t? It was only six years old, surely it had enough of a lifespan left in it that she could get away with it. Plus, she didn’t know how she was supposed to remember to do something once a year anyhow. This seemed quite low on the priority list and she quickly forgot about it.
Things were fine for a year, but then she noticed that the airflow wasn’t as much as before. Concerned she thought that maybe now she should call for an air conditioning service to clean out some of the dirt maybe, but then she forgot about it because she had something come up at work that took precedence. Plus, she was trying to save up money to go on a trip with her friends, she didn’t want to spend any of her money on her AC if she could help it.
For the time being her approach worked, the airflow stayed compromised but the system did not break down. What it did do however was increase the wear and tear on her system, so that her AC had to work harder to produce the same amount of energy. This is one benefit of regular AC service, but she didn’t realize that so long as it was cold in the house. However, this would lead to two problems.
The first problem was that her energy bills were rising. Her AC had to run twice as much to create the same amount of cold air in her home since it wasn’t able to push as much air through at a time. The second was that it was cycling more which meant that it consumed more energy starting and stopping all the time. She noticed that her energy bills had been slowly creeping up over the last six months, but since she saw everyone complaining about energy costs on a regular basis on the news she figured that was why. She didn’t realize that her failure to keep up with her AC was actually the driving reason behind her higher bills.
Her bills continued to creep up and her AC continued to work harder to produce air until one day it started to make some very concerning noises. At first, she thought that maybe the noises would just go away, but it quickly became evident that wasn’t going to be the case. If anything they seemed to get louder and now she was concerned that your AC was going to break down any day. It was pretty clear at this point that she needed to call a heating and AC repair company before the system quit working altogether. She started calling around, but in Texas, during the summer months it is hard to find an HVAC company with openings, and it was peak season. The best she could do was schedule an air conditioning service two weeks from now.
She took it and crossed her fingers that her AC would last that long because it certainly was making a lot more noise than it ever had before. Laura lived by herself and didn’t have any pets so she took to turning it off while she wasn’t at home and then remotely turning her thermostat back on an hour before she got home. She wasn’t sure how much this helped but figured it was better to run it as little as possible if it was making this much noise.
That strategy seemed to help until about one day before her air conditioning service when the entire system stopped working altogether. Now she knew she was in trouble, but she luckily only had to make it one night without heat. She went out and bought a large box fan and made it through the night until the company arrived in the morning. She had never been so happy to see a professional.
What they discovered is that her system was filthy inside. In addition to not understanding the importance of air conditioning service, Laura was not aware that she was supposed to be changing the air filters. The air filter hadn’t been changed since she moved in a year and a half ago and it was filthy. This led to the decreased airflow that she had been noticing which was compounded by the fact that she skipped her service visits. That meant the system was dirty and the system was clogged.
Due to the fact that the AC system had to work twice as hard to push air through the house, the components were wearing down. The harder a system works the more wear and tear there are on the components inside it. The fan and compressor were both overworked and the noises she was hearing were probably grinding because of the overuse and lack of lubrication. Laura learned a lot about what happened during typical air conditioning service that day, including the fact that all of those parts needed to be lubricated or they would grind and eventually break down.
In Laura’s case, all of these issues slowly piled on until her system just couldn’t operate anymore and quit working altogether. She was quite embarrassed but also annoyed that now she had to deal with a large repair cost that could have been avoided.
Laura could not believe how much it cost to replace a compressor. Due to the fact that her system was only 6/7 years old, they did not recommend that she replace the entire unit yet, a fact that greatly relieved her. There was no way she could have paid for a replacement unit right now, but they did recommend after the repair that she keep up with a regular AC service so that she didn’t end up in this situation again. They also stressed that she needed to change her air filters which heavily contributed to the situation.
Here Laura had thought that she could ignore her AC system and it would take care of itself, but she learned this was not the case at all. What it did was land her in a lot of trouble that she now had to deal with. She ended up having to call her parents to take a small loan so that she could repair the broken piece on her AC unit to get it back into working shape. Unfortunately, it would take a week for the piece to come in according to the HVAC company, and there was nothing they could do until then.
She ended up going to live with a friend for the week because it was far too warm to stay in her own home. She did worry about the high humidity levels and hopes, but nothing like mold we grow anywhere, but there is nothing that she could do about that now because repair was not an option. Luckily the piece came in after five days and the HVAC company was able to come in and get it repaired correctly. At that visit, she went ahead and set up a visit for air conditioning service in six months. The technician told her that she could probably wait every year for a cleaning after this repair and cleaning was done, but she decided that every six months was a much better course of action so that she wouldn’t find herself in the situation again.
The HVAC technician was also very honest with her and let her know that you cannot reverse wear and tear. Therefore, she would have to keep a closer eye on her AC unit and make sure that she called immediately if she heard any other odd noises. While she has fixed the problem for now, there may be other components inside with wear and tear that will now age a lot faster. It would be to her benefit to replace any components that they noticed advanced wear and tear on during her next air conditioning service. So this was something that she should budget for, and expect to happen in the near future.
Both Laura and Barry had learned important lessons about why they needed to stay involved in their air conditioning service decisions. Barry learned that when you cut corners, you end up paying for it later in life. While he tried to get a cheaper installation company, he ended up costing himself a lot more money in the long run. He also ended up needing to replace his AC unit sooner than he would have if he had only gone with a qualified technician who charged a little bit more for experience and high-quality customer service.
Laura, on the other hand, learned that you have to properly maintain your AC unit if you want it to continue functioning for years to come. She assumed that things like AC service were not important and therefore skipped taking care of the small task. As a result, she ended up with a system that broke down on her and cost her a great deal of unexpected repair money. Sometimes proactive action is the best way to save yourself from unexpected costs. Both Barry and Laura would have gained a lot more by spending a little bit upfront, compared to what their bad choices ended up costing them.
If you are ready to schedule an air conditioning visit for your home, choose One Hour Air Conditioning & Heating of Dallas. We are an experienced team that is ready to make the process enjoyable for you.
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