Most HVAC companies are trustworthy and employ dedicated professionals. However, as in most industries, there are few bad apples in the market. These individuals pretend to offer quality HVAC services to scam people out of their hard-earned money.

Recently, many HVAC scams have been happening and have caught some people in Florida off guard. Therefore, learning about the most common HVAC scams is essential to protect you from fraud and avoid falling victim to scam artists looking to make quick cash.

Bait and Switch

Bait and switch is a deceptive marketing tactic where a disreputable HVAC company advertises a product or service at an irresistibly low price to get a homeowner to schedule an appointment at their home. They assume that most homeowners do not know enough about how much HVAC services and equipment costs to detect their falsehoods.

Once they arrive at your home, they may ask to see your HVAC system. Afterward, they will inform you that the product or service they advertised at a great price is no longer available or does not apply to your type of system. However, they will then offer a substitute at a higher price, which is the “switch” part of the scam. Bait-and-switch tactics have been outlawed by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). However, they are one of the more effective methods favored by scam artists.

Being wary of “free” services or too good-to-be-true deals is important. Whether you receive a call from a marketer or see promising free services online, always take precautions to avoid bait-and-switch scams. Chances are they will always ensure you pay for another service once they are in your home or say they’ve spotted an issue in your HVAC during their “inspection” that needs emergency repairs. To avoid being scammed, consult a reputable contractor for a second opinion. You can also consult with friends or neighbors to find out what they paid for similar products or services to verify the validity of an advertised price.

Cracked Heat Exchanger

Unfortunately, the cracked heat exchanger scam is common, whether as part of a bait-and-switch ruse or during a service visit by a dishonest HVAC technician. It is effective because the con artist convinces homeowners that their furnace is leaking deadly amounts of carbon monoxide into their house. This creates a sense of immediacy that the scammer uses to their advantage.

A heat exchanger can crack due to improper maintenance or a manufacturing defect and pose safety risks, but it is a rare occurrence. In addition, the expected lifetime of a heat exchanger is about 15 years, the same as that of a furnace. In fact, because heat exchangers come with a hefty price tag, it is often the best option to upgrade to a new furnace if this component malfunctions. It is not worth the cost of replacing a heat exchanger for a unit nearing the end of its useful lifetime.

A person who tells you that you need to replace this part without asking how old your system is or discussing that it may make more sense to invest in a new furnace may be a scam artist. They are hoping that you will panic and agree to the repair. A homeowner may never realize they have been scammed because there were no issues with their heat exchanger in the first place.

If you have a newer system and a technician you are unfamiliar with says you need to replace a cracked heat exchanger, it is important that you ask to see it. A reputable HVAC professional will be happy to show you the evidence. They will also offer to work with the manufacturer because most warranty heat exchangers for 5 to 10 years or even for the furnace’s lifetime because they know it is unlikely this component will fail.

Dirty Filter Scam

Some charlatans use the dirty HVAC filter scam by showing homeowners a filthy filter they brought with them and falsely claiming it came from the homeowner’s system. They then use this deception to sell expensive air filters. They may also use the filter they brought to prove that you need an air purification system.

It is not unreasonable to be present when a technician you do not know well replaces air filters or any other components of your heating and cooling system. A genuine HVAC technician understands that you may be uneasy allowing a stranger into your house and will not be offended if you hover around.

No Price Breakdown by the Contractor

Another common scam is when a contractor omits the cost breakdown while saying the system repair is expensive. Sometimes, shady sorts will even advise on whole system replacement by exaggerating the expense of the repairs without a proper breakdown of the labor and parts costs.

A reputable technician will compare the cost of repairing your system to upgrading to a new one. They will also provide you with a written repair estimate detailing what you will be paying for.

Asking for an Upfront Cash Payment

No reputable HVAC company asks for upfront payment before they provide their services. If a technician asks for payment before doing the repairs, there is a high probability they will take your money and run.

Even though you may trust a service provider, asking for a written agreement before making any payment or agreeing to any service is always necessary, as verbal contracts are neither professional nor reliable. A written agreement will ensure there are no misunderstandings. Additionally, it can help you take legal action if the technician escapes with your money or misleads you on the types of repairs you need on your HVAC system.

Refrigerant Recharge Scam

If your unit runs out of refrigerant or is low, it means there is a leak since air conditioners and heat pumps are closed systems. Dishonest contractors employ the recharge scam to bill you unnecessary money without addressing the real problem. The leak is the real issue leading to low refrigerant, and the technician should be able to address this problem accordingly.

If the technician bills only on the amount of refrigerant used, they are likely delaying the repair. This way, they ensure the homeowner will pay for a refill more than once. They keep the scam going by calling regularly to see if you need a refill since they know you will.

A HVAC Company You Can Trust

At J&W Heating and Air + Plumbing, we have maintained trusting relationships with the residents of Jacksonville, FL, since 1966. We install, maintain, and repair heating and cooling systems. In addition, we provide indoor air quality services and can perform an energy audit to help you save money on utility bills. After you contact us to schedule an appointment to address your HVAC issue, one of our experts will arrive at your home in a company vehicle wearing one of our uniforms with our logo clearly marked on it.

Contact us today for reliable and trustworthy HVAC services in Jacksonville!

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