Air Conditioning and Heating Services: Best Options and How to Get Them

Finding Comfort in All Seasons

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Breathing Good Air

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My Story

Not too long ago, I had a heating and air conditioning company come to my home to service my furnace. After a few minutes, they said, "Your furnace is leaking carbon monoxide. We need to fix it immediately." I asked the cost, then said, "No". The technician insisted I fix the problem, saying, "You'll die in your sleep of carbon monoxide poisoning if you don't fix this now!" I said, "No I won't. I turn off my heat and sleep with my windows open at night," which I do.

Still, knowing that a carbon monoxide leak is serious, I called a different company to service my furnace, without telling them of the first company. The technician didn't say a thing about my carbon monoxide leak. This guy told me I had a different, urgent problem that needed hundreds of dollars to repair.

So, I called a third company to service my furnace. And, a third time I was told that I had a different, urgent problem that needed my money, but no mention of the other two urgent problems that the previous technicians had (supposedly) found.

Find Out How You Would Choose Right Now

Which would you choose as the best option in finding an honest company?

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Answer

Your best option would be the small company with uniformed technicians and labeled trucks (#3). Why not the large company? Large companies have large overhead. To make a profit they often have to turn their technicians into salesmen, selling you whatever they can at the highest price they can get. The higher profit technician (not the best technician) will be the least likely to be laid off during slow seasons. On the other hand, the small company with uniforms and labeled trucks is a company that is probably working with enough capital to stock the technicians and trucks with the proper equipment to service your heating and cooling units properly.

Experience Counts

Finding the Right Technician

Below are 14 ways to find the most qualified company/technician to work on your air conditioning and heating systems. I was able to find an honest, well qualified, heating and air person, Mike Murphy of North Denver, Colorado. Mike provided me with the information below. Mike has worked in the heating and cooling business for 27 years, working and teaching technicians, and owned his own business, Mid America Heating and Cooling.Mike is a 20-yr. decorated, Air Force veteran who decided to bring honesty and integrity to the furnace and air conditioning business. He is a licensed owner, insured, experienced, and NATE Certified.

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NATE Seal

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HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning)

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HVAC Licensing Study Guide, Second Edition by Rex Miller and Mark Miller

Mid America Heating and Cooling

14 Checks for Best HVAC Service

1. Ask your neighbors. Find out what was done, and if they were happy with both the price and the service.

2. Find a company with the most NATE certified technicians, as opposed to a company that just states, “We have certified technicians.” (NATE: North American Technical Excellence)

3. Remember one thing: BIG COMPANIES are PROFIT DRIVEN. Even though their ads sound great, big companies have large overhead costs. Sometimes technicians are required to sell a certain amount of repair services every day when they come out to tune-up or clean and check.

4. Ask for references. Before you use a company, get several referrals from satisfied customers. Call those referrals and ask questions: what was done, what did it cost, did you pay more than expected, did you call in an emergency situation, did you have any concerns or questions about the technician or work done?

5. Did the technician arrive in a uniform? The company you hire should have standards and expectations of their employees, including wearing a company uniform.

6. Ask the technician for proof that he is licensed and insured.

7. Ask the technician how long he has been with the company. If he's new to the company, find out how long he's been a technician. Find out what type of training and experience he has. Ask what he would do if an unfamiliar problem arose.

8. If you feel at all uncomfortable with the technician, ask the tech to leave a written estimate with his findings, then, get a second opinion.

9. Always get several bids on an expensive project. If critical items have been suggested, make sure you are not working with slick-talking Joe Crooked. DO NOT MAKE AN ON-THE-SPOT DECISION! When the cost of the project proposed seems exorbitant, get a second opinion. Most companies will give you a free estimate. (Get three.) Get all of your options and bids in writing.

Instead of making an on-the-spot decision about a repair or purchase, say something like, “I’m going to wait until my husband/wife gets home.” Give yourself at least a little time to think. The technician or supervisor may say something like, “I can give you $200 off today, because I need to keep my installation crew busy,” as opposed to “What time will your husband be home? I’ll swing back around.” Don't be tricked into the suggested discount.

10. What are the warranties and guarantees for his repairs on parts and labor. Get this in writing, and make sure you understand what is written.

11. Before buying a new system, make sure that the technician who is going to select the system did a “load calculation”.

12. Before a technician recommends a new system, he should have measured the size of the ducts. This is a MUST to have a proper system installed.

13. Ask: Will my new unit be installed according to all local codes and will all applicable codes be met (like electrical)?

14.When buying a house, get the furnace “certified” first, not “cleaned and checked”. If the inspector or contractor doesn’t know the difference, RUN. To get the furnace “certified” the furnace would also be cleaned and checked. Certification should take 3-4 hours and should cost about $300-$400.

Finding a Good A/C or Furnace Tech

4 out of 5 stars from 1 rating of Good Repair Services

Repair Costs at a Fair Price

It matters that you choose the best possible company for your repairs, because knowing what is or is not a fair price is difficult. Here are some examples of why. (Click here to learn about SCAMS.)

  • A Freon leak in your air conditioning system is a serious problem. Most often the leak is at the valve. This cannot be fixed by just tightening the cap. The cap needs to be replaced. One large national company charges $400 for finding the leak and replacing the cap. Mike says his company charges $45. A Sniffer will find a Freon leak if it is leaking as little as ¼ ounce per year. Finding a valve cap leak and fixing it takes 5 minutes, with a Sniffer.


  • One problem is that most technicians cannot afford to buy a Sniffer, so they do a bubble test. Finding that Freon leak takes a much longer time with the bubble method, if it can be found at all. If the leak happens to be in the wall, the bubble method won’t work at all.


  • Mike remembers a job where the inside and outside units were fine. His Sniffer detected the leak in a wall in the kitchen behind the cabinets. The kitchen cabinets had to be taken down, and the wall opened up. Apparently, the builder had inserted a screw through one of the lines. That job cost $500.


  • If the leak is in the A-frame in the furnace, the leak can’t be fixed, and the A-frame needs to be replaced.This would cost around $700.
  • Replacing a burned valve would cost $850.

That is why a large company can get away with charging the outrageous price of $400, when they should be charging $45 for a valve leak. It is because we, the general public, know fixes are expensive, but we don’t know how to determine the costs. That’s why it’s crucial to do some research before your air conditioner or furnace breaks in order to find the best and most honest company to service your air conditioning or heating system.

Mike's final NOTE: If you have a Freon leak, DO NOT let someone put Stop Leak into your system.

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2 comments

JayeWisdom profile image

JayeWisdom 2 years ago from Deep South, USA

I just bought a new electric heat pump and air handler system that will provide both central air conditioning and heating year-round much more efficiently (read: using less energy, therefore reducing my huge electric bills) than my old system.

I did a great deal of research before this purchase, reading numerous reviews and ratings by HVAC experts (mostly teachers not affiliated with the products), but also was advised by an honest young man who is the good friend of my granddaughter's husband. He owns his own HVAC installation and repair business. He did not try to influence me to buy a particular system, but did tell me which brands his company has to do the most repair work on--particularly the coils. This also helped me in my choice. (I noted that those brands had low ratings in the material I read, so this made me trust his judgment even more.)

In addition, he evaluated my home and property (doing all the things you mentioned) and told me I needed a four-ton system with at least 14 SEER for energy savings. He and his crew will add more ductwork during the installation plus a new programmable thermostat, but the complete quote he gave me is still thousands of dollars less than I got from large companies, all of which wanted me to buy their equipment (also at inflated prices).

This young man and his employees are courteous, helpful and also recommended by my son, for whom they've done work. His company is busy constantly because people know his prices are reasonable, work is good and he can be trusted. I have a feeling that his business will continue to grow and prosper because of his integrity and strong work ethic. He will definitely have my business for regular maintenance of my new system.

Good advice/good hub. Voted Up++

Jaye


Beverly Stevens profile image

Beverly Stevens 2 years ago from College Station Author

Thanks, Jaye. You did all of the right things to find a good person/company to get what you needed. It's good to know that a little searching can get you good, honest service.

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