Q: I am tired of winter and looking forward to warmer days ahead. This got me thinking, my air conditioner started acting up last summer and I probably should get it serviced. Does the BBB have any tips when looking for an air conditioning servicer?
A: It is still winter, so why worry about air conditioning? Believe it or not, now is actually a great time to be thinking about air conditioning. By planning ahead now, while temperatures are low, you can make sure that your air conditioner is working properly when the temperatures are high.
Take the time to check contractors out carefully; rushing to find a cooling contractor can burn a hole in your wallet instead of keeping you cool. Last year, BBB nationwide received more than 9,000 complaints against heating and cooling contractors and repair services. Some of the most common mistakes consumers and business owners make when looking for repairs stem from hiring the first contractor they find, not doing the proper research, and not getting
all the details of their service or repair in writing.
BBB recommends the following tips to make sure your inspection and service go off without a hitch:
1) Research the company's background and licensing. Visit bbb.org for the BBB Business Review of any AC service company you plan to hire. Learn more about its reputation and history of complaints. Always confirm that the company is licensed and insured. You can double check by doing a license check in Tennessee at the Department of Commerce and Insurance: http://tn.gov/commerce/, and in Georgia with the Secretary of State: http://www.sos.georgia.gov/.
2) Compare prices and service packages. Get at least three estimates for any air conditioning repair work or maintenance work. All bids should be in writing and should provide a full description of the services to be provided and the materials to be used.
3) Review warranty coverage. Find out if the company offers any type of warranty or guarantee. Make certain you understand the terms and conditions of the coverage. Also, be sure to check the warranty on your current air conditioning unit to determine whether any repairs or replacements may be covered.
4) Ask about energy efficiency. Many new air conditioning units are manufactured to be more energy efficient than others. Look for the Energy Star label to find out more about products that may cost a little more up front, but save you in energy costs over time. Some models may even be eligible for a tax credit. Ask your HVAC contractor (heating ventilation and air conditioning) to verify tax credit eligibility and provide the Manufacturer Certification Statement for the equipment you plan to purchase. For more information on energy efficient tax credits, visit: http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=tax_credits.tx_index.
For more tips you can trust, visit www.chattanooga.bbb.org, and for the latest news checkout our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/BBBTNGA.
Get answers to your questions each Friday from Jim Winsett, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau Inc., which serves Southeast Tennessee and Northwest Georgia. Submit questions to his attention by writing to Business Editor Dave Flessner, Chattanooga Times Free Press, P.O. Box 1447, Chattanooga, TN, 37401-1447, or by e-mailing him at dflessner@ timesfreepress.com.