How to Dodge Scams Involving HVAC

When repairs need to be made to a HVAC system, homeowners are often too desperate for a quick resolution to be cautious when dealing with the repair company. Sadly, this means people are sometimes taken advantage of by less honest businesses.

Tips to Prevent HVAC Scams

Avoiding scams isn’t too hard if homeowners keep their eyes open for certain warning signs. While most companies deal honestly with homeowners, here are some tips people can follow to keep from being scammed by those who don’t:

  • Get references. When hiring an HVAC company, ask for references and ask around the area for anyone else who has worked with the business. Get the impressions of prior customers and decide if the company sounds trustworthy based on prior work.
  • Ask for a replaced part. If the technician says he or she needs to replace a part in your heating and air conditioning system, ask to keep the broken part. This will allow a homeowner to take the part to a second professional for an opinion, if necessary.
  • Beware the “free tune up.” Many reputable companies will offer free estimates, but less honest businesses will offer free tune ups as an excuse to invent a problem and charge homeowners to fix it.
  • Avoid paying up front. It’s perfectly normal for trustworthy businesses to ask for a down payment before repairs are completed. However, honest businesses will very rarely ask for the entire amount before the work is done. Many companies who do this have a reputation for charging an absurd amount up front and doing poor repair work.
  • Watch out for sales which seem too good to be true. Low time, low money offers may seem like a good deal but will often end up costing more in the end. Shady companies may offer cheap installation services on a sale like this, but charge outrageous prices on any later work to the system.
  • Ensure proper licensing. Before hiring an HVAC company, make certain it has the right credentials. Homeowners can even ask technicians to see their worker’s licenses when they come to the home.
  • Get a written estimate. Having a written estimate before a company begins working on the system provides tangible proof of the agreement reached between the homeowner and the business. This will come in handy if the technician fails to fully repair what is broken.
  • Ask for a second opinion. If an estimate seems too high from one company, contact a different company and ask for its estimate. Homeowners may find the repairs don’t cost as much as they were first told.
  • Check exact certifications. Some HVAC equipment manufacturers require specific training to work on their systems. Homeowners can call the manufacturer of their system and ask if there is someone certified in the area.

When an HVAC system needs repair, it usually needs to be fixed in a hurry. Homeowners should follow these tips to make sure that hurry doesn’t lead them into a scam.

If you need a reputable HVAC company to take care of your home HVAC needs, contact Countryside Plumbing & Heating. Our trained team of certified HVAC technicians will always be honest about your HVAC needs and explain every step of the process should you need repairs.


Issues to Look for When You Start Your Heater for the First Time this Winter

When the weather starts to change and the temperature calls for a little help to warm up your home, there are some issues to look out for when you start your heater for the first time. Many of these issues can be found in furnaces, heat pumps, and other types of heating systems and are regularly a cause of concern. As your heater may have been out of commission for more than eight months there are problems that could have arisen or become worse in that time and it is important to watch out for these signs of malfunction in your heater.

Major Heating Issues to Look Out For

Here are some major heating issues to look out for when you are turning on your heating system for the first time before winter:

“My heating system smells funny”

When you first turn your heater on, there is a chance that there could be a strange smell that comes from the vents. This can be normal for some heater types when you first turn them on. In other circumstances – say, a smell that is quite strong or a smell that is not dissipating – this could be a sign that your heater has an issue that has developed or worsened while it was in storage or not being used. This can be not only hazardous to the operation of your heating system but also a sign that your furnace is emitting gas which is dangerous.

“My heater is making strange noises”

Another sign that your heater is malfunctioning is that there may be some strange noises when you first turn it on in the winter or it could be a noise that develops after being run for a short period of time. It is important to pay attention to these noises and make sure that the heater is not dangerous to be using. These noises could be a ‘clanking’, ‘thudding’ or zapping sound. These noises could be caused by mechanical malfunctions or even worse electrical malfunctions. In both cases this could be quite dangerous for use within the house.

“My heating bills are astronomical!”

This is not something that you will notice instantly unless you are measuring the power usage of your heater at the outlet, however an appliance that draws a lot of power is a surefire sign that the appliance is malfunctioning in some way. This may not mean that the heater is directly dangerous, though it could easily become that way if left unattended or unchecked. Be sure to check your power usage after you have just started using your heater in the winter to look for any spikes in usage that are incredibly irregular.

“My heater is not working!”

This one seems simple and fairly straightforward but it is something to watch for in order to make sure that your heater continues to work properly and poses no danger to you or your family. If your heater is not throwing off any heat or throwing off very little heat then this could be a sign that there is a serious issue with the heater and could lead to something much worse if you continue using the heater.
If some or all of these issues have occurred when you have been using your heater it may be necessary to stop using your heater and contact us in order to make sure that the heater is safe to continue using around you and your family. It is always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to the health, safety, and home comfort for your family.

Make Your Home Warmer Without Adjusting The Temperature

Making your home warmer without adjusting the temperature starts by stopping warm air from escaping, preventing the entry of cold air and thoroughly insulating your home trapping the heated air in and the cold air out. These basic strategies for saving on your heating bills begin with checking for air leaks all over the home. By finding and sealing drafts, there is a potential savings of 5-30% on your energy usage. Look for openings that allow air through along every outlet to the outdoors.

Possible Points of Entry or Exit of Air
• Door frames
• Windows and window frames
• Holes used to thread faucets and pipes
• Entries and exits for electrical wiring
• Cracks in the mortar, foundation or siding
• Leaks along the gaps of the floor boards and joins of the ceiling and walls
• Air leaks along the joins in the ductwork of central heating units

Leaks Cost Money

By plugging up air leaks and preventing warm air from escaping and cold air from entering a homeowner can save at least 10-30% of the heating bill. Your heating service can have send a professional HVAC service technician to give your home an evaluation determining the location of leaks. The technician will use equipment that tests the area for the location of leaks in the home. A blower door tester in combination with a duct leak detector will force leaks throughout the building envelope to reveal them more clearly when a pressure detector is used.

Insulation Saves Money

Air escapes through the solid structure of your floors, walls and ceilings. The percentage of heat loss in each area of your home amounts to 35% due to air flow in or out of various leaks, 18-20% through windows and doors, 15-18% through floors and basements, 12-14% through walls and 10% through ceilings. By checking the insulation in these areas and insulating to current standards, homeowners can save hundreds of dollars in heating costs over the years.

It may be determined after all the leak repairs are made that your heating unit is simply not very efficient or requires too many costly repairs to perform well. In such an instance, the best course of action is a new heater installation. Invest in an efficient energy star rated unit and start benefiting from the monthly savings. Prepare for winter with annual heater maintenance, sealing leaks and updating insulation throughout the house and enjoy winter in comfort.