Action Line: When the AC fails, check the unit -- then check out the repairman

Better Business Bureau serving Central CaliforniaJune 15, 2014 

From a reader: The air conditioner for my house stopped working, and now the battle against the brutal summer heat is on. My house is not even 10 years old, and the air conditioning unit looks about the same age. I know the repair and replacement costs for air conditioners can be very pricey. How do I find a reliable company to work on it? When I find a company is there anything that I should be aware of before making a decision?

Action Line: The summertime in the Central Valley can be very unforgiving. If you do a little homework before you pick up the phone and start dialing you will save time and money.

Before making any calls there are some minor components that you can check. Make sure to check your filter for optimal efficiency, electrical panel for a tripped breaker, battery in the thermostat, and hose off the outdoor unit to keep it clean and the dirt out. Beyond these minor maintenance tips, you should leave the servicing of your air conditioner to a trusted, licensed professional.

Since your AC unit is only 10 years old, it may still be under the manufacturers' warranty. Refer to your owner's manual to understand the terms and conditions of the warranty. By referring to your owner's manual you can avoid paying for an unnecessary part that may have already been covered, or prevent the use of an unauthorized part that may void your warranty.

The easiest and best way to find a reliable air conditioning contractor is to visit your BBB website at www.bbb.org/central-california and visit the California State Licensing Board (CSLB) website at www.cslb.ca.gov. The BBB website can provide you with detailed information on the business, including the CSLB license number, letter rating, complaint history, time in business, and additional business information. While at the CSLB website you can verify that the business you are considering is licensed, bonded and insured.

Once you have narrowed your search, obtain multiple written quotes to make sure the AC contractor is obligated to the price that was offered. Make sure you receive a written quote that includes a full description of the services and materials to be used so you can adequately compare quotes. A reputable and licensed contractor will be inclined to give you a written estimate before any work is complete.

Action Line is written by Blair Looney, president and CEO for the Better Business Bureau serving Central California. Send your consumer concerns, questions and problems to Action Line at the Better Business Bureau, 4201 W. Shaw Ave., Suite 107, Fresno, CA 93722 or info@cencal.bbb.org.

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