Fall is in the air in Tennessee, and for HVAC companies in Knoxville, it’s a busy time. You likely passed and HVAC truck in your neighborhood when leaving for work this morning or on your morning commute. Of course, when there is a large number of service calls for HVAC repairs all around the county, the bad actors inevitably crawl from the woodwork to try and make a quick buck off unsuspecting homeowners.
While it’s true that there are a few great Knoxville HVAC companies, there are just as many HVAC technicians who cut corners, do subpar work, charge unfair prices, or even run outright scams to take advantage of hardworking citizens. You may have seen these dishonest HVAC technicians and crooked furnace maintenance specialists in investigative journalist segments on your local news channel or on shows like Inside Edition. In this article, we’ll explain some serious HVAC scams you should be on the lookout for when having your heating unit fixed or serviced this fall or winter.
#1 Recommending Over-sized HVAC Unit
Bigger isn’t always better, and this holds doubly true with HVAC units. As if choosing a new HVAC unit wasn’t tricky enough, a dishonest HVAC salesperson will gladly recommend a bigger, more expensive HVAC unit than your home needs. Not only do you pay more upfront for a larger unit, but it also costs more to run and service over the life of the unit.
Avoid this HVAC Scam: Before your HVAC Service Technician arrives to survey your current system. Use the square footage of your home to calculate the right amount of BTU’s. Additionally, ask for the installer’s formula that they used to calculate how much load you need.
#2 “Piggybacking” off Others’ Reputations
You get a call out of the blue that says, “We’re calling on behalf of [large HVAC company], and we’d like to offer you a free inspection of your home’s heating and cooling!” Too good to be true, right? It may very well be. These companies typically choose a large, reputable company to say that they are calling on behalf of, but they are not affiliated with the company.
Avoid this HVAC Scam: You can usually spot this HVAC scam if the service technician shows up in a vehicle without the company logo or decal. Reputable companies won’t send anyone to work on your home in a personal vehicle.
#3 Replacing Parts You Don’t Need
If a mechanical unit has moving parts inside, it’s inevitable that they will eventually fail. This HVAC scam involves replacing components in your HVAC system that are perfectly fine. Unscrupulous heating and air companies will sometimes find a quick and simple solution but then run up the bill by adding on the replacement of other parts of your HVAC system that you don’t need. These fraudsters depend on consumer ignorance of heating and air systems to make extra money.
Avoid this HVAC Scam: Many times, it pays to know just a little about your HVAC system in order to avoid being taken to the cleaners. Pay attention to your heating and cooling unit to see if you can notice any unusual activity such as a burning smell or more noise than usual. If you don’t have the chance to get an HVAC Tech Certification in your free time, then you can negate this by contacting at least 3 HVAC Service Technicians to offer estimates to service your system.
#4 Super Low or No Diagnostics Fees
You’ve found a new HVAC contractor to come and fix your unit, and much to your delight, they won’t charge you a diagnostics fee! This is your lucky day! Or Is it? Your tune completely changes when you are handed a bill that is 3x the amount that you would have paid a reputable contractor who includes a diagnostics or service call fee with their invoice. Many times, the HVAC companies that pull this stunt will pay their HVAC Service Technicians on commissions. Therefore, they will try and pump up the price as much as possible from each service call. Overall, even if you contact a company that has a super low or no diagnostics fee compared to another company that does, you will still end up paying for it. Therefore, don’t decide which HVAC company services your home based solely on initial diagnostics/service fees.
Avoid this HVAC Scam: One way to avoid being supremely overcharged for your HVAC service is, again, to get at least three estimates. Moreover, don’t mention to the service technicians that you have had someone visit your home already. This tactic will give you the advantage of knowing what someone else would charge and will reveal if the service technician is straight-forward and honest with you.
#5 Maintenance Dishonesty
After the initial onslaught of service calls that HVAC repair companies will receive in the first few weeks of cold weather, things tend to quiet down. Here’s the way this HVAC scam works. During the summer, shady HVAC companies will deliberately disable some components for your heat. It could be they simply disconnect a wire or turn off the gas valve. This way, they are guaranteed to get a repair call from you as soon as you try to turn your heat on after temperatures drop. Once the HVAC service tech shows up, they may tell you that you have a bad part that needs to be replaced when all they will do is fix the minute problem they created in the first place. This unscrupulous tactic helps to generate extra revenue when business is slow.
Avoid this HVAC Scam: How can you avoid this maintenance dishonesty? Make sure to ask your service technician to ensure that both heating and cooling are properly working during each maintenance visit.
#6 Overcharging for Prices
We wish overcharging was a rare instance, but we hear of it happening all the time when giving a homeowner or building landlord a second quote. Much like the replacing parts that you don’t need scam, HVAC companies count on you not knowing anything about a heating and air system, never mind how much each component costs. Less legitimate HVAC companies will try and charge you as much as they can get away with for basic services or prices.
Avoid this HVAC Scam: Do some research online before the technician starts work. You can also avoid overpaying by getting a second or third quote from a competing HVAC company.
Spotting Shady HVAC Companies
Many people incorrectly believe that they can avoid scams by calling a large HVAC company, believing that nothing unethical could occur in a more well-established company. While you do want to choose a heating and cooling company that has the resources to fix your issues without ripping you off, some larger companies can fall into charging you more than you should pay to support their organization. Also, there are some great companies with just one or two employees and companies that have several hundred employees.
Avoiding HVAC Scams
Check multiple websites for customer reviews. Some of the scummiest companies can have the best reviews, so diversify your efforts when reviewing HVAC companies in Knoxville. Don’t rely solely on Google. Check out reviews on Angie’s List and Yelp to discover a fair representation of actual customers. Additionally, contact home or building owners that you know and trust for referrals instead of relying solely on online reviews.
Trustworthy East TN HVAC Company
City Heating and Air has successfully served Knoxville, TN, Oak Ridge, TN, and the surrounding areas with world-class HVAC repair and maintenance services for over 40 years. We’ve been able to stay in business so long by upholding a company culture of accountability and integrity. We want the opportunity to serve you and your family this season. Contact us today for friendly and honest service, online or by calling 865-938-1005.