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5 Malicious Heating and Air Conditioning Scams in New Jersey

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iStock_000020176031XSmallIt’s hard to know who to trust nowadays. Scammers and thieves

Here are 5 malicious HVAC scams and what you can do to avoid them.

Scam #1: Being charged for parts that weren’t actually replaced

Some scammers will claim they replaced a part that was old or broken without actually replacing it.

How to avoid this scam: Ask them for the parts they replaced. Simple, right? If they can produce the parts, ask them to show the signs that they needed to be replaced.

Scam #2: The bait and switch tune-up

Here’s how this classic scam goes:

  1. A contractor “baits” you with a low price tune-up (like $29).
  2. You take the bait and hire him.
  3. As soon as the job is completed, the contractor “switches” the price on you, claiming the job costs more than he or she initially estimated
  4. You’re left sore and angry

How to avoid this scam: Always ask for a written contract that details:

  • Start and completion dates
  • A list of materials needed for the job
  • Payment penalties for not completing the job on time

Scam #3: “All you need is more refrigerant”

Many air conditioning and heating scam artists prey on homeowners unfamiliarity with how furnaces and air conditioners work. Therefore, they may tell you that you need your annual refrigerant (or Freon).

But here’s the problem – your air conditioner does not use up refrigerant like a car uses gas. If your air conditioner is low on refrigerant, that means there’s a leak that needs to be fixed before adding more refrigerant.

How to avoid this scam: Ask the contractor if they’ll look for a leak before adding refrigerant. If they can’t find it, then find someone else who will.

Scam #4: Payment first, nothing later

Any contractor who asks you to pay everything up front in cash before doing any work is probably trying to scam you.

How to avoid this scam: Many reputable heating and air conditioning companies will require a deposit, but it should be a reasonable amount with the remaining due once the job is completed.

Scam #5:“He’s dead, Jim”

In Star Trek, Leonard McCoy was the doctor who would declare when someone was dead with his iconic phrase, “He’s dead, Jim.”

While it’s obvious when a person is dead, the same can’t be said for your air conditioner or furnace. Some scammers will suggest you replace your air conditioner or furnace when it can just be repaired no problem. Many times they’ll tell you to replace it simply because “it’s old” even though there are no problems with it.

How to avoid this scam: First, read up on the signs that show when to repair or replace your air conditioner or furnace.

Second, make sure you get 3-4 estimates. A scammer will scare you into thinking a repair will cost so much that it only makes sense to replace the system. But with multiple estimates you’ll see who’s a money grabber and who’s looking out for your best interests.

If you have a problem with your heating or cooling system in the New Jersey area, contact Air Professionals online.