Greencastle Indiana Heating & Furnace Repair Red Flags (And How To Avoid Them)
Hey there, friends.
When your heater goes out, it can really put a damper on things. Whether it’s a gas furnace, propane heater, electric heat pump or even a geothermal heat pump, getting it repaired is stressful.
But at the same time, we all know that something like heat pump or furnace repair can’t wait. Faulty heating comes with dangers that go far beyond cold temperatures in the home.
If your heating system is giving you problems, you could be dealing with:
Potential fire risks due to combustible fuels, overheating fan motors, or even damaged wiring. The CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission), in a 2005 study, found that malfunctions or neglect in central heating led to 5,800 fires per year, on average.
Mold in your ductwork, leading to unsanitary conditions and poor air quality.
Potential explosion combustion or poisoning hazards, which leads to the tragic death of, on average, about 20 people per year – added to the 85 deaths per year from carbon monoxide poisoning. The numbers are even higher in homes that use space heaters to supplement a system that isn’t quite up to the job of heating a home.
Insufficient warmth. Winters are no time to have furnace or heating issues. You and your family are at risk of illness, hypothermia and death when your home isn’t staying warm enough. (Not to mention frozen pipes bursting)
The hassle of trying to find the right contractors or companies to handle those repairs only adds to the pressure and anxiety that comes from a malfunctioning heating system. Even worse, a poor or shady contractor can fail to fix your issues or even worsen them, at potentially great cost to you and yours.
But there’s hope.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
In this article, we’ll go over the red flags that, in our opinion, should invalidate an furnace repair contractor here in Greencastle, Danville, Bainbridge, Cloverdale, Fillmore, Coatsville, Plainfield, Avon, Monrovia, & Stilesville Indiana (our service areas) and cross them off of your list.
By weeding out any company that fits the profile we lay out here, you can be confident that you’ll only hire reputable contractors who will do whatever it takes to keep you warm.
So read on, and find out how to spot shady characters a mile away.
The Red Flag List – A Who’s Who and What’s What in Disreputable HVAC Companies
Companies who offer firm phone estimates are a no-no.
This is a guaranteed no-no. At the end of the day, no furnace repair job or heat pump tune-up is ever the same. Houses aren’t exactly the same, and neither are heating and cooling needs. A contractor who is willing to give a firm estimate over the phone is ignoring a critical first step.
You see, every job should begin with an inspection of the site. On the initial phone call, a salesman or technician may be able to offer you a price range for the kind of work you want done, sure. But they should always offer a disclaimer and let you know that no firm quotes can be given out until a technician has seen the specifics of the task at hand.
The “bait and switch” tactic is alive and well.
If you don’t know the term “bait and switch,” we’ll explain what it means in the world of heater repair and HVAC installation.
There are terrible contractors out there in the world – and yes, in the Hoosier State of Indiana, as well – who will take advantage of their customers by engaging in a bait and switch.
The bait is a lowball bid. An offer that seems almost too good to be true. They’ll promise the world on a shoestring budget. Their offer will be hundreds of dollars cheaper than any of the competition, and if you question that, they’ll have a great reason prepared. They’ll tell you they stock parts wholesale, or they keep low overhead, or something similar.
They’ll be lying. What they actually do is switch once the job is underway and they have a contract or handshake. Because once the job is started, it has to be finished, and the average homeowner will feel like their hands are tied.
The switch is when they tell you there was more wrong than they anticipated, that parts are damaged and need replacing, and that things will take longer than they quoted you.
It will cost you hundreds or even thousands of dollars, but believe me: they don’t care at all.
Companies like this rarely get repeat business, but they don’t care. They just keep targeting naïve first-timers with their bad faith bids.
Using a “rule of thumb” should be against the rules.
A lot of contractors out there are guilty of this one: using some kind of shorthand or rule of thumb to make decisions about your home. A common example is the “500 square feet per ton” rule that many contractors use when installing air conditioners.
It says that for every 500 square feet of living space, one ton of cooling power (about 12,000 BTU) should be used. A similar rule exists for estimating heating needs.
The problem with this rule, and with the others, is that they are not accurate. You don’t build a table without measuring the legs carefully, and you shouldn’t estimate with heating and cooling either. Instead, contractors should do a Manual J Load Calculation, to determine your precise needs.
Someone coming to your home for heater repair may do this calculation if you feel that your heater may be improperly sized or installed.
Bad staff = a bad experience.
We’re talking about more than the customer service experience, as well. It’s pretty common for contractors and companies to have some turnover, but if the company you’re dealing with is sending a revolving door of technicians out to your home, consider that a big giant red flag.
You should also consider it a bad sign if you’re seeing a lot of inexperienced or young technicians, rather than people with years on the job and lots of on-site training.
Generally, if a company is relying on contractors with limited experience, or moving through a lot of staff in a short period of time, it’s a sign that they’re poorly managed.
If they’re poorly managed, they’ll do a poor job of meeting your expectations for a job well done.
If they aren’t insured, tell them to take a hike.
There is absolutely no excuse for entering someone’s home to perform a heat pump or furnace repair if your company is uninsured.
This is, in our opinion, completely non-negotiable. Only a woefully mismanaged company or a willfully shady contractor would forgo insurance. Treat that company or contractor with the same indignation you’d reserve for an uninsured driver who just dented your bumper.
Insurance should be comprehensive as well, and should include liability to cover any accidental or incidental damages to your home during the work being performed.
This one is more than a red flag. It should be a deal-breaker.
Certifications, licenses, and training aren’t just for martial arts instructors.
Depending on the specific county or municipality in which you reside, there may not be a specific license to practice as an HVAC contractor. However, despite this, most companies who perform any kind of AC or furnace repair do go out and acquire national certifications and licenses to do their work. Some of these may include:
- EPA 608 Certification, which qualifies an HVAC/R technician to handle refrigerant.
- State-level licensing.
- Other HVAC Excellence certifications.
- Manufacturer affiliations, such as Goodman or Trane, which show that the contractor has met the specific standards to be considered an authorized repair service by those manufacturers.
A website that doesn’t prominently display one or more of these certifications should set the alarm bells ringing. They take real work to acquire, and any contractor who has them is perfectly happy to show that off. Certified technicians typically earn more money than their uncertified counterparts, as well.
Think twice about one-man operations.
A one-man operation should generally throw up a red flag. Sure, there are guys flying solo out there who really know their stuff, but it’s highly unlikely that a one-man company can meet all the other criteria in this article.
More importantly, a one-man operation is, by definition, stretched pretty thin – which can impact their ability to take care of your equipment in a timely fashion. If multiple customers have issues at the same time, it helps to know an HVAC company that can send out multiple teams and vehicles.
This is not to say that you should immediately discount working with a small company – you shouldn’t. But it should make you look longer and harder at every other detail of their operation before you make any commitments.
If their online reviews are terrible … they might be terrible, too.
A lot of people these days don’t put stock in everything they read online. That’s probably for the best, if we’re being honest.
Still, there’s something to be said for aggregated reviews. It’s an immense advantage to you; you simply go online to the review provider of your choice and find out what people are saying about the contractor or company you’re considering for your heat pump or furnace repair.
Cooling and furnace repair companies tend to generate fairly honest reviews, as well – unlike restaurants, our work isn’t exactly subjective. Either the house is comfortable or it’s not. Either the machine is working, or it isn’t. The rest is secondary.
Reviews will tell you whether someone was quick and efficient, or slow and verbally abusive. They will tell you whether a company managed to stick to their estimates or not.
Of course, it’s possible that an unfairly bad review can have been lobbied at someone. However, the odds are pretty strongly against a great company racking up more than a few here and there. So whether you’re on Google, Angie’s List, the Better Business Bureau, Yelp, or something else entirely, you’re definitely going to learn something valuable.
Oh – and if they have no reviews at all? Big ol’ red flag.
If they want payment upfront, tell them where to go.
This is one some of our customers have run into. Apparently, there are “contractors” out there (and we use that term loosely) offering heating and furnace repair services at rock-bottom prices …
… if the client is willing to pay in full upfront.
I’m sorry, if that sounds like a good idea to anyone reading this article, we would love to discuss a bridge we are selling. Perhaps this winter, we could sell you some snow, as well.
All jokes aside, don’t ever do this. A deposit is standard practice in the HVAC industry, but if you’re asked to pay an estimate as if it were a balance, or asked to pay a fixed price contract upfront, you should absolutely tell that contractor or company to take a hike.
We can say with absolute confidence that no reputable contractor works that way, or should – and that you should consider that a red flag with the words “Take Your Business Elsewhere” in big, bold lettering on it.
If they don’t guarantee the work, you don’t buy.
Lastly, we think it’s important that a company stand behind their work. The most tangible and impressive way to do this is with a 100% money-back guarantee. That means that we don’t stop working until the job is done to your satisfaction (and our own), and if mistakes are made or accidents occur, they’re taken care of – or we return your money.
Just like you should never pay full price for damaged goods, you should never pay full price and be left with subpar contractor services. Your heating and cooling systems are complex machines with really important jobs.
With that in mind, we suggest that you immediately refuse to deal with anyone who thinks that your health and comfort don’t warrant a little guarantee.
Call Royal Comfort in Greencastle anytime – we’ll put our money where our mouth is (and where our highly trained hands are, too.) 765-653-8802