When should you pay twice for HVAC Repair in NYC?
You know the drill: something breaks and you call in someone to fix it. The HVAC repair guy tells you what’s wrong, and charges you a lot of money. At first, everything seems to be working again. You breathe a sigh of relief and forget about it. Then lo and behold, it breaks down again a short time later.
We’ve all been through it, which doesn’t make it any less frustrating, not to mention expensive. Unfortunately, it happens all too often with air conditioning systems. The question is, should you have to pay each time the tech comes out and works on your system, even when he doesn’t fix the problem?
It’s a tough question, and the answer depends on the circumstances. Here are a few scenarios related to refrigerant leaks, one of the most common causes of a/c malfunctions, to guide you if you find yourself in this sticky situation.
Scenario 1: Refrigerant leaks keep recurring.
Isn’t it always the hottest day of the year when your air conditioner decides to go on the fritz? After waiting days for a repair tech, he tells you that your refrigerant charge is low, but he can get your unit going again fast by topping it off. That’s a relief! Until the next day when it’s blowing warm again. The tech comes back, refills it again, and two days later it’s no good. What gives? Finally he decides to search for the refrigerant leak, fix the holes, and hits you with a much larger bill. Should you pay again?
The bill you should pay is the last one, and the company should give you credit for the earlier bill. When your unit is low on refrigerant, there is a leak somewhere, and it needs to be repaired. Refilling the charge is only a temporary solution and the tech is fully aware of this (even if he neglected to mention that to you). Since it was a scorching week, the company was probably overloaded with calls and the tech looked for the quickest way to get done with yours.
Scenario 2: You went for the cheap fix, but it didn’t last long.
You’d been noticing for a while that the air conditioner wasn’t blowing cold enough. But money was tight and you put off calling someone until there was nothing coming out but warm air. It turns out you have a leak and most of the refrigerant is gone. The tech gives you two options. The right way to fix it, he says, is to locate and fix the leak, which can take time and can be an expensive fix. If numerous leaks are found, you may have to pay even more to replace the entire coil. Or, to save money and buy time, you can just refill the refrigerant for now but there’s no guarantee how long it will last. You go for the cheaper option, and a week later you’re back to warm air. Should you pay again?
In this case, definitely yes. The technician clearly explained the options and you were aware that the cheap fix might not last. Unfortunately, sometimes gambling on the less expensive option costs you more in the long run.
Scenario 3: Your system was fixed temporarily but then broke again after the warranty expired.
Let’s say your unit is 10 years old and you have coil leaks. The HVAC repair tech tells you that leaks are a known problem with this equipment manufacturer, and he plugs the leaks and gets the unit running again. A short time later, more leaks have appeared and it’s down again. This time, you decide to dig out the paperwork and you discover that the warranty just expired! If your tech had checked the warranty the first time, the coil could have been replaced for free under warranty.
Should you pay again? It depends. If the company that did the repair also installed the unit when you bought it, they should have kept records about your warranty. Especially since they knew the problem was a known issue, they should have executed a warranty repair for the coil. Even if they didn’t install it, a responsible service company should ask you about your warranty, but the onus is really on you to keep track of your equipment coverage.
It’s always tough to make decisions about equipment repairs when you’re not an expert. How do you know if you’re getting good advice? How can you tell when it’s time to throw in the towel and purchase a new unit? If you are facing this decision, or just want to be prepared for when you are, grab a copy of our helpful guide: Repair or Replace? A guide to making an informed choice when your HVAC system is down.