LITTLE ROCK — The sweltering heat of an Arkansas summer places an additional strain on home cooling systems, increasing the potential need for service and repair.
Many heating and air-conditioning service companies in Arkansas have a great track record of performing maintenance work effectively and efficiently. However, as in any industry sector, there are unscrupulous businesses that intentionally provide subpar service or swindle consumers. Therefore, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel issued this consumer alert to offer suggestions for consumers to avoid the discomfort of both a hot house and an empty wallet.
“Almost all of us at some point have come home on a hot day to an inoperable air conditioner,” McDaniel said. “Though we want the problem to be fixed immediately, it is always wise to get recommendations from family or friends and do research on repair companies. A reputable service contractor should be able to get the job done at a fair price.”
When cooling systems go on the fritz, consumers should first make sure that the system is not covered under a manufacturer’s warranty. If covered, warranty documents should contain instructions on how to go about getting the system repaired.
If the problem is not covered under a warranty, McDaniel recommends that consumers get referrals from family, friends or co-workers. Also, contact the Better Business Bureau or the Attorney General’s Office to find out whether complaints have been submitted to either agency about a particular company.
Before agreeing to hire a contractor, consumers should obtain written estimates for what the repair work will entail, along with descriptions of the work to be provided and an estimate of how long it will take to complete the repairs. If the unit needs to be replaced, then consumers should receive an estimate for the additional costs of ductwork, registers and other ancillary items.
McDaniel offered these additional tips to consumers:
• Make sure the contractor is licensed by the Arkansas Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Licensing Board. The board and the Arkansas Department of Health maintain records of contractors with active licenses.
• Consider running the unit more efficiently by using ceiling fans and replacing filters regularly.
• Before seeking service on an inoperable or malfunctioning system, make sure that circuit breakers are on, that fuses have not blown and that disconnect switches are on; and make sure all vents are open and unobstructed.
• Think about hiring a professional technician to clean, inspect and tune up the unit every two to three years. This type of service could save money by preventing more significant problems.
For more information on this or other consumer-related issues, visit the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division website at www.GotYourBackArkansas.org or call (800) 482-8982.