Gardner Homeowners: This AC Scam Can Cost You Hundreds

July 24, 2017

We’ve seen a common AC scam that homeowner fall for hook line and sinker. And so we want to prepare you in case you ever come up against it.

Here’s the scam: A technician refills your air conditioner with refrigerant without checking for leaks.

It may not sound like a scam right off the bat, but trust us—it is. And it can cost you hundreds of dollars.

In this article, we’ll explain…
  • Why refilling refrigerant (without checking for leaks) is a scam
  • How to avoid this refrigerant scam

Let’s start by going into more detail about this fraudulent scenario...

Why refilling refrigerant (without checking for leaks) is a scam

Refrigerant is the lifeblood of your air conditioner. It’s the liquid/gas that removes heat from your home’s warm air so that you get cool air blown back into your home.

If you’re low on refrigerant, your AC won’t cool your home properly.

And, except in rare situations, the only way you can have low refrigerant is if there’s a leak somewhere in your AC system.

Refrigerant isn’t like gas in a car, you don’t need to periodically refill your refrigerant (unless it’s leaking). Air conditioners come from the manufacturer already pre-filled with the refrigerant they’ll need for their whole lifespan.

Learn more about refrigerant by reading our article, “How Often Do Air Conditioners Need Refrigerant?”

Refrigerant is expensive, so falling for this scam will cost you

So here’s how you’ll get scammed: A technician will say you need to refill your refrigerant, but they won’t mention any leaks. 

Then a few months down the road, your AC won’t be working properly again, and they’ll tell you that you need more refrigerant. 

Then the cycle repeats…meanwhile, the technician’s company is making lots of dough off of you.

Refilling refrigerant is expensive, especially if your system uses R-22 (Freon). R-22 costs as much as $100 per pound (and your AC requires anywhere from 5–15 pounds of refrigerant), which means you could be forking over $500–$1,500 for every refrigerant “refill.”

That’s a lot of dough! So how can you avoid this scam? Read on...

How you can avoid this refrigerant scam

We have 3 tips on how you can avoid this refrigerant scam:

#1: Learn the signs of a refrigerant leak

Knowing the signs of a refrigerant leak can help you know if a technician is being honest. If your technician tells you they need to refill your refrigerant, make sure you also notice some of the signs below:

  • Warm air from supply vents, even when your AC is ON and your thermostat is set to cool
  • Ice forming on the refrigerant line
  • You hear a bubbling or hissing noise (that’s the refrigerant escaping)
  • Your house takes forever to cool down

#2: Ask yourself these 3 questions when a technician suggests adding refrigerant to your system

1) Did the repair person show up to your home unsolicited? Or did you contact them?

If you didn’t ask them to come to your home, that could be a sign of a potential scam. If the technician came under the pretense of a “free tune-up,” beware. Some companies use a bait-and-switch approach where they hook you with a free visit, then “find” expensive problems like refilling refrigerant. 

2) Did the repair person actually check for refrigerant leaks?

If they say you’re low on refrigerant, make sure to ask them if they actually checked your system for leaks. Certified professionals use electronic or dye tests to determine if you have a refrigerant leak, so they can show you proof you have a refrigerant leak.

3) Did the technician give you a written quote before they started repairing your refrigerant leak?

Make sure you get a written note with an estimated repair cost BEFORE they start work on your system. That way, you can have some security that they won’t up-charge you at the end of the repair.

#3: Look for the signs of an honest contractor

Getting to know a company before you hire one of their technicians will save you a lot of hassle down the road and give you peace of mind. Look for these signs of an honest contractor:

Read more tips on avoiding AC scams by reading our article, “How to Avoid Air Conditioner Repair Scams in the Kansas City Area.”

Need an honest AC contractor in the Gardner area?

If your AC has not been cooling your home properly, contact Santa Fe Air to schedule an AC repair today. We can fix any AC problem, including refrigerant leaks.

We’ve been serving families in the Gardner area since 1987.

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