Pittsburgh, PA – October 16, 2013 – Don’t put it off any longer; get your routine heater checkup today! Early fall, during the off-peak season, is the ideal time to ensure your home is prepared for the winter months. Waiting until you encounter a problem with your heating system in the dead of winter will not only leave you cold, but you may feel an urgency to trust the first repair service that is available. Your Better Business Bureau advises consumers to be cautious about quickly hiring heating contractors without doing research. Unscrupulous heating contractors may take advantage of the urgency of a problem to convince you to purchase costly or unnecessary repairs.
As a rule of thumb, gas furnaces should be checked and cleaned every two years and oil furnaces every year. Many contractors also offer service agreements that provide periodic check-ups of your plumbing, heating and air systems. They are offered at an additional cost, but may be less in the long run compared with the cost of an emergency fix.
In 2012, heating and air conditioning companies were in your BBB’s top 20 most complained about types of businesses in Western PA. Heating and air conditioning contractors have also received more than 23,000 inquiries at your BBB since the beginning of 2013.
“Hiring the contractor that can make it to your house the fastest is not always the best choice,” said Warren King, president of the Better Business Bureau of Western PA. “Homeowners should not panic when they realize something may be wrong with their heating system. Instead, they should consult their warranty manual to avoid paying for repairs already covered by the service and search for reputable businesses using the free services of BBB.”
Consider the following tips from your BBB when selecting a heating contractor:
- Search BBB’s website for free access to business reviews on thousands of companies, which includes complaint history on the company for the past three years.
- Solicit bids from at least two companies and compare prices before granting a business a job. Also request proof of insurance and check to see if the company carries the proper licensing required in Pennsylvania for the work you want them to perform by verifying with attorneygeneral.gov or 1-888-520-6680.
- Request a contractor to leave your property if they attempt to use a sense of urgency and quick-talking, high-pressure tactics to complete a sale. Some dishonest contractors will use scare tactics by recommending expensive repairs and replacements that are not actually needed. Take the time to get a second opinion. State law allows consumers a 3-day right of cancellation unless the situation is an actual emergency, which requires you to waive your right to this law by signing the emergency waiver.
- Thoroughly read and understand the contract before you sign it. Ask if the contractor will charge for a trip fee and if service rates are charged on a flat or hourly rate. Don’t sign a blank contract, and make sure you also receive a copy of the contract.
- Make sure the job has been done to your specifications before making a final payment. If the cost of the project is more than $1,000, the contractor cannot accept a deposit of more than 1/3 of that total price, according to the PA Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act. Don’t pay for work with cash, as credit card payments offer the most protection.
For more helpful tips and information from your BBB regarding hiring a heating contractor, visit bbb.org or call 877-267-5222.
About the BBB System
BBB is an unbiased organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Businesses that earn BBB accreditation contractually agree and adhere to the organization’s high standards of ethical business behavior. BBB provides objective advice, free BBB Business Reviews and charity BBB Wise Giving ReportsTM, and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. To further promote trust, BBB also offers complaint and dispute resolution support for consumers and businesses when there is difference in viewpoints. The first BBB was founded in 1912. Today, 113 BBBs serve communities across the U.S. and Canada, evaluating and monitoring more than 4.5 million local and national businesses and charities. Please visit www.bbb.org for more information about the BBB System.