A/C Check Up
Beware the Popular Bait-and-Switch A/C Tune Up Scam
Many HVAC service companies offer a "tune up" special. They display a checklist of 15 or 20 things they supposedly tune, check and adjust in their advertisement. Oftentimes these "tune up specials" are offered for a substantially discounted price, sometimes as little as $19.95. Does anyone actually think they will get something of honest value for 20 bucks today? Consider this, a technician will have to drive out to their home or business, and then once they arrive they are going to do a job that normally takes 1 hour to do properly, and after all that they will happily collect a mere $19.95 and be on their way. That 20 dollars doesn't come even close to paying for the costs incurred by that company! It probably doesn't even pay for the advertising cost that it took to get the new customer. The company would lose money obviously if they actually did work for only $19.95. Even if they paid their employees less than minimum wage and the truck fairy gave them their vehicles and gasoline for free, they would still lose money!
Of course there is no truck fairy, and HVAC technicians are skilled tradesmen with an average income many times greater than minimum wage. On top of that, advertising costs are higher today than they have ever been in history, and it's not uncommon for companies that buy advertisements on search engines to spend $25, $50 or even $75 to obtain a new client! So, how the scam usually works in order for it to be profitable, is basically it's a variation of the infamous bait-and-switch. In a bait-and-switch campaign the company advertises a very low price and then after the customer is hooked by the bait, they steer them towards other high priced products and services. So when the technician comes in to talk to you about your "tune up" after he pretended to work on your air conditioner for about 15 minutes (to make it look like he did something), he is going to bring brochures and pamphlets and lots of scripted and rehearsed smooth talking to try to sell you all kinds of unnecessary expensive stuff. How about a fancy new thermostat? Duct cleaning? Duct sealing? High performance air filter? A power surge protector? Some special hi-tech magic oil for your compressor? A maintenance contract? Perhaps a whole new unit?? Who knows, you would have to call them for yourself and see the dog-and-pony-show performance they make to try to sell you stuff, but whatever it is, it will be a lot more than $19.95 and it will likely have nothing whatsoever to do with your actual tune up and it will all be stuff you definitely don't need. What a gimmick and what an insult to intelligent people. That, in our opinion is a terrible way to do business.
We Don't Do Tune Ups. We Do Check Ups
The way we do service is quite different. First off let's set the record straight, there is no such thing as a tune up on an A/C system or a heat pump. HVAC systems are not like cars. There are no hoses to change and no fluids to regularly refill. There is no oil to drain out and refill. There are no spark plugs or wires to replace. There is no maintenance schedule. Air conditioners don't need freon added to them during each service (if a system requires more refrigerant it is because there is a leak, and it should be investigated, located and repaired if possible and practical). There is certainly nothing to tune up. That is why we do not offer a “tune up” service. We offer a Check Up. To call a Check Up a "tune up" implies that some preventive or corrective action or procedure must be performed. A/C systems need a Check Up to test and observe their present condition, and if nothing is wrong with it then nothing should be done to it. Sometimes though, during a Check Up we find issues that can be corrected before they cause a failure or a problem. In a Check Up, a thorough evaluation is made by inspecting and testing the system. The critical parts of the system are carefully looked at. We do not have a 15 point list of the things we do, as though we are just trying to complete a checklist of meaningless items to call the job done (almost all companies would say they check the freon, check the amperage of the electrical components, check the capacitors, check the temperatures, blah blah blah). We have an exclusive proprietary servicing protocol that was created by a HVAC technician who has over 30 years of experience working on air conditioners in Arizona. We do not publish this information, but suffice it to say it includes far more than 15 things. It is servicing with a purpose. Most “tune ups” are done blindly with no predetermined goals or objectives in mind (other than upselling unrelated and unnecessary things during the service visit to make $$), merely focusing on a few essential technical details from a sorry excuse of a list they probably copied off the internet or the electric company website, while dismissing the big picture entirely. We have a big picture objective in mind, a holistic approach basically, when we service A/C systems. We actually look at the systems we service. We have a mission to accomplish, a goal. Well actually, we have 5 goals.
Each of the 5 stars represents one of the primary servicing objectives we have. Each objective is a goal that we strive to accomplish when we perform a Check Up or a service on a heat pump or A/C system.
Servicing Goal #1 The first and foremost concern is safety. Nothing else is more important than making sure your system is safe for you and your family. Unsafe systems can kill people and burn buildings down!
Servicing Goal #2 The second is longevity. Good servicing can make a system last much longer before it has to be replaced. Replacing a heat pump or air conditioner is a major expense and proper service can oftentimes defer that cost for many years.
Servicing Goal #3 The third objective is capacity. A poorly installed and improperly maintained system can greatly reduce the amount of cooling and heating you get from your unit. You could have a 5 ton air conditioner for example, that only delivers 3 tons of air conditioning into your house!
Servicing Goal #4 The forth is efficiency. With electric costs rising very rapidly, it doesn't make sense to give the utility company more money than you absolutely need to. As much as half or more of your electric bill is from cooling and heating system usage, so it literally pays you to make maximum efficiency a goal to accomplish.
Servicing Goal #5 The final goal is dependability. With the hot Arizona summers here, and with climate change causing records temperatures almost every year now, a reliable air conditioner is essential. While all the servicing in the world can't guarantee you'll never have a breakdown, your chances go way up that you will have one without proper comprehensive maintenance.
With these 5 goals we look at practically everything. We don’t just look at a mere 15 things, in totality including all brief visual checks, we can review well over 100 things on a Check Up. When we check a system we don’t leave behind or miss many of typical things other companies do. While other companies with their 15 point “tune up” list check only the technical parameters of the system, we do that too of course but then we also look at less technical practical things that cause problems as well. We look for broken condensate drains, cracked flexible electrical conduits with exposed wiring, dangerous unsecured wires sticking out through the top of the condenser fan, sun rotted thermostat cables with bare conductors, ducts with floppy loose insulation inside, parts inside the A/C not properly bolted down, missing / loose / stripped out screws, missing or leaking schrader caps, unsealed pipes going through the roof, improperly sized fuses and circuit breakers, and so on. Many of the things we find are dangerous and inefficient, and while other companies ignore them we feel we would be doing our customers an incredible disservice if we ignored them too. We care about air conditioners and we care about our customers!
Take a look at some of the typical stuff we find on our A/C Check Ups that other companies often ignore or neglect:
The pictures above are just a small sample of the thousands of irregular, incorrect, unsafe, illegal and inefficient things we regularly find on our Check Ups and service visits. Many of the important things we find and correct are ignored by other companies. They are NOT ignored by us! Our mission is safety, longevity, capacity, efficiency and dependability. We take this mission seriously.