With winter on the way, the last thing anyone wants is for the furnace to stop working. But when it does, you need a reliable contractor – and fast.

“Good HVAC contractors are in high demand when temperatures reach extremes, so you shouldn’t be surprised if you can’t get a broken furnace fixed immediately during the winter season,” said Michelle Corey, St. Louis Better Business Bureau’s president and CEO.

“Most importantly, you need to research companies before you sign a contract for repairs or replacement.”

Better Business Bureau is a great resource for finding trustworthy contractors. Consumers can find dozens of BBB Business Profiles on heating and air conditioning contractors at bbb.org. They also can browse BBB’s Accredited Business Directory for HVAC businesses that have pledged to uphold BBB Standards for Trust. BBB Business Profiles include a rating from A+ to F and show whether a company has complaints and how the company responded to the complaints. Many contractors also have customer reviews that show how they’ve delivered service to customers.

Last year, BBB received 119 complaints about the heating industry. This year, BBB has received 92 complaints about the heating industry so far. The pattern of consumer complaints has revealed issues with billing, collections, warranties and satisfaction with repairs.

BBB recommends consumers consider these tips when looking for a heating and air conditioning contractor:

  • Research the company’s background and licensing. Visit bbb.org for the BBB Business Profile of any service company you plan to hire and learn about its reputation and any history of complaints.
  • Compare prices and service packages. Get at least three estimates for air conditioning repair, maintenance or replacement. All bids should be in writing and provide a full description of the services to be provided and the materials to be used. 
  • Review warranty coverage. Find out if the company offers any type of warranty or guarantee. Make certain you understand the terms and conditions of the coverage. Also, be sure to check the warranty on your current air conditioning unit to determine whether any repairs or replacements may be covered.
  • Ask about energy efficiency. Many new air conditioning units are manufactured to be more energy efficient than older units. Look for the ENERGY STAR label to find out about products that may cost a little more up front, but save you in energy costs over time. Some models may be eligible for a tax credit. Ask your HVAC contractor to verify tax credit eligibility and provide the Manufacturer Certification Statement for the equipment you plan to purchase.

For more information, visit https://www.bbb.org/stlouis.

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