As summer inches closer and the weather begins warming up, it may be time to make sure your HVAC system is up to date. You don’t want to wait until the height of the summer to decide whether your current system needs upgraded or not.

Be sure to have your current unit checked every year by a qualified technician. A typical checkup usually includes inspecting and/or cleaning the condenser and evaporator coils, checking voltage and amperage on motors, checking pressures for proper refrigerant charge and inspecting and adjusting blower components. While these are just a few things that might be included in an inspection, it is important to consult with your HVAC professional to understand what services they are offering.

Whether buying a new system or servicing your current one, BBB’s tips when getting your HVAC ready for summer:

• Do your own research before purchasing and installing a new system. Conduct an energy audit before you begin your search. Doing this will help you detect energy waste, gauge the efficiency of your current heating and cooling systems and determine if conditioned air is moving properly. Your utility company may offer free or low-cost energy audits or a do-it-yourself kit. Also research different system brands and study the product literature to decide what system might best suit your needs.

• Check Check BBB’s directory to find a reputable HVAC professional near you.

• Make sure you’re prepared for your routine maintenance and repair. Spring or early summer are the best times for servicing cooling systems. You can do some maintenance and repair yourself, such as replacing or cleaning filters as needed.

• Check licensing. Understand the license and insurance requirements for contractors in your state and make sure the contractor meets all the requirements.

• Be on the lookout for repair scams. A service technician may inform you a part needs repair when the part is perfectly fine. When a technician suggests you have several faulty parts, this should be a red flag because in the vast majority of air conditioner failures, one defective part compromises the integrity of the whole unit. Other scams include “recharging” your AC refrigerant. If your refrigerant needs filled, your unit is most likely leaking and your technician should make that repair first.

• Insist on a written agreement. Do not trust a service provider who does not provide a written agreement. Demand written proof so you may have legal recourse should a company backtrack or mislead you. Use your best judgment — if an offer from an air conditioning service provider sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

• Learn about energy efficiency. There are many steps you can take to increase your energy efficiency before updating your HVAC system. This could include shading your room air conditioner from direct sun, vacuuming air vents, baseboard heaters and radiators regularly to remove dust that reduces heating efficiency, or hiring a professional to seal and insulate leaky ducts.

If you spot a scam, whether you’ve lost money or not, report it to BBB’s Scam Tracker at and the FTC at Your story can help other consumers avoid similar scams.

Marjorie Stephens is president/CEO of BBB Serving Northern Indiana.

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