Skeptical about A/C tune up repair costs

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Old 06-27-07, 07:50 AM
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Skeptical about A/C tune up repair costs

I had a tech come in for an $80 tune up/maintenance check on my central a/c unit. They did not show up at the guranteed arrival time so when I rescheduled my service was free because they gurantee arival time.

The Tech that missed the original appointment provided the service. He started by checking my water tank and saying it was going bad and leaking and I need to replace very soon.
Checking out the A/C unit he said the capacitor and contactor were going bad and needed replaced.

the costs for repairs/replacement and installation was as follows.

Capacitor - $240
Contactor - $240
Water tank - $1,600

First, everthing is approximately 13 years old. So the problems seem reasonable, however I have an issue with the prices he was quoting. Plus, I think he mentioned about 10 times that his visit was free because he missed the original appointment...

I found that a capacitor is about $6, a contactor is $25 and they seem real easy to replace myself and the replacement of the water tank seems extremely high.

Any thoughts?

Thanks in advance
 
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Old 06-27-07, 08:21 AM
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You've pretty much answered your own question. You are correct. Their pricing apears to be what is called flat rate pricing.
 
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Old 06-27-07, 10:17 AM
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I suspect missing the appointment the first time was done on purpose so you could get the" free tune up " and feel obligated to take their recommendations because they "must be honorable since their standing up to their word and giving you a free call "

get two or thee other estimates ,

let us know what you find
 
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Old 06-27-07, 03:22 PM
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Wink

Checking out the A/C unit he said the capacitor and contactor were going bad and needed replaced.


Have to ask. Was the AC runnning ok when he came???? If so why did he need to put new parts in???????

thats $448 for a contactor and capacitor. Boy wish my guys could get that for a service call.
 
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Old 06-27-07, 08:29 PM
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Those prices are a little high.
I am not in favor of using maintenance agreements to sell unneeded parts.
A capacitor can be checked with a microfarad tester. If the microfarreds test out 10% or more less than it is rated for then it should be replaced. Have the tech show you this. He probably doesn't have a tester so how does he know it's bad?

maintenance agreements should be done to help your system maintain it's level of efficiency and to have the customer gain the trust of the A/C company so if something does go wrong in the future or replacement of a system is needed you will call that company. This guy I believe did the opposite and now you do not trust the company.

He was trying to say hey our company stands by their word if we aren't here on time it's free. So now you can trust me when I say you need these parts. Sounds like the tech is not up to par.


Remember it takes lots of money to run a legit licensed and insured Air Conditioning Company. However there is a fair market pricing and those prices are a little on the high side.
Tell the company thank you for the maintenance and that you are pleased that they gave their service free because it is their policy and they followed their policy but you do not wish to replace those parts at this time.
 
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Old 06-28-07, 11:44 AM
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To answer some questions, yes the A/C was and continues to run fine. I just had them come out for a service check up.
The gentleman did check the capacitor, i'm not knowledgable enough to know if it was a microfarad tester but it basically looked like battery tester to me, if that makes sense. He showed me the results and my capacitor tested out at about 9% less than it was rated. He explained anything over 6% should be replaced.
He said the contactor was pitted and that could ultimately lead to it fusing together which would not allow the system to shut off.

In both cases he kept emphasizing that if these items were not replaced soon they would fail and it would damage the compressor and basically require me to get a new air conditioner. If this true? He also quoted a price range of $10k-$30k for a new unit.

Needless to say, at those prices I didn't have him do any work because I wanted to do some research because I had some previous knowledge about the cost of a capacitor and new a/c unit and everything he quoted seemed extremlely high.

Thanks for all your input.
 
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Old 06-28-07, 03:37 PM
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Ive heard of $49.95 but never $80 tune up

But, and I hate to say it, this is a scam for must companies to get thier foot in your door and "find" something wrong. They lose money paying a "tech" to show up but make a bucket load on un needed repairs.

Did he clean the condenser coil? Did he clean the evap drain pan and condensate drain line?

If it makes you fell better change the cap and contactor yourself, and we could turn this into a discussion of how to maintain your system spring and fall yourself.

It's not hard, time change, smoke detector batteries, and a/c maintenance all happen at the same time of year.

Another waste of money I heard on the radio this week. There is a company around here who will remove the charge in your car a/c, evacuate the system and recharge it. AND, you get the first pound of refrigerant free! Kind of the same thing, I wonder what things are found "bad" when this service is done.
 
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Old 06-28-07, 06:49 PM
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$80 is a good price for a tune up/ seasonal ac start up. I usually charge more.

I'm a service tech, did well over 100 start ups these past few months. I have a basic check list, outlined by my company, that I complete each visit.

A visit from your service tech should include the following.

- cleaning of the condenser
- change the filter
- drain lines be cleared with pressure
- condensate pump tested
- system pressures/ freon charge checked
- oil any motors with oil ports
- change belts/ check-grease blower bearings (commercial unit mostly)
- observe unit cycle/ satisfy thermostat
- check all electrical components (capicitors contactor etc.)
- measure temperature split/ differential

A better term for tune up is preventive maintenance. If I see a burnt or pitted contactor I will offer to change it for the customer, but only after I receive their approval. I'd rather change a part that I can tell is going to go, instead of waiting for it to go, then getting that call back from a customer whose unit broke down 2 weeks later. If a customer wishes not to change the part I note it on my invoice, so when it does come back in it's kind of like "I told you so".

Those prices are very steep for both the contactor and the capacitor. You can buy these items yourself for very cheap, although you have to expect a markup if you ask a service company to put them in for you. Your average homeowner doesn't know the first thing about his or her central AC, maybe doesn't have the time to maintain it themselves and would rather pay someone to do it for them.

Some companies will throw un needed repairs on you and others wont. You're not at their mercy though. Simply shop around if the price is too high. Or read the forums here. I've seen enough information on these boards to complete many repairs, including the ones you said would cost $480.

In your own words;

""In both cases he kept emphasizing that if these items were not replaced soon they would fail and it would damage the compressor and basically require me to get a new air conditioner. If this true? He also quoted a price range of $10k-$30k for a new unit""

When you say this it tells me exactly where this tech is coming from. It almost sounds like he's trying to scare you into buying these parts. If either part failed, it would cost you a $100 dollars from any reasonable service company to repair it. He may be a tech but he ain't a salesman
 
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Old 06-28-07, 08:43 PM
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Originally Posted by utrocket View Post
He also quoted a price range of $10k-$30k for a new unit.

wow,, we have been putting in new ones for $2500 for a 13 seer 2 ton unit,, but then my dad-boss has a thing against screwing people,, for a Cap or Contactor we only mark up around 27% and I know that should be more but the old man has his ways,,
 
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Old 06-29-07, 06:02 AM
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That's the way flat rate pricing is. The scare tactic is just wrong. If the contactor froze shut then yes it could damage the unit if you left it running but it wouldn't be long until you notice it. If the capacitor went bad then it could wear out the internal overlaod, again you would notice it pretty quick.
 
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Old 06-29-07, 06:51 AM
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I must be charging too little. I wish I could get $480 for a capacitor and contactor.

Agree with mattison. People need to pay attention to the operation of their equipment and shut it down if there is a problem. Just had a service call with a no-start caused by a bad capacitor. Compressor was cycling on internal overload. Homeowner left the system on for about a week in this condition. I asked why they didn't turn it off since it wasn't working. Homeowner replied, "we were hoping it would get better by itself". Suprisingly, the compressor survived and started right up with a new capacitor.
 
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Old 06-29-07, 03:21 PM
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I guess only honest pros come to DIY

cdr2183, good check list. I wonder if your near utrocket, you are at a company he could use. While we are commercial we do much the same and also do a log sheet for each unit. A two part form (used for everything from splits to chillers) where we record pressures, temps, voltage, amp draw etc. Plus we leave one of the two parts in the unit, the other is kept on file at the office.

There are several sites we visit for PM's where I can look back over several years at "snap shots" of the units performance and compare to what I see while I'm there.

Berger, sounds like boss-dad has a work ethic like most of us here. An honest days work for an honest days pay. When I used to do side work my wife would always tell me that I needed to charge more. I would say no, I charge a fair hourly price ($40) and I don't mark up parts too much. I'm happy and my customers are happy, and I don't get call backs. All was good.
 
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Old 06-30-07, 07:36 AM
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Keep in mind it is VERY expensive to run a A/C business.
about 100,000 dollars minimum to start up a 2 man business.
The more trucks and employees the more expense. Customer service believe it or not comes with a price. If a company does not allow for prompt customer service in their products then many do not set a priority on warranty and customer service issues.

It's just not about being honest, it's about being fair for the customer and the business. You want the business to be able to continue to serve the public.
An Honest business with a fair price is much more appealing then a cheap price with the hopes that company will make a warranty and customer service issues a priority.

Did you know gold jewelry is marked up 400% minimum? We should all be selling Gold! LOL!

I am not trying to defend the original contractors price but it is not cheap to repair an air conditioner through a legit contractor with a high customer service standard.
 
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Old 07-14-07, 11:46 AM
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Originally Posted by CiiTech View Post
Berger, sounds like boss-dad has a work ethic like most of us here. An honest days work for an honest days pay. When I used to do side work my wife would always tell me that I needed to charge more. I would say no, I charge a fair hourly price ($40) and I don't mark up parts too much. I'm happy and my customers are happy, and I don't get call backs. All was good.

Yes and I have started to see how it runs in the family,, worked till 8:30pm last night on an install of a HP where we had the electrician wire it for off peak,, spent 3 hours correcting his wiring just to get it going...
 
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Old 05-12-14, 07:28 AM
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Those prices are about inline with what you will be paying from a big company. I am refraining from naming names, but I have seen the paperwork customers have from them. Yes, they are expensive and this post is old, but the "water tank" which I am assuming is the water heater shouldn't be more then 1,200.00 on high end. Unless your relocating or doing something crazy to it.
 
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Old 05-19-14, 01:28 PM
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Bravo

CiiTech should be commended. This is how I run my side IT gig. Focus on being fair and responsive to the customer and you'll never be out of business.

That said I had Morris Jenkins out to troubleshoot a couple things from another thread and their prices seemed high:

$2500 to replace the entire coil/block in one of the air handler/furnaces in the attic
$117 to clean (spray with hose and solution?) the condenser coil form the outside AC unit.
$270/lb. of R22 refrigerant.
$10K each to 2 - Trane XB80 and X13 units for up and downstairs. (With what I'm not sure yet).

These are just estimates and I know their prices are likely high because of the big name but the tech was informative and seemed honest so maybe I'll use them again. After a 2nd or 3rd opinion however...
 
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Old 05-19-14, 03:30 PM
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Advertising is expensive, full-page in the telephone book, an impressive website, television spots, all cost big money. The companies that have the fully stocked box vans, stocked with just about anything that might be needed, are also expensive. The customer is the one that ultimately pays for all of this.
 
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Old 05-19-14, 05:19 PM
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Classicdave, in what world does it cost 100k to start up an HVAC business. I started mine up last year, by myself for less than 20k. If you've been doing this for long enough, you will have already collected most of the tools.

$80 is nothing for a "tune-up", they do that so that they can sell you more crap that you probably don't need. I charge over $100 for mine and I check everything. I'm there for roughly 2 hours servicing one unit. I lose money doing preventative maintenance, but it keeps a growing relationship with the customers. The contactors I get run about $40 ( i always use 40 amp contactors) so ill charge a bit under $100 to replace a contactor during maintenance. So yeah those prices are nuts, and a water heater 40 or 50 shouldn't cost you more than $1000. Don't ever go with a cheap maintenance plan, you get what you pay for.
 
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