Beat the Heat With a Working AC Unit

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Rebecca Harpster
Golden Gate Better Business Bureau

My apartment building doesn’t have AC, so in the summer heat I’ve had to keep my fans on full blast whenever I’m home. If, like me, you don’t currently have an air conditioning (AC) unit, you may be thinking about getting one. For those who already have one, there’s no time like the present to schedule a check-up or perform maintenance. This can help ward off future problems and costly repairs.

In 2016, consumers nationwide filed over 10,000 complaints about heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) companies and contractors with BBB – down three percent from 2015. Complaints involve being charged up front for a service that was never done, difficulties getting refunds, and misleading estimates.

BBB offers the following advice for maintaining and installing an AC unit:

  • Choose the unit wisely. Before finding a contractor to install your air conditioner, do your research to determine what brand and model you want to buy. Look at performance, price and energy efficiency. Read the product literature and go online to learn about others’ experiences, including the model’s repair history and how well it holds up over time.
  • Do your research when hiring a contractor. Research companies for free at There you can see a business’ rating, complaint history and reviews from past customers. You can also use the BBB Accredited Business Directory to find a trustworthy business. Make sure the contractor you hire to install your system is an approved and authorized dealer by the manufacturer. It’s important to solicit multiple estimates, request a price breakdown, get everything in writing and read the contract carefully. Pay with a credit card if possible and don’t feel pressured to pay upfront. Follow the general guidelines for hiring a contractor, which can be found at
  • Verify credentials and licenses. Make sure the company or contractor is licensed and insured, and ask for proof of the appropriate documents. California law requires an HVAC Contractor License (C-20) through California’s Contractors State License Board (CSLB) for projects that exceed $500. You can check the status of a license at
  • Save money with proper maintenance. You can do some routine maintenance yourself, like replacing disposable filters or cleaning permanent ones. It’s also important to schedule yearly check-ups with a technician. They’ll inspect your cooling system for a variety of factors, and this can save money in the long run by preventing an expensive future repair.

For more tips on choosing an air conditioning unit, installing it, and maintaining it, check out

You can reach your BBB at or (510) 844-2000, or by visiting