Beat the Heat This Summer with a Properly Working AC

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Evan Arnold-Gordon
Golden Gate Better Business Bureau

The summer heat is officially upon us and that means Californians are ready to put their air conditioners to good use. The total cost of any appliance, including heating and cooling systems, has three components — the purchase price, the cost of repairs, maintenance, and the cost to operate it. With heating and cooling among the largest energy expenses in the typical home, it is crucial that you maintain your system for efficiency.

Consumers nationwide submitted over 9,000 inquiries about heating and air conditioning companies in 2017. However, BBB also received over 4,000 complaints on heating and air conditioning companies. Complaints varied from 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 AC, 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’ BBB Rating, complaint history and reviews from past customers. You can also Start With Trust® by using the BBB Accredited Business Directory to find a 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 here.
  • Know what to check for. During a typical checkup for your cooling system, it’s important to know exactly what the technicians are looking for. Make sure they inspect air filters, adjust blower components, and check pressures for proper refrigerant charge. Asking technicians to examine the condensate drain or even inspecting the air flow will demonstrate your knowledge of what they should be doing.
  • 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. If your AC isn’t working properly, you can try troubleshooting a few common problems. Learn how with these tips from Consumer Reports, a BBB Accredited Charity.

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