When the heat index reaches the 100s, the last thing anyone wants is for the air conditioning to stop working – least of all when the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has many consumers spending most of their time at home. But when the air conditioning does fail, you need a reliable contractor – and fast.

“Good air conditioning contractors are in high demand during the summer months, so you shouldn’t be surprised if you can’t get it fixed immediately,” said Stephanie Garland, Better Business Bureau (BBB) Springfield Regional Director. “You need to keep your cool and research companies before you sign a contract for repairs or replacement.”

Nationally, BBB processed more than 3,700 complaints about heating and air conditioning businesses last year. Common complaints included failure to perform work as contracted or issue a refund and delays in completing projects in a timely manner.

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A St. Louis man told BBB in August 2019 that a city inspection at his elderly mother’s house in Belleville, Illinois, found a new air conditioning unit she had purchased a year earlier had been installed improperly and without a permit. He said after 10 weeks of phone conversations and emails, the contractor who had performed the work refused to issue a refund, and he had to pay another contractor to bring the unit up to code.

BBB recommends that consumers consider the following when looking for an air conditioning contractor:

Research the company’s background and licensing. Visit for a BBB Business Profile and BBB Customer Reviews on any service company you plan to hire. Learn more about its reputation and any history of complaints. Always confirm that the company is licensed and insured.

Compare prices and service packages. Get at least three estimates for any air conditioning repair, maintenance or replacement. All bids should be in writing and should 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 others. Look for the ENERGY STAR label to find out more about products that may cost a little more up front, but save you in energy costs over time. Some models may even 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.

To get BBB Business Profiles, tips and more, visit or call 417-380-5074.

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