When temperatures begin to drop, furnace repair professionals begin receiving high volumes of calls to repair broken heating units. Some calls involve the need to replace worn or broken furnaces. While the need to replace furnaces is often warranted, some homeowners, especially during cold months, can fall for repair scams that result in hundreds, sometimes thousands, of dollars out their pockets for unnecessary replacement parts and labor.
Cracked Exchanger Scam
One of the most common furnace repair scams involves homeowners being led to believe their furnace has a crack in its heat exchanger. The scam unfolds when a dishonest repairman is called to inspect an idle furnace. Upon arrival, repairmen act as though they are inspecting heat exchangers, which most homeowners are unfamiliar with. After reaching around inside the exchange, workers inform the homeowner that the unit is cracked and if the furnace is turned on, it could emit carbon monoxide into the home. Whether there is a crack in the heat exchanger or not, dishonest repairmen usually tell victims they, by law, must not turn on the furnace. This often prompts scam victims to pay for a new furnace they may not need.
Common among door-to-door and mass-marketed companies, some dishonest workers specialize in baiting homeowners with low-priced heating-duct cleaning promotions. Repair workers arrive and explain to vulnerable customers that they discovered expensive repairs in the process of cleaning the ducts. The repairs are either not done or replacement parts are unnecessarily installed.
Upfront Fee Scams
Some homeowners, especially seniors, are vulnerable to classic scams by phony furnace repairmen who inspect furnaces and then announce repairs are needed. The scam is complete when "professionals" demand a service-call fee or upfront payment for items they promise to return with to complete the job. With money in hand, the phony furnace man never returns.
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