LARA Offers Tips to Avoid Furnace Cleaning Scams; Don't get fleeced on fake fixes when winterizing your home heating system
Mario Morrow 517-373-9280
Licensing and Regulatory Affairs
October 12, 2012 - Whatever your heating needs this fall, in preparation for winter - from furnace cleaning - to repair or replacement, make sure to hire a licensed professional from a reputable company to do the job. Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) Director Steven H. Hilfinger today offers important tips to help consumers avoid paying for needless heating repairs and equipment.
"Especially at this time of year, we see more activity from furnace ‘scam artists' cleaning out customers' wallets by using scare tactics to try and sell expensive repairs or replacement that consumers don't need," said Hilfinger. "Make sure you hire a licensed mechanical contractor who is reputable, competent and fair -- one you know and trust, or are referred to."
Hilfinger said that because many homeowners have no idea about what heating-related work involves and the fact that costs can range from under a hundred to several thousands of dollars, many consumers, especially senior citizens, can be taken advantage of by falling victim to fraudulent practices.
Before choosing a heating contractor, the department's Bureau of Construction Codes says to consider the following tips:
Verify that the license is valid and issued for the proper classifications for the type of work being performed. To check on a license, visit the bureau's website at http://www.michigan.gov/bcclicense or call the Bureau of Construction Codes Mechanical Division at (517) 241-9325.
Get at least three written estimates for the work especially if a furnace replacement is recommended. Make sure all bids give a full description of the services and materials to be used. If you do sign a contract for work, make sure it stipulates that final payment is not due until the mandatory inspection is approved by the mechanical code enforcing agency.
Don't do business with door-to-door salespeople and don't fall for telephone solicitations that offer "low-cost" or "free" furnace cleaning. Once inside, the worker may tell the homeowner their heating system has serious problems that require immediate attention. Get a written description of the suggested work and seek additional opinions from other licensed mechanical contractors.
Beware of scare tactics leading you to believe your existing furnace is dangerous. Don't sign a contract just because the worker says you face possible illness or death if the furnace isn't replaced immediately. If told your furnace threatens your health, ask for a written copy of the technician's test results and call your local utility company to come and inspect your system.
For more information about LARA, please visit www.michigan.gov/lara
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