October 1, 2010 – (RealEstateRama) — This is the time of year to get your furnace cleaned and ready for winter. Michigan Department of Energy, Labor & Economic Growth (DELEG) Acting Director Andrew S. Levin offers some sensible tips to avoid getting burned by furnace fixing “scam artists.”
“Most mechanical contractors are honest and reputable. However, there are heating and cooling “scam artists” that become more active this time of year and may try to frighten you into repairing or replacing your home heating system, even when it’s functioning properly,” Levin said. “Unfortunately, unsuspecting homeowners, many of them being senior citizens, become victims of fraudulent and unscrupulous activities. We are alerting consumers so they have the information to stop the scam artists in their tracks.”
In the past, the DELEG Bureau of Construction Codes has been involved in cases where elderly residents have been scammed out of thousands of dollars in needless heating and cooling repairs and equipment. These situations can be avoided by knowing how to recognize questionable and potentially fraudulent contractors. Levin said the Bureau of Construction Codes offers some important tips: :
- Do maintain your furnace by cleaning air returns with a household vacuum cleaner. Check the filter once a month and replace if necessary. This will maintain efficiency and prolong the life of the furnace.
- Do get your heating system thoroughly cleaned by a reputable, licensed, local mechanical contractor a minimum of every two years.
- Do get at least three independent written estimates from Michigan licensed mechanical contractors if a furnace repair or replacement is recommended. If you subsequently sign a contract for work, make sure it stipulates that final payment is not due until the mandatory inspection by the mechanical code enforcing agency is approved.
- Do ask to see the Michigan mechanical contractor’s license and write down the contractor and license number listed on it.
- Do verify that the license is valid and issued for the proper classifications for the type of work being performed. You can check this information by visiting the Bureau’s website at http://www.michigan.gov/bcclicense or by calling the Bureau’s Mechanical Division at (517) 241-9325.
- Don’t fall for telephone solicitations that offer “low-cost” or “free” furnace cleaning. Once in the dwelling, the worker may tell the homeowners their heating system has serious problems that require immediate attention. Get a written description of the suggested work and seek a second opinion.
- 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.
- Don’t hire someone who comes to your door with a Shop-Vac vacuum offering to clean your heating ducts. It will not do the job. A proper cleaning requires a high volume vacuum system and maybe even a steam process.
For more information about DELEG, please visit www.michigan.gov/deleg. Follow DELEG at http://twitter.com/MIDELEG, visit the “DELEG” page on Facebook and Become a Fan or visit the Michigan Government channel on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/michigangovernment
Mario L. Morrow 517-373-9280