Don’t Get Scammed: AC Contactor Scam
Dean: A good service tech makes about 20, $25 an hour, right?
Dean: So he gets paid for the time he leaves the shop to your house and gets paid to the next job. So he’s made $50 to service your unit for 49.95. What are the biggest things they try to sell is what?
George: A contactor.
Dean: A contactor, so this is the contactor?
George: That’s the contactor right there.
Dean: What is a contactor and what does it do, George?
George: A contactor allows power to go to the compressor, and the fan motor and unit. Your thermostat says, “I need AC in your house “or I need heat.” The contacts pull in, power goes to, compressor comes on, fan goes to running. You get cooling, you get heat. You can actually see the contacts. You can walk out there and have the technician show you the contacts, what they’re talking about. If you seen this area, this all black, looks like it’s burnt then yes, you may need a new contactor, but if looks all shiny, brass clean and all that, you don’t need a new contactor.
Dean: How do you check to make sure that it’s making good continuity?
George: You take a volt meter, and you can go from one side. Take the volt reading, you take your voltage reading on the other side of the contactor. And if they’re pretty much the same, then that contactor is allowing the voltage to go through. If you have a lower voltage reading on the other side, then there’s something going on with this set of contact.
Dean: Now this is why you need to get your unit service. So it doesn’t fail on you July the 4th weekend when the service techs are charging $250 an hour and you got to wait three days for them to get there. So if you get your unit serviced, you check the capacitor, check all these things out, and you check what kind of voltage you got going through your contact, right?
Dean: Now how old do you think this unit is right here?
George: 15 years.
Dean: Now this is how they scam you. Oh, Miss Homeowner, I found that your contactor’s pitted, and we recommend that you replace it. Ain’t that how the story goes?
Dean: I don’t allow my guys to do this. This is bad juju. If you do that with us, you’re fired. So now the heating and air franchises the big boys that turn that $49 call into a $200 call, right?
Dean: And if he’s doing six a day, and he sells four out of six contactors, he’s made money.
George: He’s made money.
Dean: He’s made money. So the secret to it is don’t get scammed. Just go, “You know what, is the contactor working?” And they go, “Yeah.” Well then, they’re gonna try to scare you, right? They’re gonna say, “Well, you know it could fail during July the 4th or a holiday weekend.” And then they try to make you go into it and do it anyway ’cause you’re afraid it’s gonna fail, right?
Dean: For 15 years, this contactor’s been running off and on. It’s a heat pump, so it’s running 24/7. Think about it. It’s not a regular air conditioner that runs four months a year, it’s running all year long. So don’t get scammed.
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