Conflicts of interest working in the HVAC Industry. Repair VS Replace


I’ve Been doing Air conditioning repairs in Sacramento since 2008 and overall I love the work that I do. Having indoor climate control is essential in the modern world .I wanted to take a moment to talk about some of the conflicts of interest that I've seen working in the HVAC industry. My perspective is coming from working for a big company, working for myself, and doing countless second opinions on units that are “At the end of their lifespan” or “Not worth repairing” This is just my opinion and I’m open for criticism from consumers and other HVAC companies.

“If you go to a car dealership don’t be surprised if they try to sell you a new car”

This is the biggest conflict of interest I find in the industry. Most HVAC companies do repairs as well as sell new equipment. Overall if a company can make 10x the profit replacing a system vs doing repairs then there may be a goal to sell you a new system even if the current system still has many years of life in it. Remember my HVAC unit is 40 years old and still runs great. If your unit is over 10 years old and is broken chances are when you call a company they will send out the employee who is most effective at turning a potential repair into a potential replacement.

There are two main narratives I see happening when you have a representative for a HVAC company in your home. The first being the repair narrative which might look like “ Here is the main reason why your unit has stopped and how to resolve it. Also here is what we can do so it doesn’t happen again and here is the next thing I see that may cause a problem in the future. If we resolve all three concerns that will give your system the best chance at lasting another 10 years.

Or the replacement narrative for your 10 yr old unit which might look like “ Air conditioners only last so long. The fact that it has broken is an indication of larger problems. And here are the 3 other concerns I have going forward so resolving these issues may be just throwing good money after bad. So if you’re prepared to replace the system then now might be the time to do it. Now Imagine if the Technician/Salesperson came to your house and explained both narratives to you at the same time. One narrative would contradict the other and the conversation would likely leave you more confused on what to do than before having the discussion. So it's best to pick one narrative and run with it. Completely ignoring the alternative narrative to make the resolution more clear.

But even if a company gives you the repair narrative it may be tainted with future hopes that you will replace it so you may get a mixture of both which might sound like “So your system is broken and here is the part we need to replace to get it up and running. These units only last so long so we can fix it today but it's likely on its last leg so you may need to replace it sooner than later. Let's get you on a biannual maintenance plan so that way you will get a discount when it comes time for you to replace it.” You can see how the conflict of interest plays out with the second and third example. I would imagine most people would like their HVAC Equipment to last as long as possible and the narrative with the least conflict of interest is the repair narrative.

I've found for myself that the only way to remove the conflict of interest is to only do repairs even though I would make much more money replacing equipment. And to be clear I am a licensed C-20 contractor. I can replace Equipment and I get multiple people that ask me every week to replace their equipment. The reason I don't is because I believe that it is best not for profits but for the consumer to keep equipment running as long as possible. And niches are about giving the consumer what they want where others don't.

How I run my business and why I believe my business goals align with the goals of most homeowners. I only do repairs but at the same time if I think that the unit doesn't have a reasonable chance of lasting many more years I will be very clear on that also. The last thing I want is for you to spend your hard earned money with me just for it to go to waste. Many homes I go to have systems that have been neglected of any service so my goal when I come to fix your system is to address the Immediate repair that is needed to get the unit running. Then I want to address any other obvious maintenance concerns. Basically I want to leave the system in the best condition and give it the best chance of running another 5 years without needing professional service. Then I want to show you how to properly maintain your system yourself. I believe 95% of the required maintenance a system needs can be performed by 95% of home owners or tenants. Very simple things like rinsing off your outside condensing unit and changing your filter.

Hope this all makes sense and if you'd like more info please call us at 916-671-5542


For do it yourself A/C maintenance tips check out this link https://www.sierraaire.com/a-c-maintanance-you-can-do


Being told you need to replace your system? Check out this link https://www.sierraaire.com/second-opinion