When the heat index hits the 100s, the air conditioning will be the last to stop working – least of all when many consumers spend most of their time at home in the coronavirus pandemic. But when the air conditioning fails, you need a reliable contractor – and quickly.

Good air conditioning manufacturers are in great demand in the summer months. So don’t be surprised if you can’t fix the problem right away. You need to keep your refrigeration and research company before signing a contract for repairs or replacements.

Nationwide, BBB processed more than 3,700 complaints about heating and air conditioning systems last year. Frequent complaints related to non-performance of contractual work or reimbursement, as well as delays in completing projects on time.

A St. Louis man told BBB in August 2019 that a city inspection of his elderly mother’s home in Belleville, Illinois found that a new air conditioner she had purchased a year earlier had not been properly installed without a permit. He said after 10 weeks of phone calls and emails, the contractor who did the work refused to issue a refund and he would have to pay another contractor to get the device on the code.

BBB recommends that consumers consider the following when searching for an air conditioning company:

Find out about the company’s background and licensing. Visit bbb.org for a BBB business profile and BBB customer ratings for each service company you want to hire. Learn about his reputation and history of complaints. Always confirm that the company is licensed and insured.

Compare prices and service packages. Get at least three estimates for air conditioning repairs, maintenance, or replacement. All offers should be in writing and include a full description of the services to be provided and the materials to be used.

Check the warranty coverage. Find out if the company offers any type of warranty or guarantee. Make sure you understand the terms of the coverage. Also, check the warranty on your current air conditioner to see if repairs or replacements are covered.

Ask about energy efficiency. Many new air conditioning systems are more energy efficient than others. Find the ENERGY STAR label to learn about products that cost a little more up front but save energy over time. Some models can even receive a tax credit. Ask your HVAC contractor to verify tax credit eligibility and provide the manufacturer certification statement for the equipment you intend to purchase.

Visit bbb.org or call 573-886-8965 for BBB business profiles, tips, and more.

Michelle Gleba is the Mid-Missouri regional director for the Better Business Bureau.