I was very pleased with Larry’s service earlier today. At 3 pm, my tenants’ outdoor AC unit developed a problem: it was squealing and the fan was not turning. I wanted to find someone who could come out today, if possible, and started calling around. I got a bid from another company first: The technician took a look at my unit from the outside and told me right off that it was dirty and urged me to have his company do an acid wash – a regular rinse with a water hose was not enough – and that that would run about $285. Then he opened the unit up and after a few minutes, concluded that the problem was my fan motor – it was shot and needed to be replaced. If the unit was still under warranty, I wouldn’t have to pay for the roughly $700 part (although, of course, the manufacturer would); if it wasn’t, then I would. I asked him how long the fix would take, and he said just a few minutes, and so then I asked him how much the labor would cost. He estimated about $375!! I was surprised, so he said that although his time fixing the problem would only be 15-20 minutes, the bulk of the labor cost would be for him to process the paperwork for the warranty. (!) I said that that defeated the purpose of the warranty, if I as the customer had to bear the cost of his interaction with the manufacturer. Basically, this guy/company was giving me an estimate of anywhere from $375 up to $1000, not including the urgently needed acid wash for $285. So I told him I’d look into my warranty status and be in touch tomorrow.
Then I found Bunten/Larry, and called him. By this time it was past 6 pm, but he took the time to come out to check the problem. What a totally different experience! First off, he asked me if my first bidder had checked the compressor. I said no; well, actually, I said, “what’s the compressor?” Larry said that just from that, he knew that the first guy hadn’t been thorough. Like the first guy, he did observe that the unit was dusty, and simply asked for a water hose to spray clean it – no “acid rinse” was even mentioned. Then, he noticed that the drainage hose was buried in the soil, and asked for a spade to dig it out. (The first guy had commented about it, but didn’t do anything about it, in part because he was afraid of bugs?) I was really impressed that Larry took the time to do these things, because he didn’t need to, at all. Once he dug out the hose, he gave me advice on how to fix the problem. Then he went to work on the unit itself, unscrewing the side cover and checking the energy drawn by the fan motor, and the power of the compressor (he showed me what that was). He concluded that there was nothing wrong with the fan motor at all, but rather, that the capacitor was out – a part that cost about $10-12! He had an extra one in his truck, installed it in about 15 minutes, and charged me only his $85 service call. When I told him about the bid from the previous company, he said that was not uncommon: some companies will say the fan’s out because it is so much more profitable to replace that, and then install a new capacitor while they’re there so it will actually *work* when they’re done.
All around, I was pleased with Larry’s work ethic, his service, and his affordability. He’s definitely going to be my go-to guy for HVAC stuff from now on!