From the Forum – A/C Contractor Recommendations?

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A/C Contractor Recommendations?

“Just in time for this heat wave, the central air in my house is not really cooling the house the way it has in the past (at least it’s keeping it from being sweltering). Alas, the person who put it all in for us last summer is not an option for coming back to service the unit. Does anyone have any good, reliable, and licensed recommendations for someone/a company who could come out and take a look at our a/c unit (which is on our roof)?”

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48 Comment

  • I don’t have a positive recommendation, but I recommend you avoid John G Webster. They were expensive and ineffective.

    • They cost more, but I’ve found they do professional work, year after year. Unlike ANYONE else I know of in DC, they pull permits. They show up on time. And they answer questions detail.

      • tt

        I’ve found they cost more, that’s it. I spent $1000 on them trying to have my steam boiler fixed. They ultimately suggested buying a new boiler for $6000! Then I taught myself online and found out it was a $125 part that need to be replaced. No joke.

        Sure this isn’t an A/C issue, but I don’t trust the quality of their technicians in general.

  • a_w

    I’ll recommend IAQ Medics who installed my heat and A/C

  • We’ve had a regular service contract with Harvey Hottel for more than 10 years. They do residential and commercial, so rooftop A/C is likely no problem.

    • What do you mean by regular service contract? I’ve been looking for someone that will come once or twice a year and just do a mini-tune up type service on a 10 year old heat pump. Is that what you mean?

      • Yes, that’s exactly what I mean. It costs about $140, but that includes tune up twice yearly and a discount on repairs. Plus, they’ve got a record of every service we’ve had, which has definitely been useful.

  • Polar Bear Air Conditioning & Heating! They installed our central air system and we use them for our heating maintenance too. Joe is great.

  • This summer I trusted a reliable friend of mine and used their A/C guy. He was dependable–gives reasonable quotes, and actually completes the job w/o trying to sell you up on products (like getting a whole new unit) like some of these other bigger A/C companies. His name is John Sledge (240) 882-1250

  • McCarthy Services. Or try Angie’s List.

  • Brian Meredith with Budget Heating & Air. He replaced my system this winter when my heat failed and came back (free of charge) to fine tune it for AC this spring. 703.898.3560 He is incredibly responsive and from diagnosis to finishing install it was less than a week. The system he installed is great and my electric bill has dropped. I’m in a condo, so a rooftop unit is not a problem for him.

    • +1 for Brian Meredith — he saved us this winter and replaced our HVAC unit (hauling it up the fire escape to the roof!). He is super responsive and fair! We have used him for several other jobs since then.

  • pcat

    I have used Climate for over 20 years. They are reliable, technically excellent, and quite responsive.

  • Avoid Sila. They suck.

    • Ohhh, glad we didn’t go with them! We got a quote, but it was really expensive. They use really aggressive sales tactics too, which I hate. They would not stop calling me to ask if I made a decision. Yeah, not you dude!

    • Another vote for avoid Sila – guy came out, charged us $100, and didn’t fix anything. Suggested we get a free consult from them – consultants came out, didn’t do anything, suggested we get a different consult from them… all the while, trying to sell us on things we’d already said we weren’t interested in and avoiding the actual issue we were asking about.

    • I actually completely disagree! I used sila and really liked them. The sales person is a little aggressive, but overall really knowledgable and helpful. The installers are really nice and hard working, and the guy who comes to fix any issues is also great. They come quickly when called and are very responsive.

    • HaileUnlikely

      I had mixed experience with Sila – their technician who came to service my system, Oscar, knew what he was doing, did a good job, answered all of my questions, and didn’t try to sell me any extras. Dealing with their office was a different matter, though, as they billed me repeatedly for work that I had already paid for kept sending me past due notices until I called, demanded to speak to the owner, and got it straightened out with him.

    • I used Sila to replace my air conditioning system and I can’t say enough good things. While they are on the pricier side, their customer service is top notch and the money I spent is well worth being cool during the summer!

  • I recommend Harry Varvounis. He is a one or two man operation. When my AC went out a couple of summers ago, the first contractor I called said I needed a whole new unit because the compressor was shot and was no longer being manufactured. Harry came and took a look at it, and was able to find a rebuilt compressor for me. A $5000 replacement of an entire A/C system turned into a $1000 repair of the compressor. One caveat – I suspect Harry can do roof units but my unit was at ground level behind my house.
    I got his name from Consumer Checkbook. I have had good experience with contractors who are rated highly there.

    • HaileUnlikely

      Ditto Consumer Checkbook recommendation. I now use Eli’s Heating and Air Conditioning and have been very satisfied. The only reason I didn’t mention them is that their service area is mainly Maryland and they only do a small geographic area in DC (very northern tip, not even entire NW – I live near Walter Reed and am right at the edge of their service area).

  • Not Argent!! ARS or John C Flood have been good for me.

    • I can also recommend John C Flood

    • What was your issue with Argent?

    • I’ve actually had great experiences with Argent with our rooftop unit. They installed it and are the ones we call for regular maintenance.

      • I’ve also had bad experiences (two) with Argent. They came out last month when the system they installed a few years earlier began this big whomp whomp whomp sound. It was more than a sound. A vibration really. Anyway, they found an instruction manual for the condenser unit in the air handler. No way it could it have gotten there except during installation. But they refused to refund us the $135 service fee. Argent = no thanks.

  • jim_ed

    CroppMetcalfe. Not the cheapest, but they do high quality work and won’t rip you off with something fraudulent.

  • we’ve been happy with annual tune-ups from saul at arctic HVAC, and plan on using him to replace the whole unit whenever it croaks. 240-793-6757

  • i’m also in the market for a central ac system. has anyone ever used honest aire? they came recommended, but don’t seem to have many reviews online.

  • justinbc

    I used Polar Bear to replace our entire system (and switch us from conventional water heater to tankless) just last week and the guys were great. The total cost for replacing the outside unit, the furnace inside, and upgrading the water heater was between $12-13K.

  • I second the recommendation for McCarthy Services. I got an appointment for an A/C check-up reasonably quickly, the technician was on time and thorough and got it cooling again. The service wasn’t cheap, but I have no means of comparison.

  • I use Glenmont HVAC and have found them to be reliable and well priced:

  • ah

    I’m hoping you’ve done the obvious thing and replaced the filter – should be done every 1-2 months when the system is running. If you don’t change it, the efficiency of the HVAC will drop significantly and won’t be able to keep up with the heat.

    Next culprit is the need for a freon charge, which is a pro – if you need that after a year though you probably have a leak.

    • HaileUnlikely

      Ditto. Also note that the higher-MERV rating filters (e.g., ones advertised to be for people with allergies) significantly restrict air flow and don’t work well with systems not made for them. If you’ve “upgraded” your filter recently, that could be an issue as well.

    • This is going to sound ridiculous… but I honestly don’t know where it is, or if it even exists. A large reason why the original installer won’t be coming back. I have a feeling this is going to turn into a bigger job – so, yay for recommendations!.

      • Had central air in a condo I rented. My landlord had it installed by Rod Miller Co. It worked great, until it didn’t. It completely died about 5 or 6 years after it was installed. The unit itself was under warranty, so Rod Miller replaced it at no cost – except for the labor. My landlord had been too cheap to buy a service contract, so he ended up paying something like $800 for the labor. He then added to my lease that I was responsible for any labor on the AC. Illegal in DC, I know – but after calling Rod Miller and finding out I could buy a service contract that would cover ALL labor for less than $150/year, I figured that was cheaper than a rent increase, so bought the service contract every year thereafter. I then had them come every year and service the thing before I turned it on (covered under my contract.) There’s no way to know if the lack of regular servicing when my landlord didn’t want to pay for it, or buy a labor contract, before that helped it to die. He did end up spending about exactly what he would have spent on annual contracts for that labor call, but he wasn’t the one who had to live with the heat while it broken, I was.
        BUT, my point to you is that your AC Is under warranty by the manufacturer, so you’d better have documentation of that from your original installer in case you need it. And, buy a service contract that covers all labor – it will cover a spring service call and any other problems you might have. And yes, it has filters (inside, not on the roof, most likely, if it is a regular old AC system) and you do need to change them, and yes, the extra fine ones labelled for allergies are NOT best for most ACs, or so they told me.
        Also, it was installed before I was living there, so I can’t say how smooth that went, but I do know that it worked very well in every room of the large condo, so they did something right. It was great, actually. Of course, the time it died was during a June heat wave, and I had a taste of just how unlivable that place would be without central AC. (I had to wait a few days for it to be replaced, as they had to order it from somewhere.)
        I found their service guys to be generally quite competent. And they came when they said they would, and called when on the way.

      • If you’ve never replaced the air filter in almost a year that is almost certainly the culprit, especially on a unit that is less than a year old. It will be somewhere near the air handler (the big, boxy fan thing that make noise when the AC is running) or the main return (the big grate in a wall or ceiling that sucks all of the air back in to the fan). One or possibly both of those will have a filter in it and some way to access said filter. Do it TODAY, you risk damaging the unit running with a completely clogged filter, and not doing that routine maintenance will void whatever warranty is in place. As said earlier don’t go with the high-MERV filters unless the unit was specifically designed for it or you have a medical reason for that kind of filtration. The cheap green filters that are like $10/6 pack are just fine.

        • ah

          +1. A new filter costs $5-10. If the installer was semi-competent s/he marked the size on the outside of the unit. Buy a few. Replace it now and again later in the summer. If you use system for heat too, do it throughout year.

      • ah

        It’s a bit ridiculous but not entirely.

        Call one of the recommended companies for a checkup and annual contract (usually it’s a package deal). When they come, walk around with the tech and have him show you the various parts of the system, especially how to replace the filter. That’s a total DIY once you know how. Then order a 6 pack of filters from Amazon or Lowes/ Home Depot.

    • On top of that recommendation, I’d suggest you set the fan on “auto.” A continuously running house fan pushes the air through the system too quickly for the moisture to condense and be removed. You’ll notice a higher humidity level as a result.

  • Cool Breeze was very competent when I spoke with them last year, although they didn’t do the work.

    I’d also recommend making sure you’ve changed your air filter (especially if there’s been any construction or other source of increased dust in the house). If you have a flat roof, you can also look into applying a reflective coating to reduce attic heat. You might have an issue with your coolant level but these steps will ensure the system is running at peak efficiency and without undue strain.

  • We just had ours fixed after it stopped working by Magnolia Heating and Plumbing, and they were awesome. We were able to get someone out within a day and they diagnosed and fixed the problem in an hour. Been running perfect ever since – and the price was very reasonable. Highly recommend them.

  • Fairfax Heating & Cooling is great. We’ve worked with them for years.

  • Recently used Condon-Reed — quick appointment, great service person with lots of experience; thorough examination of system.

  • I strongly recommend Thomas E. Clark out of Silver Spring. We had trouble with our unit last summer and obtained repair estimates from 5 different companies. 4 of the 5 recommended full replacement and it appeared that we were looking at anywhere from $10K-$14K to replace the unit. Then Thomas E. Clark came out and said they’d be happy to replace the entire unit but that it wasn’t necessary. AC works great and they saved us thousands. Ask for Warren Derkazarian. Very professional, patient, and answered all our questions before work began.

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