Ways to give your home a tune-up

With winter just around the corner, now may be the time to get a tune up on your heating and air conditioning unit. Here's what you need to know before getting one.

Terry stone of Compare Heating and Air Conditioning is performing routing maintenance on a heating unit.

"Just make sure everything is within spec and working safely," he said.

Stone hopes to catch minor problems now before they turn into big problems later and he checked the gas pressure.

"If there's too much gas pressure, it can overheat the furnace, crack the heat exchanger," he said.

That's definitely something you want to avoid because a bad heat exchanger can cost you $1,500 to repair.

Cracks in the heat exchanger can also lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. So as an extra precaution, he inspects the heat exchanger with a miniature camera to make sure there are no cracks.

Looks real good," Stone said.

He also cleans the dust off the burners to keep the unit running at maximum efficiency.

"Get those dusty and that's when the efficiency starts going down," Stone said.

For the same reason, you want to also clean your filters. That's something you should do yourself every month.

Robert Krughoff of Bay Area Consumers' Checkbook suggests homeowners get a tune-up on your heating and air conditioning unit every few years.

"Many firms will try to get you a maintenance contact, an annual contact. Checkbook is not real high on those things. Any people don't need to have a maintenance visit every year, maybe can have a visit only every two, three or four years," he said.

Krughoff also warns of companies that try to sell you expensive repairs.

"Somebody comes and say you need this and it's going to cost you a couple of thousand bucks, say slow down. I think I'm going to do a little price shopping on this," he said.

The Better Business Bureau says the number one complaint is overcharging.

"I would just be cautious. If someone's coming out and immediately they want to start changing things or they want to start telling you that there's high repair bills coming, there's probably, you probably need that second opinion," Gene O'Neal from the Better Business Bureau said.

Bay Area Consumer's Checkbook has ratings of 68 local heating and air conditioning companies and Compare ranked high for both price and service.

"Things look nice and clean," Stone said.

Bay Area Consumers Checkbook agreed to make its ratings available of local heating and air conditioning companies free to ABC7 viewers until October 25.

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