Action 9 confronts unlicensed contractor

Updated:

Loading

ORLANDO, Fla. - An Orange County man claims a botched repair by an air-conditioning contractor nearly set his house on fire. Then, he discovered the repairman didn't even have a state license to fix air-conditioning.

Action 9's Todd Ulrich confronted the contractor and has a warning about how much an unlicensed repairman could cost you.

When the AC quit cooling, Robert Rivera hired a repairman a friend recommended.  

The repairman was Joel Rodriguez, who advertises as an AC specialist, but after three repairs that cost nearly $400, Rivera claims the AC was never cold.

He then had to deal with a bigger nightmare.  

“We woke up in the middle of the night and thought something was burning," said Rivera.

Rivera said the smell seemed to be coming through the air vents.

“We thought there was an actual fire," he said.

The next day, Rivera hired a state-licensed AC company that found an electrical wiring mess it claimed had shorted out and burned parts.

“It’s not common to see wires left off and abandoned. It’s pretty shoddy and unprofessional,” said Joe Mott with Southeast Air & Heat.

Rivera said Rodriguez never returned calls or his money.

Action 9 called his online company number about an AC repair. He took the job and showed up at a home near Winter Park.  

AC repair techs have to be state-licensed or work for a Florida-licensed contractor.

“Hey, we called for AC repair and here you are.  Do you have a license, Joel?” asked Ulrich.

Rodriquez showed Ulrich a technical school certification through his car window but not the required state AC contractor’s license number.

“Can you give him his money back?” asked Ulrich as Rodriguez drove away.

This year state investigators found 140 unlicensed contractors in central Florida, many doing AC repairs.

Rivera said he'll never make that mistake again.

“That could have caught fire while we were sleeping," he said.

If an unlicensed contractor does significant damage, your homeowner's insurance could deny the claim.

Ask for a state license number from any AC contractor that you can verify online at MyFloridaLicense.com.