• Action 9 exposes risky AC repairs


    PORT ORANGE, Fla. - Action 9 exposes risky air-conditioning repairs that could wipe out your bank account.

    It almost happened to a Port Orange man.     

    When it was 90 degrees in the shade, Gary Luffman's AC unit quit, so he went to the Yellow Pages and found Total Air Systems of Port Orange.

    "He told me I had problems, $1,100 worth," said Luffman.

    According to Luffman, the tech found low refrigerant and said he needed to have several parts replaced.

    The company scheduled repairs the next day but Luffman decided to get a second opinion. He called Action 9's Todd Ulrich, who brought in an AC expert. About 45 minutes later, the expert had a far different diagnosis.

    "Was any of the work necessary?" asked Ulrich.

    "No, not that I could see," said expert John Jacoby.

    In fact, a supervisor and tech from Del Air told Action 9 the system actually had too much coolant and just needed routine maintenance and a coil cleaning at a cost of about $100.    

    But what about that $1,100 estimate?

    "I really don't know what they had in mind. None of it made sense to me," said Jacoby.

    Total Air has an F rating at the Better Business Bureau with four complaints, one unanswered.

    But the company owner told Ulrich he stands by his estimate to replace parts and that there was a problem with the coolant.

    Routine maintenance and repair can save you later but there are three red flags that you should look out for. If there are no symptoms but you're told there's a coolant leak, when the tech claims you need a black light to kill mold and if that annual tune up is free.

    Since Action 9's investigation began, the BBB changed Total Air to a "no rating" since it is trying to resolve consumer complaints.  The company owner also said he has hundreds of satisfied customers and is still willing to resolve Luffman's issues.

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