Cold weather in the eastern half of the U.S. has caused problems for many furnaces.
Among those with issues: One Cincinnati woman who woke up to a cold house.
But then things got worse – when she got hit with the, "Hey you need to buy a new furnace" sales pitch.
Denise Hill discovered her furnace was not working one chilly morning. Her furnace and AC would not turn on at all.
The HVAC repairman who came to her home had even worse news — a diagnosis of a major failure.
"All I heard was like $2,400 or $2,500 for repairs," Hill said. "Because he was naming all these different pieces that we needed."
The repairman said she needed a new draft inducer (priced at over $1,000), a gas valve and a pressure switch. The total bill? $2,600.
He then said that, given the cost, (and the fact that her furnace was 15 years old), maybe a new unit was a better option.
"So I said, 'How much is a new unit'" Hill said. "He said, 'Anywhere between $6,000 and $10,000.'"
What to do if this happens to you
So what do you do if a technician says you need to spend several thousand dollars on a repair or $6,000 or more on a new unit?
Unless they cite a critical gas leak and danger, you may want to do what Hill did.
"You know I was in panic mode," Hill said. "So I said, 'I'm getting a second opinion.'"
Good thing she decided to do that. Because the next technician, from Arlinghaus Heating and Cooling in Erlanger, inspected her furnace and said she just had a loose fan that prevented it from running.
"He was like, 'You need some screws,'" Hill said. "I said, 'Some screws?'"
Hill said it took him 10 minutes to replace the loose screws and get the fan and harness properly attached again. But the bigger surprise was what he told her afterward.
"He was like, 'You don't owe me anything,'" Hill said.
Her Arlinghaus receipt says "0" charge.
Hill now has heat and air and also has a warning for others.
"First of all, get a second opinion," Hill said. "And maybe get a third opinion."
We are not naming the company that gave the $2,600 estimate, because it is possible the furnace could need that type of major repair soon.
This may simply have been a misdiagnosis or a recommendation of what should be replaced.
Important safety alert
One caution: If the technician says he found evidence of a gas leak, or the potential for a gas leak in the near future, take him seriously. Do not turn the furnace back on without a professional inspection.
The same goes for a cracked heat exchanger, which could release deadly carbon monoxide gas into your home.
But it's a reminder that if you don't like your furnace estimate, call someone else so you don't waste your money.