A refrigerator is a lifestyle product that facilitates healthy consumption. However, repairing a faulty or damaged refrigerator by an amateur is a risk that leaves you and your loved ones exposed to hazardous refrigerants. Associated risks with the mishandling of refrigerant include toxicity, flammability, asphyxiation, and physical hazards. Over 6,000 casualties are recorded annually in relation to refrigeration repair and installation. As such the handling of refrigerants is highly regulated and left to EPA certified professionals. When in search of a certified technician near you to fix your refrigerator in compliance with applicable standards, the following questions will help you make a well informed decision.
Are You A Licensed Refrigerator Repair Technician?
A professional licence is a guarantee of a technician's proficiency in completing your work appropriately. Generally, it is illegal to engage in a trade when a specific license is mandatory. Refrigerator repair technicians are mandated to obtain a statewide license in 35 states in the US. In states like New York, Colorado, Illinois, and Indiana that do not require a state-level license, licensing requirements are left to municipal authorities. Cook County, City of Evanston, and the City of Elgin in Illinois, Denver County in Colorado, and the Cities of Evansville and Indianapolis in Indiana are examples of cities with mandatory licensing requirements for refrigeration repair technicians.
It is recommended that you contact your local licensing authority or consumer protection agency to determine the licensing requirements for refrigeration technicians near you. Note, refrigerator repair works fall under the Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) category, and as such, refrigerator repair technicians are also called HVAC technicians.
Refrigerator repair works involve the handling and applying â€œrefrigerant,â€ a substance that is strictly regulated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA). As a result, refrigeration repair technicians must also possess a relevant Section 608 Technician Certification. This certification is obtained only once in a lifetime and does not need to be renewed.
Therefore, prior to signing off on the paperwork for the job, ask to see a copy of your technician's licenses. You may contact the licensing agency to determine the currency of the license.
Are You Bonded and Insured?
Bonding and insurance requirements aim to provide adequate financial security for you and your property against work-related accidents. Besides, bonding also provides measures to ensure that your project is not abandoned halfway, a situation which may cost you substantial loss of refrigerated items. Hence, it is recommended that you consider only bonded and insured contractors near you for your project.
In 2019 alone, 6,500 occupational injuries and 31 work-related fatalities were recorded among refrigeration mechanics and installers. This fact further underscores the importance of adequate business insurance cover. Some of the most common insurance covers that typical HVAC professionals possess include:
- General Liability Insurance: This type of insurance covers insurance claims which involve physical injury, damage to property, libel and slander, and advertising errors.
- Professional Liability Insurance: This type of insurance provides coverage for incidents directly related to the services your technician offers. For example, if you incur liabilities due to your technician's negligence or unprofessional behavior, then a professional liability provides coverage for such liabilities.
- Workers compensation insurance: This is particularly necessary for HVAC contractors with employees. This type of insurance provides financial cover for the cost of medical care in the event of a work-related injury, as well as payment of a proportion of earnings lost as a result of the injury.
Surety bonds which work similarly to insurance policies, provide financial cover to ensure that your job is completed in the event of a service default by the repair technician. The surety company is compelled to cover the cost that it will take to finish your project.
What Kind of Refrigerator Repair Work Are You Specialized In?
While refrigerators serve the same purpose, their systems are designed differently and require distinct expertise for each system. You must ask a prospective refrigerator repair technician what systems or brands they are specialized in, to determine if their specialization meets your repair needs. The most common refrigerator systems include:
- Absorption Refrigeration Systems
- Evaporative Cooling Systems
- Mechanical-Compression Refrigeration Systems
- Thermoelectric Refrigeration Systems
Who Will Do The Work?
Typically, a single repair technician should be able to handle most of your refrigerator's problems alone. However, if they will be enlisting extra hands on the job, ensure that these third parties are also qualified and have proper coverage. It is illegal to work on refrigerator systems without the appropriate certification in the United States. The duty to enforce total compliance falls on you.
While your repair technician's apprentice may only be providing labor support and hence not need a license, independent repair professionals who will be performing basic or advanced repair tasks must be licensed and must also carry proper insurance coverage.
This way, you will be fully liability-proof if a work-related accident occurs or if they cause substantial damage to property or injury persons during the work.
Do You Offer A Warranty?
Ask a prospective refrigerator repair technician if they will be offering you a warranty for their services and for the components they will be replacing for you. Warranties are generally perceived as a measure of trust in a product or service quality. When a component your repair contractor replaced fails, or you found that their repair service did not solve the problem, then you may seek a refund, replacement, or repeat service as the case may be. Professional refrigerator repair technicians near you would not hesitate to give a warranty on their workmanship.
Standard service warranties cover around 30 days after the repair service was completed, while quality replacement parts may carry around five years of warranty coverage. Beware of used or factory-reconditioned parts and instruct your repair technician to use only brand new warranty-bearing parts for you. You may also ask if the warranties cover consequential damages, such as food spoilage resulting from bad replacement parts or poor service.
Written warranty contracts are the most assuring. Make efforts to go through the terms and conditions fine print to be aware of circumstances under which your warranty is rendered void.
Will This Job Require A Permit?
More often than not, a refrigerator repair service will require a work permit, given the repair technicians' use of refrigerant, which is a strictly regulated compound. A good repair technician near you will be familiar with how to go about pulling the appropriate permit for the job at hand.
Authorized technicians and homeowners can usually obtain necessary job permits. Your local Department of Environmental Protection may be responsible for issuing the relevant refrigeration repair permit.
Will You Provide References?
Past work references are not hard to fetch for proven refrigerator repair technicians. Any repair technician near you with a stellar track record will provide references on demand, as such are avenues that further lend credence to the quality of their work and their overall professionalism. Seeking out at least three references as recommended by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will also help you gain insight into the exact type of work in which a repair technician is specialized.
You may ask to see their company's website and professional profile(s) to get a good sense of their professional history, and customer feedback. The internet also provides great sources of business reviews such as the Better Business Bureau (BBB), Yelp, and Google Business Reviews.
Do You Have A Business License?
Most businesses are required by state laws to obtain a commercial license to offer their services for payment. An authentic business license is proof that a company is duly registered with the appropriate authorities, and that the item and service in which it deals in is lawful. Repair technicians and other professionals who possess authentic business licenses will have to fully register their businesses, obtain a professional license, demonstrate the financial capability to meet the capital demands of the business, and file adequately for the necessary taxes.
This thorough process helps to sieve out contract fraudsters and imposters whose crimes are widespread today. Business licenses will typically have to be renewed regularly. You must therefore ask to see a valid business license and follow-up with verification at the state's Office of The Secretary of State.
What Are Common Refrigerator Repair Problems?
The following are some of the signs that indicate a refrigerator repair problem and necessitate recalling your repair technician:
- Continued refrigerator water leakage
- Constant running or cycling
- Malfunctioning water dispenser
- Increased energy bill attributable to refrigerator use
- Persistent unfamiliar noise
- Constant refrigerator cycling and running and ice buildup
How Much Does Refrigerator Repair Cost?
The estimated industry range of refrigerator repair services is given below:
What Are The Factors Affecting The Cost of Refrigerator Repair?
Some of the common factors that influence what you will pay for a refrigerator repair service include:
- Brand of refrigerator: More sophisticated brands of refrigerators, in addition to requiring meticulous handling, may also require advanced knowledge or extensive research to fix. Some refrigerators may necessitate that your technician takes some short courses to understand their more advanced mechanical and electrical systems.
- Age of refrigerator: Parts and components of older refrigerators are typically harder to find relative to the newer ones. The extra stress and time it will take to fetch these scarce parts will affect the total cost of repair.
- Type of repair work: Subtle faults such as refrigerator rattling and dispensary issues will generally cost less than major repairs. Your repair technician will generally charge more to replace your refrigerator's freezer than resolving a refrigerator light bulb problem.
- The proximity of your home to the service technician: Typically, refrigerators are serviced at home. The farther the distance your repair technician has to travel to service your refrigerator, the higher the price you will be billed. Hence, it is recommended to hire certified technicians near you.
- Licensure requirements: According to a monthly labor review article published by the BLS in February 2018, occupational licensure causes labor rates to rise by about 7.5%. Hence, a tedious and expensive professional licensing in your state will compound the rates charged by your repair technician. The same may be said for the work permit requirements.
What Qualifications Should A Refrigerator Repair Technician Have?
Repair technicians do not typically require a lot of formal education and are instead trained in technical colleges, vocational schools, or postsecondary apprenticeship programs. Fundamental courses which they learn under training include mechanical sketching, electricity, mathematics, and computers. They also learn on-the-job by performing basic repair tasks under the supervision of experts.
High school completion is typically a requirement to enter into most technical training and education programs. A high school diploma or equivalent will have equipped trainees with the foundational building blocks such as logic, communication, and analytical and critical thinking.
Besides a certificate of completion from a relevant apprenticeship program or technical/vocational school, repair electricians also take advanced training, education, and certification programs offered by professional bodies. The International Society of Certified Electronics Technicians (ISCET) offers the National Appliances Service Technician Certification (NASTeC) examination. However, a prerequisite for the refrigerator and freezer repair certification is a refrigerant recovery certification obtained under a program approved by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA).
Similarly, the Institute of Appliance Service Technician (IAST) offers a certification program in Appliance Service Fundamentals (ASF).
Multiple authentic certifications and experience will typically translate to greater expertise and more comprehensive technical knowledge. You should hence, give preference to more certified repair technicians near you.
Do You Need A Refrigerator Repair Technician or A Handyman?
Hiring a non-professional near you such as a handyman to handle refrigeration repair is illegal in the United States and may land you in trouble with the regulatory authorities. Refrigerator repair involves using substances such as a refrigerant whose use and application are regulated by federal laws. Also, a handyman without a license will most likely not have a permit too. Therefore, you are better off hiring a professional repair technician.
Also, most refrigerator manufacturers will decline your claim to a warranty cover if they find that the appliance had been improperly tampered with by a non-professional. This will make you incur extra financial liability for the repair service outside warranty coverage. In addition, you may also invalidate your insurance cover if your policy providers have enough reason to believe that the handyman you hired caused the damage to your appliance.
Refrigerators have electrical components. You will be exposing users of the refrigerator to the risk of electric shock if the repair is done without recourse to set standards and guidelines.
What Are Common Post Refrigerator Repair Expenses?
Asides from refilling the gas in your refrigerator's compressor, most post-work expenses for refrigerator repair are for maintenance purposes, and some of them include:
- Cleaning the refrigerator's condenser coils and fans at least once in six months, or more frequently, if there are pets in the house. It keeps your condenser working at the highest level.
- Washing the refrigerator interiors to keep it clean and prevent drawer and shelf damage.
- Remove and clean the grill and water filter regularly to prevent dirt accumulation and clogging.
Does Homeowner Insurance Cover Refrigerator Repair Expenses?
It is possible. As with most comprehensive homeowner insurance policies, if your policy covers the properties in your home, and your refrigerator gets damaged by fire, electricity, smoke, or other peril covered by this policy, then the cost of repair is covered by your policy. Besides, if your purchased home comes with a Homebuyer's warranty or Builder's guarantee, then the accompanying home appliances are most definitely covered.
It is advisable to seek out the terms and conditions of your homeowner insurance contract to determine what risks are covered or not, before embarking on any home appliance repair project.
Can I Use Digital Payment To Pay My Refrigerator Repair Technician?
More and more small businesses in the US, including refrigerator repair technicians near you, are willing to accept digital payments these days. For one, they are relieved of the trouble of carrying cash around. Also, apart from complying with the recommendations of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to not pay cash to contractors, digital payments are known to be safe, cheap, and fast. However, it would be best if you asked your repair technician which of the various digital payment methods they prefer to accept.