The first thing is to develop a relationship with an air conditioning repair company BEFORE you need help. A great time to initiate that relationship is when it is time for the professional servicing your unit needs once or twice a year.

If you have a heat pump, both the heating and cooling cycles need to be professionally checked and serviced, which means once in the spring and once in the fall. If you have a separate air conditioner and furnace, each of them will need annual servicing.

In case you question the wisdom of regularly scheduled maintenance, think about what the oil changes mean to your car. When you don`t take care of the $40 oil change every few thousand miles (check your owner`s manual), after a while you`ll have to replace some very expensive parts – like the engine. A motor, even a used one, costs a whole lot more than those oil changes would have cost.

If you are new in town, the old company you used went out of business, or you are a newbie, start by asking the neighbors. Introduce yourself to the folks next door or ask someone you work with. Word of mouth is the best way to find out what`s going on in your community.

Another tack to take is to go on the Internet or thumb through the yellow pages. Call around and do some comparison shopping. NEVER agree for someone to come to your home or place of business without getting prices and a clear idea as to exactly what you will be getting for whatever they plan to charge.

The next thing to look for is a contractor that is bonded and that uses certified technicians. The North American Technician Excellence certification is the only one supported and recognized by the entire HVAC industry. These technicians are highly trained in latest technology and are the kind of expert you want working on your system.

The last thing is to scope out what kind of warranty the company offers. Workmanship should be of the highest quality and the company should be willing to stand behind whatever the technicians do for you.

Once you decide on a company, talk about a maintenance plan and look ahead to doing some preventive maintenance. It`ll save you in the long run