The Air Conditioning Scheme: A Hot Scam in Oakland Park

It starts with a knock on the door. A legitimate-looking person in a uniform informs you that your older air conditioning unit runs on R-22, aka “Freon,” which is now illegal in the state. They then tell you that you must upgrade your air conditioning system, or the state of Florida will charge you $90.00 a month until it’s replaced. These new systems, often quoted on the high end at approximately $9,000, can be installed right away saving you tons of money, if you hire them, of course.

If this hasn’t already raised a red flag or two, it should! Here is why and what you need to know.

I spoke to Jamil Chaves, Oakland Park resident and owner of TactiCool, a small family-owned residential air conditioning company, operated right here in our City. Chavez was floored when his neighbors reached out to him to ask if these claims were legitimate. Through his research, he found that this was indeed happening to his neighbors.

He quickly took to the Living in Oakland Park Facebook group to ensure no one falls for the scam. “When it comes to trade work, solicitors raise red flags. Picking a tradesman should be something you do carefully rather than letting someone off the street come in and perform thousands of dollars worth of work”, he says.

So What is R22 Anyway?

Many people are familiar with the name of this refrigerant, used in air conditioners of the past. Newer systems now use R410a as the industry standard. While R22 is being phased out for its more earth-friendly alternative, it is not illegal to use air conditioners with the existing refrigeration. Still, there will come a time when it is no longer available in the United States.

If your AC unit runs on Freon (R22), you have a few options:

    • Keep using the system until R22 runs out entirely and you are forced to replace your equipment.
    • Retrofit your current system, so it runs on a coolant other than Freon.
    • Upgrade to a new system now, saving you from having to replace your existing air conditioner shortly, and many experts say the time is near.

Weigh Pros and Cons with a Professional

Waiting to make a change until current supplies of R22 run out is just putting off the inevitable, while retrofitting your system is only a temporary solution, which may be less cost-efficient in the long run than simply replacing your AC unit now. It’s essential to weigh the pros and cons with a professional. In the meantime, be sure to perform routine maintenance with your AC professional on your Freon system.

You can, by all means, replace your system. Just be wary. “The tricky thing about pricing an air conditioning system is that it’s heavily influenced by a company’s overhead,” Chavez says. “If you can find a legitimate licensed contractor doing work at a very low-end price, quality comes into question. There are so many ways to cut corners on an AC installation. You won’t know until years down the road when the wear and tear has taken its toll”, he adds.

Make a Good Search Before Hiring Someone

Chavez recommends the following when searching for a reliable ac company:

  • Make sure they are licensed.
  • Read reviews, ask questions, and ask your neighbors.
  • Deal with the contractors directly. “When I have to hire a tradesman, I call the company where the contractor himself will be at my house.”
He says to keep this in mind, especially when dealing with larger companies. He also states that he is available to answer any questions residents may have regarding their systems. You can find his Facebook TacticoolFL.
So remember to stay cool. You do not need to panic about an older AC system or replace it overnight. It is best practice to ignore the solicitors and certainly ones that make false claims. These are not people that you would want to hire to perform major repairs to your home. It’s best to politely decline and inform them you have done your research on the topic. Then consult a local OP business owner with your best interest at heart.

Read local AC contractor reviews or leave a review of your own at the new 

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* is an independent publication, not affiliated with the City of Oakland Park.

About the Author

Rhiannon Samoyedny

Rhiannon Samoyedny

Rhiannon Samoyedny was born and raised in South Florida. She has lived in Oakland Park for over 25 years and purchased her home in Garden Acres in 2012 where she resides with her husband, two teenaged boys, a few rescue cats, and her dog.

Her professional career began as a project manager and estimator for a small Oakland Park construction company and she later went on to earn her degree in Court Reporting, where she later incorporated her own small business RS Reporting, Inc.

She has a passion for gardening and attends many horticulture classes and workshops. She is also an LGA (Local Government Academy) graduate, class of 2019, and an active community volunteer and activist. You can usually find her around town at various Oakland Park meetings and events with her notebook, so be sure to say hello.

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