MORE BANG FOR YOUR BUCK: Save money on heating repairs

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - When it comes to expensive home repairs, nothing tops a problem with your furnace. When it goes out, a repair can cost from a few hundred to several thousand dollars.

Here is some advice so a small part doesn't result in a big repair bill.

Toby Pawlaczyk discovered his furnace and a/c would not turn on a few weeks ago.

So a serviceman came out - charged him $95 for the diagnostic visit - and then gave him the bad news: the main control board was shot. Toby Pawlaczyk's small part came with a big bill.

"They came back with a $600 cost. For a control board, not including service call, so all together I am looking at $700 out of pocket," said Pawlaczyk.

A total of almost $700. But he looked online and found his Goodman-Amana circuit board selling new for as low as $69. He says this was shortly after another part - the evaporator - went bad.

"My evaporator went out. It's a $400 part, but they wanted $1,700 to put it in."

It's a common complaint about furnace and a/c repair: high surcharges on parts, if it's out of warranty. Pawlaczyk suggests that if this happens to you, Google the part you need to see what it really costs. You may be able to talk them down, or if not, call some other repair companies. That's what Toby did.

"I understand needing to make a profit, but that's a lot of profit!"

So the HVAC man wants a lot more money than you expected? Just like at the doctor's office, it's best to say thank you... and then go get a second opinion. That way you don't waste your money.

If your system is old - 15 years or more - and you get a high repair estimate, you may want to consider a newer model. With today's energy efficiency standards, the unit will pay for itself over its lifetime while lowering your monthly bills.

Copyright 2012 WWBT NBC12.  All rights reserved.