DES MOINES — Forecasters say much colder, unseasonable weather will hit Iowa in a few days, with lows in the single digits and teens, so the time may already be past due for having our furnaces serviced before winter.

Bess Ellenson, a spokeswoman for the Better Business Bureau, is warning Iowa homeowners to beware of contractors who use scare tactics to peddle unnecessary repairs.  “The first thing that we always recommend is, when you have somebody come out and if they tell you that you need repairs done, or you need your furnace replaced, always get a second opinion,” Ellenson says. “Have another contractor come out and take a look and see if they agree.”

While most heating and air conditioning companies are reputable, competent and fair, she says some may be unscrupulous. If a tech tells you a new furnace is needed, costing thousands, do your best not to overreact. “Try to stay calm and always just say, ‘I need to think about this a little bit,’ and do a little more research,” Ellenson says. “Have a another person come out there and check things out just to be sure that what they’re saying needs to be done actually does (need to be done).”

Ellenson says it’s a good idea to contact your utility company and ask for a service person to come and inspect your system — or visit the website: