How to Choose the Right HVAC Contractor
Choosing an HVAC contractor isn’t something to take lightly. After all, your HVAC system is likely one of the most expensive components of your household. Comfort aside, a properly working HVAC system can even be a must-have if you have occupants, such as children and seniors, who are particularly sensitive to extreme temperatures. Units over 10-years-old may need replacing, you may have a breakdown from wear and tear, or your newer unit could need its annual maintenance and preventative check to ensure it stays in proper working order. In any case, you’ll want to keep some things in mind as you go about selecting the best HVAC services.
1. Vetting HVAC Skills
Would you entrust an unlicensed doctor with your family’s health? Would you entrust your expensive car to an unlicensed mechanic? You’ll want to ensure that the HVAC contractor or technician you select also has the appropriate training, licensing, and certifications to get the job done accurately and safely.
Being licensed offers an assurance that the contractor has a certain level of experience and holds the appropriate level of bonding and insurance. This insurance is important to protect you, the homeowner, should accidental injury or damage occur.
Certifications, such as through North American Technician Excellence, help to ensure that the contractor has a standard level of experience and education under their belt. The National Comfort Institute’s Air Balance Certification helps ensure technicians have been trained in max efficiency and comfort for testing and balancing installations. So, always ask what certifications any prospective HVAC company carries.
Experience can signal that a company has a good reputation, but you shouldn’t rely upon years in business alone. Much has changed in the HVAC industry over the last decade, and some of the best technicians are those who have a firm grasp on cutting edge technologies, such as computerized controls, not necessarily 20 years of a business being open. So, ask prospects what training they have to optimize installations and repairs. Ask what brands they carry, and what training they have within those specific brands.
2. HVAC Reference Checks
All HVAC professionals should be able to provide you with a list of referrals and references from other homeowners or business owners they’ve served. Here are some helpful questions to ask:
- Was the job completed in a timely, organized, and professional manner?
- Was there any issue with the budget or deviation from quotes and bids?
- Were they respectful of privacy and property?
- Did they show pride in their work, wear uniforms, and have a clearly labeled work vehicle?
- Did they test equipment to ensure good working order and maximum efficiency?
- Were there any problems after service, and, if so, how did the company address it?
You can ask your friends, co-workers, neighbors, and local trade organizations for referrals. Be sure to ask them the same questions listed above.
Aside from direct references and referrals, you can use the Better Business Bureau to determine if past clients have registered any complaints and the company’s overall rating. Be wary of online reviews from private websites, however, since many are paid reviewers either by other HVAC professionals misleadingly blacking the reputation of competitors or the company itself falsely bolstering their own reputation.
3. HVAC Evaluation, Estimate, Quotes, and Special Offers
Be very wary of HVAC professionals offering you a quote or bid without evaluating your home and/or equipment first. Why? It’s simply not possible to offer such without an inspection.
New installations, for example, require a thorough home evaluation to determine the best cooling and heating solutions. The technician will need to assess everything from square footage and number of windows to duct system condition and the Manuals program for unit sizing. Only then can the contractor offer an estimate or bid, and it should always be itemized in writing so that you can compare all the factors, such as warranties, costs, and efficiency data.
Don’t forget to look beyond prices. It’s often the case that the efficiency gains, which lower fuel and electric bills, and the quality and warranty of equipment, which extends the life of the system and reduces service costs, are worth the bigger price tag over the long-term.
Be very cautious of any HVAC services automatically wanting to replace an old system with the exact same system. Why? The ever-evolving HVAC technology often means that more efficient systems are available. Upgrading faulty and broken systems give you the opportunity to take advantage of the most efficient equipment within your budget. So, ask prospective contractors about Energy Star-rated models and any efficiency rebates or special offers that could offset the cost of equipment.
In closing, choosing an HVAC contractor is just a matter of being proactive in your selection. Vet their skills. Check their reputation. Don’t let the cart come before the horse in getting costs before a detailed inspection takes place. To learn more about Harwich Port and our services or solutions, call us at (508) 593-9436. Schedule your service today!