How to Hire a HVAC Contractor
Use this as a guide to help you compare HVAC companies!
- Know Your HVAC System
- Prior to calling for estimates have your model, year, warranty and service history of your HVAC system. Readily available information will help experienced HVAC technicians troubleshoot common problems, often saving you a service call charge.
- Know Your State License Requirements.
- Research the license and insurance requirements required of HVAC contractors for yours state. Handymen are handy and less expensive. Professionals who are licensed and insured have invested in their business and technicians. The few dollars you save up front will cost you when your patchwork fails. Stick with reputable companies in your local market with 25 or more years in business. Let your neighbor “test” our the cheaper technician.
- Know Your Local Market Leaders
- Use multiple sources of information to create a short list of HVAC companies. Examples are friends, neighbors, co-workers, Google+, Facebook, Angies List, Yahoo, BBB and trade associations. The short list should have no more than three HVAC contractors. Screen reviews and referrals with a skeptical eye. More reviews are not better. Look for reviews by both customers and employees. Well trained and happy employees will perform better. HVAC companies with decades of local experience not only are a safer choice they are the most experience in your area!
- Ask For Free Estimates
- Shorten your list to the top three contractors, call and ask for free estimate for repairs and installs. Work the deal and negotiate the cost of the service call into the repair. A company that has been around for a long time will be happy to apply the service call balance to the repair. They are more interested in happy long-term customers who value quality one time repairs over best deals.
- Ask About Service Calls
- Ensure the top three companies you call are upfront with their service call charges. Be very skeptical about low cost service calls. Gas isn’t cheap anymore and neither is running a business. Anything less than $50 should raise red flags. Service calls should be between $50 and $90 depending the companies experience and length in business. If a repair is made, ask the company to apply the service call charge to the invoice!
- Ask For Service Plans
- The longest service plan a contractor offers is key to choosing the best contractor for major work. At the very least take a plan for a year so the contractor’s technicians have eyes on your system twice a year for spring and service checks. You’ll know what their work ethic is, if they are technicians or salesmen and if you trust their concern for your home comfort. Most often an experienced HVAC contractor will authorize the technicians to sign up new customers on a service agreement to take advantage of any repair discounts before the work is actually started!
- Ask About Rebates and Tax Credits
- Reputable contractors will be current on the rebates and tax credits available. Look for reputable HVAC contractors who have been in business for a long time. Most often HVAC contractors with a long history of business have the local connections to maximize your rebates and tax credits. Pay cash or finance big projects if the rebates or credits are available. Those who get it all done at once tend to not pay energy bills for months to years.
- Ask For Commitment to Transparency
- Ask the HVAC contractor to commit to their reputation by writing itemized estimates. Ensure your top three HVAC contractors provide the written estimates, energy efficiency information, warranty information and service plan details.
- Communicate Your Needs
- Ensure you have discussed all your concerns with the HVAC technicians so the only thing you need to worry about is regular maintenance after a HVAC repair or install. Even after the installation you must ensure your HVAC contractor knows how the system is running. Regular service checks to perform routine cleaning and inspection help find small repairs before growing into larger issues.
- Chat With Your HVAC Contractor
- Before and during an installation or repair, or during a service check ensure you chat with your HVAC technician about your comfort concerns, system operation, room temperatures, energy bill concerns and anything else related to home comfort, energy efficiency and system maintenance. This is your chance to optimize how you use your HVAC system, care for it, and help avoid costly repairs from neglect.
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